For one of her many commissions for Rolex, Kos set out to get one of her signature underwater shots of the world’s largest racing yachts. She dived six metres below the surface and held onto the anchor of one of the buoys used as a racing mark while she focused her Canon camera in a custom-made housing.
But, as the first giant 140ft racing yacht crashed like a shark through the surface, it sucked the buoy and Kos towards its keel and knife–like rudder. “I suddenly stopped shooting to try to pull myself away from the yacht as it came round the mark – the 20ft long lead keel bulb, weighing probably 50 tons, swept right by my hand at 14 knots” she recalls. “It was very frightening”. Kos got the picture and it was used in a worldwide advertising campaign for Rolex but vowed never to attempt an underwater shot like that again during a real yacht race, when there’s no overriding control.
Kos is not easily frightened: she treats dangling out of helicopters on a harness at 100mph, chasing the leaders in powerboat world championships, as just another day at the office. She’s been hoisted up the masts of the tallest yachts in the world including the giant J-Class and even the 208ft mast of the Maltese Falcon, one of the largest and most advanced superyachts in the world. This feisty, petite, bubbly blonde has the adventurous spirit of a stuntwoman and the eye of an artist.
Whilst being an award-winning action sports photographer and amongst the best in the world, Kos always brings an artistic viewpoint to her breathtaking images. “The sea is a constantly moving canvas” and her quest is to capture the most challenging and elusive photographs of her subjects whether a graphic image of the sails of a racing yacht, the rhythmical wave pattern of a powerboat crashing the surface of the sea or an Olympic diver the split second before he breaks the surface. These kinetic images don’t happen by chance – they take a lot of planning.
Predicting the dynamics of a photo-shoot or a fast-moving sports event is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. “You are working on a moving platform shooting a moving subject, add in the waves that are unpredictable and keep crashing over your expensive equipment and you have a challenging mixture. It takes time and experience to work with the elements, to shoot between the troughs of the waves, balance yourself, keep the equipment dry and anticipate ahead of time when the action is going to happen.”