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Carl Groll - TheYachtPhoto.com photographer


Text courtesy Marcus Krall (first published in Boat Exclusive 3/11), photos Peter Seyfferth


He still remembers exactly how it all started. "It was way back when I was serving in the navy", Carl Groll recalls. "From on board I photographed just about every ship that passed in front of my camera lens. And when I subsequently started my job at the coal-fired power station on the Kiel Fjord during the mid-1980s, I simply carried on. After all the view from there was even better." During breaks and after work Groll's archive was soon filled up with cruise ships, submarines, cargo vessels and warships. "And then at some point I photographed my first yacht too." Which yacht it was, he cannot remember any more, just that from then on he only wanted to take photographs of yachts. "Pelorus" triggered it all off. "I saw her on the Kiel Canal and was so fascinated by her lines that I just wanted to find out everything I could about this community," Groll recounts.
He is now one of the most active and well-known of German yacht spotters. (...) For after all builders and owners do not announce to all and sundry when they intend to set off sea trials, pass through a particular strech of water or berth somewhere. Therefore in the evenings Groll often sits at his desk monitoring AIS signals on the internet and telephoning with photographer buddies and his sources. "This usually enables me to research pretty accurately where I have to be and when." Groll, whose territory extends across the entire north of Germany, attaches a great deal of importance to "where". "I would like to provide better perspectives than other spotters." He often scouts out the surroundings days before the photo-shoot and looks for new vantage points. "I keep on discovering great new vantage points, right on my doorstep at the Kiel Canal."

Sometimes this is not enough. Once he tracked HDW's 119-metre "A" for 150 nm up to Rügen island (Baltic Sea) in a small two-seater aircraft and then monitored her sea trials from a chartered Power RIB. "The most photos I have got are probably of her." Whether it's 1,000 or 2,000, he cannot say. Only this much, "Certainly more than that." However Groll, who has also appeared in a German television programme, whilst spotting 133-metre "Al Mirqab", does not just concentrate on megayachts. He photographs any yacht that he catches sight of.

But what does he actually do with all these photos, which must take up a "large and unspecified" amount of memory on his computer? "Well now, I sell a few to magazines like Boat Exclusive. Builders, Lürssen in particular, take some pictures off my hands and then I also work with the agency TheYachtPhoto.com. But that is not the main reason I do it. I would still take pictures even if there were no marketing opportunities whatsoever. I am simply fascinated by it all." And what is his dream? "To travel just once to St Barth's. There are so many yachts there and the light is always guaranteed to be superb."


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