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Capturing offshore wind development from Dublin to Dubai

Alan O’Neill has spent much of the last 34 years in the North Sea, attached to a harness, photographing and filming its developing industry for his collection of 1.5m offshore images. In this illustrated feature, we present a stunning selection of his work.

Alan’s job, usually at height, often at night, on overhanging vessels, turbines and platforms or in a helicopter, is high pressure and high risk.
It also comes with the uncomfortable feeling that he is the only person on the operation who is surplus to requirements and “in the way”, as he waits, sometimes weeks, for the right shot.

He heads that off by meticulous planning, negotiations with the crew before any shoot and respecting the jobs under way and the personnel making it happen.
“You are working against restrictions. When a lift happens, no one not involved in that lift is allowed on deck – some crew members think I am the most unsafe person on that vessel because I don’t have a job involved in it,” said Alan, whose company CHPV (Charles Hodge Photography and Video) has a proud 100 per cent safety record in its 50 years’ working offshore.

“I always say that to work offshore, you have to have the patience of a saint, a back of a pack mule – my cameras weight 84 kilos and I weight 80 – can’t have a fear of heights and the negotiation skills of 
a diplomat.”

CHPV is Europe’s most experienced offshore media company, with recording construction of 11 offshore wind farms under its belt with skills from 50 years’ filming the development of the gas industry in the Southern North Sea 50 years ago.

“We’ve worked from Dublin to Dubai. Planning is essential. We look at the job for weeks and months ahead. We do our safety case and how we will go about filming, working closely with the operator and tell them exactly what we are going to do and what we need and what equipment we have to take before we go on the job.
“I like to go out a day or so before the shoot so I can work with the guys, get to know them and they get to know me. They have a job to do under pressure and the last thing they want is me there!”


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