If you've had questions about the people behind all these pictures, this is the series for you! We talk to some of our independent photographers from all corners of the globe as well as the people behind some of the best stock photo and illustration collections in the world.
Today we're chatting with Michael Eudenbach. If people really were born with gifts connected to one of the four elements, Michael Eudenbach would have powerful magical abilities related to water. A self-taught photographer from a young age, Michael was part of a professional sailing crew for several years after college. He credits those years on the ocean—being able to think on his feet when things go sideways—as training for his career as an assignment photographer. When it comes to weather, Michael favors extremes, equally at home during big storms and the stillness in between. As you can see from the images below and in his gallery, he spends a huge amount of time in and around water. In addition to his experience sailing, Michael is both a scuba diver and paraglider pilot, skills which have come in handy during assignments. His photography has been used by Rolex, Patagonia, Apple and Orvis and published in several magazines including Men’s Journal and Outside. He is based out of Newport, Rhode Island in the U.S.
How did you get started in Photography?
When I was a kid growing up, my family had a darkroom in the basement since my father was into photography. He taught me how to use cameras, process film and make prints. I was shooting and developing black and white film at age 10 using a Twin Lens Reflex Mamiya, and a Voigtlander 35mm Viewfinder. I enjoyed the mechanical process and skill required to work these cameras, as much as the exploration involved in capturing the world around me. Like many who remember seeing a print magically reveal itself while in the developer bath for the first time, I was hooked on photography. I won a photo contest with a photo of my dog, then became photo editor for the school yearbook.
What was your first job?
In my 20's I began submitting to get published in magazines. I was living on a boat, employed as professional sailing crew aboard a famous sailing yacht, so my goal was to create strong images that conveyed the experiences I was having. My first published photo ran in a national magazine called Cruising World, a sailing publication, as a two-page opener. When that check arrived in the mail, I turned my photography hobby into a part-time job. As a crew member, I was in the middle of the sailing action on deck, so would shoot wide-angle scenes of the activity aboard. Viewers were used to seeing mostly long-lens images of boats shot from far away, so I showed them up-close and more intimate wide-angle shots, so they could feel like they were part of the action. I pitched a feature story to Sailing Magazine, about life as a crew member aboard Endeavour, the famous sailing yacht, and that became my first assignment.
Who inspires your work?
Frank Hurley for his expedition photography which was simply amazing considering the 1915 era camera equipment he was working with.
Michael Yamashita for his National Geographic work which combines art and information into a photograph. I met him at a photo workshop many years ago and then assisted him in Vermont for a week while he shot a story for National Geographic.
Jay Maisel, for his philosophy on photography being about simply the joy of seeing. Also for always carrying a camera, while looking for the spontaneous light and moments. His quote: "If it doesn't excite you then why bother" (regarding personal work and the choice to take a photo or not) really struck me as the most amazing advice for finding your passion.
Where is your favorite place to shoot?
The open ocean… I am amazed at the constantly changing weather and light moods of the ocean environment. Also the coast of Maine is one of my favorite places to shoot since it's full of beautiful coves, classic boats, strong characters, and delicious lobster sandwiches!
What equipment do you use?
Do you have a favorite season or weather condition to shoot in?
I like extremes when it comes to weather. Calm, quiet weather creates opportunity for peaceful photographs, while storms allow you to capture the energy and create adrenaline filled images. That said my favorite time for being at sea is just as a storm is dying off. Not only is it a relief for any sailor to have the storm behind you, but the light is spectacular as the clouds clear, the fog lifts, and the sun lights up the massive ocean waves.
How have your hobbies influenced the type of photography you do?
My hobbies (travel and sailing) allow me to create images of motion while on the road and water. (See VW car photo, below and the sailing shots of Endeavour, top, with water motion blur). I try to convey the feeling of "being in the drivers seat" or "being on deck of the sailboat" using dynamic vantage points, wide-angle lenses, and long exposures to show motion-blur in the road or ocean.
What is the craziest thing you have done to get an image?
I flew a powered paraglider over the frozen St. Lawrence River, Canada, with a camera above me in the wing, to photograph a lighthouse frozen into the ice. It was very cold, so I could only fly for 15 minutes before getting frostbite. I scouted the river ice beforehand by hiking out 5 miles on the frozen river, to learn where it was safe to land in case the engine died. Luckily I made the flight there and back, triggering the camera remotely. The photo ran in Men's Journal magazine as a double page spread.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I swim and bike to stay in shape. My wife and I go on long hikes with our dog, and we like exploring New England towns.
Do you have a website, blog or social media profiles you'd like to share?
My Ocean Sounds project combining natural ocean surf sounds with beach images. I originally recorded sounds at my favorite beaches just to help me fall asleep, then it became popular since it really works!
Michael’s favorite things:
- Website: Earth (Visualization of global weather conditions)
- Movie: The Bourne Identity
- Book: Endurance by Frank Worsley
- Musician or band: Talking Heads
- T.V. Show: Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
- App: Weather.com