Shooting a restricted space (expansive as it may be) on the high seas comes with a unique range of challenges if you want a productive shoot.

Here’s a few tips which might be helpful to both professionals and enthusiasts heading off on a cruise:

– Quickly become familiar with the ship and orientate yourself to its best vantages and the right time of day to be shooting from them.
– Shoot your first sunny day as if it was the only one you’ll get (hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised).
– Study the itinerary. Know what’s happening at the destinations you’ll be visiting and consider the entertainment schedule for picture opportunities well in advance.
– Get a map that shows the islands/ports you’ll be visiting and consider where the ship will be anchoring and facing at what time of day in terms of lighting – particularly around sunrise and sunset.
– Do all you can to be the first person off the ship to wherever you’re visiting (though bare in mind, one of the prime shots you’ll need could well be captured from the ship’s upper decks later in the day). Know when the last tender is returning.
– Study the people flow on the ship and work out the best time to shoot the public spaces.
– If you’re a professional photographer shooting the cruise, establish that priority has been given to the assignment by the company’s marketing manager and that it has been conveyed to key people on board the ship who can assist you with logistics.
– Make direct contact with the captain and explain the assignment as that’s where the buck stops the moment you cast off if it isn’t going according to plan.
– Look to be allocated a go-to person on the ship to assist you throughout the cruise at short notice if need be with things like restricted access, tender transportation, talent and ground support.
– List the ship’s photographic features and map out a shooting schedule according to the time you’ll be at sea. Prioritise shooting its main features such as the pool deck, public spaces and the exterior etc).
– Explore the prospect of using crew as talent (hopefully, getting involved in the selection process).
– Prioritise your photography to just what you need from the shoot (in my case, some destination photographs and a page of pictures of the ship for the book I’m doing). Then have the sense to sit back and enjoy some of the perks of your profession.


Some of the photographs from the recent cruise onboard the Pacific Dawn

Above: Some of the photographs from the recent cruise onboard the Pacific Dawn


For previous posts on cruising, click the thumbnails below or for more tips on travel photography generally, click here

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A successful promotional photograph starts with knowing what you want it to say and who you want it to appeal to - before you even bring the camera to your eye.




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