Jen Edney – Children of the Tide

Jen Edney

Children of the Tide

WANTED: Onboard reporters for sport’s greatest adventure.
Dauntless, creative, tireless, dynamic story-tellers needed for one of the greatest jobs in the media Business. Experience in Sailing? None required, but as an Onboard Reporter in the Volvo Ocean Race you will have to produce outstanding work while being buffeted by the wind, ravaged by cold, and slammed by waves, thousands of miles from land.  – Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 Job Ad.

Sailing 20 days and covering 5,500 nautical miles on a 70-foot boat. Seven guys, six nationalities, five languages and one girl… with a lens.

When I applied for an on-board reporter position with the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015, I figured I’d better get some more experience doing off-shore sailing. My chance came with the delivery of one of the 70-foot Volvo Ocean Race boats, Maserati, from Honolulu to the Philippines. I was the only female amongst a crew of seven men, hailing from six different countries, speaking 5 different languages. This meant far more than simply living for twenty days aboard a lightweight, bare-bones boat built for racing instead of comfort. It meant being a fully-functioning member of the crew, no toilet, no refrigerator and one-pot meals—all the while, focused on the task of documenting the experience as a photo-journalist. That’s what I came here for and I could not lose sight of it, rain or shine, calm or storm.



There wasn’t a lot of time for rest, as you might imagine, but sleep is overrated and the rewards were immense.

I viewed this project as a personal tryout. Before I left I had talked to a few colleagues who were media crew in the last Volvo Ocean Race and learned about the realities of the job. Those conversations would have scared away any sane individual but they had the opposite effect on me. The more I heard, the more intrigued I became, so I decided that I had to see for myself and answer the question: Do I have what it takes?

I expected bashing through waves, getting knocked about, holding on for dear life lest I get swept overboard, or standing in the spray that shoots off the bow as the boat planes downwind and hits the working crew with the intensity of a fire hose. But to my surprise, the reality was quite different. No one told me what smooth sailing looks and feels like on these boats.

Of course, there were some rough and windy days, rich in visually enticing moments with the physical aspect taking center stage. But I was not prepared for the time when seemingly nothing exciting was happening on that 70-foot boat. With an often feeble breeze and plenty of sunshine, time was melting away slowly with only a few breaks in the routine: a new cloud formation here, a wind shift there, and little else to distinguish one day from the next. But as I sat and watched, I began to see the playful side of grown men as they tried to beat the ennui and found ways to pass the time while having fun. I was saved by the fact that even the toughest sailors still can be children inside. They rarely show it, but when they do and don’t mind the presence of a girl with a lens, it sure is priceless.




I am a certified water baby, adventure photojournalist, storyteller, sailor, traveler, problem solver, family girl & dog lover. I specialize in adventure and sailing photojournalism. Combining action shots with human interest, I strive to show my subjects from special and surprising angles. Hence I shoot from planes, motorcycles, chase boats, in the water, up in the rig and/or with remote-controlled cameras. I left my newspaper internship at the Ventura County Star to travel around the world, covering Zac Sunderland (16), as he became the youngest solo circumnavigator in 2009. For the past four years, I have further immersed myself in the sailing lifestyle, logging more than 40,000 nautical miles and visiting more than 30 countries in the process. The ocean has played the biggest role in my growth, teaching me humility, patience, respect, the value of persistence, passion and a connection to something far bigger than myself.
Published work includes: Los Angeles Times, Omaha World Herald, Ventura County Star, ESPN, ABC Prime Time, CBS Sports, Sail Magazine, Cruising World, Soundings, Yacht, Yacht Classic, Success Magazine, Men’s Journal, Coastal Living, and Red Bull Adventure. Sailing events and Clients include: Copa Mexico/MEXORC, International Sailing Academy, MOD 70 Orion, VOR 70 Maserati, Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and 34th America’s Cup.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design/Visual Journalism from Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., and attended the Visual Journalism Program at Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, Calif.  I am working as a full-time freelance photojournalist based in Omaha, NE. My bags are always packed and I am ready to shoot (almost) anything, anytime, anywhere.


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Jen Edney


10 Responses to “Jen Edney – Children of the Tide”

  • I like this a lot i’m intrigued by a boat with no toilet though.

  • Some amazing shots in this essay…it can be felt for sure and that alone is no small feat.
    The writing puts it in perspective nicely.
    It took me by surprise to learn that it was shot by a woman. What I mean is that I can’t see the woman in these pictures and that is pretty amazing too. Most of the time the feminine comes out in the work…I can tell somehow but not here. Of course it does not matter if it was shot by a man or woman. That is irrelevant.
    I feel like a tighter edit might have been better. It seems like there are too many photos therefore it feels a bit repetitive. Maybe it’s trying to make one feel the monotony of the experience….day in day out….the routine…I’m not sure.
    Thanks for the ride Jen!
    I don’t know if I have the guts to be in a sail boat for 20 days.
    You sure are brave and your work shows it.

  • The pictures take me there. There is adventure, action, fun, stress and boredom .. very nicely photographed. Unfortunately for the photographer, the journey did nod bring too much drama, like a storm or hurricane had given. One has to take, what the environment gives.
    To be not only positive, I had expected to see some longer shots, too .. some of the wideangles shots felt a little bit too much for the effect than for the story.
    Anyway – well done!

  • Nicely done, the passion shows. I agree with Carlo in that it all seems a bit repetitive. I realize there is a pretty restricted space, however I’m really not seeing a story here, but a series of dramatic shots. I’m also not feeling a connection with the crew at all.
    Overall, impressive stuff. although I could do without the faux hdr-like post processing.

  • Except for hharry’s statement, boats with toilets being more rare than boats without in my experience, I think I agree with about everything stated above, except I quit being surprised to see a woman had shot any subject quite some time ago. It looks you had such great fun, working inside a vast theatre from a tiny platform. Mostly, it made me wish I could be young again and switch places with you for awhile.

    Great, great, great adventure! Well done photographs.

  • Wow, finally a project statement matching the vigor of the work! Great work Jen. What a treat to witness life on such a voyage. Such an embrace for the moment.

    A few less images would have told this great story but hey, I get to say that on this wonderful forum. Next time I fly through Des Moines I want to meet you. I’ve got to get back to Ulrich’s Market in Pella!

  • What a breathtaking portfolio! Several of these images just about knocked me off my feet. I am in awe of Jen’s intrepid spirit and magnificent eye. Her varied POV really does the job. Thanks, Burn, for sharing this.

  • Once on board for a delivery voyage you are totally committed in tight, isolated quarters with several people. One bad apple in that group can turn things into a very unpleasant experience. Personalities play out over time, and hopefully your shipmates were all compatible.
    Nicely done, Jen. This is high quality photography, and I could feel the experience. I too would have favored a somewhat tighter edit.

  • I mostly agree with all the positive points, at least the more restrained ones, that other commenters have made. I appreciate the access and the vigor and the documentary aspect. But I’m with Gordon in questioning the look. On the one hand, I appreciate those who don’t take the camera manufacturers or Adobe’s look as gospel. On the other, I don’t find this particular look aesthetically pleasing. As someone who likes shadows and hates what it’s done to Outdoor Photographer type nature photography, I’ve never used HDR so it didn’t occur to me that this may be a “faux-hdr” look. My guess was that the blue in the scenes was so overwhelming that the photographer sharply cut back on it with the side effect of making the other colors look wrong. But if it were just envisioned that way; if the photographer feels that’s the best look for conveying the experience, then I’m fine with it even though it doesn’t appeal to me personally. You can’t appeal to all the people all the time.

  • I really don’t see the faux HDR thing….I really had to look for it and maybe in #22 and #27 I kinda see it but that’s the last thing I would noticed specially since it’s so subtle and the work is so good.
    But it makes me think about painters…..what?….do their paintings are somewhat less powerful because of the colors they choose? Is their craft compromised by it? I think not.
    It’s the makers interpretation or take on it….it’s their choice.
    One thing to ponder is the fact that some people did noticed “the technique”….
    Perhaps that’s the only failure on Jens part that the images were not compelling enough to some and therefore the gimmick is revealed. Maybe gimmick is too harsh a word. But this happens in film….if a movie is not gripping enough the special effects become too noticeable and the movie experience is lost. Maybe this is what is happening here?

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