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...