For most people, taking a Caribbean cruise is an opportunity to simply lay back and relax. There’s free food, entertainment, and interesting conversations from people from nearly every part of the world. There’s something else though that everyone does on vacation … but few people think about. Taking great photos. After all, nearly every ship has amazing sights on board plus takes you to beautiful locations nearly every day.
While I love shooting with my DSLR, for the purposes of this article we’re going to be focusing on the camera you all have with you … the one on your smartphone. Today, we are lucky since there are so many great options ranging from mid-range full auto shooters to phones like the LG V20 smartphone that I absolutely love, along with it’s big brother the LG V30 that just came out and I used for the purposes of this article. Both LG phones have a fantastic manual mode that rivals even the best DSLRs in terms of ability to tweak settings. Even older phones can be great for travel photography if you have the right skills.
Shoot the Ship From Shore – But Watch Out for Lighting
I can’t tell you how many shots I’ve looked at in the morning rush getting off the ship and thought, “I’ll get that when I come back this afternoon.” Cruise ships look soooooo much better when fully illuminated by the sun and depending on how it is positioned, no matter how beautiful the ship is – it will look dull in the shadows.
Find Interesting Patterns and Objects
Cruise ships are full of interesting patters and angles. While this is true for things like the design on the carpet, a decorated hallway, and sculptures – it’s also true for larger patterns too like the dock.
Walk Around the Ship Late at Night and Get Up Early Too
No matter what ship you are on, there will be LOTS of people and so it is important to stay up late or get up early to capture some of the best parts of the ship without people in them. Since most ships are lit 24-7, that won’t be a problem usually. On the flip side, there’s something magical about sunsets and sunrises at sea but unfortunately, you’ll usually have to get up early to capture the sunrise. Check your cruise bulletin or signage for sunrise and sunset times and plan your shots accordingly to make sure you get the right angles and foreground objects as well.
Night photography isn’t always the easiest but the reward is worth it I think!
Play With Wide Angles
One of the things I absolutely love about the LG V20 and V30 phones is that they shoot in wide angle as well as standard. While MOST people use this for shooting landscapes, it’s also great for capturing the full shot at a show or even sending photos of your room.
Bring a Hand Light to Illuminate Food Pictures
One of the highlights of any cruise is the food. I find this incredibly fun to shoot food of all sorts from hot dogs on boardwalk to high cuisine at a specialty restaurant. Be careful though since many foods are “sauced” and cause awkward reflections that mask the food’s texture.
One challenge with food photography though is lighting. You NEVER want to use a flash in a restaurant since it distracts other guests and it also produces hard shadows and flat looking photos. Instead, I always travel with a light to help illuminate food photos but you can achieve similar results simply by borrowing a friend’s phone and turning the flashlight feature on. Make sure to hold the light far enough away from the food that you avoid hard shadows and take photos from a few different angles to find the best one.
Take Lots of Photos
Back in the day when I started taking photos it was an expensive hobby and you had to carefully plan shots and then wait till it got back from being developed to see if they were any good. Today though it’s easy. Take LOTS of photos and don’t be afraid of experimenting with interesting angles or playing with manual mode settings. You can always delete photos that you don’t like!