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How To Properly Photograph Your Cruise


We’ve all seen those cruise commercials. A great white liner surfs across the waves, silhouetted by a stark, red sunset, or glistening under glorious blue skies. People lie out on sunbeds like models, their skin shining and their faces bright with wide smiles. Everything about the experience just looks so photogenic

But for any cruise lovers out there, you will know that it’s not that easy. We’re not saying that those adverts are selling a lie. In the flesh, a cruise is just as beautiful and romantic as it appears on the television, but it’s the photographing of that cruise that’s the tricky part.

For some reason, although we all have phones that are miles ahead of any camera from the 90s, cruise photography – for the most part – still feels like it’s stuck in the past. Images are often blurred, motions are unstable. Spaces feel tight, cramped and never give justice to the sheer size of the vacation itself.

This doesn’t bode so well if you want to document your cruise journey from beginning to end. If you are putting these pictures on platforms like Instagram or even creating a photo book out of them, then you want people to get the size and scale of your vacation – even if it’s a small square photo book, that scale should be there in the pages! Like those cruise commercials, you want people to be wowed. And when you come to look back at the memories, you want to be wowed too. 

Thankfully, however, there are ways you can do this. If you follow the steps below, you can ensure that your photography matches up with your experience on a cruise ship, making any Instagram page or photo book shine as bright as any Caribbean sun.

Start Before You Set Sail

If we’re talking about taking these photographs to a photo book maker, then the first thing to mention is the story of your vacation. So many times, when people document their cruise, they begin on the ship itself. Makes sense, right? But then, unlike the actual experience of the vacation, you don’t get the build up. The anticipation

Oftentimes, the emotions that you feel before you set sail can be captured in photographs; the hotel room, the journey to the docks, the docks themselves, and then finally getting onto the ship. The photographs themselves don’t have to be amazing, but you need them to tell the story and feel the buzz of the vacation.

Capture The Excitement 

When you’re on the cruise itself, one way to ensure your pictures capture that buzz is by taking photographs with people. It might sound like an odd point, but so many cruise photographs feel quite empty in this regard. 

Of course, the scenery might be beautiful, but it’s always important to have subjects in your photographs; something for the viewer to latch onto and care about, like characters in a movie. It’s important to remember the photography etiquette guide here, however. Make sure you know how to ask someone to be in your photographs, and always be ready for people to say no.

Keep Aware Of Where You Are 

It’s also essential that you remember where you are. That is to say, you are never in the same place whilst on a cruise. One morning you might be sailing the Atlantic, the next you might be moored up beside an island in the Caribbean. The timing of your shoots, in this way, can be crucial in creating a great picture. 

Although you might have a superb camera phone, it is the lighting that is really going to make the difference when it comes to creating romantic, stunning shots out at sea. Research the magic hours of your vacation, get to grips with some magic hour tricks and – most importantly – understand the light you are going to be working with in each location.

Don’t Be Confined To The Ship

As mentioned before, although you are on a great big ship on a wide expanse of ocean, cruise photographs can often feel quite tight. That’s because the ships themselves are compartmental, meaning interior shots are compact and claustrophobic. It’s important to not let the ship confine you. 

Get out onto deck as much as you can, and if you are shooting inside, try to place yourself in a corner and angle the camera toward the ceiling to get a more diagonal shot. Also, don’t stick to your own altitude. Cruise ships are full of varying levels, so make sure you add a little spice to your photographs by practising different levels and taking into account all of the space.

Expand Your Horizons 

Lastly, cruise vacations are not just about the ship. Take pictures of the ocean as much as you can, and make sure to document your shore leave. Get as many activities under your belt as possible and find different ways to shoot them, with alternate equipment such as selfie sticks, GoPros or even drones – although some cruise lines prohibit passengers from taking drones onboard, so always check first! 

This is about adding variety into your cruise photographs, ensuring that you capture every ounce of the holiday and show the expanse of it. A change of equipment will also be felt in the photographs themselves. The angles will be different, the shots more unique. Little things like this can drastically improve your catalogue and ensure your cruise vacation looks as beautiful and inviting as it would in any expensive television commercial!


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