Akureyri: old friends and new tricks

2 Jun

Today we reached Iceland, or more precisely the port town of Akureyri. The Northern town does not look all that spectacular, pretty as it is, so instead of wandering through the cold streets, I headed out of town. For about an hour I hiked through the grassy hills West of Akureyri, which offers a beautiful Northern countryside, with brown forests and white waters raging through deep gullies in dark-grey rock. Thus, my first contact with Iceland left a rather positive impression, despite the cold temperatures, and the slight drizzle that seemed to overshadow the morning.

canyons in Akureyri, Iceland

Water cuts steep canyons into the rocks around Akureyri, Iceland.

On my way back to the ship I stopped by a whale watching office, one of those wonderful tourist attractions that try to make a living by loading travellers onto a boat, and promising them the endangered sight of aquatic mammals. I actually just wanted to check the prices, but when I peaked through the window into their makeshift kitchen I spotted a familiar head. I vaguely recalled that Steffany had a job as tour guide, but I did not expect to find her hunched over a mug of tea in what was likely to be the only whale watching office I would visit in years. Her an I were among a dozen participants of the safety training course that I had to take before embarking on my cruise adventure, so even our acquaintance was a chancy one, not to mention me visiting her new home town on the one day she was not out at sea. We had an entertaining chat about whales, tourists, and the business between, and I came to realise that maybe this whole cruise idea was not so shabby afterall. Akureyri features on our route at least twice more this summer, so next month I might get the chance to join Steffany’s crew, and observe fat tourists watching fatter whales.

Back aboard the ABC RypMeOff we started our cruise photography training with photo trainer Vito. He seems very focused on increasing a) the revenue of the photo department (which I don’t give a toss about), and b) our skills in shooting quality photos in a rather limited amount of time. Thus, after only one month we actually receive hands-on training in shooting passenger portraits. Not only does Vito provide us with an overview of the settings and cropping that we should use, but also explains why any of those variables receive particular attention in portraits. For the past four weeks our Photo Manager told us that our pictures were “shit”, but refused to provide any helpful explanation to go with his judgment. Now I finally learn something about the actual work of a photographer, thus fulfilling one of the major reasons why I joined this whole cruise business in the first place.

Curry House in Akureyri, Iceland

Much like photographers aboard the ABC RypMeOff this curry house in Akureyri feels very small indeed.

Vito encourages us to experiment with the lighting in our studios, and provides guide lines to go with his great expectations. He hopes that during the Iceland cruise each of us will develop a new understanding of our occupation, and implement his ideas into our work flow. I would be more excited about the opportunity to learn from the master, but already my colleagues muddy my mood. Not only do the other photographers take every opportunity to denounce Vito’s teachings as old-fashioned and inapplicable. They also dampen my hopes to apply what I just learned, because the Photo Manager is unlikely to let me shoot during this cruise, since Vito apparently was primarily hired to increase the capabilities of the rank-2 photographers, who already have their own successful style of cruise photography.

Well, the day started with a chance reunion of old friends, so I remain positive that I might yet have some fun along this track.

PS.: How about some cool photos of the countryside around Akureyri, Iceland? Here you go.

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