A tête à tête with Martina Orsini, a sailing photographer with a passion for writing12.10.2021
A tête à tête with Martina Orsini
A tête à tête with Martina Orsini, a sailing photographer with a passion for writing
In 2012, with a degree in Philosophy and a master’s in Visual Arts in hand, Martina Orsini set sail for breathtaking landscapes on board of innovative boats to pursue her dream: taking photos at sea. Now a photojournalist, video maker, diver and drone pilot, Martina tells us about her passion, highlighting how fundamental dialoguing with nature is for her, and how it is the true driving force behind all her work. The Homo Sapiens Dark Crystal pen accompanied her on her journey. This durable writing instrument with a strong character is perfect for those who have made adventure their work.
What does being a sailing photographer entail?
Being a sailing photographer means loving all of water’s facets; it is necessary for our survival and for Earth’s balance, but at the same time it is also brutal in its strength. If one loves water, one cannot but love the sea.
For me, the sea has a calming, meditative power, even when I find myself in the middle of a storm. When I sail, problems and negative thoughts recede. Being able to work in this peaceful state helps me to be more creative. It allows me to create images related to the world of sailing, diving and seascapes that don’t just chronicle a sport or an activity but also have a soul.
However, this profession can be tough at times, given the fact that our working environment, nature itself, can be quite hostile. Being a sailing photographer means renouncing comfort, putting yourself on the line and facing the risk of getting injured in certain situations. But all this is acceptable for those who love adventure.
Passion for writing
You have told us of your passion for writing. Does it stem more from the need to organise your thoughts or from a romantic feeling?
When you have a background in philosophy, the ‘romantic’ feeling is essential in your writing, especially if you define philosophy as rationalising feelings or what is ‘metaphysical’. Writing helps me reorder my emotional complexity and calm an innate restlessness that has always pushed me to seek out borderline situations. The ability to tell a story supports my photographic work.
How would you describe this experience?
Your latest adventure took you around the coast of Britain on a boat in an extreme regatta for six days. How would you describe this experience?
The race I took part in, which is one of the most important of its kind in the world, starts in Cowes on the Isle of White, and sails along the south of Britain before heading up to Ireland, rounding the iconic Fastnet Rock, and down to Cherbourg in northern France. The boat I was on as an onboard reporter is an Imoca 60, used for the non-stop solo round-the-world voyage. It is equipped with two appendages called foils that allow her to rise above the water and reach remarkable speeds. Sometimes it only takes three months to sail around the world on this type of boat.
There were only three in the crew, the two skippers and myself. The living space on this type of boat is really small and everything becomes difficult to do while sailing, especially in rough seas. It’s an intense experience, beautiful, but definitely tiring. It takes both physical and mental preparation to get the most out of six consecutive days on board an Imoca since tiredness can cost you dearly.
This kind of experience, in which you give up all comforts, fresh food (only freeze-dried food on board) and bottled water (you have to preserve it in case the desalinator breaks down), in which you have to constantly find your balance and get splashed with buckets of water each time you leave the cockpit to go outside, confronts people with their limits and helps them understand how to overcome them. But the harshness of these conditions is accompanied by unique landscapes and endless horizons. This is how I realised that beauty and suffering sometimes go hand in hand.
What goes through your mind?
What goes through your mind as you plough through the sea at great speeds, hearing only the water slamming against your hull?
I have talked to many ocean sailors. While for some the sport performance is the main objective and a constant thought, for many others it is a modus vivendi that allows them to get in touch with themselves and get away from the chaos of society.
The same is true for me. While sailing, ears full of the sound of water slamming against the hull, thoughts turn light because you are busy contemplating the thin line that marks the gap between sea and sky. Infinite thoughts chase one another in your head, but it is almost as if a sheet of glass were separating them from you.
If you stop to think about it, you realise that a thousand dangerous situations could happen at sea. But what remains is a deep mental relaxation. The boat glides over the surface of the water just like thoughts about what you left behind on land run freely: reflections on every aspect of life and problems to be solved.
Are you always looking for bigger thrills?
You’ve been doing this job for years now. Have you gotten used to the adrenaline or are you always looking for bigger thrills?
I’ve been doing this job for nine years now and with each passing year I’m always in search of something to push my limits. I will never get used to the adrenaline rush. My biggest dream is to try my hand as an onboard reporter on a crewed round-the-world trip.
I know the experience could be dangerous and extremely tiring, but I’ll never be satisfied with my journey so far if I don’t get the chance to test myself in rougher oceans or in situations where raw photographic storytelling becomes more important than mere aesthetics.
Where will we see you next?
In the near future I will be working on simpler jobs, more related to sport than to adventure photography. But I really hope to be able to embark on other offshore races soon, such as the Middle Sea Race at the end of October, which starts in Malta and circumnavigates Sicily, the Aeolian and Egadi islands before returning to Valletta. The Mediterranean Sea can be just as dangerous as an ocean.
Collection for free spirits
Homo Sapiens Dark Crystal: the collection for free spirits
With such a dynamic lifestyle, Martina could only choose the Dark Crystal fountain pen for her travel journals. Made of a precious blend of resin and lava powder, this demonstrator pen from the Homo Sapiens series with an elegant smoky effect is inspired by the majesty of Mount Etna.
Unbreakable and velvety to the touch, this writing instrument is equipped with the Giotto 18kt gold nib produced in-house. It features a functional and attractive transparent barrel and gold metalwork with a glossy black finish.
Another feature that makes the Dark Crystal the perfect pen for people on the move is the Power Filler Double Reservoir filling system, which prevents unwanted ink spillage while travelling and guarantees a long writing autonomy.
Just as Martina’s photography captures the vitality of the waves, the Homo Sapiens Dark Crystal fountain pen embodies the eternal beauty of nature through the lens of contemporary design and timeless appeal.