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"Some one said to me once, 'No wonder he creates great images, he has the best camera and lenses money can buy' and I replied, 'Not once has my camera gone out on its own and made great images'."

- Onne van der Wal



Onne van der Wal is one of the most prolific and talented marine photographers in the world of sailing. He was born in Holland on February 24, 1956 and raised in Hout Bay, South Africa. Before he learned to walk, he learned to sail aboard his grandfather's boat. After he progressed through youth sailing training programs, he discovered his passion: ocean racing.

As the bowman and engineer aboard the Dutch maxi-boat Flyer II, van der Wal won all four legs of the 1981-82 Whitbread Round the World Race. Along the way, he took his camera with him everywhere he went, even to the top of the mast and the end of the spinnaker pole.

He was one of the first marine photographers to go all digital, and is an early adopter of shooting with drones to get that unique perspective that is higher than a stepladder, but lower than a helicopter. He often works with equipment manufacturers to improve their gear and shot the 2013 America's Cup with a prototype Canon 4K video camera.

Despite all of the accolades and accomplishments over a career that has covered more than three decades and all seven seas, Onne van der Wal is always looking forward to the next assignment. With a smile, he said, "There are two things I need to do great work. One is wind and the other is sun."

Videos & Articles

Onne van der Wal, Nautical photographer

Onne van der Wal discusses his career and passion for photography in our series of videos introducing our Explorers of Light.