PSS Spring '10


Relying on the Wind

by Melissa Sue Sorrells '05

"It’s everyone’s dream to do what they love for work," says Amory Ross '06, an internationally published sailing photographer. Born into a family of sailors, Ross got his sea legs early and used them often, sailing competitively throughout college and interning with Sailing World Magazine.

Despite his love of the sport, Ross never considered sailing a potential career until his senior year at HWS. "I woke up one morning and decided I wasn’t ready to move on from sailing, which is exactly what life in New York, Boston, or D.C. would have entailed," explains Ross. "I decided to make sailing photography my commitment."

His decision was understandably shocking for his family and friends. "I had just spent four years in economics classes as well as a semester in Washington D.C., only to decide I was going to take pictures of boats for a living," jokes the economics and public policy double major. "My faculty mentors were surprised but unanimously supportive, and luckily so were my parents!"

Ross bought his first camera in January, and, by May, his work was being published in magazines, including one of his favorites, Yachting World. "I was just over the moon," he says. "The love of sailing motivates me. I firmly believe you need to be truly passionate about your subject to cover it well."

Why sailing?

Sailing is a vibrant sport, full of action, energy, emotion, athleticism and most of all—beauty. It can be anything you want it to be, exciting and competitive or relaxing and reflective. Gliding through the water without any engine is a magical experience.

What does your job entail?

My job is threefold. My first duty is as a freelance editorial photographer, traveling a lot, chasing boats around the world on my dollar, hoping to be compensated by selling the work later. Once I built up my brand, I started picking up some creative commercial work for sponsors and advertisers—that's the second aspect. The third component is the retail side of the business, selling limited-edition prints, calendars and canvas art through galleries and my Web site (

Why is your job exciting?

Sailing is fluid, and things don’t always go as planned; that spontaneity is fun. You could spend 15 minutes anticipating one thing and ten seconds before it comes together, something changes. A wind shift, a cloud, a tactical decision, there are so many variables and so much that is out of your control.

What makes a great photo?

The best pictures tell a story. They bring the viewer to a place they may never have the opportunity to experience.

How did you know when you had 'made it' as a photographer?

This past fall, a man told me that his son was cutting my photos out of magazines for his bedroom walls. That made me really excited because I had once done the same thing!

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