Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Photographing Peveril Castle, Castleton in the Peak District

So I'm home, I'm bored but exciting work is on it's way in a few weeks thankfully! Meanwhile I have to stop burning money like I was when I was travelling and just wait for employment to begin.

However, as one of my very good friends pointed out to me, staying with my Mum means staying in some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain, the Peak District.

I did some research and the first place on my list when the weather got better was Peveril Castle, some British Heritage medieval ruins over looking the village of Castleton.

It's a bit of a mission for someone as unfit as me to get up to the ruins! But once there, this is the view:


It is still the middle of winter and the sun is very low so this was my first view of the castle:


I walked up to the castle and this was the view behind (meaning I couldn't get behind to take a photo where the sun hits!)



Trying to be more creative with the castle...



Back to panoramas and this shows you the castle and it's grounds:


I really like this next one taken standing on the old medieval walls, the castle and it's view.


And finally I stopped on the way down to get a clearer view of Mam Tor which had been blocked by the walls before, a famous hill on the left of this view.


The peak district has never filled me with much excitement, not like the Philippines for example, but that's because it's my home (and reminds me of travel sickness being in the back of a car with my parents!). But I hope you like my pictures and hopefully I will continue to explore and take photos during this pause I'm currently experiencing!!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

How to become a Cruise Ship Photographer: Questions I've received

Following my contribution to the article about cruise ship photography in Digital Photographer magazine, the amount of emails I'm getting about the job seems to have increased. So I'm going to write this blog answering lots of the questions I have been asked, which I think may have the added advantage of driving more traffic to my blog! It's 6 months since I left ships already so the knowledge that I have is out of date and I know things are already changing a lot in terms of money and benefits so these are my answers as at the end of 2012.

How do I get into cruise ship photography?

I worked for a company called The Image Group, they are the second largest company after Ocean Images. Just Google the names and you'll find the way to apply. Working for one of these companies means that you could be sent to a number of different cruise lines where the photography is a concession, meaning they pay the cruise line to be there and you are not treated quite the same as the ship staff. It also means that if you find your dream job is not photographer but another department, you have to wait 6 months after resigning before you can apply.

Cruise lines like NCL and Princess employ their photographers directly and I have friends who have moved from Image and been much happier with the conditions. Your pay is more reliable, all your flights are paid for and you can get training and promotions ship wide.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

I've heard it's really long hours, is it that bad?

Yes, it can be. But I survived it and still partied and met boyfriends. Basically you have to WANT to do it. I have friends who quit after one month because they said it's slave labour and I can absolutely see why they said that. You work like a dog and, particularly in your first contract, make no money for doing it. But I wanted to prove to everyone I met when I first arrived, who saw me as old(er) and weak and over-weight, that I could do it! You have to have this kind of attitude to get through it. Once you've done one contract you'll be fine.

Can I make money?

I don't know how to answer this question any more. Photography is a dying industry. I've learned that the average pay on one of the top earning ships, Oasis of Seas, has on average gone down $100 for each 7 day cruise over the last 3 years. Image have stopped paying for your flight to the ship, which always is the more expensive one it seems, and usually requires a hotel stay. I also hear they've cut the team fund that used to allow us guaranteed fun as a team every month.

Honesty, I would just recommend looking into the cruise line employment. On the NCL website, now advertising for photographers, it clearly states as an advantage, that they are going to pay for both flights. Also if you work for the cruise line and photography takes an even bigger crash, they aren't going to get away with paying you nothing, and you could just look into moving department.

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LSP studio

If you can give me some advice on how to introduce myself, what skills to emphasize in my resume, etc?

When I left I found myself training people who didn't seem to have held a camera before. So push a general interest, show a few portrait examples and you're good. What you really need to be showing is anything that says I can survive this! So any long periods away from home, particularly travelling, they don't want anyone getting homesick! Any tough labour jobs you've done, long hours, that kind of thing is really going to help in your CV.

How much it's cost you all together for the training? (from someone's who made it through to the Image training session)

If you're worried about costs just at the training then I'm worried for you! Please note you won't have your first pay until a month into your time on board and even then it'll be nothing! But in training go and have a good time! Image will pay for your flights, accommodation (think hostel) and food!

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Celebrity Silhouette

Do I have to pay for a Nikon body before starting the job?

No, if you are a user of another brand yes you need to own a Nikon body as part of Image's requirements but that last I heard they were still helping with the payment of that being instalments off your pay. This is along with the cost of uniform, one of the reasons why people make nothing first contract and why the first contract was changed from 6 to 8 months, to give people a chance at saving something!

So how was your time when you were working there, and how come you've quit?

I have to say my time on ships has affected everything in my life, but it has also deterred me from making photography my profession. I couldn't make it work on land and now I've just seen it struggle with the big industries on ships and the struggling is affecting the way people are treated and many of the enjoyable aspects of the job so I hope that explains why I have quit, and please go back through my blog to read other stories about it when I made the decision last year.

But I learned that I want to deal with people, not computers, on a day to day basis. That I love working in the holiday industry and that I would rather travel over anything else in my life. Which is probably why I'm going to have to go back to a different department eventually. Let's see...

So this was my questions answered post and it's updatable so if I get any new questions I'll just add them in. Good luck to anyone reading this hoping to start their 'ship-life', you'll love it!

Monday, 4 February 2013

My interview and published photos with Digital Photographer Magazine

Back in November, while I was in Australia, I was contacted by a lady called Poz Watson. She was writing an article on cruise ship photography for Digital Photographer Magazine and had been shown my blog.

She wanted to interview me, and for many reasons we did this over email. And over the following weeks I sent pictures as and when I got model releases for them.

The magazine is finally out now and the 2 full spreads of the article look like this:

You cannot imagine how flattering and exciting it is to see my photos and words like this! I wrote a lot in my answers to questions and submitted lots of images and then all this time past, so it's been really interesting to see what was selected.

That massive panorama on the first spread you may recognise from my images of Santorini:


Incredible to have my work selected for a spread like that however Digital Photographer asked for so many images that this particular one had not been emailed in full resolution! So it is pixelated on the page, much to my disappointment seeing as I have a 35MB version of this image!

Although other people contributed to article most of the pictures, certainly in terms of space, are mine and the same with words particularly towards the end where I get the feeling my stories were chosen because I was positive about it all (not like me normally!) and the other contributors had been very honest about hours and pay, subjects, those who know me, will know why I avoided them!

I love how this is a story about being professional in the 'go-pro' area! There are other areas in the magazine where people put their work forward to be published but I was asked to and had more images published as a result!

That's my name! In big letters!

And that's the address where you'll find this blog, amazing!

It's really interesting with the pictures what was chosen. Poz really wanted regular examples like formal studios and gangways but permissions were hard and the whole feel of the article is completely different because it is now mostly photos taken for pleasure, one photographer has even submitted pictures from a stingray tour!

Of all my panoramas they chose the ones that show ships, even though they quote me saying I collected views taken from the ship. This one was taken in Rhodes:


So the only photographs in the whole article that show examples of work done for the job are two from Deep Blue Studios.

I submitted a few samples from Deep Blue and have one friend that I am disappointed didn't get her picture in the magazine however I am delighted that Ivonne did get in. We took these pictures during a Deep Blue training session and as Ivonne is no longer on ship, and we are in touch, I knew that she could turn around a model release fast for me. It was worth her doing so!


Interesting how photographs from the same location are the ones chosen again and again, see this article where my photograph was used in the Mail Online.


Not sure why this one? But ok!

And then the end of the article is basically huge chunks of my words about the things that you learn and generally about it all turning out OK in the end! (Image, I should be on commission!)

It's really great to have this. It shows that this blog has been important too which is wonderful. It doesn't even slightly make me want to go back because I just look at it and go "yeah but it's all dying out now, no one is buying", I don't want to return to a struggling industry. Is it really bad that I have this talent and I feel that it is totally useless now?

Tough times for photographers that's all I can say, particularly if there are photographers reading this and truly thinking about trying ships. However if you're fresh out of college, go for it, the graduate unemployment world is worse!

Clearly I love talking about my time on ships so please contact me if you have any further questions.