Jeffrey Milstein photographs cruise ships in his series, “Cruise Ships.”

Looking Down at the Decks of Massive Cruise Ships

Looking Down at the Decks of Massive Cruise Ships

Behold
The Photo Blog
May 19 2015 11:01 AM

Looking Down at the Decks of Massive Cruise Ships

Caribbeanprincess
Caribbean Princess.

Jeffrey Milstein

From water level, cruise ships can look like confounding, imposing towers—but in Jeffrey Milstein’s series of aerial photographs, “Cruise Ships,” the amazing designs of the floating behemoths seem clear and even beautiful. “Most of them have pools. They almost all have a putting green, a running track, a basketball court. The whole top deck becomes this kind of floating amusement park three football fields long. It's an amazing construction,” he said.

Milstein has been interested in planes, ships, and other vehicles since he was a kid, and in the last 15 years he’s become known as a photographer particularly adept at making our greatest machines look good. (We featured his series, “Flying,” on Behold in 2013.)   

Carnivalsensation
Carnival Sensation.

Jeffrey Milstein

Carnivalvictory
Carnival Victory.

Jeffrey Milstein

Disneydream
Disney Dream.

Jeffrey Milstein

Before “Cruise Ships,” Milstein had spent time taking photos of small motorboats in New York from a bridge as they floated underneath. But 1½ years ago, he decided to go bigger, which was when he flew to Florida’s Port Canaveral, where millions of cruise passengers embark on vacation each year. In the time since, he’s also photographed ships in Fort Lauderdale and Miami for his ongoing project.

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Milstein photographs the ships from the passenger seat of a helicopter flying somewhere between 900 and 1,400 feet in the air. He works with a fully manual camera, so he can only take one photo every time the helicopter swoops above the ship. In an hour’s time, he gets only two or three chances. There’s no door on Milstein’s side, which gives him a better angle and eliminates obstructions. To minimize shaking, Milstein mounts his camera on a gyroscope, which he holds during the flight. “It weighs quite a bit, which is why I just had a trip to the physical therapist for my shoulder,” he said.

Carnivalvictorynight
Carnival Victory.

Jeffrey Milstein

Norwegiansky
Norwegian Sky.

Jeffrey Milstein

The effort, Milstein said, is worth it. When all goes well, his 80-megapixel photos are so clear, viewers can see the smallest details on the ship, and life onboard is fully illuminated. “You see all the people in their pools and lying on their chairs and playing golf and running on the track. It's almost voyeuristic to look at it all going on.”

Milstein’s aerial photography will be on display at New York’s Benrubi Gallery July 9–Aug. 22 and at L.A.’s Kopeikin Gallery July 18–Aug. 22. 

RoyalCaribbeanFreedomofSeas
Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas.

Jeffrey Milstein

RoyalCaribbeanMajestyoftheSeas
Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas.

Jeffrey Milstein

Jordan G. Teicher is the associate editor of Slates Behold blog. Follow him on Twitter.