CRUISE – Hamburg, first embarkation shooting

7 May

Our last cruise was a rather short one – two Dutch ports in less than four days is not a tour that I would book a pricy cruise ship for. But things are looking up. The next tour moves us once around the United Kingdom, which promises a lot more scenery and more relaxed passengers, because they spend nearly ten days aboard our vessel. That does not help with ABC’s unwillingness to fulfill the wishes of its paying passengers, but their anger spreads over a greater amount of time.

Today I get to shoot embarkation for the first time, which is pretty exciting. For the lucky people who have not yet had the questionable pleasure of a cruise I shall briefly explain what happens there. After the happy passengers checked their bags and received their boarding passes at the counter they have to run a winding track through the port terminal to reach the ship. At a bottle neck of our choosing the photo department erects a studio trap consisting of a green canvas and portable lights. We then waylay any passengers who dare to approach the ship, and position them in front of the canvas for a quick embarkation photo. Half of the passengers agree to this procedure quite willingly, others need to be persuaded, but in the end most people get their photos taken, whether they want to or not. The intention is merely one of financial gain – all photos will be exhibited in the gallery, and people can purchase their pictures from 20 Euros upwards.

Embarkation shooting

Embarkation shootings don’t take a lot of set-up time. Unless you want to do it right.

I will report on some of the weird occurrences during these embarkation shooting another time. Today I will focus on my colleagues, and their limited social skills. I am joined on my photo mission by two experienced shooters: Lolek and Bolek are both from Macedonia, and already shot the same cruise adventures last year. While Bolek positions the passengers in front of the camera, and shoots, Lolek scans their passes, and hands them a flyer with information about the resulting photos. To me falls the role of Crowd Control. After all, we don’t want anyone to escape into the ship without contributing to our image count. And so I stop the people, organise them in pairs, and show them to the studio. Passengers who insist on not having their souls removed by the use of devious image technology I kindly ask to wait, and not run through other people’s picture.

That would be enough of a task for my first embarkation shooting, but Bolek attempts to occupy me further. Seeing that most of the passengers are German, and I speak their language, he wants me to position them in front of the camera, which is not that easy with a crowd of people waiting behind my back. Every now and then one couple breaks through my carefully arranged lines, and runs through the studio towards the ship, much to the dismay of Bolek, who is still shooting. Every missed passenger and every delay in positioning them gains me a scornful look from Bolek, often accompanied by brisk remarks that he groans under his breath. For any light-hearted soul this might be a source of discontent, but I chose to ignore his tirades, and keep my own mood intact.

After a while my failed attempts at multitasking disgruntle Bolek so far that he lets me switch positions with Lolek. Now I scan the passenger’s cards and hand them flyers, while simultaneously positioning them in front of the camera, and dodging their questions. Occasionally the inevitable rude Italian and his ten family members bulge through Lolek’s lines, and a dozen other passengers run after them. You know, just like they did when the unexperienced me held that position. But in stark contrast to my own efforts Lolek’s fauxpas does not gain him the grudge of Bolek, the shooter.

Cruise Photography during embarkation

Cruise Photography: embarkation shootings usually get two teams of photographers, because picturing 4000 passengers takes a lot of time.

A few times we swap positions around, every time realising that I am utterly incompetent at performing three jobs at once, and every time Lolek and Bolek are the sole saviours of the dignity and revenue stream of our department. My sister works as a kindergarten teacher, so I am familiar with the face of stress. And I know that nothing I could say today would convince Lolek and Bolek to rethink their correspondence. Thus I refrain from respond to the passive-aggressive monologues that they unleash between passenger waves. After all, this is a five hour task, and ignorance is bliss, as so often in this menacing occupation. Lolek and Bolek are not terrible people, but under conditions of stress, like the weekly embarkation shooting, their social abilities collapse into a heap of Trump Dump.

piano in the cruise ship atrium

The atrium of the ABC RypMeOff has a piano, and during embarkation also a pianist. To get there you have to pass the photography trap, though.

There is something to be said about bullying at work, and maybe we should hold an elaborate discussion to decrease everyone’s stress level, and to increase team cohesiveness. But I start every work day tired like a factory worker, and still have to entertain a barrage of disgruntled cruise guests. I’m surely not wasting any time on trying to correct the visions of the Macedonian morons that ABC saw fit to grace our department with.

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