They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I think avid readers of this magazine would agree. This front cover is no exception. Shenandoah of Sark, the classic 54m luxury sailing yacht, built in 1902, is one of many that Stuart has shot for us over the years. The photos are always stunning, exuding energy and colour. They are the embodiment of the superyacht industry and evoke a feeling of awe and wonder in those of us that sail on them, and pride, in those that own them.
There are few more majestic sights in the world than a yacht coming round the mark and unfurling its spinnaker and it was at a moment just like that where I first met Stuart. Hair whipping in the wind as he leant out of the Islander chase boat at a simply terrifying angle, he was shouting for Simon to get closer and closer to the mark as one of the glorious Js, Velsheda, was preparing to unfurl her in all her glory. It certainly wasn’t a moment for the faint of heart, but at that point, in that exact moment, I could completely understand why he does what he does.
He tells me that he didn’t actually start off in such a high-octane environment, while we sip our much more slow paced coffee in Hostal Cuba. He actually started off in the relatively quiet world of stock photography and interiors. This itself wasn’t without its own side of glamour, with Stuart being sent around the world to shoot five star hotels. However, it was with this grounding and training that the quietly spoken, calm man before me really honed his trade. Angles, light, styling: to make stock images bounce of the page is no easy thing and Stuart clearly has the eye for it.
But as with every industry, when you are at the top of your game, you are always looking for more to stretch and challenge you, and most importantly, to inspire you every single day, and so, into yachting Stuart motored and sailed. Together with a great team, offers a one stop shop for yacht photography, producing striking images of some of the most beautiful yachts in the water. On race days you can often find him hanging out of a helicopter, soaking up the energy and excitement as the adrenalin of getting that perfect shot drives him on.
He says he loves being out on the water, and that love of the ocean clearly flows in the family veins with two of his three sons, Tom and Jack, forging successful careers in the yachting industry, who Stuart has met many of his Captain contacts through, whilst his third, Stroud, is making a name for himself in cinematography at the prestigious Danish Film School in Copenhagen. They are clearly a driven and successful family with Stuart often working alongside his wife Britt as well, who does much of the boats styling for the photoshoots. He absolutely glows with pride when he talks about them all.
I ask what some of the ups and downs with shooting yachts are and weather is clearly one of them. It is something completely out of their control and can lead to delays, however due to us having so much sunshine year-round on the island, it is thankfully one of the lesser issues. In fact the winter here produces some glorious days with perfect light, crystal clear waters and empty bays. Though it can be a little chilly for those underwater and water sport pictures.
One of the frustrations they sometimes come across is ill prepared yachts, as it is imperative when shooting the interior and exterior that the boat is perfectly set up, as if the boss were about to board. However though, Stuart says the majority of captains he works with are absolutely stand out, with the crew working hard to have everything exactly as it should be. He actually gives a shout out to the crew of Excellence V for making his life a total pleasure.
I eventually ask if he has a favourite photograph that he has taken and rightfully he says it’s difficult to choose as they are all so different and give him pleasure in different ways. When I won’t take no for an answer he says one of his favourites is the black and white one of the crew of Moka, where he had them copy the famous New York skyline picture with all of the workers suspended in the air relaxing on a girder. In this case however the crew were all sat on the crane and if you look closely you can see they are all holding something that represents the job they do on board, such as a whisk and a sextant. It’s a great shot that oozes personality and fun.
It was a genuine pleasure to have the time to sit and talk to Stuart who is so animated about his passion. They say it’s not work when you love what you do and it’s clear that Stuart loves everything about it, from the variety of the work, to the excitement and adrenalin of the chase, to being asked to shoot these most beautiful of boats in the most incredible locations in the world. What a job!
By Victoria Pearce
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