Chapter 3: The High Seas

Time and money were running out. I had my Photo Blog, but I was still unemployed and it was time to find a way of making a living out of photography.

The answer came when I started searching for photography-based jobs on the Job Centre website.  Amongst all the Night Club Photography and Property Photography positions one advert caught my eye.  Cruise Ship Photographer.  Hmm, now there’s an interesting thought.  I would get to travel, meet people and learn photography in a commercial environment… well, that ticks 3 out of my 4 boxes!

I would get to travel, meet people and learn photography in a commercial environment… well, that ticks 3 out of my 4 boxes!

So I applied for the job.  Filling out the online application form which asked for my CV and a portfolio I thought ‘oh crap’; I have no formal training, no photography-related work experience and no porfolio… but I do have my Photo Blog.  Oh well, what have I got to lose, let’s give it a go!

After submitting the form I got an e-mail almost straight back saying they had looked at my porfolio and were impressed with my photos, could I come for an interview the following week. Yes! Yes I could! I attended the interview on a Friday morning, during which I had to showcase 5 of my own photos which ‘best represented me and my style of photography’ and fill out a questionnaire (really it was a test) full of technical questions related to photography. On the following Monday I received an e-mail saying my application had been successful, welcome to the team!

And so it was that in October 2015 I found myself renting out my flat, giving away my furniture & worldly possessions, putting what little I had left in storage and joining my first cruise ship, P&O Cruises’s Ventura, to embark on a 6 month contract at sea.

My friends thought I’d gone crazy, thought I was having a mid-life crisis or going through ‘a phase’.  But I have to say, since that day I haven’t looked back.  Writing now, in August 2017, I have completed three 6-month contracts on two different ships.  I have travelled all over Europe on Ventura and earlier this year circumnavigated the globe on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.  In September I am due to join P&O Cruises’s Azura and will spend Winter in the Caribbean.  It’s a hard life, but somebody’s got to do it!

Learning largely on the job, my photography has progressed a long way.  With a primary focus on portrait photography on the ship, I have gained experience in formal and informal portraiture, studio lighting, processing and editing photos using Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I have learned to print photos using both wet and dry printers and enlarge photos onto canvas. I have photographed weddings, renewal of vows ceremonies and onboard conferences.  I give seminars and one-to-one lessons on photography to passengers, and regularly get feedback that my passion for photography shines through and enthuses others. And when the ship is in port, I’m to be found exploring each new city and country with a camera in my hand, photographing both for the ship and myself.

Although my photography has come a long way since I joined ships, I feel like my photographic journey is only in its infancy.  I am still exploring different types and genres of photography.  My latest developments have been shooting in RAW and post-processing my photos.  I have moved a long way from the purist who tried to get the shot exactly right in the camera, and now spend as much time post-processing as I do shooting.

I feel that once I am ready to leave ships, I will continue to pursue my interests in photography and travel and seek to continue to make a living out of doing both.  Maybe I’ll find a way to integrate motorsports into the mix as well. But in the meantime I am having a great time, living life to the full and travelling the world from chocolate ice cream to chocolate ice cream! (Follow me on Instagram to see my chocolate ice cream selfies from around the world.)

Thank you for reading and watch this space… who knows what the next chapter will look like!

 

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