Photographs by Dennis Cox, Text by Clark Norton
In the course of reviewing “Cruising the World – From Gondolas to Megaships”, the 208 pages, 9.5” x 12” full-color hardcover coffee table book featuring 535 photos, depicting 37 varieties of cruise vessels, representing 77 countries, on all seven continents, I interviewed the photographer Dennis Cox. I told him how much I enjoyed his book, how excited I was to read about segments of the cruise industry previously unknown to me, and what I thought about the current state of cruising. (see the review here)
He then shared some wisdom of cruising photography, photography in general, and the travel involved to capture his stunning images. His comments are in quotation marks “ ”.
When I asked what his advice is for a budding photographer, Dennis Cox startled me by saying, “I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go into photography now since the industry was killed by digital.” It seems that with newspapers foregoing photographers for reporters carrying digital cameras, and stock photos that he used to license for $250 now going for $12.50, digital has really cut into a photographer’s income. “I’ve gotten checks lately for photos that were in the Time Inc Picture Collection, now owned by Meredith, for less than the cost of the stamp on the envelope containing the check.” Photography is fast becoming a hobby for otherwise gainfully employed people.
About the excitement of cruise photography, he said: “the thing I like best about it is photographing the ships and the places they go. The food and entertainment are a nice escape at times as well. ” But it all wasn’t fun and games. “My wife and I were on Le Ponant (the only cruise ship hijacked for ransom and the only one hijacked by Somali pirates) before the hijacking. I was on assignment for Tauck Tours, the company to which the ship was leased. I was on my second tour with Tauck, having shot an Australia-New Zealand tour for them, and my wife on her first. No other of the 60 or so passengers had been on fewer than 11 of their tours.”
So it isn’t all a Life of Riley – lounging on deck chairs sipping champagne and rum punches? “Hardly” he said. “It was a job – highly enjoyable at times – but I was always professional and on a tight, hectic schedule. To get the shots I needed to fill out the book during the last two years of shooting was a challenge. At the end of 2018, we did two cruises back-to-back from Shanghai. The first was to get a megaship, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, on a four-day cruise to Japan and back. Then we immediately boarded Holland America’s Westerdam back to Japan/Okinawa/Taiwan/Manila and Hong Kong.”
That was a spectacular night shot you took from the North Star gondola. It looks amazing but scary! It “is no scarier than being enclosed inside a glass elevator, unless you have a fear of heights.”
“The Quantum of the Seas was the first RCI ship to have the North Star glass gondola suspended on a mechanical arm. It is operated like a crane by a crew member inside the pod (which holds) 14 passengers at a time suspended in the air 300 feet above sea level for a 15 to 20-minute ride from one side of the ship to the other. The challenge photographing from it is the glass has many distracting reflections to try to avoid when shooting, especially at night.”
There was also the extensive traveling necessary to get all the photographs Dennis Cox needed, and it wasn’t all by air and sea.
“After shooting on the barge cruise in France, I drove down the Moselle Valley, then up the Rhine to shoot longships (river cruise ships) before stopping in Amsterdam to shoot a Keukenhof Gardens cruise on the way home.” He went on to detail other roadtrips throughout the US and into Canada to get the river and lake cruise ships for the American section of his book. In all, there were almost as many land miles as nautical miles traveled to get the more than 500 photos needed for the comprehensive book on the cruise industry.
Dennis Cox is a professional cruise photographer, with more than forty years and thousands of photo credits under his belt. His hard work, dedicated devotion to his craft, and impressive talent are all evident in his new book: “Cruising the World – From Gondolas to Megaships”.
Available only online from the publisher, Photo Explorer Productions, at www.DennisCox.com.