the Course

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I’ve mentioned that I had to complete a 3 week course in Stellenbosch to become a qualified Photog. What you don’t know is how jam-packed, in-depth and crazy fun it was! Driving down to Stellies (about a 900km trip) I was super apprehensive and slightly worried about how well I was going to do and what the other people would be like.

Oh silly me! I had nothing to fear! The course (although fricking hectic) was great, and the people are fabulous!

The first week was all about the basics and our brains became addled with words such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure, focus, spot metering, filters, etc. The trip to Butterfly World (which randomly also has birds, iguana’s, a blue duiker, fish, monkeys, meercats, tortoises and guinea pigs!) was a highlight as we really got to use these new tools in creative ways. By the end of the week we all felt like Pros and to celebrate we had a braai together in Somerset West. It got pretty raucous, but I won’t go into detail, mainly because if I start pointing fingers at least 3 will be pointed straight back to me! As the tequila supply dwindled, conversations flowed (and were sometimes repeated…), we all bonded and many first impressions were thrown out the window!

The next two weeks were more “Cruise Ship” orientated with us learning how to put together a rig (camera and external flash), use a light meter, set-up a studio in record breaking time, good smudging techniques, the standard composition for different events, how much cropping space to include for various print sizes, how to handle different shooting events, standard portrait poses, safety & environmental guidelines, lab basics, employment rules & regulations, Photoshop basics and how to handle props. Not much hey? Oh, and we also got our visa’s sorted and played dress up!

Dress up? As Photogs, part of our job is to make people eager to have their photo taken and want to buy it. One way that we do this is to dress up as a character for them to have their photo taken with. Different ports/areas will have different costumes to be used. So in the Caribbean, I will be dressing up as a Pirate, in Norway I will be dressing up as a Viking, in the Caymen Islands I will be wearing a full Turtle costume and in Alaska I will be wearing a full Moose costume. Besides the heat, I find this exercise hilariously fun!

On our last day, after our final exam and interviews, we were allowed to take creative shots again. Yay! We took turns posing each other to practice taking lifestyle portraits. Poor Jana, being the lightest, was made to balance precariously on the boys’ shoulders and backs to create interesting shots. We actually took a bunch of really lovely, professional looking photos. Yay us!

To the lecturers and organizers, Corianna, Fransien and Georg, a big thank you for an amazing course.

To my fellow Photogs, Chanan, Jana, Melissa, Pierre, Rafe, Riana and Stef-Mari, thank you all so much for making the course so much fun! I wish you all incredible adventures and hope we meet up again on the high seas!

Last, but definitely not least! To my second family, Diana, Jurie and Zanelle, thank you so much for the fantastic food, irresistible wine, my own personal butler and for truly making me feel a part of the family. I definitely had the best accommodation!

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the Introduction

I’ve been interested in writing a blog for some time now, but have never been given the kick up the ass required to get me quite motivated enough. Now that I am going to be set adrift in some (as yet unknown) ocean, I will finally have a lifestyle conducive to (hopefully) interesting and perhaps exciting posts! So here I am… foot (merely metaphoric I assure you) firmly lodged into buttocks and slowly puttering along… but soon it shall be full steam ahead!!

kick+butt

So how about a bit more info on the journey so far in getting ready to become a Cruise Ship Photographer, aka “Photog”?

I initially contacted OVC to enquire about the programme. I actually used OVC when I applied for my au pairing job in the USA and so was sure it was legit! However, pretty much straight away, they put me in contact with Georg who is the Course Director for the Program, based at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. The programme is approved and facilitated by Image, who will ultimately be my employer! Image supply photographers to the following Cruise Liners: Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Paul Gauguin Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

The initial process went really REALLY quickly. Scary, nerve-wracking quickly! Within a month the applications, isometric testing, interview and medicals were done, and after packing up my life in Johannesburg, I moved home to Bushmans River Mouth in time for Christmas.

At this point my medical had still not been approved by the Image Head Office in Miami, due to some administrative errors and a couple of enquiries from their side. In fact, I was out chopping down a Christmas tree (as one does) when I missed a call from Fransien at the Academy.  Oh the excitement! She was just calling to make sure that I would be attending the course in January and when I told her my medical hadn’t yet been approved, she said she would look into it. Before Christmas, thanks to her efficiency, my medical was approved and I was booked on the first course in 2013.

More on the course later…

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