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 “How lucky you were to take this picture!” a friend told me ... Indeed. Being a photographer means being in the right place, at the right time (and with the right equipment). But there is an additional parameter, generally called the “photographer’s luck”, whereby a detail, a particular event transforms a good photo into a very, very good photo.
Is it really luck, or the fruit of a long perseverance?
I started in the press in the early 80s, writing articles on dolphins in the magazine Océans. I learned pho- tography at Marineland (it was a different time) and turned professional. Dolphins, I have since had the opportunity to come across them often, both during observation outings with former Greenpeace employ- ees and when shooting for boat magazines. However, a dolphin has never come to play under the bow of a yacht during a shoot. Like an inaccessible grail...
Until this day of June 3, 2022, at Les Voiles d’Antibes. In the morning, gray skies, furtive showers and big waves had given the start of the regatta the look of a maritime rodeo. By lunchtime, back at the Village des Voiles, the motivation of the image hunters had fallen, like the wind. Go home, or go back to sea? I opted for the second option.
Accompanied by an amateur photographer, we are back in the press boat. The sun and the breeze return, while we pass the tip of the cape. I then have a thought for my father, who died shortly before. I remember this super 8 film, where in the 60s, he steers, all smiles, the vintage motorboat of a couple of friends who are show- ing my parents the Côte d’Azur. The landscape has not changed. The colors, the perfume, the rhythm of the waves...
Our pilot pulls me out of my thoughts. He exclaims “There is a dolphin there!”. I make out a spot of foam...
At this moment, we are entering Juan Bay, illumi- nated by a ray of sunshine. The sailboat Orianda is in front of us. I ask the pilot to position himself at the height of the bow, at a medium distance. I frame, not too wide, the front of the boat where the crew is busy. Out of the corner of my eye, I watch for the moment when the animal is about to spring, my finger glued to the trigger. I whisper “Please, dad...” And sudden- ly, as if by magic, the dolphin leaps under the bow. Two quick breaths. Just enough to make 3 shots. A few seconds later, he reappears at the bow of a second sailboat. It makes a jump then approaches our Zodi- ac, certainly passes under it, to spring up further, in a final spin jump.
Did I frame it well? Are the focus and speed good? I made the settings instinctively. Without saying any- thing, I look at the screen on the back of the case. It seems ok... but it’s on a real screen tonight that I’ll be fixed. I remain cautious before declaring victory, while the news spreads on the docks.
Yes, everything is just and perfect. Technically and aesthetically. The image is exceptionally poetic. I am reminded of Jacques Mayol’s words at the end of the film Le Grand bleu. “Dolphins judge the love you have for them. If it is sincere, if it is pure, and if they like you, then they will take you away”.
Maybe that’s the secret of luck. Persevere and open your heart.

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