Manila Bulletin Newspaper Article Discovered

Sailing Through the Lens
By Joseph Galian
December 29, 2009

What’s the easiest and fastest way to work abroad, earn dollars, meet many people, and visit exotic places around the world at the same time? Be a professional cruise ship photographer!

Working away from our country as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) has been a traditional way where Filipinos seek “greener pastures” to improve their lot in life. The international cruise ship industry can be an alternative plan for any Filipino intending to earn dollars without “breaking the bank” while preparing themselves with the necessary education, maritime training, medical checkups, among others. Not everyone has the luxury of time and economic endurance to prepare for some in-demand jobs abroad like in field of nursing, dentistry, education, and electronics. After all, the cruise industry is here to stay and it continues to grow as more ships are being constructed. As long as people cruise, there will always be the need for workers to man these floating hotels. Photographers are amongst these privileged seamen.

Who Can Apply

If you are within the age bracket of 21-33 years old, you are qualified to apply provided that you are fit and healthy, love people and have the passion for photography, and you possess an extroverted personality. There is a minimum height requirement and you need to consult your local recruiter. With these rules, it can be said that exceptions can be made if the applicant can impress any headhunter.

Nostalgic and sentimental candidates don’t stand a chance being hired as a seaman – photographer with work contracts spanning six to nine months of hard work with (typically) no day-offs. In a way, this is not for everybody; it’s up to you to find out if you’re considered to be one. After your contract, you will be given by your employer a 30-day (more or less) vacation till you are notified of your next cruise ship destination.

How To Apply

The first step to be a cruise ship photographer is to hook up with a legitimate recruiter in good standing with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) by checking the POEA’s website. Prestigious recruiters (like can refer you to the greatest photo concessionaires like The Image Group, or to impressive ships with in-house photo departments like Carnival Cruise Lines, Princess Cruises, to name a few.

Your recruiter will ask you to enroll in their five-day Basic Safety Course (BSC) program to train you to save lives at sea in case of emergencies. This investment will cost up to Php 10,000. You cannot get your seaman’s book from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) without your BSC certification. Your seaman’s book will be attached to your passport in tandem. Get a you travel passport beforehand plus NBI clearance, authenticated transcript of records, birth certificate, marriage certificate (if applicable), letter of employments, resume, workshop certificates for starters.

As a prospective ship photographer, you must compile at least 24 impressive photographs of people’s portraits – as individuals or in groups. Your portfolio must be 8” x 10” in size in a black album to look professional. Owning your own camera gives your recruiter the right impression. Be prepared for a basic photography written exam covering camera parts to fill-flash. There will be a paid and scheduled test (worth around Php 1,000) covering I.Q. test, personality test and high school arithmetic, fractions, problem solving, English comprehension and vocabulary.

If you have all these documents submitted and tests completed to your agency (recruiter), then you can hope to leave the country in less than six months. Just wait for your turn to be interviewed via teleconferencing or an actual visit by the official recruitment officer abroad. The interview can be as simple as question-and-answer forum or can involve practical demonstration with role playing.

Where To Get Cruise Ship Photo Training

Starting January, the Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation (FPPF) will offer a three-day International Cruise Ship Photography Workshop for any Filipino who intends to work abroad as a professional ship photographer. Yours truly will conduct the said workshop with hands-on, role-playing photography exercises. The purpose of this unique workshop is to increase your chances of being hired as a professional ship photog.

For inquiries about the next ship photo workshop, please call the FPPF at telephone no.: 524-7576 and look for Karen, e-mail at, or visit