CARLO BORLENGHI – PROFESSIONAL SNAPPER
Posted April 13, 2012, 10:55 a.m.
CARLO BORLENGHI – PROFESSIONAL SNAPPER
By Colin Squire
I met Carlo for the first time at the Les Voiles de St Tropez regatta in 2010 where he was the official Rolex photographer, in fact he is an official photographer for a great many national and international Rolex nautical events, an accolade second to none just in itself. I rather cheekily asked if I could go along with him in his personal rib. ‘Be on the dock at 10.15, don’t be late’ came the reply accompanied by that trademark smile. When I arrived he was there, waiting for me with his driver. He pointed out that I would freeze to death if I did not have a waterproof jacket, I did not need telling twice, I ran to the nearest clothing tent in the regatta village and bought the only jacket I could find in my size, in red, paid over a small fortune, ran back and jumped onboard. He was of course right, he likes spray, it gives great effect, and when others turn back in the choppy seas, Carlo, well he just keeps on going. But what a day that was, I learnt more about photography in just a few hours watching this genius in action than I could otherwise have learnt in a lifetime.
Carlo Borlenghi was born on 1956 in Bellano on the shores of Lake Como in Northern Italy from where he started his career as a very young man enthusiastically following local regattas with his camera. As he progressed he submitted his work to yachting publications in a quest to get his images published and eventually his talent and enthusiasm were recognized. The magazine Uomo Mare Vogue employed him as a staff photographer. They sent him off around the world to capture many important nautical events and from this he has built a career that has placed him amongst the worlds greatest and most sought after marine photographers and to his many admirers he is considered to be ‘Il Migliore’.
When asked to comment on his career Carlo responded:-
‘Sailing photography has been my job and my life for many years now and I would find it very difficult to discern where these two aspects of my existence differ. The trick, I have found, is not to try to do it... and so I keep on living my work and working at my life in a series (almost endless now...) of images, sails, shadows, spray, reflections, regattas and boats.
The way I see my life is the same now as when I was a child, I can still remember the boats that I watched from my family home when I was young, the sails of those boats will live with me forever, they started me dreaming about a job that would give me freedom and allow me to travel. I began exploring photography and those boats were the perfect subjects, every time I had a chance to use my camera they seemed different, like snowflakes, no two photographs I took were ever the same.
Even now I believe that my best picture is the one I still have to take, I feel that I am on a constant path of artistic research that cannot end and that perfect photograph I am forever seeking is the purpose of the research itself.
Sailing photography has always been, since its early beginnings with Rosenfeld and Beken, an act of love, with the focus of that love in the control of the photographer as he captures the beauty of his subjects. Those early photographers tried to capture, as if photographing a beautiful woman, the shape, the perfection, the elegance of motion of those unrepeatable boats, they brought back with them from the sea precious images, images of beauty, that allowed these graceful vessels they had captured on film could be offered up to a public that couldn't sense the power in the sails or see the decks awash as the yachts harnessed that power, with their own eyes.
Many years have passed and ever progressing technology has allowed the followers of those pioneers to explore ever more expressive ways to portray a vessel that would have been unimaginable almost 100 years ago. In this time yachts have become uglier, awkward and unpleasing, ceasing to blend seamlessly with the wind and the sea itself. Who would compare a J-Class yacht with a modern trimaran, I can think of nobody? I have tried myself to leave behind the classic style and photography of those times that comprise full-figured portraits of beautiful boats in order to seek out the lost elegance still in the details of modern design. I find this in the shadow of a sail reflected in the water, in the effort of a sailor standing on the bow as he bends against the power of wind, in the ephemeral geometries of a crossing of sails, of light, of men. A perfect instant that sometimes exists, just for the second of time that I can see it, sometimes just the time I can think it and other times not even that. But if, coming back from the sea, I've captured a little bit of that beauty and I can transmit it to those who were not there, thus I feel that, like the pioneers of that lost era, I've given a sense to my own sailing photography.
This search for the fleeting beauty of the sea has been my north star in each one of the 30 plus years of my professional career. Since those first regattas that I shared with my childhood friends on the lake, to the America's Cup events that I've been lucky enough to cover over the years as they have changed the history of this sport. But my search didn't end with the Cup. How could I forget the emotions I have felt during several Olympic Games, or various Whitbread Round the World Races, or the Volvo Ocean Race. How could I forget all the places I've seen following Giovanni Soldini's adventures on the ocean, or the beautiful Rolex events like the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race or the Rolex Fastnet Race?
After all these experiences I feel I've been really blessed in having the chance to do a job that has been always the greatest passion of my life. If I've been successful it's just because of this passion, probably I've managed to transfer it to other people through my photographs, I don't know, but if it's the case then I'm really glad because, as I've said before, the final sense of all my efforts should be to transmit to people something of what I've been lucky enough to witness.’
Carlo first photographed the Americas Cup in Newport in 1983 and since then he has photographed many more: Fremantle – 1987, San Diego – 1992, Auckland – 2000 & 2003 and Valencia- 2007 & 2010.
Carlo was the official photographer attached to individual yachts during several editions of the Whitbread Round the World Race between 1989 & 2000 and also the Volvo Ocean Race 2001-02. For several years he has also been the official photographer of the Pirelli Regatta.
In 1983 he was the winner of the ‘Marian Skubin’ prize for the best Sports picture to be published in Italy and he won the ‘Marina di Pescara’ award for the promotion of yachting in Italy three times. In 1986, in Paris, he won the Grand Prix Professional de la photo de Mer, organised by the French Chamber of Commerce. In 2003 he won the Omega prize for the best Italian sports photographer. He won the prize ‘Grand Prix de l’Image Course au Large’ – Salon Nautique de Paris 2007. In 2007 he also received ‘for the years he has dedicated to the sail world’ a plaque from the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano.
Every year he publishes many books and calendars which are always related to the sea and his work, as always, his work appears in the best nautical publications. His work is also in great demand for brochures and catalogues covering all aspects of yachting.
Carlo Borlenghi’s never ending enthusiasm leads him to be open-minded towards new adventure and innovation and he constantly strives to keep updated in the advances being constantly unveiled in photographic technology. He no doubt will continue for many years to bring to his many admirers images that will surprise and delight and above all bring to us all those rare moments that only he is privileged to in real life.