Become a Photographer on a Cruise Ship
For over 50 years Ocean Images has been providing professional photographers and photographic services to cruise lines. CruiseJobFinder interviewed a manager from the company, who explains what they do, what qualities they look for in applications and resume/CVs, and more.
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Do you also recruit for concessionaires/concessions companies?
We work with Shipboard Services through which all our contracts with the cruise lines are signed.
What types of jobs do you recruit for?
We specifically recruit photographers or video operators for cruise lines. We call them Image Creators.
What services do you offer the people who apply through your company?
We meet with them and organize everything including getting them their contract through Shipboard. We pay a portion of the costs for the Image Creator to get to the ship, pay for overnight accommodation that might be needed, and medical insurance, as well as the room and meals on board.
How can someone best make a great first impression with you and your agency?
We look for people who are highly creative, motivated, and who have excellent interpersonal skills. We look for people who are good team players and who have passion about their job.
What advice can you offer about resumes / CVs?
The main thing we look for in a CV is clarity, and one of the most common mistakes is that we get CVs and applications without photos.
Are there any common traits people should have in order to get hired, and then to succeed in the cruise industry?
There are 4 main traits that applicants should have, but we will still look at those who possess just one or two. You need to be able to work as a social photographer taking portraits and family shots of the passengers whenever you can on board, which you will then sell to them. Good photography skills and experience are required for this position. This job can also require you to have top video skills and understand how to make a DVD.
Aside from these technical skills, you also need to show that you are a good sales person, as you will be responsible for getting the passengers to buy the photos or DVDs that you make.
What are the best pieces of advice you would give someone who's starting to look for their first job on a cruise ship?
I would suggest that applicants make sure that they have all their documents in order right from the beginning and submit a great CV. This is the initial contact you have and we like to see how professional the candidates are before meeting them. You should also be prepared for anything. Do a lot of research to find out what will be required from you working on a cruise ship, and don't just research the job, but look at what each cruise line requires.
What are the typical terms of employment offered?
Image Creators can work on small vessels that take 7 to 14 day cruises and larger ones where a cruise can last up to 90 days, however, contracts are typically 8 months. You will find that you are required to work between 6 and 14 hours per day, averaging 10 - 12, and this is working every day. The salary works on commission basis, with the cruise line offering the photographic team a percentage of the total sales.
What advice would you give people to help them prepare for interviews with your company and with cruise lines?
To interview with our company you should come dressed well and look professional and presentable. Also, make sure that you bring all the relevant documents needed, and examples of your work.
What is the interview and selection process like for your positions?
First we review the CVs that are sent to us, after which we contact those who are successful for an interview with us. If this interview is successful the candidate will be offered a contract.
Can you describe the job placement process?
Once we interview the candidates and they have been accepted, we organize for them to get a contract signed and then they wait to be called by the cruise line they will be working for. There are levels of employment, with the team being led by the manager. Under the manager you will get tiers all the way down to Junior Image Creator.
Does your company provide any pre-hire training?
We offer courses in which we train the participants on land before departing, but we also continue to train on board and whenever there are new progressions in the industry, we update the Image Creators as soon as possible.
What contact do you have with your candidates after they accept work with a cruise line?
Well, as mentioned above, we will continue to provide additional training as the Image Creators progress in their career and as industry technology advances.
If you had to guess, what percentage of employees on cruise ships were hired through staffing agencies like yours?
Well, since we are specialists and we only hire photographers (there are normally between 2 and 14 in a team), it is a fairly small percentage.
What are some common misperceptions people have about working on cruise ships?
Well, in our specific industry people usually don't realize that they have to have their own digital equipment, although the cruise ships are set up with a mini-lab and other equipment on board including a video editing system. We do understand that recent applicants do not have the means to buy expensive equipment which is why we offer a special purchasing scheme where you can pay the equipment off.
Another thing that people don't realize is that the work they are doing will entail sales. You will not just take picture of people or video them, but the way you will get paid is to actually sell these photos or DVDs to them.
Generally, people normally come to us with the idea that they are going to have a fun holiday and take some photos of people. Well, this is not the case. You will be working hard and will need to work night or day depending on what the cruise line requires. Don't get me wrong, you will have fun and probably love the experience, but just be prepared to also put in the effort.
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