Today we interview Ben Duffy, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge official photographer, on his experience of the race through a lens.

TWAC2015: It’s currently zero degrees in England, and you’ve been in Antigua most of the winter! We want to know – how did you become official TWAC photographer?

BD: I’m lucky enough to work in an industry where people are always looking for a new challenge and move around. A client of mine had moved from the sports industry (where I do a lot of my work) into the drinks industry and when the brief for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge came up she put me straight up for it, knowing I would absolutely love doing it. From the portraits to documenting the preparations to the full blown spectacular arrivals, it fitted right into my particular skill set as a commercial photographer.

Ben Duffy Blog pic (metaphoto)

  TWAC2015: What’s the most difficult part of the job?

  BD: The most difficult part of the job is always the bits you cannot control – in this respect it’s probably mainly the shooting conditions. The boats can arrive in the middle of the night which is a particular challenge, getting on ABSAR (the rescue boat that meets the rowers 2 or 3 miles out to sea) and bouncing through the sea is exhilarating, but all my kit needs to be secure and waterproof as it can be a very rough ride. Once we meet the boats it’s pitch black apart from a few navigation lights so as keen photographers will know, going from pitch black to a burning magnesium flare can challenge the exposure. Then keeping a steady camera in 3 meter swells is the next challenge! None of this is impossible, it’s just a challenge. I feel a keen sense of responsibility to make my images reflect the sheer magnitude of what each rower has achieved.

The other tough thing is keeping a dry eye – some of the arrivals have been incredibly emotionally charged. I’m not the only one either, many members of our fabulous team can be seen wiping away a tear or two!

TWAC2015: How does photographing the start of the race compare to the arrivals?

BD: The start is tense. For many members of the fleet the race is a total unknown, their learning curve for the next few months is vast. We all try to remain very respectful of the rowers’ mindset in La Gomera, knowing they’re about to about to join a very small club of people that have attempted to row the Atlantic ocean can be very daunting. I arrive a week before they set off and spend some time getting to know the rowers, photographing their preparations, heading out to sea with them as they do final tests on their equipment, enjoying the odd drink at night as they get together to discuss wind, waves and water makers. And then they go. I get to spend my Christmas staring at yellow brick, the race tracker, and planning for Antigua. And then they arrive and what is born is a family. The jubilation, celebration and camaraderie is tangible, it grows and grows as more boats arrive. I’m always amazed that sometimes the biggest cheer from an arriving rower is when he or she sees fellow fleet members, someone you know that has literally just been through what you have and felt the pain and the relief. To be a small part on the fringe of that feeling is amazing and an honour.

TWAC2015: Would you ever row the Atlantic?

BD: Nope, takes a special kind of person, I’m not that kind of person.

TWAC2015: How do you feel the rowers have changed from start photographs to finish photographs?

BD: I’ve seen every change: people who have loved it and grown; people who have hated it and left part of themselves out there; people who have treated it like any other day.

Visit Ben’s website http://www.benduffyphotography.com/ or follow him on Twitter for more information @benduffyphoto

Today we interview Ben Duffy, Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge official photographer, on his experience of the race through a lens.

TWAC2015: It’s currently zero degrees in England, and you’ve been in Antigua most of the winter! We want to know – how did you become official TWAC photographer?

BD: I’m lucky enough to work in an industry where people are always looking for a new challenge and move around. A client of mine had moved from the sports industry (where I do a lot of my work) into the drinks industry and when the brief for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge came up she put me straight up for it, knowing I would absolutely love doing it. From the portraits to documenting the preparations to the full blown spectacular arrivals, it fitted right into my particular skill set as a commercial photographer.

Ben Duffy Blog pic (metaphoto)

  TWAC2015: What’s the most difficult part of the job?

  BD: The most difficult part of the job is always the bits you cannot control – in this respect it’s probably mainly the shooting conditions. The boats can arrive in the middle of the night which is a particular challenge, getting on ABSAR (the rescue boat that meets the rowers 2 or 3 miles out to sea) and bouncing through the sea is exhilarating, but all my kit needs to be secure and waterproof as it can be a very rough ride. Once we meet the boats it’s pitch black apart from a few navigation lights so as keen photographers will know, going from pitch black to a burning magnesium flare can challenge the exposure. Then keeping a steady camera in 3 meter swells is the next challenge! None of this is impossible, it’s just a challenge. I feel a keen sense of responsibility to make my images reflect the sheer magnitude of what each rower has achieved.

The other tough thing is keeping a dry eye – some of the arrivals have been incredibly emotionally charged. I’m not the only one either, many members of our fabulous team can be seen wiping away a tear or two!

TWAC2015: How does photographing the start of the race compare to the arrivals?

BD: The start is tense. For many members of the fleet the race is a total unknown, their learning curve for the next few months is vast. We all try to remain very respectful of the rowers’ mindset in La Gomera, knowing they’re about to about to join a very small club of people that have attempted to row the Atlantic ocean can be very daunting. I arrive a week before they set off and spend some time getting to know the rowers, photographing their preparations, heading out to sea with them as they do final tests on their equipment, enjoying the odd drink at night as they get together to discuss wind, waves and water makers. And then they go. I get to spend my Christmas staring at yellow brick, the race tracker, and planning for Antigua. And then they arrive and what is born is a family. The jubilation, celebration and camaraderie is tangible, it grows and grows as more boats arrive. I’m always amazed that sometimes the biggest cheer from an arriving rower is when he or she sees fellow fleet members, someone you know that has literally just been through what you have and felt the pain and the relief. To be a small part on the fringe of that feeling is amazing and an honour.

TWAC2015: Would you ever row the Atlantic?

BD: Nope, takes a special kind of person, I’m not that kind of person.

TWAC2015: How do you feel the rowers have changed from start photographs to finish photographs?

BD: I’ve seen every change: people who have loved it and grown; people who have hated it and left part of themselves out there; people who have treated it like any other day.

Visit Ben’s website http://www.benduffyphotography.com/ or follow him on Twitter for more information @benduffyphoto