Exploitation of Labour done right

14 Jun

The management of the photo department is a horror story in and of itself, featuring heavy schedules, pointless exercises, unrealistic targets, and unlimited bullying. However, the situation has drastically improved since Manager Mihai has been replaced by the capable Ash Ketchum. That the schedule now features names such as Bebbby, Bobo, or Chaplin expresses his humorous approach to work, and slightly lightens our dull routine. Everyone has genuinely more fun at work. Well, everyone except for our South African exchange bully Grumpy Henry, but that’s a subject for a different day.

The printed schedule still features lovely chains of mistakes, such as “Team See your schedule and see what you can make most of this … Give your 101%”, a phrase that is just about as quizzically meaningless as any South Asian manager can make it. Our work force still features a great heap of exploitation every day, but at least we no longer suffer from it. There is no yelling during the late night meetings, and for the first time in six weeks I feel like my work is actually valuable.

Yes, if I intend to keep this unattractive position as cruise photographer, I need to improve the quality and quantity of my pictures. But instead of merely telling me that my “photos are shit”, as Mihai did, Ash talks to me every day about how to make the most out of any photo opportunity.

Cruise Photography can be a lonely job. Just like lakes in Tromso.

Cruise Photography can be a lonely job. Just like lakes in Tromso.

Today we are anchored in Tromso, a town so typically Norwegian that I expect to have my brunch delivered by a tall, blond polar bear on skis. Instead, I am ordered to dress up as a stereotypical crusader (Manager Mihai purchased this costume as a cheap Viking replacement), and pose for pictures with the passengers. This job is actually more difficult than I first imagined, because even though the cruise guests are relatively fresh to our nagging photo booth stunt, they already start to detest our efforts at snapping their pictures.

It’s no use that my friend Mateja wears the other costume (The Maiden Fair), and gets shots with every other guest that stumbles across the gangway towards Tromso; without any apparent effort. There is just something magical about that woman – she usually captures even the grumpiest clients, and reels them in for her photo op. All I can do is smile widely at those passengers, cheerfully offering my arm to hold, and face them towards the camera for a quick flash of Marina’s strobes. For two and a half hours we trample across the cold concrete of the grey gangway, always smiling, always cheering, always dragging the unwilling hotel guests toward their unwanted photo opportunity. This part of my weekly routine is no more fun than it was under the previous manager. But at least Ash drops by, checks the quality of our pictures, and brightens our mood with a few ill-placed jokes.

Six weeks into the job I am still whoring myself out to the tourist masses, in a manner that depicts the gruesome depths of cruise commerce. My labour is still exploited to its apparent legal maximum. But at least my new manager makes me feel valued and appreciated. Under Ash’s reign I have become an important cog in a capitalist mechanism.

Meanwhile, Tromso is as scenic as ever. Have a look yourself, in the updated photo gallery: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1691745024169531.1073741898.100000021481485&type=1&l=238ba3696f

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