In response to Mr. Leppert's opinion piece about photography on cruise ships, I would like to make several points. Since 1996 our agency has represented Image, the largest, most successful cruise ship photography concessionaire in the industry. I have watched over the years as Image has led the industry in technological innovation and customer service-oriented product development.
Mr. Leppert missed one of the key elements of shipboard photography — no matter what kind of camera or photography skills you have, there are some memorable shots that you simply can't take. Cruise ship photographers make the images that passengers can't, such as the embarkation shot of happy, excited faces or a formal night portrait.
The new emphasis on formal portraits, casual portraits and fun, dress-up portraits provides passengers opportunities to have professional photos taken with friends and family that they might not have otherwise. Fewer people go to a shoreside photographer for formal portraits these days, but on a cruise, when they are happy and relaxed, is a perfect time to have a portrait taken — with no requirement to purchase the image if it is not to the subject's liking.
While the merits of interrupting one's dinner for a photo can be argued, and few repeat cruisers purchase the notorious "pirate shot," these photos would not be taken if there was not a market for them. Photography companies are for-profit concerns, and if enough of a certain type of shot does not sell, they stop taking it.
Image led the industry in creating shipboard retail outlets for cameras and accessories — plus they provide instruction in how to use the equipment and how to take great photos. Further, Image offers print-on-demand photo albums that are delivered to guests before they disembark the cruise.
Image also led the shipboard innovation of moving to digital photography and away from chemical-heavy processes of the past. Today, on the newest cruise ships, Image has installed systems that enable guests to review and purchase photos from the comfort of their stateroom or using high-tech kiosks located conveniently around the ship.
Image has always operated its photo labs in compliance with all international rules and regulations. Indeed, the company has an environmental-management system that is more stringent than the law requires.
Shipboard cruise photography meets a need, it offers goods and services that cruise passengers want and it operates in an environmentally responsible manner. Plus, it captures memories of a cruise vacation that last a lifetime.