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26 May 2020

Photography 101

So, you're thinking about learning how to become a photographer? Maybe it's been your lifelong dream, maybe it's your latest passion, or maybe you're thinking about trying out a new hobby. We had the pleasure to interview Tom Serio, a yachting photographer to give you the inside look. His work has been published in the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Germany. Tom was also the winner of BWI (Boating Writers International) photography award. Complimenting his photography is his writing, freelancing for publications such as The Triton newspaper,, and SEA Magazine to name a few!

Q. Many yachties want to take amazing photos while onboard or travelling. What advice would you give them?

A. You must learn the craft and get an "eye" for what it is that you want to capture. Walk in a room, and many people will grab their camera and shoot the room. Learn how to pick out a feature of the room and highlight that. It could be the lighting, textures, colors, objects, etc. You want to make your photos exciting, something people want to see as well as something you want to show off. Photography is very subjective, what you like others may not, and vice versa. Take photos of things that others can't capture, such as exotic landscapes, fiery sunrises or sunsets, action pics, anything that stirs the soul. On a yacht, use lighting and reflections to your benefit. And always look behind you as there may be a better show than what you're shooting.

Q. What equipment do you use to get the perfect shot?

A. My best and most favorite tool is my tripod. I shoot a lot at night, and you can't hold a camera absolutely still for a long exposure image. A good, sturdy tripod is only a few hundred bucks, but it makes a world of difference. I shoot lightning, stars, yachts, houses, anything that looks good lit up, and the tripod is invaluable. Even on a yacht, you can get cool shots with a tripod mounted camera, that will give you sharp image of the yacht and some cool motion blur of the scenery.

Q. What equipment would you recommend that is compact, will not break the bank but get fantastic shots/video?

A. You don't have to spend a lot to get a lot. Many cameras, even phones have of course, automatic controls, but also have manual controls. Get a camera that has manual controls so you can adjust the aperture and shutter speed, as well as ISO, lighting, etc. Using manual adjustments even during daytime can dramatically improve the images. It takes practice so don't worry about the bad photos, learn from them, delete them and move on. There can be great satisfaction in producing awe inspiring and touching photos. When picking a camera, get one that you can handle, as in size and weight. Yachties probably prefer smaller cameras for portability. Nikon (D3400, CoolPix) and Canon (EOS Rebel, PowerShot) make great point and shoots, as does Sony (Cyber-Shot, Alpha).

Q. Many cameras have interchangeable lenses. What should a yachtie look for?

A. It really depends on what type of photography they do. For general use, get a zoom lens in the range of 24mm to 85mm. A 300mm is a big zoom lens for distance. Go down to 12mm for wide angle. Macro lenses are used to shoot small objects like insects at close range. There are fixed lenses, like a 55mm, but that may be restricting for a yachtie.

Q. Any other tips for our crew photographers?

A. Yes. Do not be afraid to shoot something if you like it. There could be a light fixture or a foyer wall that is interesting. Shoot it from the face, from above or below. I like shooting spiral staircases from above for a unique perspective. Also, learn that if someone else doesn't like your photo, it's okay and usually not personal.

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