Daniel Forster hoisted aloft to get a shot of the deck from above



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.

Action shot of the racing crew

Action shot of the racing crew during the Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup off Newport, Rhode Island, in September 2023.

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

19 teams from 14 countries raced

19 teams from 14 countries raced in this year’s Rolex NYYC Invitational Cup. Here, Daniel captured the boats as they head to the starting line.

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.

in orange foul weather gear

Daniel Forster (in orange foul weather gear) and crew getting wet and trying to keep camera gear dry as they race out on the open ocean to shoot photos during the Rolex Transatlantic Race in 2016.

Did You Know?

Lebreton Engraving

Today, shipyards have a number of ways to get a ship out of water, either by hauling it out or by floating it into a basin and the water pumped out.

Historically though, sea captains would careen their vessels in shallow water by either heaving it over on its side while it was still afloat or by anchoring in shallow water at high tide and then waiting for the tide to go out. The vessel would touch bottom, and, as the tide went out, lay over on its side.

How does one go about getting a ship, especially a big ship, high and dry out of the water today?

Learn more at A Ship Out of Water