How to plan a successful yacht photo shoot

Offered By Kurt Arrigo Photography

Photographing yachts in excess of 30 metres (98 feet) is by no means simple. There is a huge amount to consider in order to capture that perfect shot. Subject matter, timing, composition and lighting all play a part.

S/Y Shamanna photograph
© Kurt Arrigo

So, whether your aim is to get the ultimate regatta image, stunning scenic shots, or photographs of a yacht for sale or charter, here are some expert tips and tricks to achieve the ultimate superyacht photograph.

1. Understand the requirements of the assignment

Every client has a completely different vision of what they want. A good photographer is able to mirror that vision in their photographs. For this reason, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible. For example, what the images will be used for, and where will they be displayed. This also determines the cost of the assignment and the amount of involvement required from the client.

2. Communication is key

S/Y Melek
© Kurt Arrigo

It’s important to communicate each step of the project clearly with the client. This way, they feel involved and reassured that the project is as good as it can possibly be. Share your expertise as a photographer with regards to image quality, technicality, post production and editing. Not only does this show off your knowledge and expertise about photography, but it provides the client with some extra understanding after the project has finished.

3. Plan the logistics

There is a lot to consider when photographing a superyacht. Location, time of day and season can all hugely affect the final photograph. It’s important to plan where the yacht will be, such as in port or at anchor, and how to get there. The photographer’s positioning, whether it’s on land, tender or helicopter, could affect the equipment you require.

Arial shot of sailing yacht
© Kurt Arrigo

The weather forecast is also key to a successful yacht shoot. A sunny day or rainy day can completely alter the mood of a photograph. Communicating with the captain and developing good relationships with the crew, management company or owner’s representative will help in coordinating the logistics and ensure shooting day goes as smoothly as possible.

4. Be prepared

Each assignment is completely different. A photoshoot of a bare yacht will require much different equipment to a lifestyle shoot, which would include models, styling and makeup. It is up to the photographer to organise extra services such as these, and the logistics of the day such as a timeline, call sheet and food for those involved. In the world of professional photography, there’s no such thing as a ‘quick’ photo – not if you want it done well.

S/Y Shamanna
© Kurt Arrigo

5. Have fun!

It’s important to maintain a positive attitude on shooting day. If people are stressed or disorganised, this can often translate in the photographs. There are always challenges when shooting a superyacht, whether it’s due to weather or technical issues, but facing them with optimism will help you to adapt and work around them.

I feel it’s always important to involve the crew on the assignment and make them feel part of it. They play a key role on shooting day as they prepare the yacht and set everything up for shooting, making it look as slick and luxurious as possible. If I feel that something does not look right, I communicate it to the crew with the best intentions.

M/Y Nikon photo shoot
© Kurt Arrigo

A lot of work goes on behind the lens during a superyacht photo shoot. Whilst there can be problematic scenarios due to unforeseen weather conditions and settings, being well prepared will allow you to adapt to any obstacles presented throughout the project.


Find out more about Kurt Arrigo Photography. Alternatively, you can read more articles on yacht photography.


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