#humansofyachting – Quinton Bisset
The superyacht photographer on capturing shots that truly highlight the experience of being out on the ocean.
“I got into photography through my grandfather who gave me a camera. My mother still keeps my first roll of film to remind me how bad of a photographer I was – I had my pinky finger in every single shot. Luckily I improved! I worked in the film industry in London for some time and then around 2011, I decided to head back home to New Zealand. It so happened that the America’s Cup was going on so I ended up photographing some of the yachts that were there to view the race. I met some captains and crew and then never stopped from that point on.
I think the thing that surprised me the most at that time was how bad the imagery was – it made my job really easy. Taking a photo of something that someone had spent years building deserved some real thought and I gave it that. Coming from New Zealand and going to places like Monaco was also a surprise – it was a whole different world.
The way I try to capture the lifestyle element is to imagine I am there with my friends having the best time ever – I am not only trying to capture the vessel itself architecturally. When I shoot, I get up early in the morning, way before the sun comes up and start thinking about how the light moves on the vessel itself. I might try to create something dramatic with the light on the hull. Then when it comes to later in the day, I start thinking about the lifestyle element.
I will use helicopters and I have a couple of drones. When you go to destinations that are more intrepid, I quite often use the drone as well. But the helicopter is great as I can quickly change lenses or cameras – especially if you get a really good pilot. With drones, there are battery issues and you’re likely to get wind. I’ve lost quite a few!
I also love underwater shots – especially the half in, half out shots. You can see the light under and over the water. Yachting is all about being a part of the water so I think it’s reflective of that. I freedive so I am good at holding my breath for a little while. I get a buzz out of capturing the marine life within the shoots I am doing. If I can get sharks, stingrays, turtles or anything in shot, I love it. The only reason you’re on the water is to experience the ocean itself, after all.
The photo of mine that everyone talks about is of a Baltic sailboat which I shot in Sardinia. I got up early in the morning for it and the light was perfect. The hull was black and it looked like a mirror. I was in a tiny little sail dinghy trying to get the light just right – I am super proud of it. A lot of people actually think it’s photoshopped!
I always end up getting on with the crew and owners really well. I love meeting them and hanging out with them. Every time I get on a boat I meet like 12 or 15 crew who end up becoming friends. It also means that everywhere I go in the world I know someone which is pretty cool. Lots of the owners are just really genuine people who really take care of their crew. You can always tell that as soon as you step on board – the attitude comes from the top down.
If I had a superyacht, it would probably be a really eco-friendly sail boat. Not too big, but enough for the family and big enough to cross oceans. I would love to travel with my girlfriend and our nine-year-old boy around the world. That would be my life made. Galapagos is still on my bucket list.”