Behind the scenes on a superyacht shoot

Published 19 juin 2020

As worldwide Central Agent for the charter management of the spectacular 80m (262.5ft) Abeking & Rasmussen EXCELLENCE, delivered in 2019 to rapturous acclaim, we wanted to arrange a photo and video shoot as soon as possible. With that in place, we can bring the yacht to the charter market far more effectively.

In November last year, after months of planning by Brand Manager Kirsty Young, Kirsty and Chief Marketing Officer Tim Davis headed out to Antigua for five days to join the yacht and oversee the operation. We asked Tim, what actually happens on a superyacht shoot?

EXCELLENCE the video

First I want to say that I'm really pleased with the result, I think it's one of our best videos. The difference between a good shoot and an amazing one is the captain and crew so huge kudos to them for understanding why this was so important and for making our job easier. I must also give enormous credit to the owner for trusting us to deliver our creative vision for EXCELLENCE.

There was a Burgess team behind every shot in this video. We were art directing every scene because the brief for this video was to create a personality for the yacht - it was almost like creating a mini movie. On the photography side, we came back from this shoot with over 20,000 images and we edited them down to maybe 80 or 100 shots that really meet the brief, it's so critical to creating that personality for the yacht.

Everything highlights the stand out nature of the yacht but it's also a bit different, it's dynamic and energetic and it really brings to life the experience of being on board. It differentiates the yacht from all others.

Essentially it tells a story and I think all good marketing messages should do that. It really recreates the essence of being on board, an escape from work but you can still work if you need to. It's people taking the opportunity to just completely relax and chill out and this video does that beautifully.

The planning for that outcome starts months before the shoot. There is a huge amount of logistics for Kirsty to control. First there is the yacht itself, we have to make sure that captain and crew are fully on board with the shoot. We always explain that a shoot is like a very busy charter, it is very demanding on a captain and crew, whether that's sailing the yacht to where we need to be depending on the weather, wind, light, everything in terms of exterior and interior shots. It tends to be early mornings and very late evenings to be able to capture the light in the best way for the various different shots, then obviously sunset shots as well.

A glimpse behind the scenes

Then there's the model and photography side of it. We were very specific in our model choice because we knew we wanted to capture the energy and dynamism of the yacht. She's so unique. There tends to be a minimum of two photographers but there can be a videographer too. Then on the bigger shoots you've got four or six models, hair, make up and wardrobe to coordinate so you've got a small army of people.

If they're staying on the yacht, that's great, but much of the time there isn't space on board so they stay ashore. Then you need to think where they're going to stay and how we get them on and off the yacht every morning and evening, because we need people on board at 5am to get set up with wardrobe and make up in time to get the best light.

The EXCELLENCE shoot ran pretty much as planned. What was unusual about this one was the amount of glass. That throws up obvious challenges in terms of reflections and movement. When you've got a shoot crew and a yacht crew running around the yacht, the more glass there is, the more you can see people. It sounds trivial but it's so important and it means that people can't move around the yacht as easily. There weren't any significant challenges, it was more just the weather, which was a bit on and off, so we just had to find the right location.

In the Caribbean we try to go to locations that potential charterers recognise. In this case we went to the BVIs for most of the shoot and then over to the USVIs to use the jetskis, as you can't use them in the BVIs and obviously that's a key feature for most yachts and plays quite a big part in most yacht videos. That can create issues though. When you anchor in a secluded cove for a beach BBQ set up then four other yachts suddenly arrive, it's more difficult to get shots that convey the perception that the yacht is on her own in a beautiful bay.

I was massively impressed by the EXCELLENCE crew. I've been on six shoots and this crew is one of the very best I've ever worked with. Their willingness to muck in, their understanding of how important the shoot is for the yacht was a huge plus. A really good photo shoot is the best thing to 'sell' the yacht to a potential charterer and the EXCELLENCE crew just couldn't have been more helpful, setting up slides, taking them down, moving the yacht when we needed to for the drone and the aerial shots, beach set ups, changing a beach set up location, then constantly being really positive.

We were very demanding. A big focus of the shoot was food and food preparation in the galley, wanting sushi in the middle of the day under the blazing sun, needing to shoot breakfast at 4pm, they were just so accommodating whatever we needed. We were staying on board too so all the interior crew were really helpful in making the cabins look constantly amazing. Definitely one of the best crews we've worked with to date.

I hope everyone enjoys the results as much as I do. Most people take a lot of persuading but a superyacht shoot really is very hard work and when everything comes together as it did on EXCELLENCE, it's so rewarding.


Available for charter

Shine in the light of EXCELLENCE

Do you see yourself on board later in the year? Talk to a broker about your options.


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