Published on 2017.01.22

[Behind the Lens] Interview with Loris von Siebenthal

  • With more than forty lake competitions, Loris von Siebenthal knows Lake Geneva by heart. He came in second among Formule 40s in his last Bol in 2003. He’s since traded racing for his camera, and immortalizes the Bol d’Or Mirabaud every year.

    “Being a racer helps to be a good photographer. Based on weather conditions, I know where the boats will be,” confides the 41 year old Geneva photographer. “It’s a non-trivial advantage, since I have to cover all aspects of the race: not only winners, but also all the classes, atmospheres, light conditions and scenery. Communication has evolved significantly such that all competitions benefit from the Bol d’Or Mirabaud to improve their visibility.”


    Loris doesn’t work alone. Each year he surrounds himself with a team of professionals spread over the lake in order to best cover the event. “I worked alone a few years, before the era of social media, but communication has evolved. Presently, there’s a lot of work ahead of time to organize the shots. I have to provide for the communication needs of sponsors and the press. It’s therefore necessary to work as a team! Miguel Bueno stays close to the Société Nautique de Genève, capturing the spirit, the finishes and the festive atmosphere, while Nicolas Jutzi and Yves Ryncki, two sailor-photographers who don’t require introductions, work with me on the water.

    On my side, I need to preview flight plans with the helicopter pilot depending on the weather, and coordinate that with my team on the water, as well as the video team. Also, I need to count on a motorboat adapted to weather conditions, and skippered by an excellent captain, able to anticipate multihull tactics in order to best position us without interfering with the race.

    In addition to taking shots on race day, we need to coordinate the whole team depending on race and weather conditions, and ensure that the land-based team has a steady flow of new images. There are some critical moments, namely at the end of the day when the light pierces the clouds, or a storm arises. Things happen quickly, and the fleet is scattered all over the lake!”

     “My challenge? To not trade quality for speed.” 

    Loris remembers his first Bol as photographer in 2004. “Things have changed a lot in twelve years. With the arrival of digital and social networks, images need to be shared quickly. The media, organizers, spectators… all want to see live photos! Still, I refuse to send unfinished images. I want to keep control over the quality of my work. It’s a constant balancing act to satisfy communication requirements while delivering images that will withstand the test of time.” 

    If you had to choose one…

    “It’s difficult for me to choose a Bol d’Or Mirabaud photo since the Bol d’Or has so many facets. It’s a race, but moreover it’s an adventure! You never know what you’re going to experience, the winds you’ll encounter or the arrival time.

    Helicopter start images are always impressive. It’s really the most spectacular moment, with more than 500 boats on the line! The eastern lake offers breathtaking scenery and you feel like you’re in a fjord. There’s also the light during a storm. But beyond scenery, my favorite photos are the ones that tell a story. I remember one race that had so little wind that a sailor was varnishing his classic wood boat… unforgettable!

    Discover Loris’ work on his website
    And the Bol d’Or Mirabaud photo galleries

    ©Loris von Siebenthal

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