Chasing Yachts in the British Virgin Islands with Photographer George Kamper
Capturing a full photography and video library for The Moorings while sailing the British Virgin Islands sounds like a dream project, and it is, if you know how to handle it.
Who did you create these images for?
This library of images was created for The Moorings Yacht Charters.
What type of direction did you get from the client?
The client played an important role for us. The goal was to shoot lifestyle images of both a couple and a young family experiencing chartering Moorings yachts in the British Virgin Islands. We shot both stills, video and drone footage. The client would suggest scenarios and wardrobe and we would come up with suggestions as to what we might shoot and then execute the scenarios.
What experience do you have with boating? Was this a factor for the client when they chose you for this project?
I grew up around boats and especially love being on and around the water. My dad was also a merchant marine captain, so we spent a lot of time on very large freighters. At 18, he strongly suggested I procure my “able bodied seaman’s’” license. I dive, sail, and love taking my passion for photography underwater. Being Greek I think we have an inherent love of being near and on the water. We currently live on the Intracoastal waterways along a canal in the “Venice of America” so we’re always on a boat. I can’t say for sure, but I think my previous underwater and yacht photography had to be the deciding factor for them, choosing someone with experience and who knows their way around boats and water-above, below, and in a drone.
How is shooting a library of images for a client different from shooting to a specific image layout?
Not everyone is cut out for shooting libraries. We love doing it because it allows us to explore various scenarios and shoot more off the cuff than working from a tight layout. There weren’t any layouts on this, just suggestions that we brought to fruition. Creating artful libraries has become one of our fortes’. We shoot under, on and over the water and boat. We’re very adaptable and have a lot of tricks and knowledge that we bring to the experience. We keep it light and fun and we shoot fast so we don’t capture stale moments, but focus on authentic moments and having fun.
How many days did you have to shoot this campaign?
We were gone for a full week. 6 days on the water in the British Virgin Islands.
How much gear did you bring?
We were on 4 sailing yachts. The largest was 60’ or so. That means you can’t bring every piece of gear under the sun due to tight quarters. We brought a Ronin Gimbal for the video, sticks, and shot with the 5D’s. We also brought reflectors, a few led panels, custom cube lights, as well as a drone for the overhead video. It’s a lot of fun, but that comes with challenges including customs, carnet’s, lugging gear, speaking the language of the country, as well as working with the crew and overcoming travel and weather related issues. The norm for any type of travel or boat related photography.
How many people on crew did you bring with you?
I knew I couldn’t bring my usual crew of 5-7 members because of the circumstances of shooting on a boat and travel expenses. I brought my essentials, my multifaceted crew of two. My long time lighting and digital tech Zach, who was also a second shooter once we had the general scene set up and who contributed quite a few strong images to the library and my wife Sherryl, who not only steps in as a model from time to time, but is a Production Assistant and helps with general styling, keeping track of wardrobe, props, makeup and hair.
Was it a challenge working within such tight moving spaces like a sailboat?
Most of the work we were doing was above deck so we had a blast and were able to find great angles for everything. My crew is also very experienced with boating life, so no one got seasick or dropped anything in the water!
What is the most important element on this type of shoot?
It’s all about the light when you’re on the water. Shooting ship to ship, in beautiful light, is an opportunity to create amazing images. Partnering with a great crew who love every minute of the opportunity.
Offering very strong support on the back end as well, we very often encounter a cloudy or rainy day that we transfix into a beautiful sunny experience in post. We don’t have the luxury of not shooting when we’re on a trip. We’re always shooting and there’s always a camera within reach. If you want real moments, you have to be willing to live in them, and I think that’s one of our strengths.
We surpassed client expectations and the challenges of returning from rainy days and challenging moments by loving what we do!
Was it easier working with a real couple and a real family?
The couple was authentic, that was great. The family had worked together many times before, so the whole crew was super tight and still communicate frequently. The first print ads just came out and it was actually the models who notified us and were super excited about the ads. Really cool gatefolds in Yachting magazines.
What was the biggest challenge?
We really would have liked to have had more time to explore the islands and a little better weather. We had cloudy days for 3 of the 6 days, so we dropped in skies in many of the print ads. Weather is something, try as we might, that we just can’t seem to control. This is where we rely on our in-house expert retoucher, Christine to lend a hand. Replacing skies, creating clouds and lighting to match the scene, compositing images, swapping heads and taking out entire landmarks are something out of a sci-fi movie, but a necessity when it comes to working in the real world shooting on location for advertising.
How did you like working with a drone on a project like this?
We love shooting with the drone. Drones automatically offer you a new and often times unexplored perspective. In video, the moves and possibilities are endless.
Being a father yourself and having raised your own family around boating and the water have any influence on this project?
Well, we certainly know how to have a good time around the water and can quickly create real action and authentic scenarios for our shots based on our prior experiences with the kids. My wife Sherryl is also in several of the main shots and has been instrumental in helping with keeping it real, checking on make up and general support on these shoots.
How many final images did you deliver?
We delivered all the raws and 70 or so final retouched files for reproduction.
How were the final images used?
To see the more of my shoot with The Moorings please visit my website at GEORGEKAMPER.COM