Interview with the photographer: Matias Capizzano

2015 Snipe Worlds – Talamone. Italy
© Matias Capizzano

Behind the lens: Matias Capizzano, sailing photographer from Mar del Plata, Argentina. Matias is well known by the Snipe sailors, having followed the Class during the last 3 World Championships, Europeans and Westerns. Here are his interesting answers to our questions.

– 1) When did you start as a photographer and what sparked that?

I started to shoot when I was very young, at home with my dad´s camera, out of curiosity.

Then at University I studied Industrial Design and took a course of photography.

– 2) When did you first take photos of sailing boats and Snipes?

I love sailing. I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where I sailed Optimists and then for many years in the J/24 class. I was a Optimist coach for beginners too, for a long time. I quit my job as a designer in Buenos Aires with the intention to go back home to Mar del Plata, where I got married with Malena and the had two girls, Josefina and Julia.

– 3) What is your best sailing photograph?

The first sailing event that I photographed was the Semana Internacional del yachting at my home club. It’s one of the most important sailing regattas in Argentina, with more than 500 dinghies. Most of the coaches were friend of mine, so I was like a frog jumping from one coach boat to another to be able to be everywhere, shooting. It was somewhat unconscious, but little by little it would set the course of my life.

Regarding my best sailing photos … These photos represent part of my work and what I want to show when the kids are out there far from ashore. I want to show their skills attitude and courage.

– 4) What is the most challenging thing about capturing sailing in photos?

Trying to stay where you want when you want. You fight against the waves, the wind, and the sailors out of control. I like to be alone in my RIB so this is really difficult and exhausting when it’s really windy and wavy, but it is when I feel more comfortable.

– 5) Do you have a special technique or secret to take pictures of Snipe sailing? 

I like to photograph the Snipe because it is a dramatic boat when it’s windy. The boat is flat and the crew is very close from the water, they can fly over the waves going upwind, you can see them from leeward thanks to the height of the boom, and in a reach they can go really fast. Ashore, the crews work a lot with their boats, so there I have extra work.

– 6) Is this Class different from other Classes?

You can see really competitive races because of its technique and tuning that make in the class specialists for light and hard wind. You usually don’t know who will win the Worlds until the last race.

The starting line of the Snipe class is one of the longest and sharpest I’ve seen.

– 7) Which kind of equipment (cameras, lens, drone) do you use? 

I use Canon. I have two cameras set with different lenses in my box. An another one with the waterproof case. When it’s windy I just change the whole thing so I don’t lose time changing lenses and covers. I use a drone. I just need my imagination to be as liberated as the drone is. It is an incredible camera.

I also use a waterproof case that provides a different angle when I swim near the Snipes at the mark. I trust them and their keel…. most of the time.

– 8) Do you take only photos or are you also filming video?

I just started to do some videos but it is a different game; not just to film the action, but this is a place where you need an extra feeling. It is not easy. With the drone it’s OK but from the RIB, the stabilization is very important, so I would need extra equipment and skills. But I would love to do some serious filming.

– 9) Do you change your technique according to the sailing conditions and light? 

You have to set the cameras differently depending on the wind and the light. For the wind it’s easier if you have to freeze the action, splash or not, but with the lights you have more work depending if the water is dark or there are breaking waves, time of day or background. I use to under or over expose the image.

– 10) What’s your favorite sailing condition for taking photos?

With light wind it is more difficult to find interesting things, you need the best of you this days. For sure my favorite sailing condition is when you should keep the camera in your bag…. when the wind is over 18 or 20 knots, when you can’t see behind the wave in front of you. You have to be calm, all the senses awake. You want to be everywhere at the same time, but you can’t. The boats go very fast so you don’t have many options, maybe you can be at only two marks in a race. You have to know the course and make a plan. Take your best position in the first race, because you don’t know if there will be a second race or if everyone will go back ashore. You need to have a raincover for your camera, the best and most comfortable. It is the best investment you can make. Don’t forget the lens cleaning paper, I have some everywhere! I like to have a small RIB to have a low angle sitting in the floor. These days taking photos is very painful in my back but I can fly over the waves.

You need a place to stash your camera when things become very bad… just in case. Once in the Galapagos my RIB capsized, but all my equipment was safe in my Pelican case. At the end I just lost my sunglasses and couldn’t sleep for a couple of nights.

– 11) Which regatta or sailing venue do you remember with most pleasure?

I was lucky to be at the last 3 Snipe Worlds, Talamone in Italy, La Coruña in Spain and Ilhabela in Brazil, all beautiful places. I had the chance to spend more time during the Worlds in Talamone and I really loved it.

– 12) Which would you rather do, sail or take photos of sailing?

At the end of my sailing days I did a lot of match racing, It was the best thing I did after Optimists, but now I have to work and the sailing photography has become my way of life. I joined design, sailing and photography in one thing.  I like my job. My working environment is very nice, organizers use to be very nice people, with positive energy to run the events. I always learn from them and know differents cultures, cities and landscapes. This is the best of my job, but also I want to go back home to meet my girls. Sometimes I am out for a month or more, but then my office is at home so I have the chance to be all day with my family.

– 13) What is your dream in the peak? (Your sailing photography dream)

My dream would be to cover the Round the World Race. Not sure about being onboard… sorry, yes I am sure, not onboard… maybe some legs. Sorry, not sure… OK, can I see the forecast before the start from Auckland? Yes, let’s go! Go to the Antarctic is an other dream.

– 14) Do you have any advice for budding photographers?

I think that sailing photography is the same as any other discipline. You have to be curious and work hard don’t stop looking for, try different point of view and technics. The most difficult thing is positioning because your boat is moving and the sailors too.

Go out and take photos and be prepared as I said before, since even the best sunny day can become very wet. If you don’t know very well the rules of sailing, ask to have a good driver. Your driver can reduce half of the work or more by being where you want when you want. Don’t bother the sailors, and definitely don’t bother the jury; they drive in one direction and they look in the other one. Be friends of them and be nice, and they will not stop between you and your shot.

When I arrive at an event I introduce myself to the PRO and team and let them know that I will be there… close but clear, that I know the game and that they can trust me. I always give a hand if they need to move marks or anything. You feel part of the team, they are grateful, and the next race can start sooner. Then be ready to photograph! You will find an incredible world.

Finally I want to say that I am very grateful to the Snipe Class, they are very kind to me. Thanks, Matias

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