How to get the best photo and video results of your vessel

By Jack Mahoney

  • Start with a clean yacht. Wash and wax the exterior. Shiny boats draw considerably more attention which leads to more bidders and higher bids. Clean, polish, and vacuum the interior. Remove everything from the interior that is not going with the vessel. There should be no personal items at all seen in photos and bedding should be tidy. The boat should have the appearance that it could be turned over to a new owner that day. Clean your lens, too, especially when using a smart phone.
  • The right light is critical. The best lighting conditions are in the ‘soft’ sunlight in the late afternoon or early evening, or at dusk using a flash. At dusk with a flash produces great pictures. They’re best taken from reasonably close distances, so the flash can do its job. The beauty of dusk, especially for boats in slips, is that the flash captures what you want while other objects and boats in the background are not prominently seen.
  • The exterior. The job of the photographer is to include the entire vessel. This isn’t easy so think of the job as putting together a mosaic. You want prospective buyers to see your boat in the very condition it is, with no exceptions. To accomplish this, we will utilize photos from both the seller and surveyor. If the boat is out of the water, take as many photos of the underside as possible; propeller, rudder, keel, thru-hulls, snap a picture of the hull identification number, etc. Topside, take as many pictures as necessary for a buyer to see everything; steering wheel, gauges, brightwork, blocks, anchor, chain, windlass, rigging, etc. Taking a short one-minute video, if possible, of the engine cold start is highly recommended.
  • The interior. Turn on the lights and begin with a comprehensive overview. Play around with the panorama option with smartphone cameras. Start with a wide-angle lens and photograph as much of the interior as you can. Then, focus on the details; instruments, chart table, nav station, engine, bilge, head, galley, portlights, brightwork, etc. The detail photos don’t have to be masterpieces. They’re used to provide prospective so bidders can get a true understanding of the vessel to determine if further due diligence is warranted.
  • Show it all; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t hide or “photoshop” any problems. Show the flaws up front rather than waiting for discovery during onsite due diligence inspections. Start with wide shots and work closer. Details matter. Shoot the condition of the exterior and interior. Transparency leads to confidence. Most auctions have over 100 high-quality photos, and some include video and drone footage. Make your vessel stand out, but above all be sure the photos accurately and objectively showcase the boat in its true condition.
  • Vary your view. Bend your knees, try to get up high, move back, get close, with exterior shots use a standard lens or a telephoto lens, if needed. The only time we use a wide-angle lens is to photograph the interior.
  • Video can be a very compelling sales tool. Click here to see a short overview of how to shoot vessel video by