8 Tips For Taking Better Portraits: The Secrets of Cruise Ship Photographers


When I went on my first cruise I wondered what was up with the many photographers and ornate backdrops set up as you traveled to and from dinner. Families, couples and even the single ladies were dressed to the nines, waiting for their chance to pose. It took me a few days to try it out, but then I couldn’t stop. Masters of lighting and art direction, the Carnival cruise ship photographers know exactly how to get a flawless portrait that you will love. It’s a thrill to run to the walls of the photography area, where they display all of the prints, the next morning to see yourself glowing back as never before. How are they able to get such amazing, flattering shots with a small set-up and literally minutes?  Of course we asked, and managed to get 8 of their secrets to try at home!

From lighting, to composition and relaxation advice, read on for a list-o-tips that will give you aspiring shutter bugs some greats ideas for how to improve your own portraits with beautiful results.

1. Be relaxed.

If you are a relaxed photographer, your subject will sense that you feel confident and comfortable and they’ll let down their guard, resulting in a more natural capture.


2. Think about body position.

Direct your subject to lean their upper body towards the camera at a 45 degree angle, and keep their chin up for a ultra flattering, slimming pose.


3. Create a circle in the composition.

Encourage your subjects to lean their heads together and touch hands, to form a circle, creating a beautiful, warm, composition like in this stunner of Jaime and her sister.


4. Envision the final photograph.

Have an image in your mind of what you would like the final portrait to look like; the subject, your lighting and background, so that you can work towards that end result. Set up your composition, guide your subjects pose, and adjust your lighting and camera equipment to see your vision come to life.

5. Practice, practice. practice.

Not too complicated, the more you practice and find what works for you the better your work will be.

6. Bright frontal lighting.

A bright direct light shining on the subject fills shadows, dark circles, and wrinkles with pretty glowing light.


7. Keep learning.

Take some time to look at the photos you have taken and think about what you would like to change and how you can accomplish the changes next time.

8. Have fun and enjoy it.

If you enjoy photographing people, your positivity will be contagious and your subjects will enjoy being photographed. It will show in your work! I mean who in the history of the world has ever looked happier than these two goofballs? No one, that’s who.




This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over





It appears that the also put all photos through software such as portrait professional to soften skin.


And of course, taking pictures of beautiful young women makes it easier too.

The main demographic for cruise ships is older women but yeah, you do see children and occasionally, unless you are VERY careful, men.


Leave a Reply