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Boating Photos are Serious Business

By Mark Romanack

This Smoker Craft Millentia 172 shows her best
for still and video cameras.
I bet lots of you outdoor enthusiasts have spent some quality time browsing through a boating magazine or catalog. Boat and outboard manufacturers spent countless time and money creating images that are eye candy for their potential customers. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and in the case of marine catalogs and boating magazines those strikingly beautiful running and fishing shots are money in the bank. 

Of course shots this beautiful just don’t happen by accident. The many “photo shoots” these manufactures schedule are carefully organized and orchestrated events. In addition to having a bunch of boats and motors  ready for action, it takes a boat load of people in front of and behind the cameras to make these shoots possible.

The Expedition Sport 180 is one of Starcraft’s most
popular “fish and ski” models.
My wife Mari and I have had the pleasure of being involved in many of the annual fishing boat photo shoots conducted by Starcraft, Smoker Craft, Starweld and American Angler boats. To say these shoots require organization is an understatement. It takes a small army of still and video photographers, attractive models, boat drivers, boat riggers and support staff to make these shoots possible. 

Getting all these people organized, on task and more importantly on the same page requires some specialized management skills. In the case of Starcraft Marine that job goes to SVP/Marketing Corporate Developer Peter Barrett. Peter’s job is more than just an occupation. Starcraft was founded in 1903 by Peter’s Great Grandfather Arthur E. Schrock, making Starcraft the nation’s oldest aluminum boat manufacturer. Harold Schrock, Peter’s Grandfather is credited with the modernization of Starcraft in 1996 and also compiling all the boat brands into one location at New Paris, Indiana.  

To say that Peter Barrett is passionate about boats and boating is like saying Vince Lombardi liked football. Peter’s entire professional life has been spent in the boating/marine business, a career he was literally born to  excel at.

Interesting to note, not only does Peter organize and manage the photo shoots, he also grabs a camera and lends a hand shooting some of the thousands of images generated annually.

This 176 Starfish is one of the author’s favorite boats in the Starcraft
line up. Similar to the larger STX 2050 favored by Starcraft’s elite
walleye pro team, the Starfish is a “fish catching machine” for the
 fisherman on a budget.

To anyone who fancies themselves a “shutter bug”, the photo shoots conducted by Starcraft represent an impressive display of photography gear. Just some of the gear on hand include Go Pro POV cameras, digital SLR still cameras, DSLR video cameras, a mountain of supporting lens, gyro stabilizers, high definition video cameras, laptop computers, battery chargers, VHF radios and of course an aerial drone to capture those dramatic overhead panoramic shots. 

All of this gear gets put to use shooting running shots and static fishing shots designed to showcase the boats in the best possible light. Truth be told, it’s the ambient lighting in these shoots that is critical to the overall mood and feel of the images created.  

A low sun angle provides a soft and pleasing light that makes the boats literally pop out of the backgrounds. Unfortunately this pleasing light can only be found around sunrise and sunset.

The word “photography” means to paint with light. Knowing how light influences exposures, boat colors and distracting shadows is the key to achieving the eye popping video and still photos boating catalogs and magazines are known for. Capturing these images can only be accomplished for a short period of time in the morning and again in the evening, making for some long days on the water.

The mountain of camera gear used on these shoots is impressive, but the crown jewel of any boating photography session is the “tower boat”.  The Starcraft tower boat is pontoon model equipped with three pontoons and Starcraft’s exclusive HMX performance strakes that allow for a tighter turning radius and significantly improved performance over ordinary pontoon boats. Powered by two Evinrude E-Tec 150 HP outboards, this super charged tower boat has plenty of space for a full crew of photographers and yet can out perform most ski boats on the water! 
The Starcraft “tower boat” is big enough to carry a full crew of
 photographers and fast enough to chase down just about any 

The tower boat provides photographers that critical overhead angle required to showcase the interior of a running boat. Essentially the tower boat runs side by side with the boat to be photographed, often just inches separate the two boats running at breakneck speed!

Creating these overhead images is perhaps the most unnerving part of a “photo shoot” because it takes skilled and experienced boat drivers on both the tower boat and the photo boat. The next time you open a boating magazine or a boat manufacturer’s catalog take a second to imagine what went into creating those images and give a little smile of approval to the many talented people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to “get’er done” in the marine industry.