5 Tips to Improve Your Cruise Photography


Cruising offers many opportunities for wonderful photography. A few simple tips can help you improve your skills. On a cruise, you’ll want to capture many of the magical moments that you’ll experience. Yes, the cruise lines have professional photographers on board but those images tend to be more posed. You can’t have the pros around you at all times so you are going to want to document your ‘wow’ moments  Here are 5 tips to improve your cruise photography. 

5 Tips to Improve Your Cruise Photography

1. Two times of the day are golden. 

For the most perfect shots, just after sunrise and prior to sunset will be your best choice. Photographers call this the golden hour because of the cast of gold/orange in the sky. During this time, the sun is less harsh so your images will not look washed out and overly-contrasted. This is the best time to go out on the deck for those perfect shots of the ship or a photo of you with the shimmering ocean in the background.

Improve Your Cruise Photography during the Golden Hour

Photo by Francisco Delgado on Unsplash

The golden hour lighting is soft on the skin and tends to hide many flaws. Not to say any of us are flawed, but we all know that we always want to look our best!  Depending on which side of the ship you are on, this is the perfect time for that romantic pose on your stateroom balcony. Shirtless shots are great, but it’s good to keep at least some clothes on, and that’s mandatory in port.

2. Flash is not your friend  
Always use a tripod for night photography

Night shot in Kusadasi, Turkey. Nikon SLR camera mounted on a tripod for a 30-second exposure.

Unless I am in a very dark environment, I tend to not use flash. Instead, I look for a spot that has available light and use that source to light the subject. You might be outside on the deck during dusk where you could find an existing light by the pool or on a wall to light the walkway. Many times, this type of lighting can add a mysterious mood to your images to give them a very unique feel. Since you will most likely be shooting at slow shutter speed, it might be wise to carry a portable tripod with you.  A tripod is a must when you are shooting with slow shutter speed and want a crystal sharp image.

3. Clouds make great subjects 

Rarely is the sky perfectly blue when at sea so take advantage of the clouds which can form fascinating shapes and sizes. Channel your inner child to find the shapes. 

5 Tips to Improve Your Cruise Photography

Make the clouds rather than the sea your focus in the image

Make the clouds rather than the sea your focus in the image. The top two-thirds of your image should be the sky and the lower third the sea. If the sea happens to be smooth, the reflections of the clouds in the water can make for an amazing image.  

4. Food, Glorious Food!
5 Tips to Improve Your Cruise Photography

Photo by Carissa Gan on Unsplash

OK, when most of us think of a cruise, we expect to enjoy some memorable meals on board or ashore. Why not improve your images of these amazing dishes? If you happen to be eating at a specialty restaurant, it’s especially likely that the food presentation will be a work of art. I like to shoot the plates from straight down or slightly at an angle. Never use a flash or the plate will give off awful glares. A cocktail or glass of wine can add a nice finishing touch.

5. Make sure the light source is on your face

The worst time of day to shoot is between the hours of 11-3. Yes, we realize this is the time that you and your friends are out on the pool deck. But this time of day will give you very high contrast in the images, not something you’re looking for.  When you are taking an image of other people’s faces, make sure the sun is always on your subject’s face. If their face is in shadow there is a good chance that it will be dark and unrecognizable.

You’ve worked hard on your body at the gym and you moisturize, right?  So make sure you present yourself, literally, in the best light possible.