Text and Photos : Christian Fournier
These reports have been written while working as a photographer on cruiseships. This is part 2 (of 2 parts altogether) . View part 1
TO: CRUISESHIP PICTURE CO. LTD.
FROM: CHRISTIAN FOURNIER, Chief photographer.
DATE: June 24th, 1988
Our passengers in Alaska are very hard to photograph, they do not want to stop for our cameras, but they do buy the photos once they see them on the wall.
So the bear, the ring, the dancers are valuable shots, for they stop passengers. Decks, dining room and excursions are a real challenge.
A videographer does not have to immobilize people, or even get their attention. Pax can still keep on eating, drinking, talking, walking : the video will still look decent, when a photo would be gross.
Very many people have camcorders in hand at all times. They love video, no doubts. I can foresee a good business with video on here, in Alaska.
Our video tape could cost $50. It will contain views of the ship, inside, outside, ports, excursions, shows, buffets, etc...
For $50 you can buy only 10 photos, which carry much less information.
We must do the video ourselves. There is a great market for it. I volunteer to do it. CHRISTIAN FOURNIER,
VIDEO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN
TO: CRUISESHIP PICTURE CO. LTD.
FROM: CHRISTIAN FOURNIER, Chief photographer.
DATE: April 29th, 1989
My advertising campaign to sell our video is as follows:
__Continuous playing on the two gallery T.V.s of the tape with my explanation sign inserted at the beginning and end, and with sample photos (showing "your photo here" across it) inserted at the right place.(see sample photos)
__Same tape playing in cabin TVs several times during the week, as agreed with captain and cruise director, with times shown in daily program.
__Empty tape boxes displayed in gallery (see photos).
__Messages in daily program , explaining and stating clearly when to order.
__Letter of explanation handed out at the desk and available at all times on our portrait tables.
__Large signs above gallery TVs saying :"Stardancer video with your own photos: $34.95 " (see photo.)
__Two poorly worded large signs, from office, below the TVs.
__Full explanation by me, during staff introduction, on stage, at beginning of each week.
All this was fully operational at the beginning of the first week of videos. I am proud to be efficient. CHRISTIAN FOURNIER,
WALLET SIZE PORTRAITS
TO: CRUISESHIP PICTURE CO. LTD.
FROM: CHRISTIAN FOURNIER, Chief photographer.
DATE: November 21, 1987
Due to repeated requests from our pax, I am convinced that we would make a lot of money by offering a package of portraits: 10x8" and wallet size.
You can buy a mirror lens that will produce, from a 120 neg, 8 wallet size photos on a single 8x10 sheet of paper.
We cannot offer the choice of 8x10" or wallet, for we would loose on the 8x10", obviously. So, perhaps, we could offer purchase of wallet size, only after purchase of 8x10".
Just another suggestion !
TO: CRUISESHIP PICTURE CO LTD. Attention: Richard Dawson, director
FROM: C. FOURNIER, Chief photographer
Date: October 26 1990I am sorry to inform you that your managers enforce wrong techniques. This business of having the lady's right leg over her left leg and her left hand over her right hand is unnecessary: it makes no difference to the final portrait, no difference to the sales, it just aggravates the models. Perhaps the idea is to try to appear professional, by giving firm posing directions?
On the contrary, my technique is to relax the models: I smile to them, make them feel welcome and happy, let them put they legs how they feel best and natural, they smile to me, and I snap the picture. Believe my 11 years experience at selling photos to our passengers (remember: I am always at the desk, unlike most #1, now supervisors, and I listen to passengers' comments and I see what they buy) : THE MOST IMPORTANT SELLING FACTOR IS THEIR SMILES. Therefore, do not make them wait, do not make them do awkward poses, do not touch them too much. -"Just keep your back straight, look into the camera, think about exciting things!" I look at them in the eyes, I smile to them, they smile back and I take the picture. Of course you cannot do that when you hand hold your Hasselblad, as was the trend on many ships: they is no eye contact through the finder and the photographer can not see the actual shot, because the mirror is up. (yes, it would be OK with professional models and 100 shots per pose).
I have proven these facts (and taught them) many times over: remember that Alan Lake took $2000 less than I, during each of the two weeks he took over from me on the Stardancer, and I increased the Norway portrait takings from $500 to $5000 a week (over Mark Broomhead), when I was portrait consultant. Why don't you listen to me? Don't you want to make money? Who are those supervisors you hire, that talk but do not know?
WHY I RESIGNED FROM CRUISESHIP PICS.
TO: CRUISESHIP PICTURE CO. LTD.
FROM: C. FOURNIER, Chief photographer.
10TH JANUARY 1991I had worked for many years for Cruiseship Picture Co. when I resigned on 9th January 1991.
I have made hundreds of improvements (technical, marketing, photographic, paperwork) now currently used all over the company (see my booklet). I have increased the revenues. I have impressed the cruise lines with my efficiency and high quality services.
I am a science university graduate, 37 years old and an authority in photography.
Yet, inexperienced young photographers got promoted to supervisor positions, and not me.
The vice president, Paul Smith, sees me as a "threat to his empire". This was confirmed to me by director Michael Sebel , during my resigning phone call. Paul had been making my life difficult for the last two years and was spreading false rumors behind my back. He even tried to get my previous assistants to write down that I was lazy and incompetent. Every single one of them refused, they said that on the contrary, I was working very much harder and better than any other #1. I wrote angry memos to the head office and started to openly criticize the numerous errors made by the Miami office (see my memos of complaints for an entire year). Paul Smith turned down my request for the Crystal Harmony, stating that I did not have enough experience! No other photographer, including him, has more experience or seniority than me in this company. So I knew that my future with this crowd was limited!
I had been very unhappy with the way the company had been running lately: stores always late, chaos in the Miami office, insane demands from Paul Smith on extra work and experiments, my wage decreased from 8% to 7% to 5.6%, photographers quit due to insulting treatment (mainly from Smith), rumors of bankruptcy, R.C.C.L. abusing the concession, etc...
I offered my organizing services, in writing, to Mr. Richard Dawson, several times and never got one reply.
I accepted a position on a new ship, cruising around the world. There would be no money, but I would be far away from the Miami office. On the day of sailing, Paul Smith was openly hostile to me and I learned that a junior executive would be on board with me to learn my tools of the trade, so they could get rid of me!
I had no choice but resign.
CHRISTIAN FOURNIER, ex-chief photographer
Report Song of America
-I do ALL 35mm printing, reprints, D&P, mixing print chemicals, key chains. I also tidy the darkroom, although not as fast as they can mess it up. I repaired rep pump, broken belts. I help with stores, gallery, processes, shoots... I got two times one hour off for the entire first week.
-Broken dryer: Trevor thinks this is normal on all Durst 1480, so he does not even inform me of it. When I tell him that the dryers work very well on the Sovereign or Majesty he will not believe me, saying that he has been on these ships before me. I could not convince him. He is stubborn beyond comprehension. The only communication possible is: -"Yes you are right Trevor". So we must turn the drive on 15 minutes before putting a roll through, otherwise we loose the first prints, because they are wet. This problem should be looked at ASAP, before a complete breakdown of this dryer. I have not seen a spare dryer assembly anywhere.
-Durst 5000 freezes about twice a week and we must switch it off quickly to restart it, then recalibrate it using Kodak reference neg. And all previous data is lost, so you have to retest the color and all your reprints are off too. Apparently it is a power supply problem and cannot be solved except major rewiring of the lines to the darkroom. But it is costing us money and major time and aggravation.
-Exposures on Durst 5000 are much too long, printer is not in "dead heat": we get blur when the ship rocks. Eventhough I was told that the aperture was already at maximum, I looked at it and reduced it two stops, 3 weeks ago. It all goes better now. Of course I did not tell Trevor, of he would have a fit, saying that the prints are all out of focus.
-Sleep is hard to get: very noisy Jamaicans near our cabins: they never speak to each other, they shout, night or day. They earn a lot of money and all buy large stereo equipment: (see pic enclosed) They have parties in the corridor instead of the crew lounge. Plus cabin inspections every Saturday 10 to 12 am, after an all night printing session: we must be out of the cabins. This is not fair. Peter went to sleep in the crew bar. I can never get a full night 's sleep. Plus Trevor bursting in the cabin at 3am because one print is too light, or some other unurgent matter. It is a nightmare.
-There are crossed curves in the negs (I see it when I make a ring around), they are not processed properly. The chemical mixer is not rinsed enough, mainly because there isn't enough water. Not enough agitation in C41 bleach (they say the first second is enough). Not enough aeration in C41 bleach (the air pump are not even used). There is not enough water to the darkroom to rinse the films. We get the mixing water only from the film rinse tank with a 2L jug. The water is also too cold: reticulation looks bad, specially on portraits from 35mm to 10x8". There is not enough water to rinse the prints properly. This is important. Negotiations should be started with the right people. I will do that when I am in charge. Or can you also help from the head office?
-The negs are under exposed (flashmeter readings at F8, shoot on F11) and over developed (3.30 min. instead of 3.15 min. in dev): bad for semi tones.
-The Durst 5000 neg clamp is broken: blur pics. Very annoying when you print 13 000 pics a week.
-Filters get stuck in Durst 5000. We must make some empty exposures to clear them. We need a technician when ever possible.
-Trevor is too hyper: he bursts in the cabin like a furry, at any time of day and night to shout at me or Martin (Example: at 8am, after my usual all night printing, because he found 15 key chains damaged, because of the dryer problem, shortening our sleep, not good to face the next day's work)
-All printing on FXFF, even D&P!!!! This is really ridiculous. See report on Majesty. Thin negs come out very green. All black passengers come out green, since you must reduce print exposure to get correct density. A slope is essential.
-Trevor's idea of time off is: 50 rolls of dinners + gangways to print overnight so you do have all day to play in Bermuda.
-Format changes: very outdated check lists on walls, wasting a lot of time for new comers. See previous list enclosed: nothing is valid.
-No up-to-date, clear, adjusted to our tanks, mixing instructions anywhere, only Trevor knows, Peter didn't even know.
-3 pots of paint, on top of each other, with the top one open, were left on the darkroom floor for my first night printing. I kicked it in the dark to get to the processor and paint smeared all over the floor.
-As usual (same as Sovereign and Majesty) there are no feed spools for the trimmer, so trimming is painful. Can you send us some feed spools for the trimmer.
-The gallery office is a giant garbage bin: food, toys, all sorts of pics, notes, obsolete reprints orders all mixed with the current work: results: some reprints never make it to the darkroom, creating frustration for me and for the pax.
-Flags in gallery are not being used. (even though Mike B. spent his Sunday labelling them)
-Dancers are still shot on first night, against Mike Brinkhurst' s order.
-Trevor could not tell whether a video camera was missing or not: stock check is a joke.
-Trevor, Mike B. and myself discussed my expenses on 9th May. It was all clear that I would get $250+$250+$500 for my three weeks. On 15th May, Trevor says he has phoned the office: I can only get $500. All solved after a big argument. Mainly Trevor wanted to give me a hard time, asking what those expenses were. I said it was none of his business, he just had to obey the head office and give me the money.
-Neon light in darkroom/tungsten in gallery: you have to print cold in the darkroom for the pics to look OK in gallery. Not accurate enough.
-The #3 got his wage on Wednesday: just a stack of bills: no envelope, no breakdown, %?, uniforms?, charge card?, bar bill?
-After a heavy night of printing, I have just made it to my bed, I get a call from the gallery: I must bring more folders immediately. So I get all the calls from pursers, passengers, other photogs, officers, crew. Why is the only photogs' telephone in my cabin, not in Trevor's?
-My letter from Sue Ellen on the Sovereign, opened by Paul Wilkinson (he told me during N. Empress dry docks) never got to me.
-My wage was $418 this first week. -$15 for dining room stewards and $15 for cabin steward =$388. At 15 hours per day, 7 day a week = 105. $3.70 an hour for a #2. Lowest pay on board, apart from cleaners, and #3 photogs.
-The cabins are really bad. We did not get any towels for 4 days. I had to sleep in Trevor's sheet for the first 4 days. The hygiene is pathetic. Dominic has spots all over his body. I spent three hours, taken off my sleeping time, to clean after the last photogs. Why do most photogs live in their own excrement? Is the only way to survive on here to live like pigs? Why do most photogs spend all their time off drinking? Is it to numb all feelings of dignity? The toilets always block. The shaver socket is broken. The Jamaicans next door are very noisy, night and day. They shout back at you, very rudely, if you complain. Plus loud P.A. announcements for no emergency reasons.
-Drive is weak on the Durst 1680: we often have to give it a "pull start". It might break down soon completely. This is important: we only have one.
-Trevor does not shoot (except some portraits, and pier to escape boat drills, when there is one). He does not print. He does not clean darkroom or gallery. He makes me count all stock. What does he do? All other photogs are exhausted and overworked.
-It seems that Trevor's aim is to increase the neg figure, regardless of quality or salability or pax saturation. Pax get photographed 5 times on the first day: emb, boat drill, sail, dancers, New York backdrop. Results: 30 bad comments last week, mainly: too many pics. This would work on Majesty or Sovereign or Monarch with young pax, but all we have here are retired or honeymooners.
-The hand shakes are pathetic because the captain refuse to stand in the right place, no enough room for the photog, his back against the rail. The line is poorly organized by the cruise staff. The captain goes too fast and does not even look at the pax. So 50% of the shots are backs of heads. There is no point in shooting these. We should only shoot when the pic is decent. Waste of neg, process, paper, time, and pax get angry for bad pics and blame us for bad pics.
-Between gallery until 11am, the stores, Coast Guard drills, late clearance, emb and back on board at 3.45pm, the photogs do not get much time in New York.
-Using strange diffuser boxes on both Durst 5000: we need the 35mm horizontal neg diffusion boxes: since we use the 126 format ones, a lot of light is lost, which explains why the exposure times are so long, creating blur. Does Durst make a diffuser box to fit 35mm exactly?
-The printer bulb blew, I had to replace. There is only one spare now. The last one was changed by Peter the day before I arrived. So this is a dangerous situation. I told Trevor, but 2 weeks later he still had not ordered any. So I phoned Sea Cruise and Alan sent us some immediately.
-The smoked perpex covers for the reflex viewing boxes on the Durst 5000 are both missing, which means that I get blind after an all night printing session of thin negs, because I stare at a too powerful burst of light 2000 times per night. Why have the covers been removed????? Where are they?
-The channel in use for portraits is: EMB 35MM KODAK GLOSSY. Very strange that I could not guess that, even though I have been printing for 12 years. "Why make simple when you can confuse every one" seems to be the general philosophy around this darkroom.
-The "Dust Buster" is broken. Can we get a new one. It is badly needed.
-Trevor insists that the man's hand should be exactly in the middle of the lady's arm when posing a portrait. It really makes no difference to the general aspect of the picture, or to the sale. (What matters is the expression of the pax.) It just annoys the pax and slows down the line. With all the bad comments that we get every week, this is important.
-During printing the Durst 5000 on board sometimes jumps from FXFF to Integrate without reason and warning: major aggravation. There are some major problems with this printer and a technician's visit would not be money wasted.
-The reason why I cannot fix every thing myself right now is because I am working 15 hours a day and do not get a chance. But I will when I am in charge.
-Trevor makes the photogs dismantle the lenses and flashguns from the cameras every end of shoot and put them all in the cupboard. So every thing has to be reassembled at the beginning of every shoot: for what reason, what gain? All I see is more work and more wear on the cameras.
-Meeting with Trevor in darkroom: Trevor is not a good team leader, he only knows one thing: to insult photogs in a nasty way when there is a mistake, even a very small and irrelevant mistake. He never helps, or shows how, or encourages. So photogs hate him and do not work in a happy mood. Trevor, who is very insecure, got to panic with such tension. He called a meeting and said: you must love me or else I will make a bad report about you when I get to Miami.
-Trevor had a fit because I fasten the 10" clips onto the belts of the Durst 5000 the opposite way than him, the "wrong way", he says. The truth is: it make absolutely no difference which way they go.
-We cannot eat any more in the Veranda Café. Since the only place left is the Main dining room, where service is much too slow for us and we have to dress up and there are not enough chairs for all the staff, it is a very poor situation. It does make a difference when you work 15 hours a day. For a cup of coffee, the only choice is the pantry, where you are asked for one dollar tip to get it.
-Trevor never helps, even in an emergency: the printer lost all data again last Friday, so I had to reprint all dinner pics and also attend the boat drill. Trevor could have helped printing or have me instead of him excused for the drill.
-I arrived on board Song of America at 2.30 PM Sat 8th May, I was wearing my jacket & tie uniform. I met the photogs, they were in bed. The cabin was a huge mess. I put my luggage in, unopened. Trevor said there was plenty of room in the storeroom. I ask for a cash loan on my expenses: he said no problem. Trevor told me to come back at 5.30pm, so we could meet Mike Brinkhurst at (quote): "his expensive hotel, eventhough a pax cabin was booked for him on board". No sign of Dominic, the new #3.
I showed up at 5.30 back at their cabin: they were not ready. We left the ship at 6pm. In the Lobby, Trevor said bluntly that he would tell Mike it was my coming late that delayed them, he was not joking. Mike took us for dinner & cabaret. At 2 am Mike went to his hotel, the photogs went to a disco. I was tired and went back to ship. But Dominic had arrived, so there was no room for me because the previous photog Gordon was still here. I had to search for the hotel manager ar 2 am to get Mike' s alleged cabin. I could not get to my clothes or toiletry bag, for I had not gotten any keys.
I met Mike at the gallery, still in my yesterday's uniform, at 9am. We put signs on the flags, reorganized the shop, set up emb. I started emb at 12 noon. I had not been able to eat or change. At 4.30pm I finished emb, finally got to the cabin (an absolute pigsty) but did not have a key to open it. I shot sail away. I got 4 full rolls the other three photogs got 5 between them. I was still in my Nordic Empress clothes, without a drink or food since previous night. Trevor told me I could not eat for I had to process emb, print emb (24 rolls, must be ready by 8pm), then print dancers (26 rolls), decks (12 rolls) and key chains. There was no log book for the Durst 5000 printing, no starting filtration. I got angry, why do I do everything? Trevor told me that because of me, Peter, the previous #2, has to go back one peg. I argue that it would be for everybody's benefit in the long run, so the #3 did the process, but the atmosphere was tense. No one told me that the dryer was broken, that the printer looses data and freezes. So it was hell. I still did not get to eat. I went to bed at 5am.
Trevor burst into the cabin at 8am, shouting like mad, saying all the key chains were ruined, because I failed to switch the dryer on 15 min. before using it, like every one who has printed before should know. I went to the darkroom, only 15 key chains out of the 700 were damaged, and only just wrinkled anyway. I reprinted them and they stayed in the darkroom for the next 3 days. When I asked for my cases to be stored in the storeroom on deck 4, Trevor said that there was not enough room. When I asked for my expenses, Trevor said he would have to check with Miami.
-I only put up with this very painful situation because I have been told I would soon be #1. As a #1, I will get full night's sleep, rationalize the organization, prepare the equipment (as much as possible), make the team happier, reduce the bad comments, decrease the negs and increase the revenue (these two figures are not always linked the way most people think: I have proved it many times during my 12 years as a manager).
LEAFLETS UNDER PASSENGER DOORS
RAPHAEL CHRISTIAN FOURNIER
CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER FOR SEA CRUISE INC.,
on board "SONG OF AMERICA"
14 July 1993
THE GIFT SHOP DELIVERS ADVERTISING LEAFLETS UNDER PASSENGER DOORS AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH CRUISE (SEE ENCLOSED SAMPLES).
CAN WE DO THE SAME THING FOR OUR PHOTO BUSINESS, ADVERTISING OUR PORTRAITS, GALLERY TIMES, DEADLINES FOR REORDERS, D&P, EMPHASIZING THAT THEIR IS NO OBLIGATION TO BUY, SO SMILE FOR US AND DO NOT BE AGGRAVATED?
I WILL DESIGN THIS LEAFLET FOR YOUR APPROVAL. GIFT SHOP PERSONAL HAVE ALREADY AGREED TO DELIVER THEM, WITH THEIRS, FOR A SMALL FEE. WE NEED HOTEL MANAGER' S APPROVAL AND MAYBE SHORE SIDE APPROVAL. WE GET THEM BULKED XEROXED IN BERMUDA.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF IT?Raphael Christian Fournier
REPORT ON NEW YORK BACKDROP ON "SONG OF AMERICA"
15th July 1993We shoot this new backdrop, with rail, on the first formal night on Mondays from 8.30 PM to 11 PM in the lobby outside the main lounge, called the "Can-Can" lounge.
Prior to this, from 4.30pm to 8.30pm we shoot portraits with the two blue backdrops, just outside the photo gallery, next door to this "Cancan" lounge, where the Captain's cocktail party takes place. We have to divert the queue to circle around the lobby in order to get passengers to get near the blue backgrounds before entering the cocktail party. This is not always successful, specially when the cruise staff tell the pax to go straight to the captain. We have signs that point to where we want the line to go. We employ the Port Lecturer Tim to direct the traffic. But we still loose a lot of passengers because they all pour in from the top or bottom stairs and see the lounge in front of them and naturally go straight to it, regardless of signs or staff (our guy tells them to go towards the portrait settings, the others tell them to go straight in, friction occurs).
We shoot on Blue Portraits 900 negs, two negs each couple = 450 couples = 900 pax get a portrait taken. We loose +500 pax during the cocktail parties. It is not because we shoot too slowly, it is because pax do not get to the backdrops because of the poor line set up: they do not see the backdrops as they arrive at the lounge from the top or bottom stairs. Due to the unavoidable positioning of the two blue backdrops, the photographer cannot move further away from the pax and uses 35 or 40mm focal length to get the subjects in. It is not the best way to get a pleasant perspective and does not flatter our overweight models.
After the cocktails parties are over, at 8.30pm, we dismantle the blue sets in the gallery and rebuilt one set, with New York backdrop, in the lobby. We can then catch pax going in and out of the shows, until 11pm. So we make up a little from the "loss" of the cocktail parties: 150 negs =150 pax to the most. Still over 450 pax not "covered". And many shot against the "New-York" are the same as earlier on.
We could easily improve that two ways:
-By having the two blue backdrops back to back, as is used now, outside the lounge, instead of the gallery. We would definitely get more coverage, but at the risk of aggravating the cruise staff and maybe the captain, because of creating congestion in that lobby. And we would have to shoot very fast. Full clearance from Hotel Manager would have to be obtained before undertaking this move, obviously.
-By having a third backdrop in the lobby, the New York one, and maintaining the other two blue ones in the gallery. We have two photogs covering the cocktail party; we can have three backdrops running at the same time, with the other three photogs, since we have Tim at crowd control. This is probably the best solution. It will not annoy any one. It will insure a much better coverage, therefore a lot more money from the first formal 10x8". The only drawback is we need a complete extra set of studio gear : 2 poles, 2 light stands, 2 heads, one power pack, one extension lead, one more Nikkor 35-70mm F2.8 lens (or Mamyas in the future). The other drawback is the lobby backdrop might attract to many pax and saturate. The photog there would then have to send these passengers to the other backdrops in the gallery.
Nothing impossible. Full clearance from Hotel Manager would have to be obtained before undertaking this move, obviously. On the next formal night, on Fridays, we shoot "Noon" and "New-York" backdrops, back to back (we only have one pair of auto-poles), from 5.30pm to 11pm. Since we only have one set of rail, the "New York" is without it. I experimented with rail on "New-York": we lost money. The conclusion is very clear and unquestionable: the "moon" wins 10 to one. It is by far the most popular. The comments I hear:
-"We leave in New York, it is not exotic".
-"The moon is romantic and looks like a cruise souvenir."
-"There is a mistake in the order of the famous buildings."
The New York backdrop is awkward to shoot: you must avoid a building to stick out of pax 's heads; groups looks bad and lost within the buildings, subjects do not stand out of the background clutter. I experimented with zooming in, with our 35-70mm lens, concentrating on the people's faces, but its still looked bad, as Mr. Davies commented, too. A better approach would be to shoot further away, with a longer (let's say 135mm) lens, to get the back less sharp, emphasizing more the pax.
In conclusion: the New York backdrop was a very idea, a good attempt at something new, which could have made a lot of money. I personally like it. But what I like is irrelevant. What matters is what our customers like. And the only way to know that is to do it and monitor the results. We did it, we monitored the results: it is not very popular:
Average sales, per cruise, last 6 cruises:
The "New York" is operational for the longest time, two times a week, and is still the least selling. Christian Fournier
REPORT ON NORDIC EMPRESS
-The shooting schedule is:
Monday: embarkation, no boat drill, sailing, clown (yes, 2 photogs, dressed as clowns, with good make up on and full length costumes, greet the pax as they exit the dining room: two doors, two clowns, two photogs, two sittings.)
Tuesday: Freeport gangways (8 am to 12 am), 2 sets of portraits on main lobby, before captain, handshakes, walk-in lounge (-see enclosed pictures-with a Bowens flash head and an umbrella and a flash on slave behind the pax. shot on 35mm and enlarged to 10x8" for $16.95), sitting in lounge, 2 sets of portraits for in and out of the dining room, inside dining room: couples only.
Wednesday: Nassau gangway (8-11am) An arrangement has been made with the taxi drivers, so there are no more frictions. Honey mooners: 7.30pm. Night gangway could be possible for many pax leave, dressed up, for the Nassau night club shows.
Thursday: Cococay: tender-path shots, then beach shots with a pirate. Sail away/decks. dinners: couples and tables. Portraits 2 or 4 backdrops according to whether the pax are good spenders or not.
-The date of the cruise is printed on the embarkation boards (see enclosed pics).
-There is no staff introduction with photographers. The photographers do cruisestaff duties during passenger life boat drill.
-Portraits are all shot with tripods. Only brown backdrops are used (I think that more variety would create more revenue, and would also make it easier to identify your portrait on the wall). One backdrop is very long, which helps for large groups. (See enclosed pics of portraits set ups.)
-All portrait equipment is stored behind the stage of the "Strike the band lounge", on the right hand side as you face the stage. There is plenty of space, even for the very long backdrop. It is not locked, since it is also used for stage equipment. A trolley, also stored in this room, is used to carry the gear to the shooting area.
-They shoot 2 gangways: one in Freeport, one in Nassau. The two shots are the same except for the name of the port, written on the life rings. We should dress them up for variety, therefore more revenue.
-The photo gallery hours are as follow:
Monday: 7-10am & 7-11pm
Tuesday: 8-10 am &2-11pm
Wednesday:8-10am & 2-11pm
Thursday: 8-10am & 3.30pm -midnight
Friday: 7-10am &7-11pm
Saturday: 8-10am &2-11pm
Sunday: 8-10am & 3.30pm -midnight
-There are announcements for the photo gallery every day through the P.A. system.
-Slot tech./dancers/pursers/lecturers are employed as gallery help during formal nights
-There are no D&P, no key chains. Reprint service is available.
-The photo gallery will be enlarged, but the new corner will not be visible from the cash desks. The existing fake video-security cameras must be kept ,or replaced, and one more added. Or the cash desks can be moved to better positions.
-Parts of the sales desks are damaged and should be replaced.
-There is no photo-gift shop.
-The telephone number of the gallery is: 3766-Available 220 volt power (Amps) in the darkroom:
film processors (17 + 17 + 17 amp.)
drying cabinet (17 amp.)
printers (17 + 17 amp.)
D&P processors (29 + 40 amp.)
cooler (17 amp.)
plugs (17 + 17 amp.)
All properly organized in a switch box. Other combinations possible.
-The darkroom is well ventilated and air conditioned.
-It is not a problem to remove the unwanted wall at the back of the Wainco processors: it is not a supporting wall, just a partition.
-The Fuji film processor, which was broken, was taken off in Miami two weeks ago. A Proco dip and dunk unit is used instead.
-The existing two Durst 5000 printers: one is 220v, the other one is 110 volts. There are voltage fluctuations, which affect the machine's performances on the 110 volt line.
-Two technicians and one supervisor (Mary) from Cruiseship Pics are on board this cruise to pack all equipment. They will try to have all equipment out by Friday 28th April 5PM. There has been no landing of photo gear in the Bahamas.
-The darkroom is situated mid-ship, deck one, stairs #29. Telephone: 3191
-The code to enter the security door to the darkroom is: 3444
-There is room for a tiny office in the film processing area. There is no room for an office in the cabins.
-There is no other storage room except inside the darkroom and the backstage space for portrait gear.
-The keys to darkroom and cabins will be handed over to the crew purser.
-There are three cabins, two photogs in each. No portholes. All in same area of the ship: deck 2 forward. Cabin 2023, 2025, 2027. Telephone numbers are: 8+cabin number.
-The senior photogs are: Paul Stocum, Andrew Rogers (I worked with him on the Viking Serenade), Jason Bull.-There is no literature about the photo operation in the cabin literature, but there are some for the gift shops and the shore excursion.
-The total revenue is $45 000 per week at the moment. It goes to $55 000+ in summer. This info comes from the photogs. RCCL might give us the complete figures for the past year.
-The photographers wages make up 10.5% of total revenue. There are 6 photogs, well paid. There are 3 cabins. Photogs work hard. There seems to be a good team work.
-The crew purser said that I must have a letter of employment for dry docks.
-How do I get my wage, and how much?
-Can we get some overalls to work (cleaning & painting & assembling machines) during dry-dock?
USEFUL COMMENTS on Sovereign & Majesty
FROM CHRISTIAN FOURNIERMy criticisms are not to annoy anybody personally.
I just want to point out the problems I have encountered,
so we can all work on them and get a smoother running !
Insane running is what caused me to resign.
May my rash action be of some use to somebody!
On the Sovereign of the seas:-Need more CL-2 pods and QBC-5 chargers: ran out during lounge and lost money. Some QBC-5 are broken and should be replaced immediately. Timer is a drawback. I have used and reused same Sunpack pods for 4 years on Stardancer/Viking Serenade. They do not build up a memory, unlike some other brands. They should be put back on charge immediately after use, whether fully discharged or not, and remain on charge at all times. Pods are warm to the touch when charged. Photogs should only use warm ones to insure maximum charge for shooting. A label with a number should be on each pod to make identification of broken ones easier. All pods and chargers and fresh films should be in the gallery storeroom, instead of the darkroom, for quicker access to them while shooting (all the shooting is much closer to the gallery than to the darkroom) See my report and photo of my CL-2/QB-C 5 rack on Stardancer.
-Trimmers: one is out of order, other one needs two feed spools + take up tray. Read instruction book if you do not believe me. Why were they thrown away? Why were they never replaced? Without the feed spools, only a small roll of prints (100 prints) can be trimmed: the heavy and unbalanced rolls drag through and the cutter drive cannot cope, making transport, therefore cutting, erratic, and also huge wear and tear on the motor. The absence of a take up tray: the photog has to remove the prints by hand, one by one, 24 000 times a week. Often the prints get out of order, which makes coding and displaying of duplicates an ordeal. It takes one photog one full night to trim the formal night pics. Plus a lot of frustration and many pics cut in half. What a waste, for a few dollars spare parts! I showed Nick the Durst manual with pics and order numbers. I have use this very same trimmer on the Stardancer/Viking Serenade for 4 years: it performed perfectly and trimming was much faster and much easier. When you trim all night long it matters. Because of the trimmer inability to cut large rolls, Nick ordered the printers to use only small rolls of paper, of 3 rolls of film each. When you print 90 films in one night, you then have to load and unload your Durst 5000 printer 30 times a night!!! None of this makes sense and should be rectified immediately.
-Transformer and cables of 2nd cash desk look bad in the middle of the corridor of a classy ship. (See photo enclosed)
-Many lenses in poor conditions. Focusing is often off: subject at 6 feet is sharp at 3 feet marking. Creates problems because many FM2 camera finders are dirty and dark and it would be nice not to rely on looking through them to assess sharpness. Seems to be inherent to the 35~70mm Nikkor. The AF 28~70mm Nikkor are much better and still affordable. B&H prices: $139.95 against $254.95 To keep in mind for future ships and replacements.
-No photog seem happy: a better organization, a better team management? a thank you/well done every now and then? Nick hasn't got a clue about team management: he only knows reprimands. Brian Fay knows how to pat backs. I can suggest that maybe, every now and then, a photog gets to shoot, print and display his own event. The idea is to see the result of his work, to understand the logistics, shooting and printing problems and to get some pride in doing it well.
-Cruise director held gangway: some P.R. is necessary. This guy perhaps does not realize that he is blocking the way: some very diplomatic PR is required. Andrew' s rude attack on the cruise staff is not the best way to deal with this matter.
-No cameras were ready for captain's cocktail: 4 photogs were having a drink in the Music Man lounge, waiting for the captain. When he showed up, photogs realized that there were no cameras to shoot with, so they stole mine, ready for the staff Captain in the Finnian lounge: we lost money.
-My flashgun was 2 stops over, even though said to have been tested: better maintenance is necessary, all cameras and flashguns should have a clear number on them, and be removed off use immediately when suspect.
-Pax blink on St. Thomas gangway, pics should be taken the opposite direction, again the light, but better batteries are needed.
-St. Thomas and St. Juan gangway pics are exactly the same. Some dressing up is necessary: arch, banners, flags, balloons..
-A decent looking garbage bin for the gallery sales desk: dirty cardboard boxes do not do on a classy ship.
-Some till keys should be updated: night gangways, Labadee do not exist any more, etc... It looks bad on pax receipts.
-All exposure settings should be clearly synchronized between photogs before each event, specially with photogs using different cameras & flash guns (Nikon F4, SB 24, Olympus..). Densities for same kind of shot (couple, no background, for instance) varied from -8 to +9 in printing the 89 rolls of dining room. A clear chart on the darkroom wall, a small chart for every photog to carry in his pocket.
-Cartridge loader for new film processor on N. Empress?? Would be good for a Cameretz 120 long roll, to save time and money on long portrait shoots.
-Pax receipts should have pax cabin on them, like at the bar, gift shop and Majesty. Due to the large amount of transactions in the gallery, this is not a joke and should be negotiated with the computer purser.
-Pirate pictures could be shot closer. Who likes the emergency exit signs/door hinges/fire door release knobs in the photos on a classy ship?
-Photogs should be rotated for dinners & walk outs & pirates: pax see the same photog 3 times in one evening (2 dinner shots + one walk out) and the same one again for the pirate (the following day) and again for the second session in the dining room (two days later). This aggravates the already heavy feeling of "Too Many Pictures".
-???too many pics, specially when pax are not keen spenders: (this matter is not obvious and a marketing survey is necessary) headshots are hidden behind "couples" in the gallery, therefore a waste. Some pics only get shown one day. Pax cannot keep track of all the pics: they do not have the time to look through all pics every day. Too many copies of same pics: Pax must get the impression that prints have no value and are a rip off for $5.95. Prints of same neg at two different densities: only one should be posted, the best one. When pax are good spenders: the more you shoot, the more you sell. Not true with "bad" pax. Less pics, therefore more time for quality and less strain on photogs and machinery, might bring more money. Pax end up just choosing between pics, or randomly look for some of their pics on the wall (not making any effort to find the pics since they cannot keep track of how many were shot) and not spending more. Constant shape up of the display is very important.
-Portraits are shot hand held, looking through the camera: I shoot portraits with the camera on a tripod. With a little practice, you build up dexterity and can shoot extremely fast, specially using Bogen/MANFROTTO tripod 055 and a zoom lens: all you have to adjust is a little up and down and right to left and it takes no time at all, contrariwise to what many photogs might say. The advantages are enormous: the photog smile to the pax, they smile back at you, you take the picture, you know exactly what the picture will look like because you can see the flash hitting the subjects, you can see their smiles, their last minute change of expression, their eyes closed, the flash that did not fire. So you do not need to shoot twice the same pose, therefore saving time, film, and paper and precious space in gallery. Pax rarely buy the two identical copies. Pax do not get the feeling that prints are cheap and easily mass produced. On the Stardancer/Viking Serenade I was shooting portraits the same way as we shoot walk-ins on Sovereign and Majesty: I got every body in line for the captain's handshakes. I had to go very fast. Only one pic per couple, but a very high % of sales and less work and hassle. I was making $18000 per week with 1200 pax, and only 3 photogs. Using a tripod would also make it easier to switch to a bulk loading camera, which makes obsolete the loading of 80 rolls a night, out of the boxes, in the camera backs, out of the camera backs, in special "coffins" loaders, taped to leader cards.
-????Reprints might be too much work for the revenue they bring: should be cancelled on 3/4 day cruise. (Same for key chains). A cash register key to monitor the revenue from reprints would be useful for a while. After two month we would know for sure.
-Too much separation between jobs: the #3 do not get a chance to print, etc... The #2 does not know the paperwork....
-No room on this ship for new shots: I got moaned at for doing extra balcony shots during doors.
-$$$$ lost because of broken Mamya, sync leads and modelling lights: A good 20 rolls of portraits were shot without flash by the #3. I had to shoot my portraits in the dark (modelling lights): looked cheap to the pax and made focusing very difficult. Better maintenance is necessary.
-Dining room tables should be clearly assigned before shooting: too much confusion: we look like amateurs, discussing and pointing in the dining room, we miss tables, we waste time and money. We should use a Maitre 'D 's dinning room map to assign tables to each photog, once and for all and for beginning and end of week, different tables, as previously mentioned.
-Camera and flash settings for shoots changed daily!!!!!, even between dining room sittings !!! without clear orders for every one: chaos. (half way through my dining room shooting, the #2 came to tell me that apertures had just been changes!!! Consistency is the only way to achieve good results in our business. Also you would think that after a few years, the exposures would have been settled for good. What a mess up for something so simple.
-Emulsion numbers and filter packs are not understood: all photographic paper manufacturers now print on their paper boxes a filter combination for optimum results in their reference printers (example: 35R 40B 30G). Different batches of paper, with different batch numbers, would still print at the same filtration on our machines if they have the same filtration reference. This makes life easier, specially as Konica seems to supply Sea Cruise with often the same filtration: 35R 35B 35G. Also differences in film batch numbers are not relevant any more for our purposes, providing that the films have been stored in the same conditions. Nobody seems to know this on Sovereign and Majesty, adding more worries and storage problems for nothing.
-Mixing instructions (very important matter) should be clearly written down, as customized to our tanks sizes, mixer size, supplier sizes, and posted on the wall. New photog Sue mixed film dev (very important!) wrongly. I had to empty the dev rep tank and redo. Changes in Konica C41 chemistry have brought new mixing instructions and printed information near processor tanks have had to be altered, but was done with a now faded marker pen and should be redone very clearly and strongly: this is not a joke. Instructions for Trebla chemicals for paper are in gallons, but the Durst chemical mixer only has markings in litres. Only Andy Novies knows what marks to use. This weekly and very important procedure should be standardized for good and instructions clearly printed on the darkroom walls. (See my mixing info on Viking Serenade, in my book).
-No training of the new: I had to train the new dancer at the gallery while shooting my 25 rolls of portraits. There was no decent training of new photogs. See samples of very poor pics that were displayed in the gallery. Even a one day training in Miami prior to embarking could improve the pics drastically and reduce the strain on new and old photogs on board. I used to be a Math teacher, I am a good teacher and would gladly do the teaching for Sea Cruise. Andy Novies, #2, said that his training for the Konica D&P machine was: "press -3". Majesty:-Power settings for flash during first dining room shoot (Tuesday): 1/16th for heads, 1/8 for couples. During 2nd dining room shoot (Friday) couples: 1/16th, tables of 4: 1/8th, tables of 5 or more: 1/4 power. Where is the logic? The precious consistency invaluable in photography? New photog Gina wanted to resign because she realized the organization was a joke. I think that because of improper use of printer modes (VXFF instead of LC2) printers can only cope with negs that do not vary in densities. Sunpack flashguns on auto create large variations, so do manual flash when distance flash to subject varies and different operators use different settings or same operators forget to change power settings from heads to couples. It is a lost battle to try to get all frames with the same exposures. A better approach is to learn how to use the slope on Durst LC2 mode, which is exactly what it is design for: compensate for neg density variations.
-Schedules done poorly: all 3 tills to be manned all evening, but only 2 photogs from 8 to 11.00 PM. (see enclosed schedule) Brian should spend a little more time at his job. Not all jobs are written down on the schedule (for instance who delivers the reprints to pax cabins on the last night?): so you get the: "it's not my job" answer every time. The "team work" is now "everyone for himself".
-No breakdown in wages: Paul Wilkinson gets his wage -his supercharge spending -his uniform spending -god knows what, in an envelope with only the total written on it, so he has no proof of uniform payments, etc..
-Paul Wilkinson got his wage on Saturday for previous week's work ending Sunday. Since the banking is done on Wednesdays in Cayman, what is the hold up for? This is unfair to the photos who want to send money home from Barclays Bank in Cayman or buy photo gear in Cayman.
-New photogs should receive a minimum training while they wait doing nothing in Miami prior to joining a ship. Since they receive no instructions from the #1s before shooting, we have to display very disgraceful photos in public (see samples)
-The new gangway shot in Ocho Rios is very ugly (only scaffoldings showing!!!!!!! see enclosed sample) and very unsafe (300 pax on this frail aluminum construction). Even attempting it is absurd.
-Their is a clear drawing (pinned in the Sovereign darkroom) of how to stick tape on the empty film cores for film loading (see neg of it). There are no problems of end of films on the Sovereign. On the Majesty, many end of film frames are lost because the adhesive tape is too long, creating frustration amongst pax and loosing us money, and damaging the cameras pressure plates and the neg processor cutters (see repairs this Sunday 18th April: neg cutter and pressure plates).
-Looking at this above mentioned simple core tape business: it needs better synchronizing between ships. The Sovereign has a great tender shot on Cococay. Unknown on the Majesty. Perhaps a supervisor that would sail and work on all ships, picking up the good & bad bits and enforcing the good stuff to all ships. All these tips should also be discussed amongst management staff, written down and posted in all darkrooms. I am prepared to do this for you and enforce everything that I mention in this report. Even on a temporary basis, as a consultant, like I did for portraits for Cruiseship Pics.
-I did not have a darkroom key during my entire week on the Majesty. It created a lot of useless hassle for me and my room mate (whom I borrowed a key from) to get into the darkroom, specially with all the overnight printing involved. Brian should have spare sets of keys.
-We experimented this past week with head shots in the dining room on the Majesty. I told Brian that we would need a key for "heads" on the cash registers. There are many keys that are unused (masquerade for instance) so it is not a problem. But Brian did not do it. I thought that the idea of making an experiment was to monitor the results so we could see if it sells well or not.
-I think that % of pics sold per pics taken should appear on the paperwork, so we could visualize what is profitable or not. PDRs per event only reflect the revenue generated, not the salability of an event.
-Why hire expensive Durst Technicians flown in from UK to calibrate the printers if only fix settings are used??????? Why not buy the machines without the electronics and save a lot of money?
-From what I saw and also from the answers I got to my direct questions to Brian Fay's present and past assistants it results that Brian Fay never:
-shoot 35mm. He only shoots the easy parts of portraits
-maintain or clean the darkroom
-train new staff
-sell, display, reorganize at the gallery
-count negs or stores
-carries any stores, bags, repairs
I do wonder what he does to deserve his wage and how he gets away with doing so little. He is a very good smooth talker and manages to get every one on his side. Earl said that Brian looks very concerned, when in the office, about revenue and quality. Good acting! On the ship Brian has a "devil may care attitude". Brian has a sun tan, he is well fed and get proper sleep very night (no dark circles under his eyes). He is very sociable, has time to read the news and entertain the big wigs on board.
-The #2 Mike Barclays addresses his colleagues as dogs. Myself and the new photog Gina were shocked by this. The other photogs, all less than 4 weeks at Sea Cruise, seemed indifferent.
-It needs a decent charging rack for CL-2 pods. There are chargers in 4 different places, some very awkwardly accessible, even one on the film processor, too easy to fall off, ready to get chemical splashes, in the way of films to be processed. Batteries for 24 000 shots per week is no joking matter and a bit of care is important. Some Quantum chargers are used for the Sunpack CL-2s: these deteriorate the CL-2s.
-All cameras and flashguns and CL-2 pods should have a clear number, to help identify the defective ones: see problem on Majesty with broken pressure plate.
-I was told at Sea Cruise office that even if I wrote a report about what I saw, it would not create any changes.
-On the Majesty, I shot embarkation (and started training the new photog Gina), boat drill and sail away. The general comment was that I put every one to shame because I got twice as many rolls as everybody else.
When I first started printing on the Majesty, Sunday 11th April, decks and boat drill negs, Mike Barclays, The #2, who had just printed embarkation, told me that "on this ship, which has the best prints of all ships, only FXFF is used, and LC2 is not calibrated." The deck shots always vary from -8 to +6 densities because of different camera settings by each photog, of shade and sunshine, of backlit and frontlit. Variations in neg densities, and in color temperature of the scene, create variations of color casts in the prints. It is impossible and stupid to print such negs on FXFF. (I am a science university graduate and I have 13 years experience in color printing.) The only sensible compromise is to test each film separately and color correct for each, knowing that this will not take into account the variations within each film. So I did that. It was long and painful, specially as Mike blasted off loud and distorted lousy music in the darkroom. I noticed that last week's filtrations were 1.5Y 2M 1.5C. I tried to explain to Mike that using the three complimentary colors Y+M+C was only adding gray to the filter pack, therefore slowing down the printing by making longer exposures and risking blur when the ship rocks, but he said he never heard that before and would not believe me. When I finished printing, my prints looked good and Mike declared then that he himself uses VXFF for all outdoor shots. This makes more sense, but contradicts was he told me earlier on. Did he do it purposely?? I noticed that a very thick (+30 pics) stack of embarkation pics were in the reprint box on the wall in the darkroom, much too light.
Sunday very late, I cleaned up the cabin, with my room mate Paul. The cabin was a pig sty: dirty socks full of mildew under the mattress and bed, no room because of things lying everywhere. Paul's stuff was neatly packed in his suitcase: he said he had had no room and no time to unpack. This was his fourth week! It is very rude of the previous photogs to leave dirt, and their own belongings, behind. I personally rent a small storeroom in U-Haul Miami ($10 per month!) so that my extra stuff will not bother any one. We all pay the same rent for the cabins (joke) and have the right to clean it and have room to unpack. So we put all dirt and other belongings in garbage bags and used a trolley to convey it to the darkroom. We got hold of a cabin steward's vacuum and cleaning utensils and sanitized the cabin. I did not get much sleep because Paul, being claustrophobic in a no-porthole cabin insisted on leaving the main light on.
On Monday morning, I attended the usual safety briefing. In the afternoon, I shot decks, with life ring. I got 4 full rolls of properly exposed and composed pics while the other two got 2 rolls and 6 frames of garbage (you can check these negs in the Majesty's darkroom). In the evening I shot CCP. During the night I printed for 8 hours all handshakes and lounge and walk-ins (maybe 80 rolls). I got good colors. (I do not understand why we must print overnight, since the gallery does not open until 5.30pm). Mike's portraits were very blue (you can check that). Just after I had changed from tuxedo to darkroom clothes (combat jacket and ear plugs for this ship!) to print, Brian ordered me to change again for he had forgotten to tell me about my portrait to be taken for the gallery board. I refused, because it was his fault and because I would only be here one week.
On Tuesday 13th April in Cozumel, I did not get much sleep (noisy neighbours, Paul got in and out for pier shots, phone calls, etc... Tuesday evening: I printed decks, pier and Cozumel sail away. Good colors. I shot dinners (heads and couples at different power settings each) and walkouts. I replenished chemicals and loaded films through processor. At 1am, I called Brian to the darkroom: dinners were impossible to print on FF (fix filtration). New photogs and new power settings, as well as different private lenses for the new head shots created havoc in the densities. Since there is no slope to compensate for the colors variations due to the exposure variations, the tests showed bright yellows and bright blues for same filter pack on FF. Brian said that I always printed too yellow anyway, which was false (please check all my prints on Majesty). I made a test on LC2 and showed Brian that LC2 was totally off and unusable. He agreed and told me to hurry printing those 90 rolls of dinners, as best as I could and he would edit them in the morning, before John Davies shows up. Mike Barclays was present during this conversation and kept his month shut and printed blue cast piano portraits. I was very tired by 3 am. Again why print at night when the gallery only opens at 6pm the following day??? Why wasn't LC2 operational? (It would have taken a long time to recalibrate) Why weren't the camera settings clearly defined and written down beforehand??? How did they get away with such poor organization? Idiots on board and blind in the office. Better resign and keep my sanity and integrity.
During the confrontation between John Davies, Brian and myself (exhausted by my last 3 blank nights and missed meals), Brian openly lied to Mr. Davies. Brian stated that I had no reason to create hassle, that all prints done by Mike Barclays were perfect, that he would never edit pics and that he worked all the time. I was overwhelmed by the fact that Mr. Davies believed Brian and too tired to defend myself.
CHRISTIAN FOURNIER, 20 APRIL 1993