After a career that moved in and out of the marine industry, it should come as no surprise that Ramsey, at 59, would turn to marine photography as a new career.
Dick Ramsey says the sea is in his blood. His truck, house and boat are covered in dolphin sketches, and he also has two great-grandfathers who were sea captains in the 1800s. So after a career that moved in and out of the marine industry, it should come as no surprise that Ramsey, at 59, would turn to marine photography as a new career.
“It all started with this photo I took of Greens Ledge Lighthouse in Norwalk, Conn., and a friend of mine thought it was really good,” says Ramsey. “That was last fall. Now I have an entire business plotted out.”
Ramsey runs Dolphin Marine Photography in Stamford, Conn., which he launched earlier this spring. Using a Sony 700 Semi Pro at 12.6 megapixels, Sony 100 10 megapixels Ramsey captures everything from real estate to seascapes aboard Destiny, his 18-foot 2008 Mako center console powered by a 115-hp Evinrude outboard.
“I got her in April after having the 17-foot version,” says Ramsey. “This one gives me more space, but is still fast. Speed is really a key factor, because if I’m photographing a regatta, I want to be able to get out of the racer’s way quickly.”
Ramsey says he also enjoys how versatile his boat can be for fishing, pleasure, or business. It’s also efficient with fuel, burning about nine gallons an hour.
“Sometimes when I’m out on the water, a boat will see my banner and wave me over, and I’ll take a picture right there,” says Ramsey. “I get the whole Sound to be my studio. I’m probably out about four times a week.”
Ramsey says he calls the boat Destiny because that is how he felt when he took the landmark lighthouse photo.
“It was like something was calling me,” says Ramsey. “I knew it would be a big turning point in my life.”
Ramsey’s boating experience began with a 14-foot plywood rowboat he traded his remote control dump truck for when he was about 9 years old.
“My dad added a three-horsepower Martin engine to it, but in retrospect I think my friend got the better end of the deal,” says Ramsey. “But that’s what started it all.”
Ramsey also grew up cruising on his family’s 32-foot Silverton Flybridge Sedannamed Aquaminity off the coast of Maine. In 1962 at 13, he took his first job at the Rex Marine in Norwalk, Conn. It was the beginning of what would be a 20-year career in the marine industry.
“I spent seven years at Rex Marine and then 13 years at Yacht Haven in Stamford,” says Ramsey. “I eventually became the vice president and general manager of Bushnell Marine Supply in East Haven, which was a subsidiary of Yacht Haven.”
Before the company was sold in 1982, Ramsey was given a generous severance, which he used to start his own video recording and production company called Action Video that catered to corporate and retail establishments for 10 years. His work included creating training videos and commercials. By the late 1980s and early ’90s, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk was struggling with attendance and Ramsey began shooting free commercials for them.
“I wanted to help them because they were spending way too much of their budget on commercials, plus it gave me some exposure,” says Ramsey. “Then one day in 1993 the manager asked me if I could help run the IMAX theater, which turned into another 14-year career.”
During that time, Ramsey says he was introduced to the world of computer editing and production, all the while really enjoying himself. However, he says it was a high-pressure job with strict deadlines, which eventually became too tough to juggle.
“You’re presenting something on a screen that’s about 40 feet high,” says Ramsey. “You can’t afford to make even a little mistake. I was constantly on edge — it was just too much.”
But the visual bug never left Ramsey. He says he received a Kodak Brownie camera when he was 7 and his mother was impressed with the photos he took with it.
“I remember my mother telling me when I was young I had a great eye, but I never really thought anything about it,” says Ramsey. “It had always been a casual hobby. But after the lighthouse shot, I thought ‘Why don’t I take this hobby and make a living doing it?’ ”
Ramsey says he is inspired by the work of Dan Murdoch, a marine photographer based in Westport, Conn.
“He does similar things to what I’m doing,” says Ramsey. “He is able to capture the excitement, the action in a still, and that is what I am striving to do.”
Ramsey will travel up the East Coast, taking photos of various landmarks and races he may come across. Once the shots are taken home, they are transferred to his computer where they are processed into high-resolution files for print and low-resolution files to display on his Web site. Ramsey offers online quality prints in various sizes as well as an array of gifts and apparel — all of which he does out of his house.
“I have three HP printers, and I recently purchased a professional heat transfer to create the highest quality prints on T-shirts and bags as I can,” says Ramsey. “I just really enjoy doing this and sharing it with others. I’m not trying to copy anyone.”
Ramsey says the keys to taking a good photo involve heading out early in the day or later in the evening when the light isn’t so harsh, getting a high-quality camera with a quick exposure for action shots, and not being afraid to shoot into the sun.
“I have taken some beautiful shots of boats with sails lit up by the sun behind them,” says Ramsey. “But really, a good photograph is about being at the right place at the right time, and I try to put myself in that place by being out on the water as much as I can.”
For information on Ramsey’s services, visit www.dolphinmarinephoto.com or call (203) 856-0163.