Over the past couple of years, it has been a great privilege to be a Master Photographer for Crystal Cruises, a truly luxury cruise company (it really is like a 5-star hotel on the ocean: even the sushi restaurant is, in fact, a Nobu restaurant!)
I am lucky enough to be one of only half a dozen photographers from the UK who hold this position which involves sailing on various cruises around the world working as a portrait photographer. I know, I know, when I say ‘working’ it’s a little tricky to make that sound like anything other than a holiday but it really is work. OK, it really is work but it’s also an absolute thrill to do it – I mean, who wouldn’t accept the offer of traveling around the world creating high-end portraits for clients on board a luxury cruise liner in some of the most exotic places on earth!
The challenge with creating portraits like this, however, is that being on one of Crystal Cruises liners is not quite the same thing as being here at our studio!
Getting My Photographic Bearings On A Crystal Cruises Liner
With 50,000 tonnes of ship to use as a studio, where do you start? Well, I’ve always believed in test shooting everything I do – it’s just part of the way I work. Whenever I want to learn something new, new lighting, new locations, new ideas, I always turn to a test shoot.
This was our first shoot on Crystal Cruises Serenity, so we asked the on-board photography team to find someone who would be willing to let me create some images for them. Funnily enough, there was a long list of willing volunteers! In the end, we asked Helen who worked in one of the boutiques on board to come and work with us.
I’m a huge fan of taking whatever time is necessary with shoots – it’s more than just about creating exclusive images it’s about our clients enjoying every minute of the experience, though that does mean our sessions run to a couple of hours or more!
This particular cruise was in South East Asia and so we knew we’d be working in searing sunshine for much of the shoot (and you may not have noticed, but Crystal’s ships are painted an intense white which can be crazily bright to be working in!)
Although I use the term ‘test shoot’ of course I do know more or less what I’m doing – it’s not that I don’t know how I’m going to create portraits, it’s more that I need to learn the rules on board the ship, which areas are quiet during different times of the day, where there is interesting light and shapes and where we could set up a dedicated studio for example.
So, with the help of the on-board photography team, Sarah and myself set off to photograph Helen in as many areas on board as we could manage. And it was an amazing afternoon! Helen was a real legend, not complaining once about what I was putting her through (even though we were using up her day off) and, in return, we created some really lovely images that were the starting point for everything we did for the rest of the cruise. I’ll post more stories over the coming weeks but, for now, here are a few of the images from the first shoot on board Crystal Cruises Serenity.
PS. These pictures have traveled halfway round the world – feel free to continue their journey and share them on! [addtoany]