Contrary to what Apple has people believing, taking photos requires just a little more skill than pointing your phone in the general direction of something you want to capture. It takes a little bit of knowledge and experience, especially when we’re talking about capturing realistic operations. Considering our background here at RE Factor Tactical, we figured, what better topic to discuss than waterborne operations photography. If you have such skills already and are interested in pursuing a career in waterborne photography, outside of the military, keep reading!

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ryan U. Kledzik/Released

Capturing Realistic Waterborne Photography

Believe it or not, there are plenty of places and companies you can use your skills to take the perfect picture on water. Companies that use and appreciate a background in military photography and video/film production are everywhere. Think about all of the careers that operate on the water. They most likely require a photographer if they’re attempting to get their name out there.

Below are a few places you can look to put your skills to use.

Adventure Companies

Adventure Rib Rides might not be the first company you think about when looking for a job using your military photography skills. However, that’s precisely what they’re looking for. The company not only appreciates it, but they also specialize in military photography, video/film production, and whale watching. Yes, you read that correctly, whale watching. Imagine being in a career that not only lets you utilize a skill you have but lets you have fun using it. Adventure Rib Rides is one of those places.  You’ll have the opportunity of adventure while getting to take some pretty awesome photos.

Of course, this isn’t the only company needing some good quality photographers who know how to work on water. Consider reaching out to companies that specialize in white water rafting, competitive fishing tournaments, or water rescue.

Work with Local Law Enforcement

If you’re trying to find a place to get some realistic photos, what better way than to work with your local law enforcement agencies. If you live anywhere near water, consider talking with your local department in charge of water operations. You’ll have to get clearance to conduct your photoshoot in the area, but it’s worth a shot, especially if you’re trying to build up your portfolio.

Tips on Waterborne Operations Photography

Now, let’s say you got a gig with a company like Adventure Rib Rides or your local LE department. Now you have to look the part. Here are a few tips to consider when trying to make your shoot realistic, without putting yourself in danger of having your viewer think your work is garbage.

Watch the Weather

If you’re doing photography outside, trust us, you want to watch the weather. If you’re not trying to get a shot during a torrential downpour, you’re going to want to keep an eye out, because the last thing you want to do is get rained out. Then, all the work you put toward set-up is pretty much out the door.

The weather can make or break your photo session. Sometimes you want it to be dreary, other times, you need full sun. If you’re looking to do a photo session when it’s sunny out, maybe take a look at the forecasted weather, so you’re not out on the water during a cloudy day. Waterborn operation photography is typically outside, so the weather is going to matter.

Work Throughout the Sunset

Have you ever noticed how beautiful sunset photos are? That’s because the photographer goes out later in the evening and spends his or her time taking pictures through the sunset. Then they sort through hundreds, if not thousands of photos, so they can pick out the perfect one.

Sunset and sunrise make for some awesome photos. And sunsets, in particular, are magnificent for photos taken on water.

Look the Part

Remember, we’re doing waterborne photography here, so you’re most likely going to be out on a boat. The last thing you want to do is not have your boat look the part. This, of course, goes for all of your actors and props. If what you’re using doesn’t look the part, then nothing about your photo will say realistic. It doesn’t matter how good the picture looks, if you’re trying to tell a story, tell it right.



The point is to have realist photos, no matter what the operation is. This will take some coordination on your part. You’ll have to get with companies, departments, etc. and make sure you’re authorized to be there. You’ll have to schedule around the weather. And lastly, you’ll have to be willing to put in the hours to get that perfect sunset photo.