Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Jen Edney visited plenty of Midwestern lakes, but she never thought she’d make a career out of being on the water. “I always had a fear of the ocean,” says the 35-year-old photojournalist. Edney cured that trepidation after college, when she spent a month with Outward Bound on a 150-foot schooner in the Caribbean. That’s where she fell in love with nautical photography. After stints at the Summit Adventure Photography Workshop and the Brooks Institute, Edney now travels as much as nine months of the year on assignment.
Most recently, she embedded with the 2017–18 Volvo Ocean Race—an eight-month, round-the-world yachting competition—where she served as an onboard reporter, covering the teams’ progress for the event website. The Volvo is one of sailing’s most dangerous races. (In March, during rough conditions in the Southern Ocean, a crew member was swept overboard and never found.) Edney trained for weeks to develop the strength necessary to move around on boats traveling in winds up to 40 knots and waves as high as 30 feet. Before that, she documented the 2012 America’s Cup, where she developed a knack for unlikely angles, donning flippers, jumping into the water, and requesting that skippers sail right over her. “I’d get in at the start and shoot from that perspective, or go to a mark rounding and swim with the boats,” she says.