Ten days in the Midwest


*** The following post contents my personal opinion. This is not and advertisement, not a publicity. Just my personal point of view.***

I am on the plain going to Miami to catch the next flight. I don’t remember when was the last time I slept 8 hours in a row. Maybe was more than 10 days ago when I joined the training to become a Black Label artist for Holland America.

Before coming, couple of friends who were in the training before told me that I will be crying or bored and probably I would hated, but was completely the opposite. The training has been a wonderful experience and made me realize that I really enjoy photography and people, something that I forgot within the last year.

For those who don’t know about the Black Label (BL) programme, is a different photography service on board. Besides regular color photography, ships are offering private sessions in black and white.

As some of you can remember, I used to do that kind of portraiture on board Celebrity, but on Holland America works in a very different and (better) way because they take you to an special training with the creator of the programme, Joe Craig.

Meeting Joe had given me the opportunity to understand better not only photography or passion or professionalism, but something that I left behind long time ago trough routine and monotony: emotions.

Cruise photographers most of the time we lose ourselves trying to get the numbers, reaching targets and selling everything that we have. Even our souls go into the deep hole of “thinking about money and money only”.

My last contract was pretty much like that, I can’t even remember one memorable photograph, because I was hating my self with a camera.

I did quite good in my performance regarding revenue and customer service, but I wasn’t happy.

When my husband and I decided to go back to the ship this year, we got the chance to step up and get promoted, and that’s how I end up in Dexter, Missouri, a tiny little town in the Midwest of the United States.


It was so rainy and gray when we arrived to Dexter that I was asking my self if I will survive the melancholic weather surrounded by skinny sad trees.

While my mind was playing this stupid feeling, a blonde girl with a cute pixie haircut ask me if I was going to the BL training.

Her name is Emily (Kansas), and chatting with her distracted me from the bad weather and everything was starting to turn from gray to green (it was Saint Patrick’s day, apparently is and big day for americans and we supose to drink).

At the next day, we met Bianca (Melbourne) and Gerneil (Jamaica) both of them coming from different ships and backgrounds.

We kind of had a good time since the first day, it was like talking to friends that you met long time ago.


We arrived to Sally’s house, a big house like the ones from the movies, with a nice yard and the walls covered with plants.

Sally’s house is a popular house dowtown, all the neighborhood knows who lives there and who is Joe and his family.

Everything inside is set up to make you feel special, a mix of peace and wisdom and discipline difficult for me to explain in this language.

To be honest the first days were nice and terrifying. We couldnt get used to the idea to shoot in front of everybody else. While you were learning and shooting, you were judged as well among observed and criticized.

In fact, there were couple of days that I was feeling awful because is cool when people say nice things to you, but when you need to listen to criticism about your work is a bit hard.

The flow of the days were up and down, up and down… and so on. Trying to remember new tricks in Photoshop, how to book people, how to interact, and more about your body language made us realize that somehow we were growing.

I really can’t think in one day that everything was perfect for everyone. Everybody was trying to achieve something different and listening all the stories that Joe was sharing with us.

In between lessons, we grew as a team, as friends, as students by the hand of the teachers and guides like Holy, Paul and Toby, whom work with Joe since long time ago.

Emily and Bianca.

As we were spending most of the day inside the house practicing lighting and posing, we couldn’t walk around town to know better the place.

Our evening walkings were to Dollar Tree (buy everything for 1 dollar) and Penny’s Dinner (a 60’s milshake – coffee place) were we just to hang out for a bit).

After Penny’s or Dollar tree we used to go to one room together to “decompress” all day emotions. Kind of worth it because at the next day we were getting better and more focused on the training.


Yesterday, in our last day I could see and feel a completely relaxing atmosphere. We were laughing and practicing because the exams were done and the feedback from our coachs was very positive. We had an amazing last day with some tears and hugs and more portraits.

We got to know a bit more about Joe trough some treasures that he share with us. Memories is what we are, emotions what we share, and what we discovered there, in a tiny little town in the Midwest.

See you on the road.