Friday, 31 August 2012

Janoviv: A cruise ship shoot with a difference

Meet Janoviv,


She works on board Celebrity Silhouette in the Spa. She's from South Africa and before she came to ships she used to do some modelling.

I got to know her on the first day of each cruise when all the revenue departments are put together for an 'expo'. She liked my pictures and said she needed to update her portfolio.

So, on my very last cruise we put down a time. I actually wasn't very well during this shoot but we still got a lot of great images.

We started in the studio and spent a lot of time there as this would be the basic imagery Janoviv would need for her portfolio.


Janoviv wanted a mixture of expressions in her pictures however I have mostly picked the moody as it just works best for her! As does black and white colouring!




A few changes of outfit (a bit more leg).


I LOVE this one below. If I wanted to be a commercial fashion photographer I would put this on my front page with a sexy logo!


And then, because it's not an opportunity to be missed, we also went round the ship, and completely changed the meaning of some of my favourite spots!



I feel like the below picture makes me think of Naomi Campbell, anyone else?




One of my classics!


Here's an angle where a smile worked and didn't lose the interest.


And this last image feels like a still from a Cadbury Flake advert, never before so inspired on Silhouette's grass!


Some great imagery I hope you agree. I have a few more ship stories to share but I'm also madly editing Jonathan and Shelly's wedding pics.

Catch up on here soon...

Monday, 27 August 2012

Jonathan and Shelly: Day 2 Preview

Back in hotel room for the 2nd time. The wedding weekend is over and I took a total of 1700 pictures! This is a huge change in my behaviour. The final cut will be much smaller, for example I took at least 3 of each group.

Anyway Jonathan and Shelly are off on honeymoon straight away so I did want to get some pictures up before they go, these are the obvious favourites, later I hope to find some nice moments in amoungt the hundreds of pictures! But right now I need to sleep.

I hope you like this, this is the look Shelly really wanted, sun dependent.






Saturday, 25 August 2012

Jonathan and Shelly: Day 1 Preview

So, I got back to England on Wednesday. Now it's Saturday and I'm halfway through the wedding I came home to shoot.

Jonathan and Shelly's wedding is two parts in two days. Today was the Muslim feast and tomorrow is the English civil ceremony. The outfits and colours of today were fantastic, as was the 3 course Indian meal! 

I'm sat in my lovely hotel room and I just got nearly 700 pictures down to 280!

So I'm treating you all to a preview, but don't forget, this wedding is not over yet...




Beautiful outfits right?

And they are going to look very different tomorrow! I can't wait...

Time for a drink and some Xfactor, it's weird being back in England!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Story About Balance

I have a Filipina friend in security here onboard Celebrity Silhouette and she often stops by the Photo Gallery for a chat. She has many children, some of whom have their own children and some that she is still needing to support through their education. The money that my friend can make on ship is much more than that at home and it is her culture to go away and work for your family if that's what is needed. However having just got back from vacation she told me that her children are asking her to stay home now, her oldest is offering to help support the youngest so Mum can stay home.

Honestly these situations upset me every time. There are so many people working on ships because it is their culture to leave to provide the best for their family and they hate to hear me to say I would never let my partner leave me alone to raise a family, children need both parents in my opinion. But then I see their pain at being away, my colleagues hoping for long vacations to be with their kids, and now I see my friend's family asking for her to stay home... it looks to me like the culture is changing. The image of the modern family is a global one.

So my friend tells me how she is ready to be home and she explains it to me in terms of balance. She says that for too many years now she has been missing out on four of the five areas of life that give you good balance.

I had to investigate further, and there are some variations but the five areas seem to be: work (the only one my friend thinks she has been focusing on), spirituality, mind, body and relationships. My friend's spirituality is such that she should worship god on a Saturday which is not possible onboard, she explained that this is one important thing she's looking forward to getting back to alongside her family of course.

So naturally this conversation got me thinking about myself and how balanced I am.

Work. For certain it is a big part of what I've been doing for the past two years because I live in my place of work. Does that tip the balance a little bit? I guess so, but I wanted to be here and try this all encompassing work culture because 9 to 5, 5 days a week did not make me happy, and in Australia, and going forward I might have to do that again. I've never been able to tip the balance 100% to work, my head is too far in the clouds for that!

Mind. I have certainly not lost this balance and never will, why do you think I'm writing this? I'm always learning and thinking and planning. And in terms of work, I haven't been working to bring in the money (like my friend), I took this job to learn and grow in an area I'm passionate about, my work has been able to stimulate my mind, although that is slowing now, and why it is time to leave. I definitely have enough balance in this area, and sometimes it is the area taking over. I can be very single minded when I want something and I pretty much over think everything (as you are currently reading)!

Body. Probably the toughest area for me. About 4 years ago I was the fattest and most miserable I'd ever been in my life. There were other factors to the misery but I got the time to focus on my weight and with the help of the diet plan Lighter Life, I went from a size 22 to 12 (English sizes) in 6 months. I kept it off for almost two years. I even learned to like some forms of exercise. Today I'm nearly all the way back up at a size 20 and get exhausted climbing one flight of stairs. Ship life tipped the balance away from body temporarily and in this area I am weak. I need to bring the balance back somehow and still be able to travel and take on the demanding roles that I love.

Spirituality. This is the area I have the least to say in. I don't believe in any religions. I actually think religions appear to be the problem in a lot of the worlds conflicts. Sometimes I feel like I believe in fate, or that things happen for a reason and I know that there are many explanations and interpretations of spirituality but nothing has really settled as an explanation in my mind. As and when something does I'm sure I will let you know on here, but in the mean time I guess I'm misbalanced in terms of a little bit empty in this area.

Relationships. Going back to my friend's understanding, yes relationships are off balance on ship, once at home a lot more time can be put in. However in the last two years that my relationships with people have been forced into change, some have improved greatly or are new, some have been able to stay the same, and others unfortunately drifted. I think with relationships there are always going to be 'things' going on, I was never going away forever and that is why some have stayed the same. It is incredibly important to understand that in the last 2 years I got happier and more confident in myself and that is why some relationships have improved. It looks like putting time into yourself can be just as important as putting the time in with your friends and family, they see the benefit either way. I am leaving ships with the intention of focusing my relationship balance on one person in particular (sorry Jr I'm writing about you again!) because the life we want to live going forward doesn't involve ships so I'm ready to get on and try something different, confident that my friends and family understand.

I'd like to thank my new writer friend Ivonne Garcia for inspiring me to write something like this and I will return to photo stories soon.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Deep Blue Studios: Joselle and Robert

Before she left me in an empty photo gallery... my best friend of the last 4 months pestered me to do a Deep Blue shoot with her and her boyfriend. Here are my favourite images.

First she pestered me in the beautiful Santorini...



Of course you would, because it's so beautiful, I don't know anywhere else you can get pictures like it! My panoramic is a bit bendy because the street is too narrow so my angle is a little too wide to stitch properly so I have to let Photoshop do it's job!

Then we did a regular shoot. She knows all my favourite images and wanted them all!




Robert struggles to smile naturally, and we were shouting at him about it so now he blames us for the state of his smile!! The more natural ones are of course the ones I've chosen here.






This next image is known as the GG pose!




Because of the height difference this is so cute!


That's Naples in the back.





It's exactly 7 days until I go home and start on my new adventure. Joselle has already started her own new adventure with Robert and I wish them both all the best.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Leaving Cruise Ships: My Will Miss/Won't Miss List

OK, another big posting that I've been putting together slowly for a while. Basically leaving ship life is a big deal for me, it's not quite been two years that I've been on board but it is an environment that suits me, and I wouldn't hesitate to come back in the future (in a different role), but right now I've got to go. So for my own sanity I'm putting into words the things that I will and wont miss, to remind myself and keep myself focused.

Things I will miss:

  • The sea. Seeing the sea everyday definitely improves my mood. If I'm having a tough time I step outside on deck 5 and watch the waves for a bit and feel much better. I need to live near a coastline now that is for certain and somewhere the sun shines. That's where I was going wrong with Manchester all this time.
  • Amazing guests. For example those that cry at your photographs and tell you, you are talented or those that are just special people and I got the opportunity to meet them and find out about their lives.
  • Amazing crew. I've met people who have taught me so much about so many different things, about myself, about photography, about different cultures, about life! And I've met some friends for life.
  • The sense of family. Nowhere have I experienced such tolerance, patience and sense of support amongst such a large group of people. You pretty much feel like the crew would support each other no matter what. Then the real sense of family comes within your own team, my current photo team is only 12 people and we go through happy and sad times as a real family because we spend every waking moment together.
  • Being greeted and greeting others everyday. As soon as I walk out of my cabin I am going to see someone who says hello to me. It's part of the ship culture. I probably wont even know their name. And that kicks you into life so that you greet the next person you see. And then everyone has a better day. I will miss this simple, little thing so very much because it is so un-English and a habit I fear I will lose fast.
  • Being somewhere new everyday. It's an amazing thing. I am a traveller and there are so many more places I want to go because of what I have learnt from my time on ships.
  • Never having a shortage of things to photograph. This talent that I have is of course perfectly suited to my life on board: beautiful people, beautiful places and even some paying guests. But really if I run out of things to photograph in the future it'll be my own fault. Life is beautiful.
  • Unique to ship experiences. Like locals bringing dancers and food the first time a ship visits a port; the first time we visited Malta and they saluted our departure with 8 canons; arriving in Santorini or Kotor by ship means you see the most beautiful part straight away, unlike if you had flown, as the airports are away from the stunning areas; seeing a cruise ship depart from the Bridge; having a New Year countdown twice because of a time zone change!

Things I won't miss:

  • Horrible guests. As in for no reason they are just unkind and unfair.
  • Disappointed guests. Disappointment is a completely different emotion and it's harder for me to deal with (but I have no control over prices etc).
  • Rude Guests. Please don't interrupt me while I'm dealing with another guest, you're all 5 star residents, I'll be with you as soon as I have helped them. And please don't just push on the floor a $1000 canvas so that you can look at your pictures in better light, respect our home.
  • Feeling lonely. A big reason at the moment. Yes I'm on a ship full of friends and people that feel like family but you cannot be on ship and in a serious relationship unless are going to see that person maybe every two months or less. As they said on How I Met Your Mother (the TV show I've been working my way through to fill the void) “Long distance relationships really don't work”.
  • Work politics and their daily negative impact. Another huge reason and a vast subject I should try to avoid posting about but I'm sorry Image I do feel like I'm jumping off a sinking ship, excuse the pun, and I'm relieved. We are seeing photography as a dying art form (on land and sea) so the requirements Image needs from it's staff and the expectations of the staff no longer match, leaving a lot of unhappy people. When I was employed I had to prove I was a photographer whereas some incoming new hires have no previous experience and that's very hard for the real photographers. I know how lucky I was to get the position I have and I don't know what to say to all these new hires starting now with longer contracts and almost impossible targets to progress. The current state of our working environment is resulting in someone being disappointed everyday for various reasons and the continual negativity is extremely destructive.
  • Relationship politics. In a crew context, some people really believe ship life is something different to the real world and I'm not going to miss seeing people do hurtful and stupid things to others that they would never do on land.
  • The last day (of the cruise). When the photo gallery makes all the money and it's chaos and tensions are high and some guests will always be upset and waiting for things from the lab. Never again, thank you.
  • Not being able to just get on with your job. The reasons why would come under work politics but this is a specific frustration. For the past 8 months I've been running what is supposed to be my studio, and I am a control freak, I know it, but I assure you I have very little control over my own studio and I'm nearly at breaking point over it.
  • Dealing with the same questions and having to treat them like new. “How do I find my picture?”; “I left my camera charger at home can you help?” (followed by the disappointment that they have to buy something and you won't just do it for them); “Is that the price for one picture?”.
  • Open house. Tiny reason but I'm not going to miss just standing in an empty, closed gallery on the first day just because someone has to be there!

So I have one more cruise to go. I need to pack, I have a few presents to buy, I'm also focused on the wedding I'm shooting on my return home. Four members of my team are leaving in two days including my best friend of the last 4 months Joselle. It's going to be a strange final 12 day cruise...

Friday, 3 August 2012

Celebrity Silhouette: When my name got mentioned in the Mail Online

So I'm working on an important blog posting about leaving ships but meanwhile this happened...

It was right at the end of a long 13 day cruise, Anne Shooter came to the photo gallery and explained that she had been writing a blog for the Daily Mail on board but they had now asked her to put together a paper article and she needs pictures of her and her girls in locations around the ship that really show it is a ship.

Anne writes a food blog for the Mail Online and up to that point that's all she had been focusing on whilst on Silhouette. However Anne wrote the article about the Allure that I had read in the newspaper because my Nana had kept it when she knew I was going to that ship. So it's no surprise I guess that she was then asked to write about Silhouette from a family holiday point of view. And I was really interested to hear her comparison of the two ships. Anne seems to prefer Silhouette for reasons from the food and drinks being considerably better to small things like pool towels just being available, not having the check them in and out.

Following some complicated emails, my company and Celebrity got it all sorted so that I could take her round the ship on the last day and give her a CD of everything.

It was an interesting shoot because Anne really knew what she wanted so there was a lot more showing of the images as taken and retaking than I'm used to. Plus the girls weren't interested at all making the shoot harder!

I'm not sure how me sharing these images works out however I can share this one because it is on Anne's blog:

This, if you read my blog you'll know, is one of my classic locations. It seems to always sell and it was Anne's favourite from the shoot too.

We spent a lot of time by the pool and the lawn but you'll have to wait for the news article, if it happens, to see those.

Following the shoot I had an hour to tidy the images before Anne came and sat with me at my desk. This again was unusual, but I have Lightroom right there if something needed changing so I just exported and burned a CD there with her, no fancy slideshows or CD covers and no special effects or black and white images, just cropping and tidying. As the CD burned she found out more about me, I have a picture of me with my boyfriend on my desk for example, so I guess I stuck in her mind and I was so happy to see my name and picture in her blog. This is the post featuring me.

Keep an eye out for the main story in the paper for me, I wouldn't want to miss it!