The art of maritime photography

Owen Foley’s artistic eye captures vessels sailing around the globe

With more than 3.500 photos submitted to the MarineTraffic image library, Australian photographer Owen Foley is one of the top contributors globally. 

Snapping photos for 40 years now, since the 80’s when he could afford his first camera, he started focusing on ships around 2010 when he worked on a few jobs close to busy ports.

The photographer has a long drive to get to the sea from where he lives now, so he uses the MarineTraffic platform to confirm that the ships he’s hoping to shoot are going to be there.

“When on site, I use it like a radar that can show me where the ships are and when they will come into view so I will be ready for them. MarineTraffic is very useful to me as a photographer,” Owen said.

As a drone photographer, he needs accurate information both on the wind and the ship’s speed before flying, therefore, checking the recorded wind data from ships in the area, from MarineTraffic, gives him much more accurate information than any forecast no matter where he decides to take action.

“Anywhere I can get close enough to ships is good for me,” he told us, but among his favourite-places-to-shoot, San Francisco Bay and Singapore stand out; the first as a fabulous harbour with a lot of different backgrounds ideal for a shot, and the latter as an area where there are always so many and different kinds of ships he can capture. 

The chance to ride on pilot boats and observe marine pilots at work is an exciting part of his job he wants to highlight through his maritime photography. “I’m always impressed by the boat crews and their vessels braving all kinds of sea conditions to deliver and pick up the pilots,” he said. 

Highlighting the admiration he feels for them, he added “…watching an expert pilot deal with a strong wind and cross current to safely berth a 300 metre bulk carrier was more interesting than being in the cockpit for a jet flight.”

Once he realised his photo collection of ships has grown significantly, he decided to join and contribute to the MarineTraffic community by uploading his images to the image library where over three million photos of vessels, ports and lighthouses can be found.

When asked if he has a favourite shot, the photographer was quick to point out a picture he took in the coastal town of Caloundra, in South East Queensland, Australia.

This shot of the Ital Libera is one of my favoured pieces of work as it captures the grace and speed of a very elegant vessel.

You can find more of Owen Foley’s impressive work on his website, by clicking on the link here.


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