Behind the Lens: Superyacht Photographer Stuart Pearce
Stuart Pearce's shots have become classics, exuding energy, using colour and light and showing the yachts off to their best advantage. They are the embodiment of the superyacht industry and evoke a feeling of awe and wonder in those of us who sail on them, and pride in those who 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, Valsheda, was preparing to unfurl 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 tea 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 word 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 drone pilot George, the two offer 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. Stuart has met many of his Captain contacts through them. His third son, 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 styling for the photoshoots. He glows with pride when he talks about his family.
I ask what some of the ups and downs with shooting yachts are and weather is clearly one of them. Being completely out of control, it can lead to delays. However, due to us having so much sunshine year-round in the Balearics, 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 an ill prepared crew, 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. Stuart says the majority of captains he works with are absolutely outstanding in this regard, 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 skylinepicture with all of the workers suspended in the air relaxing on a girder. In this case however the crew were all sat on the boom 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!
Contact Stuart at Yacht Shot:
Phone: +34 619 101 222
Photo credit: Yacht Shot/Stuart Pearce
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