A picture really does tell a thousand words and a cruise is a great opportunity to hone your photography skills. Jocelyn Pride shares some tips that will have you bringing home a swag of beautiful shots to share with family and friends.

Which camera is right for your cruise?

Picture perfect cruise photography

Like a pair of good slippers – the best camera is one you’re comfortable with. A DSLR and a good zoom lens is perfect if you’re heading somewhere wildlife-orientated, but it’s also heavy to lug around. Smaller compact cameras can cover most situations. And don’t underestimate the capability of the camera in your phone – they can produce drool worthy photos.

Although it may sound a bit suck egg-ish, whatever camera you do choose, learn which button does what and how to change the settings before you leave home. How many people can honestly say they’ve read the manual cover to cover? Once on board look around for other guests who have the same or similar camera. Photography is a great ice-breaker and sharing knowledge is gold, especially if you hit a snag.

Explore the ship

Check out vantage points and look for things that catch your eye such as quirky signs or sumptuous furnishings. Where possible, always go on deck for scenic shots – a pretty sunset might look gorgeous through the window of the lounge, but flare and glass reflection can ruin your photo. Even if you’re on a megaship such as Harmony of the Seas, ships move and vibrations make for blurry shots. Tripods don’t cut it on board so compensate by bumping up your ISO and use your body as a tripod – widen your legs and hold the camera close to your eye with your elbows firmly against your body. Don’t rest your camera on the rail of the ship – it moves, too. If you have a grid on your view finder, turn it on to help eliminate the number-one fault in cruise photography – a crooked horizon. Water and cameras don’t mix. Bring a dry bag and always loop your camera strap around your wrist or neck.

Cover all bases

Think like a pro and keep three different types of shots in mind – wide, mid and detail. The wide shot establishes a sense of place. When on shore, try to look for high shots that include the ship in situ. A mid shot brings in a sense of immediacy, such as photos of travelling companions in front of a famous landmark or playing a game on deck. Detail shots will add texture and atmosphere to your cruise album. Look for patterns and contrasting colours. On board, things such as ropes, brass knobs, signs, lights, food, cocktails at happy hour, even the way the towels are folded in your cabin can make great photos. During excursions, think of a window box filled with flowers, the steam from a pot bubbling in a marketplace, shells on a beach, the eye of an animal. Be patient and look around. Do you really want the same picture that’s on every postcard in the gift shop? Sometimes the best shot is the opposite of what everyone else is photographing.

Snaps and apps

Picture perfect cruise photography

Technology is progressing faster than a camera’s shutter. If you use your phone camera, even as a back- up, apps can turn your smartphone into a DSLR (well almost). But it’s an app jungle out there, so you need to adopt the KISS strategy (Keep it Simple Sailor) and choose carefully.

The pick of the bunch for cross platforms is Snapseed (IOS and Android), which may take a while to learn but is worth the effort. Camera+ is a must for iPhone users and Hydra is great for low-light situations. And if you’re into social media, VSCO can help you edit your photos so they look like they were shot on film. With millions of images uploaded every day, Facebook and Instagram are still the go-to sites for sharing photos online and Lightroom is the most accessible editing tool. And if you’re into making slide shows and video clips, check out Quik – super easy and yes, quick.

Enjoying your images

There’s no better way to cope with post-holiday blues than reliving each moment through your photos. Designing a printed album online is fun and adds a professional touch. Momento led the way in Australia and has maintained a high quality. Photobook Australia is another beautiful site with a range of designs. Fancy a scarf, t-shirt, doona cover or mug inspired by your cruise? Red Bubble has many ways to turn photos into art. Poster Candy specialises in collages and Polaroid retro prints. Prints on Glass can even etch your cruise memories into your heart forever by designing a feature wall for your home.