Kurt Arrigo
Photography
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About Kurt Arrigo
Kurt’s passion for underwater photography won him the honour of his underwater images being featured on the walls of the Rolex Oscars Green Room for the 2019 Perpetual Planet Campaign. He won the competition for Yacht Racing Image of the Year.
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Growing up in Malta surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, Kurt Arrigo’s lifelong passions for the ocean and photography developed from a young age. Merging his spirit of adventure with his passion for sailing and scuba diving, he quickly gained a reputation as a distinguished underwater and marine photographer.

A commission to document the 1992 America’s Cup catapulted him onto the global stage, and heralded the start of a path that would see Kurt become one of the world’s most eminent yachting and sports photographers.Over the past 20 years he has covered all the major international Rolex sponsored yachting events namely the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the Rolex Fastnet Race, TP World Championships, Maxi Worlds and the Rolex Middlesea Race and continues to hold the role of an official Rolex yachting photographer.

Kurt’s passion for underwater photography won him the honour of his underwater images being featured on the walls of the Rolex Oscars Green Room for the 2019 Perpetual Planet Campaign. He won the competition for Yacht Racing Image of the Year (2012) for his image from the Rolex Volcano Race in Capri 2012. Kurt has also worked on several productions in the Movie Industry. His images appear in leading publications around the world, and his work is the subject of three books, one of which was gifted by Malta to HRH Queen Elizabeth II in honour of the 2005 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

Kurt remains based in Malta, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He spends his leisure time diving, sailing, biking, running and swimming, and supports charitable organisations focused on marine conservation.

Collaborations
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Kurt has collaborated on select high profile advertising campaigns for global brands within the lifestyle and luxury sector, bringing with him a strong element of production. His hallmarks are high energy and a can-do attitude.

His commercial work has focused primarily on state-of-the-art multi-million dollar racing boats, and international consumer brands such as Rolex and Heesen Yachts, Perini Navi, Wally Yachts, Nautor SWAN, VITA Yachts, The Financial Times (How to spend it), Forbes, The Times, HSBC, Boat International, Conde Nast, Oceana, UN | FAO …

Kurt has also worked as a stills photographer for large budget Hollywood features shot in Malta. USA Network, Warner Bros, BBC, CBS, National Geographic are amongst the productions within his portfolio.

 

Timeline
Kurt’s passion for underwater photography won him the honour of his underwater images being featured on the walls of the Rolex Oscars Green Room for the 2019 Perpetual Planet Campaign. He won the competition for Yacht Racing Image of the Year.
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2021


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Neil Agius // Linosa– Malta 125km  World Record  open-water sea swim
‘Riva’ motor-yacht campaign | other superyachts assignments
Les Voiles de Saint Tropez
FAO | UN

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2020


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Neil Agius // Sicily – Malta 105km open-water sea swim
‘Whoop’ swimming campaign
‘St Johns Co Cathedral’ Drone

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2019


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Oscars Kodak Theater Green Room – underwater images
Super-yacht Talasman C // Burgess
HSBC campaign
Gear Patrol // Iceland
Vita electric yachts // Monaco

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2018


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Hamilton Island Race week // Australia
Humpback whales expedition // Tonga
Grand Harbour Force 11 // Malta
HSBC campaign
Gear Patrol Gozo // Malta
Malta Tourism Authority Campaign
Vita electric yachts // Italy
Sunseeker // Malta

 

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2017


Number of International Rolex yachting events
DAN Europe Video ‘Jason de Caries Taylor’ // Lanzarote
DAN Europe Video ‘Alban Michon’ // France
The DIVE Video ‘Jesper Stenchmann’ // Gozo
Wally 110 SY Barong D
Orca Arctic Expedition onboard Barba // Norway
J 70 Worlds  // Sardinia

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2016


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Nautor SWAN 115 SY Shamanna // Palma Mallorca
OCEANA Alexandra Cousteau
The Luxury Collection // Italy
Bosphorus Cup 2016 // Turkey
Heesen Yachts ‘Amore Mio’
Cohen Underwater Commercial

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2015


Number of International Rolex yachting events
TV Series ‘APOCALYPSE SLOUGH ‘Rob Lowe’
Meghan Markel Duchess of Sussex
Perini Navi
Nautor SWAN

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2014


Number of International Rolex yachting events
TV Series ‘The Dovekeepers’ CBS ENTERTAINMENT
Red Sea Resort ‘Conservation Project’ // Egypt
Super-yacht 77mtr ‘Samar’
Bluemint aparal campaign
Luxury Collection – Special Guest Program // Italy

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2013


Number of International Rolex yachting events
‘Ocean Conservation Project’ // Maldives
Mermaids Series
SEAHORSE series II
Trophée Bailli de Suffren // Saint Tropez
Air Malta –  ‘Flight Formation’

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2012


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Hahnenkamm – Kitzbuehel //Austria
SWIM Aid
FIS World Cup Final // Switzerland
Lindsey VONN Rolex Win Ad

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2011


Number of International Rolex yachting events
Hahnenkamm – Kitzbuehel // Austria
Barcolana // Italy
Gaastra apparel lifestyle campaign // Palma Mallorca
Les Voiles De St Barth ‘Gaastra’

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Blog
Kurt’s passion for underwater photography won him the honour of his underwater images being featured on the walls of the Rolex Oscars Green Room for the 2019 Perpetual Planet Campaign. He won the competition for Yacht Racing Image of the Year.
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Gentle Giants In Tonga
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February 16, 2022






Gentle Giants In Tonga | August 2018

From the age of ten I always dreamt of one day freediving with humpback whales. Fast forward 40 years and I find myself on a plane to Tonga.
That Summer I trained to lengthen my breath and expand my comfort zone underwater with a freediving course, in preparation for this assignment. Having said that, capturing these moments in Tonga pushed me to my limits.

Locating these magnificent creatures required my team to jump on a boat and head out to the open ocean. When shooting wildlife, there can be no assurances they would show up and allow us in their space. In fact when we found our first humpback whale, she was thrashing about and smacking her tail fin on the surface making it clear we were not welcome. No image is worth creating unnecessary stress for wildlife or danger for the photographic team so we decided to move on.

The next day luck was on our side and we had a lengthy encounter with a mother and her calf. Jumping into the ocean it is indisputable that this is their natural habitat not ours. The mother whale swam protectively alongside her curious calf and it was with her permission that I gently slid into the water, feeling vulnerable and exposed. On a single breath I approached the playful calf who seemed keen to interact as the mother watched closely. For thirty minutes I swam up to the surface for air, diving back down urgently, not wanting to waste a minute of this precious invitation, both myself and the whales curious to download all that we could about each other. Once the mother decided that playtime was over I watched them descend into the deep blue.

There is nothing like the feeling of making eye contact with these gentle giants. Their raw beauty and purity of spirit left me with an indelible mark and a renewed enthusiasm for the conservation of the underwater world.

The goal of this trip was to look for those magical, intimate moments to capture on film. The impact of this experience hit deep for me. The intimate connection with the humpback whales brought to the forefront the urgency to live more sustainably and respectfully on this planet. It is this connection that keeps me curious to keep showing up and always return back to the ocean.

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Wind Over Tide
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October 14, 2021






Wind over tide | August 2021

After a year of Covid restrictions, I was ready to get back in the saddle and give my all to this International Yacht Race.

This took me to the shores of the Isle of White in the U.K. for the bi-annual Rolex Fastnet Race 2021. This is an offshore event with a course distance just short of 700 nautical miles. The yachts start from the Solent then sail across the southern part of England and onto the south of Ireland. Their goal is to round the iconic Fastnet Rock and race to the finish line in Cherbourg, France.
This stretch of sea can be treacherous and how well one handles the gruelling conditions is often the defining ingredient of winning the race. This year the start was particularly brutal because the wind and tide were travelling in opposite directions.  This created 4 metres waves and an immensely confused sea state both for the sailors and for me photographically. Maneuvering our rib into position against the pounding waves without getting in the way of the 300 yachts fighting for a good start position, proved very challenging. Working closely with my rib driver is crucial in such demanding conditions, so with adrenaline pumping on max, I put my heart and soul into capturing moments that will hopefully define the essence of what it feels like to be on the yacht race.

This is when the work that the boat driver and I do before the race pays off. A meticulous amount of thought and planning goes into this assignment before the start, as we discuss the race course and where I would like to be positioned to capture the shots I hope to achieve. Working as a team we both know when to shift into a higher gear and this mutual understanding allows me the confidence to shoot freely and capture the shots when the moment presents itself.

Once the start is over and the boats are on their way out of the Solent I rush ashore to the closest airport, fly to Ireland, take a taxi to the southernmost point and jump into another chase-boat to make it to the Fastnet Rock (Ireland) in time to capture the first yacht rounding the Rock.

Here I sit in a boat from 5am till dark for 3 days, bobbing up and down in a huge swell, waiting patiently to capture the front leaders of the race.

Rounding the Fastnet Rock is the highlight of the race for all the sailors, as they take in the huge achievement of reaching this iconic landmark. As the trimarans approach first, followed by the maxi yachts and the rest of the fleet, it’s time to get back into action. Adrenaline is back on full tilt, communicating with my rib driver knowing we only have a small window of opportunity to capture these majestic yachts as they power around the Fastnet Rock. It’s in these fleeting moments that I hope to capture the iconic shots that ultimately define this race.

For this event I explored the new Nikon ‘Z’ mirrorless system which I feel has taken the camera quality to a new level. This system allows you to see the exposure as it is through the viewfinder, helping you capture what you see. It is faster in terms of capturing images and superior in image quality and I look forward to transitioning to this new technology.

 

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Ocean Power
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September 8, 2021






Ocean Power

I have always been drawn to the possibility of what nature can present, to the excitement of not knowing what I am about to capture, to the suspense as I patiently wait for the moment to present itself. This is what motivates me to endure wild weather conditions and locations, putting myself out there at the mercy of the elements.

Shooting in stormy conditions comes with its challenges such as strong wind and sea spray which can ruin camera equipment. Certain locations can be treacherous while searching for the best angle and light conditions. I tend to gravitate towards a mid-range telephoto lens, allowing me to keep a safe distance, respecting mother nature as I capture her beauty in action.

Once the shoot is over, there’s the excitement of processing the images in the calm of my studio, when the ‘reality’ of what was experienced is revealed. The final images always remind me of who we are in relation to the planet that we share, which is both humbling and exhilarating.

In this series of works called ‘Ocean Power’, the sea is the protagonist, presented in all its power and glory, leaving the viewer in awe of its ever changing beauty.

 

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Arctic Experience
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January 1, 2021






An Arctic Expedition

Though I have spent much of my life on boats, sailing on Barba in late October in the Norwegian fjords was new territory for me. Barba is a 37 foot expedition vessel operated by marine biologist, fellow ocean conservationist and former navy diver Andreas B. Heide from Norway. I joined this expedition to photograph orcas in their natural habitat. Andreas has spent 4 seasons tracking orcas in the Winter months when the herring seeks shelter in the fjords, followed by orcas in the thousands and joined by increasing numbers of humpback whales. During my stay we operated in the Kvænangen Fjord, a 7 hour sail North of Tromsø.

We spent our days chasing and documenting the herring, orcas and humpback whales. This unfamiliar environment pushed me right out of my comfort zone. Sailing through snow and sleet, I had to jump into 3 degrees of water at a moment’s notice to capture these apex predators. I felt vulnerable and insignificant and very aware that I was an outsider in the orcas natural habitat. We only had one hour of daylight per day so I was under pressure to capture on camera all I could in this limited time.
As a yachting and underwater photographer for the past 20 years I have learnt to always be prepared for the unexpected . Preparation is key and having all the gear on hand whether underwater housing, a diversity of lenses, my drone, are always within an arm’s length ready to assist me to capture that fleeting moment. This is what allows me to enter that mindset where my natural instinct can take over and I am present to wholly connect with my subject.

Having said that, nothing can quite prepare you for the overwhelming adrenaline rush when coming face to face with a pod of orcas. My heart has never beaten as fast. The water felt icy cold at first, even though wearing an 7 millimetre wetsuit. I needed a few seconds to get my breathing under control but once in the zone I could stay in the water for up to 10 to 15 minutes, making the most of the hour of daylight as we followed the pods of orcas and humpbacks.

It is easy for the expansive beauty of the Norwegian fjords to leave a huge impression on any visitor and I am already planing my next photographic expedition to spend more time there.  In June 2021, Barba sets sail on a 4 month expedition called “Arctic Sense”, leaving from Norway and heading to the polar archipelago of Svalbard, of which I am looking forward to being a part of.

 

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Les Voiles de Saint Tropez 2020
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November 1, 2020






Les Voiles De Saint Tropez | September 2020

A highlight on the Rolex racing calendar that I had the privilege of shooting last September

Under the dark cloud of 2020 came a ray of light when we got the go ahead for Les Voiles de Saint Tropez. This was one of the only two yacht races on the Rolex calendar that took place last year and although without the bells and whistles, this year’s event did not disappoint.

Les Voiles is one of the most prestigious classic events on the yacht racing calendar as it brings together a fleet of over 200 classic yachts for this timeless spectacle. It takes place every year, over a week around the end of September, in the picturesque bay of St. Tropez, which offers a stunning backdrop to this magnificent event.

It is formerly known as the Nioulargue Yacht Race, and it was the first classic boat regatta that I photographed back in 1993. I then participated as crew a few years later, making this a meaningful event to me, one I have

always connected with.

As these classic yachts were hand built over 50 to 100 years ago, they require plenty of love, maintenance and care to keep them in pristine condition. This makes the race all the more awe inspiring as the eye gazes upon this fleet of classic beauties, gliding so gracefully across the surface.

It always feels like travelling back in time, stepping away from the reality of modern day life into another world, where the connection between the yacht and sea seems far stronger. Even the crew appear to be more present, as a classic yacht is heavier and takes more man power to sail. These sublime yachts really do exude a sense of romantic and soulful living, and I attempt to portray that in my photographs.

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SeaHorse Series – II
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August 13, 2020






Photographing horses underwater is exhilarating. Powering through the sea with intense exertion and grace, the sound of a horse breathing is one I can still recall.

Having done my first ‘sea horse’ shoot in 2011, I felt it was time to revisit the experience. The search for a different angle took us to a new location which required local council permission.

Golden Bay on Malta’s west coast is known for its water clarity and sandy sea bed, and I felt like all these ingredients would work well together, though we would need to shoot at daybreak to ensure solitude.
The gear of choice was a Nikon D810 and Aquatech housing, along with scuba gear which would allow me to hover under the horse for the duration of the shoot.

Once on location, the bond between horse and trainer allowed the animal to remain calm, and it didn’t take long for them to find their sea legs.

Then came a few unexpected obstacles. The sea was infested with jellyfish so the horse and trainer both got stung several times. This didn’t seem to bother the horse though the trainer did bear the brunt of it. I was impressed that this didn’t deter either of them from staying on task.

Another challenge, one which I expected, was the horse’s awareness of bubbles rising from the scuba gear. This could have created anxiety however the trainer was there to reassure him. Once settled they just swam overhead, allowing me to work.

I was aware of the danger of getting kicked by the race horse. The sea is not a horse’s natural habitat and their movements can be unpredictable. This made it more dangerous than photographing humpback whales and orcas, as I had to keep adjusting my depth to keep a safe distance.

Swimming is hard work for horses, but a half hour swim is a fine way to prepare them for their next race!

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Underwater Playground
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August 13, 2020






I love to experiment with new ideas for underwater shoots. I have always had a strong connection to sea and two years ago I started free diving. This immersion into the deep blue opened up another part of my underwater world and this Summer I had the time to come up with a few fresh ideas.

Working together with a group of professional free divers, I wanted to turn a wreck in the Mediterranean Sea into an

“underwater playground.”

The idea behind working with free divers was to try and make the photos look as “normal” as possible, despite being shot underwater. Each of the models could hold their breath underwater for around three minutes, and they were extremely comfortable performing complex movements for the camera.

We arrived at the wreck, I briefed the free divers and described the images I wanted to capture… needless to say, they executed the movements beautifully.

When it came time to actually capture the shots, each free diver donned a weight belt and I wore my SCUBA gear. Once they were ready, I descended with my Nikon D810 in a Subal housing. They would pull themselves down a rope and run across the sand towards the wreck, then perform the movements exactly as we had planned to do.

The main challenge was communication, but once they got into a rhythm they could shoot for two to three minutes at a time. Thanks to my SCUBA gear, I had about thirty minutes of bottom time to work with. We had around six dive sessions in total. The funny thing was once I did surface the free divers were gutted thinking that it didn’t go well… only to then realise we’d captured some cool pics!

 

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A Superhuman Mindset
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July 10, 2020






SHORT FILM
‘A Superhuman Mindset’

 


Neil Agius’ epic feat saw him swim just over 100 kilometres in 28 hours from Sicily to Malta.
I had the privilege of documenting his journey.

This was an important assignment to me both from a personal and documentative point of view.  As an open water swimmer I have a huge connection and respect for the sea. Neil is a friend of mine and invited me to be part of the challenge and support his movement ‘Wave of Change’ ,Neil’s brainchild to empower people to keep our seas clean.

It’s not everyday that you get to witness a world class athlete take on such an incredible feat to convey such a simple message; to reduce plastic waste that ends up in the sea. I felt a huge responsibility to really showcase the enormity of Neil’s challenge.

This particular adventure required me to be present throughout the whole journey and capture it from every possible angle.  All my tools came into play, flying my drone to convey the expanse of the sea and my Aquatech underwater housing below the surface portraying Neil’s meditative state and steady, repetitive stroke. I photographed from sunrise to sunset and let the varying shades of light and sea conditions tell the story.
 

Throughout the challenges Neil was unwavering in his focus. It’s hard to fathom that 90,000 strokes later Neil was as optimistic and positive as the moment he started, conveying his superhuman mindset.

 

I teamed up with Ian Adams, a talented creative director and friend, we who devised a script for the short film  ‘A Superhuman Mindset’ . The film is narrated by Neil Agius himself.

CLICK TO WATCH SHORT FILM

 

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The Great Interruption
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May 19, 2020






SHORT FILM
‘The Great Interruption’

When the world seemed to grind to a halt at the start of the pandemic and many work assignments were put on hold, I, like many, suddenly had the luxury of time. Though I have captured Valletta, Malta’s resplendent capital city, numerous times over the years, this was a chance to bring to the fore the city’s unique architecture and dazzling visual history, now that it was devoid of frenzy of modern life.

I loved that the streets were deserted, I revelled in the solitude. It felt like I could hear the walls talk, I could feel the soul of the city. Whilst flying the drone over the breath-taking Grand Harbour, which lies to the southeast of the peninsula, it was like stepping back in time, with no ships or cruise-liners in port, just waves crashing over the bastions of Fort St. Elmo.

Once I had amassed enough footage, I felt that a moving narrative would help encapsulate the spirit of the time we were living through; I teamed up with Ian Adams, talented creative director and friend, and he devised a script for a short film. We spent a couple of weeks going over the images and fine-tuning the script via Zoom. We felt it needed a young voice and my daughter Kate, a keen drama student, was missing her classes, so this seemed the perfect

opportunity involve her in the project.

‘The Great Interruption’ is a collection of stills and video featuring Valletta, Malta’s UNESCO protected Baroque capital, in which the city is the true protagonist of the piece. We rediscover her majesty as we move gracefully through her streets and across her harbour waters, to find we are able to take flight once more, despite the restrictions of our daily reality.

CLICK TO WATCH SHORT FILM

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Selected Projects
Kurt’s passion for underwater photography won him the honour of his underwater images being featured on the walls of the Rolex Oscars Green Room for the 2019 Perpetual Planet Campaign. He won the competition for Yacht Racing Image of the Year.
BUY NOW
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E-Shop Limited Editions
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WWDI Alban
November 10, 2021





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WWDI-Jason v7
August 24, 2021





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The Dive
August 24, 2021





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The Great Interruption
August 24, 2021





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HSBC Brand Film
August 24, 2021





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+356 99 47 25 33
kurt@kurtarrigo.com

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