A Guide to Nautical Photography

Onne (pronounced „Onn-Uh”) has been a nautical, sailing and yacht photographer for over 20 years. Once a professional sailor, Onne got his start in nautical, sailing and yacht photography while sailing with the 1981-82 Dutch Whitbread Around the World Race Team on their winning boat, FLYER. When Onne returned from their winning circumnavigation, the press was eager to see the many sailing photos he had shot with gear given to the eager young sailor and sailing photographer by Olympus Cameras. These yachting photos are still often published today and were his first commercial works, as they came to represent the photographic style and elements he is now well known for. Dramatic angles from the masthead or the end of the spinnaker pole are examples of the effort Onne will put into any assignment or boating photo shoot he accepts.

Onne’s in depth understanding of sailing and boats brings a unique element to his nautical / sailing / yacht photography and lends itself to his individual style. When Onne is hired as a boating photographer, he brings these skills to the job and is able to play many roles – he can set up a fleet of boats for a mock-race, stylize a mega yacht for a discerning client, call out trim and sail change sequences for a sailboat photography shoot – all the while shooting with a keen eye and meticulous attention to the mechanical details of the yachting photograph.

His nautical, sailing and yacht photography is now shot entirely digitally on Canon 1-DS cameras with top of the line lenses, equipment and software. The package Onne delivers is not only stunning sailing photography, but is professionally presented with image files impeccably edited and color corrected, and always tack-sharp, well-lighted and creative.

Onne was born in Holland to a family with a deep heritage of sea going and sea loving ancestors. He was raised on the water in Hout Bay, South Africa and at an early age was sailing and planning his „escape” to the sea. He worked on commercial fishing boats and spent any free time sailing and racing as well as maintaining local racing boats until, at the age of 23, he left South Africa to skipper and manage larger racing sailboats. Onne has crossed the Atlantic more than ten times, and has raced in many other trans-oceanic events. Most recently his ocean sailing has been on nautical photographic expeditions, which have taken him as far north as Spitsbergen in the Norwegian Arctic and as far South as Antarctica. In the winter of 2003 Onne was fortunate enough to photograph an epic journey to retrace the steps of Sir Ernest Shackleton on the Island of South Georgia in the Falkland Islands.

Onne currently spends his summers photographing the busy nautical scene in Newport, RI where he has his office and a gallery of his work on Bannister’s Wharf downtown (the Onne van der Wal gallery). In the off-season, Onne travels extensively as a nautical and sailing photographer for private yacht photography and commercial clients. His first book, „Wind and Water,” was released in May 2004 and has been a great success with admirers of Onne’s work and the water and by photography buffs. His award winning sailing calendars grace the walls of countless people year-round.

Onne lives in Jamestown, RI with his wife Tenley and their 3 children, Read, Billy and Adrian, and often takes the family cruising and sailing – they are handy and capable models for many of his photo shoots.


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