PDN: What inspired you to start your
Allen Clark: We were passionate sailors
[and] we didn’t want to be pinned down
by another business owner or a corporate
job while in our twenties. So we quit our
jobs (Daniela managed a large sailing
school and I was selling boats) and started
PDN: What convinced you there was a
market for it?
Daniela Clark: We worked as sailing
instructors and saw Yacht Shots BVI doing
this in the Caribbean, and we saw a market
for it in Long Island Sound. It’s a great place
to sail, and there are a lot of nice yachts here
because of the proximity to New York City
and the financial industry.
PDN: Was it a long learning curve?
DC: Our first regatta was a big success for
us. It was a youth national championship
regatta in Westport. [Another
photographer] cancelled at the last minute.
We had connections and got the job. Since
then, we’ve honed our skills more from a
marketing perspective. Our photography
has improved as well. Allen worked with
Yacht Shots BVI for about three months
after we opened our business. It was a good
experience, going out there every day to
shoot and having [Yacht Shots BVI founder]
Guy Clothier as a mentor.
PDN: What distinguishes your style and
approach to sailing photography?
AC: Our niche has been close-up action
photography, where you can see the spray
of the water and the expression on the
sailors’ faces. And we do a good job of
covering everybody, not just people in the
front. That works well when we’re selling to
shot casually for Instagram. Leroy says
the biggest challenge was to replicate the
lighting of the rally bikers project in the
ads, which also had to look like the models
were lit by their tablet screens.
He prefers to keep his lighting set-ups “really simple and really large,” so
the lighting is consistent over a larger
area, allowing for more spontaneity
and movement by his models while he’s
shooting. “I don’t want to waste time
and energy [with the lights] while I’m
shooting,” he says.
For the Lenovo campaign, he had to
use harder lighting than sunlight diffused
through a pop-up tent, because the Lenovo
models wore softer clothing than the
bikers, without all the buckles and leather.
To replicate the Rally Bikers lighting
for the video shoots, he shot in a studio
with a cyc wall and four 18K HMI Fresnel
lights—“an enormous amount of power,”
he says. He also used a trick he learned
from photographer and lighting director
Jonathan Orenstein: Instead of using the
cyc wall as a seamless background for the
shoot, he used it as a giant reflector.
“The wall is the light source—and it’s
big and powerful. It gives the images clarity
and sparkle,” Leroy says.
To get the same lighting effects for the
still photographs, he needed even more
light than the HMI lights provided in order
to eliminate motion blur. So he used strobes
with Profoto Pro-8a power packs, which
provided both the high power and short
duration he needed to freeze the action.
The agency street-cast the talent for
a “real people” look, and Leroy used the
same approach he used with the bikers,
bringing the talent on set and shooting
quickly. “I didn’t bore them with long
explanations. I gave little information—just
simple instructions like, ‘Pretend you’re
sitting with the tablet talking to one of your
friends,’” he says. “I know I have them for
five minutes before they get stale, so I’m
going to be done in four minutes.”
The Lenovo campaign ran worldwide in
late summer and early fall 2013.
Several other clients have also hired
Leroy on the strength of the rally bikers
project. The look and feel of the biker
portraits doesn’t translate directly to
every job. For example, it isn’t appropriate
to photograph lawyers the same way he
photographed the bikers, he says. But
Leroy is happy to have found a gratifying
personal project that has opened up
WHAT’S YOUR NICHE
SAILBOAT RACING EVENT
Photographer Allen Clark makes his living shooting
sailing regattas along the East Coast and in the
Caribbean, and selling prints afterwards to the
competitors through his website, PhotoBoat.com.
He launched the company in 2005 with his wife,
Daniela Clark, who works with him part-time.
ABOVE: Photographer Allen Clark uses a launch to get close-up action shots of regatta sailors and their
boats, then sells prints on location and online after the events. INSET: Allen Clark.