Photography and boating have always been passions of mine. When I was in high school, I worked at a marina and purchased a used 35-millimeter Pentax K1000. It proved to be the start of my career. I’ve been shooting photos for the boating industry for more than 20 years now, producing ads, catalogs and marketing materials for national and international clients.
However, some of my favorite photos have been captured with my personal camera while on the water with family and friends. The look on my child’s face when she first stood up on a wakeboard is definitely a memory that I’m glad I caught on film.
Like many boating families, we’re on the water constantly and taking photos throughout the day. There are so many variables while shooting on the water; time of day, weather, location — and a dozen other things — all have an affect on the final shot.
Fortunately, by following a few quick and easy tips, anyone can pull up the boat ramp with some great shots to share.
Think about the composition before you push the button. Is it a wide shot to see the landscape? Or do you want to see a close-up of the expression on your kid’s face?
Try to keep the sun over your shoulder. Too much backlight can be a bad thing when shooting people. It’s easy to end up with shadows.
Shoot several versions of the shot. Just moving a bit higher or closer or even to the side will give you options. Thanks to digital technology, people can take numerous photos without wasting materials.
Make prints! It seems like posting an image online is all that’s important nowadays. But it’s also easier than ever to upload images and have prints shipped to your door. Having prints around is what makes a house a home.
Learn from each shoot. Because there are so many variables that go into a good photo, it’s best to not make the same mistake twice. If a particular shot was awesome, use that technique on other shots.
Practice makes perfect. Learn the basics of your camera and spend enough time using it to be there when the magic happens, whether the “magic” is the perfect sunset, kids joyfully jumping off the boat or whatever.
The Right Stuff
Camera gear is always changing and has a wide price range. The new smartphones have such great cameras that it makes it convenient to just point and shoot and post online.
On the water, though, shooting with your phone may not be the best idea. One big splash or slip on the dock could cost you all your images and your phone data. When shopping for gear, here are some things to consider.
Don’t worry too much about megapixels. Anything over 5 will make a great print, and most entry-level cameras are in the 5 to 16 range.
Shoot video also. These days, most still cameras shoot great video as well. Video can tell a bit more of the story. Plus, it’s perfect to embarrass friends and family with after the fact.
Purchase basic editing software. There are many, many adjustments and effects that can be applied to your shots. This will allow you to expand on your creativity and give the shots a personal touch.
Get a splash-proof camera. There are several companies that make “tough cams.” These are weather resistant, shock proof, and shoot stills and video underwater. They actually start around $200 and have great quality.
Learn the functions of the camera. If you’re the type who won’t read manuals, purchase the instructional DVD or do research online. To capture those great shots in any environment you, must know the settings for that type of scene.
Life’s Precious Moments
I have the gear for any situation, but my favorite camera is the least expensive one. During a shoot in St. Petersburg last year, my wife and I wanted to get shells on Egmont Key. I left the photo gear and the phones in the room grabbed the shell bag, threw the waterproof camera in the bottom and headed out.
Shooting photos during the day without worrying about sand or water getting in the camera just adds to that great vacation. The camera was in the sand, in the cooler, in and under the water, and all of those other places that would cause huge problems for most photo gear. After the beach, the camera was sprayed off with fresh water and then dried. Now, we’re ready for the next adventure.
It’s important to enjoy taking the photos that will preserve the moments of your life and tell your story. Once you develop good photography habits and learn your cameras’ capabilities, taking photos will become second nature. It’ll be hard for you to put the camera down.
You always hear how important it is for people to keep their photos safe and secure. Photos document our life and can capture those ever-changing moments. There’s no material item that can replace the value of a memory caught on camera. Photos truly are irreplaceable.
Now, lets go have some fun outside and capture the moments — especially those on the boat — that make life so enjoyable!
You can see more of Robert’s work on his website www.boatingphotography.com.