Good and accurate photographs of your boat can make the difference between someone driving out of their way way to see it and having it sit on the market for months. Photos that accurately reflect the condition and overall appearance of your vessel encourage consumers to see more, while blurry and poorly composed photos may insinuate that you are hiding something in the worst case and in the best case poor photos just do not add any advertising value to your boat listing.
If you are listing with The Catamaran Company or one of our companies we do periodically send out a photographer in the Fort Lauderdale area, but there is no guarantee your boat will be photographed and your vessel may be outside of this area.
While hiring a professional photographer is an option you should always stay open to, you can shoot your own photos effectively with a little effort.
Shooting your own photos does not require major investment in camera equipment or time, but I do suggest allocating some of each. Wide-angle lenses, for instance, can provide more comprehensive photos of your boat. Photos taken with wide-angle lenses are not as misleading in the scale of your boat as you may think, but they do show a wider area in one photo than a conventional lens. This allows consumers to more accurately comprehend the layout of your boat than they could from several photos of the same area.
The bear minimum you need in equipment is a digital camera capable of shooting photos at 1024 pixels by 768 pixels resolution. If you purchased your camera in the last few years chances are it fits this qualification, but you can consult your manual to be sure.
I suggest a mid-range or better quality camera, a wide-angle lens in the 28mm area and a tripod. I've already explained the benefits of the wide-angle lens, and the tripod will help insure you get good, steady shots. A telephoto lens is of little use except if you are photographing your boat moored or sailing at a distance from shore and getting a good running photo this way is very challenging. The cost of this equipment varies greatly, but consider your cost to benefit ratio and the fact that you get to keep the equipment to photograph your next boat.
Dedicate part of your schedule to photographing your boat. If you think you will take a couple of photos the next time you are going out on the boat you are not going to get the quality of photos you will if photography is the only task at hand. An hour should be sufficient to thoroughly photograph most catamarans in the twenty to fifty foot ranges.
When photographing your boat be sure that your image quality is set to 1024 by 768 pixels or higher, and know how to manually adjust your exposure settings. Most digital cameras have some type of aperture / exposure lock that allows you to adjust one and the other automatically adjustments in order to insure a good exposure. This is a nice feature that can make manual exposure adjustment much easier. Do not wait until you are on the dock to pull out the manual. It's also highly advisable to shoot some photos at home first to become familiar with the camera and the type of photos you would like to take. Develop a plan for photographing the boat. You will be less likely to forget to photograph a special feature or an angle you really want if you've thought it through ahead of time.
Photographing the exterior of your boat is the most straightforward. Fully automatic exposure settings on most cameras will do fine. If your boat is at a dock you will probably find a wide-angle lens helpful to capture the whole boat in one shot. Avoid shooting into the sun if at all possible. Try to schedule your photo shoot for dusk or dawn if you would like more dramatic lighting and avoid shooting your photos near noon when the sun is directly overhead. If you choose to do your photography at dawn photograph the exterior of the boat first so that as the sun rises and you complete your photographs of the exterior you will be gaining more light in the interior for those photographs. The same is true in reverse for dusk. Try to take at least some photos from a forty-five degree angle to the boat to show the lines of the full and both the bow or stern and side in one shot. Do not forget to photograph any distinguishing details that may attract a buyer like solar panels, vents, upgraded wenches etc. If you are photographing your boat moored offshore use a telephoto lens if you have one and be sure to use a tripod. It will insure clear photos since it's difficult to hold the camera still enough when it is zoomed far out. If you do not have a tripod use a high shutter speed of at least 1/125 of a second.
Photographing your boat while it is underway is a bit more difficult. If done from shore use a telephoto lens if you have one and try to use a high shutter speed of at least 1/125 of a second. This will help insure clear photos while you are moving the camera. If you are photographing your boat from another boat the same applies, but as your boat gets closer and you have to zoom less you can reduce the shutter speed. This would be the case if, for instance, the boats were following one another, or if you set up your camera with the specific intention of photographing your boat as it passes closely by. If shooting from a runabout keep your shutter high speed and use a weatherproof housing to prevent salt spray from damaging your camera if the runabout is moving.
Photographing the interior of your boat can be a little more challenging. The uneven lighting of the interior and small spaces of a boat are what make photographing the interior a challenge. You will need to use manual exposure settings for the interior of your boat. The automatic metering in your camera will adjust to the conditions of the bright light coming into your cabins (especially you salon). If you photograph the interior of the boat with these settings you will get good photos of what is outside the windows and a very dark interior. Increase aperture and exposure time to compensate for this. Some cameras have the ability to preview the image as it will appear at a given exposure.
If you have this feature take full advantage of it. The image that results from the increase in aperture and exposure time will show the interior of the boat well lit, while the windows will be very bright and probably the scene outside will be indistinguishable. It's a good idea to pick the settings you think are correct and then also shoot one photo with slightly more aperture and exposure time and one with less. This is called bracketing and helps insure at least one of the three photos is good. A tripod can help insure steady clear photos on board. Try shooting some photos from odd angles. Photograph down through a hatch for instance. Try photographing small rooms in your home to get a feel for the task ahead.
Try to have fun photographing your boat. If you feel short on enthusiasm try to think back to how excited you were when you first sailed it, or think of it as practice for photographing your beautiful new boat. One last tip … if your boat is up on blocks next to the port-a-potty and a partially restored Ford Pinto this week and it will be in the water next week maybe you should wait till next week to photograph it.
For more information, please visit www.catamarans.com