Daniel Forster is a freelance photographer who specializes in marine and sailing photography. As a freelancer, he is self-employed and often supplements his marine photography with work as an architecture, portrait, and fine art photographer.
Daniel was born in Switzerland, but he moved to Rhode Island in 1988 to be closer to the sea and Newport, long considered the yachting capital of the world. Daniel got his initial training through a three-year apprenticeship at a photography studio in Bern, Switzerland, which included one day a week taking classes at a photography school. Once he realized he could enjoy both sailing and photography and make a living doing it, he went freelance and hasn’t looked back.
Daniel has worked as an official photographer for major regattas all around the world, plus commissioned work shooting big events, such as the Olympics (12 times), the America’s Cup (13 of them!), and Rolex regattas. So, yes, he travels. A lot.
In this profession, no two days are alike. When he isn’t traveling for photo shoots, he spends time in his office editing photos, backing up files, archiving slides and past shoots, and planning the next gig. But the real excitement is when he’s working an event, often as part of a team. Daniel might be shooting from a chase boat, onboard a competing boat, or in a helicopter to get views from overhead. This is where his skills as a yacht racer and oceangoing sailor are critical as well.
I typically join the regatta a few hours before the start, where I join my team in a photo boat. I follow the race from the start to finish, including getting up close to the boats as they tack and jibe and round the race marks. I usually work with an assistant, who is either with me on the boat or following from overhead in a helicopter. My camera has a transmitter and my assistant can receive my photos on his iPad in real time. He selects the best ones, edits them with Photoshop, and sends them to a dropbox, which the client can access to download the photos instantly. —DF
It sounds like a lot of fun—which it is—but his work environment can be challenging, to say the least. When Daniel’s on the water in a chase boat or on a competing boat in a race, he might spend hours, days, or even weeks putting himself in uncomfortable positions to get the best shots. While some days are warm and calm and lovely, many are cold and wet. He carries multiple cameras and lenses with him and has to make sure he protects his gear at all times from the elements. If a piece of equipment gets damaged, his options to replace them during a race are limited.
In addition to Daniel’s skills as a photographer, to do this kind of work he also has to be a very skilled sailor. His jobs are not necessarily one day at a time. In 1986 he was aboard the winning maxi yacht as a crewmember and official photographer during the Uruguay-to-England leg of the Whitbread Round-the-World Race, a distance of almost 6,000 miles on the open ocean. What does he do during his time off? You guessed it—he goes sailing!
Daniel has had a lot of success in his career and his photographs have appeared in major magazines, such as TIME, Yachting—and Sea History! You can view his portfolio and learn more about him on his website: www.danielforster.com.
Did You Know?
Today, nearly 42,000 men and women serve on active duty in the US Coast Guard.
The United States Coast Guard is the nation’s oldest maritime service and is really a combination of five different agencies that were brought together to make them run more efficiently—the Revenue Cutter Service, the Lighthouse Service, the Life-Saving Service, the Bureau of Navigation, and the Steamboat Inspection Service.
What do members of the Coast Guard do every day?