Meet the man behind behind these amazing photos of the Winking Prawn

Posted by thewinkingprawn on April 13, 2018

When we were sent these beautiful aerial shots of North Sands and The Winking Prawn by one of our lovely customers, we wanted to know more about the photographer who took them!  Meet Tobi O’Neill.


Winking prawn.jpg


Are you from Salcombe or visiting?


A bit of both.  I spent my teenage years living in Salcombe and had many happy years there; I am the fifth generation of my family to come from Hope Cove.  My wife and I moved to Cornwall because we were looking for somewhere nice to live and the Tamar Valley was calling, but we’re still very much connected to Devon and we get to Salcombe as regularly as possible.  It’s a wonderful place to grow up.


You’re on the Lifeboat - how long have you been doing that for?


I used to be heavily involved in the RNLI.  When my wife was at university in Portsmouth I wanted to get onto the water (having grown up on boats), but I didn’t have one, so I joined.  That was the start of a 10 year relationship with the RNLI.  It’s a very busy lifeboat in Portsmouth and then I specialised with the flood rescue side of things which takes you across the UK to all those serious floods.  It’s a bit surreal driving a boat down the high street.



How did you get into photography?


It started as a hobby, and with the RNLI I found myself in unique situations for amazing photos.  I got a camera and it grew from there.  I had it with me all the time and when the RNLI started a photo competition I was amazed when I won!  I’ve worked all over the world on boats so I have always been able to get unique photos.  Drones were a natural progression and have become a whole new side of the business.


Is photography your full time job?


No, but it is a business now rather than a hobby.  I work on a wind farm vessel six months of the year - we take crew off shore to the wind farms.  As I talk to you I am actually  sitting about four miles offshore in the sun, and I can see Snowdon - it’s magic.


What’s been your best photography experience to date?


I think just being able to capture unique situations when I was part of the RNLI… that and experimenting with the drone now.  It’s capable of flying up to five miles away and you can get above everything, which gives a whole different perspective on a place.




The photos of the Winking Prawn are great - how did you take them?


They were taken with a drone when we popped over to Salcombe.  It wasn’t the nicest of days so the beach was quiet - I am always mindful of other people who might not appreciate the drone flying around.  We went to The Winking Prawn for a cheeky beer and a coffee, and afterwards I went right to the water’s edge on the beach and I got the drone into the middle of the estuary.  


It’s hard to take a bad picture in Salcombe but The Winking Prawn looked amazing, so I thought I would take a few shots.  I am hoping to take more in the nicer weather this summer!


What’s your best memory of The Winking Prawn?


I have quite a few drunken memories!  Especially when it first opened, and all involving the fancy dress box.  Overall though it’s just about enjoying a couple of bottles of wine with beautiful food and the great atmosphere.  It’s a unique place for that; it’s always happy and friendly and that rubs off on the customers.


What’s your favourite thing on the menu?


Popcorn shrimp!!