Onne van der Wal: Nautical Photographer

Last Updated by Lucie Raposo on

Keeping steady the canon-like barrel of a telephoto zoom lens to capture that perfect shot is daunting enough on land. Add rocking swells, crashing waves, and the speed and spray of wind on the water, and the timing, talent, and finesse it takes to take the shot inspires even greater appreciation of Onne van der Wal’s craft. A new documentary, Onne van der Wal: Nautical Photographer, features his work as one of the most prolific and talented marine photographers in the world of sailing. Produced by Rhode Island PBS, the half-hour film premieres on Friday, June 15 at 8 p.m. on Rhode Island PBS.

Onne van der Wal by Dave HansenOnne van der Wal: Nautical Photographer traces Onne’s unconventional start, his unwavering work process, and the advice he gives photographers - both seasoned and starting out. Interwoven in the story are two of Onne’s films: trap fishing in Rhode Island, and the exhilarating story of Comanche, a 100-foot super-maxi yacht, built to break records.

Based in Newport, Rhode Island, Onne van der Wal has traveled the globe, capturing breathtaking nautical scenes displayed in magazines, books, and in his Newport gallery. His award winning nautical photography is world renowned for its unique composition, brilliant colors, tack sharp details, and his attention to the technicalities of digital photography.

“It has always been a goal of mine to tell my story about what brought me to Rhode Island and how I built up my sailing and nautical photography,” Onne said from his gallery in Newport. “Working with Rhode Island PBS on this documentary was so easy and fun.”

Born in Holland and raised in South Africa, he learned to sail at a young age aboard his grandfather's boat. First known as a professional sailor who race Onne van der Wal on boat d in the Whitbread Around the World Race, Onne's keen eye for composition is steeped in his love for the ocean and boats, and the serene beauty they offer when photographed. Onne's library features images of the most beautiful classic yachts, the sleekest racing machines, quiet harbors and secluded beaches, icebergs, and wildlife.

"It's been an amazing experience to follow and get into the mind of one of the world's top nautical photographers," said Scott Saracen, Rhode Island PBS producer-director. "Onne is not only extremely talented but also very open to sharing his process."

"We love these types of projects where we get to work with inspiring people locally," said Maria Saracen, Rhode Island PBS producer. "And if we get to do it outside, in gorgeous weather, on a boat -- well, that's just the cherry on top!"

After its June 15 premiere, Onne van der Wal: Nautical Photographer will encore Saturday, June 16 at noon and 11 p.m., and Sunday, June 17 at 7 p.m. Check local listings for dates and times in July and August. More information about Onne van der Wal and samples of his photography are available on his Website.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on RI cable: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, and Full Channel 08; on MA cable: Comcast 819HD and Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36.