Good Bye ABC Cruises, Part 3: Costumer Appreciation

26 Jun

Oh, look it’s another boring sea day! Once again I am shooting portraits all evening, at my most favourite site, the starboard Plaza. The location is great because no-one ever visits. This place is so far off the beaten track that even the photo managers only drop by once or twice per night. They then check the quality of the ten photos I have taken already, and wish me luck to shoot ten more. Overall, I have so much spare time that I can easily invest in other activities.

Time to continue that list of pros and cons for leaving the ABC RypMeOff. Even though I have long made my decision, it provides me with subjects to ponder, which is pretty important when you’re tired, and bored, and you have to remain at your station even though your job is one of the most futile aboard. It also provides you, the valued reader, with a better perspective of life on board, which could be important, should you consider becoming cruise crew.

Sun Deck of the ABC RypMeOff

The Sun Deck of the ABC RypMeOff looks glorious. And indeed work aboard has a touch of glamour to it.

There actually are some pretty compelling reasons to take and keep a job as cruise photographer, especially for people like me, who had no professional experience with the camera before taking this job. Even in the six weeks that I held this position, and even with the very limited amount of practical training that the management gave us, I still learned a lot about photography. Not just the Rule of Thirds (look it up, it’s well worth it!), but framing, and cropping, and posing – I am so much more competent about shooting great pictures than I was before ABC Cruises offered me money. Imagine what I could achieve, if I stayed for five more months, gaining valuable experience every other day …

Alas, so much time passes between shootings and evaluation, and I have so few willing models that it takes weeks to see any improvement in the quality of my photos. Yes, I get paid to learn, but it is rather inefficient, which I find very problematic to accept. My inner German scientist hates that lack of efficiency. I could shoot ten times as many photos, if I stood at Berlin Alexanderplatz, and offered free pictures to all tourists. Now, I just need to convince ABC Cruises that Berlin would be a worthy target for their journey around the North Sea. Maybe reduce the size of the ship, minimize the space taken up by bars and restaurants, put some wheels under it, and call it bus. I could sleep at home, and be much more relaxed on my way to work. Come on, ABC, make it happen!

View from deck of the ABC RypMeOff

This is what the sun deck looks like wehn I yell “Photo please?” The view is still great.

Another thing I never used before are strobes. Maybe as a deterrent against drunks and thieves in Calgary City at night, but I never used strobes as a professional photography tool. Flash lights are quite useful for achieving even lighting in any type of situation. However, they are pretty useless when you want to shoot on the fly, and privately I barely do anything else. Maybe that will prevent me from ever getting a job as an “actual” photographer, so there is another career gone.

Shooting tourists is genuinely fun, and I am quite happy whenever one of the passengers comes up to me during the last days of the cruise, thanking me for my energy and support, and showing me the cool photos that I took of them, even though they never intended to buy any pictures in the first place. There is no greater ego buff than the joyful enthusiasm of a satisfied costumer. It makes me believe in myself, and encourages me to continue shooting. Even when more than half the passengers are tired of the continuous barrage of cruise photographers, some of our gusts are still new to this type of vacation, and appreciate our services.

As I mentioned before, life is more fun when you surround yourself with happy folks. Cruise life, even though it is a business first, sometimes allows you to do so. In those moments you can rejuvenate, rejoice, and learn. If you really want to learn about portrait photography, and are willing to slop through a lot of dough to reach your target, maybe cruise photography is worth a thought.

Clouds of Myst in Flaam, Norway

Views like this one make worth aboard as crew interesting. However, if this is all that lures you in, you may not be happy long term.

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