Photographer Simona Bonanno’s “Aboard” series takes us on a visual journey to witness the fascinating anonymity of passengers and crew members inhabiting the temporary small cities on the seas that are cruise ships. “Traveling across the sea, we are in perpetual motion. Within the pulse of the decks, of the corridors, of the brilliant salons, and of the play of water in pools, everyone has a story,” Simona tells Lens Culture. Those stories come to life in Simona’s striking black and white images that brilliantly captured the escapism world that luxury cruise ships provide to holiday makers. These passengers, on hiatus from their hectic lives, all of a sudden find themselves in an environment conducive for reflection and the hardworking crews – who spends half of the year away from their families, serving to fulfill a vacation to remember in the high seas – all conspires to weave an engaging narrative in this photography series. To learn more about Simona’s “Aboard” series, Resource Magazine reached out to her for a brief interview.
How did you conceptualize the idea behind “Cruise Ship Anonymity”?
When I started to concretize the project, in 2013, the name was more complicated: “Nothing About Me”. I was very impressed by people traveling or working in the big cruise ships. I was fascinated by the rhythm. Every cycle of life lasted one week for the passengers, about 6 months for the crews. Every week, every month, every year, I find the same people, doing the same things in the same spaces. I thought it was so destabilizing. So the title: “Nothing about me”, I know nothing about people. They could be whoever I want, they had a life, a family, they have dreams, but on the ship they become part of a huge mechanism that cycles around and renews itself continually. And me too, I was one of them, part of this cycle.
What are the interesting discoveries you had while doing this series?
Three years and a lot of journeys on a cruise after, my idea has changed. I find my place, I find my way to living it. Being on a cruise ship now is like being on our world. We almost never have the opportunity to shape life as we desire. But we can adapt in it, we can accommodate things and we can find our spaces, our ways of life. As people on the ship do, as I did. So now, I don’t observe strangers as wonderful creatures playing perpetual rules. I observe them, I fall in love with people founding their private spaces in this floating city, playing, loving, laughing, as they found them in life; people working to make it possible, not as part of mechanism, but as the mechanism, the core of these sparkling cities on sea.
Explain to us the process on how you shot this series?
I observe a lot. I don’t photograph every time, it’s not my approach. I study situations, lights, movements. I spent a lot of time discovering the ship, how it works, how people live in it. And when I look through my lenses, I focus on the moments I want to tell.
How important for you to produce images that tell a rich narrative?
Very important. Every image tells something to the observer, what I want to suggest. Photographing is always one side of the truth. I tell you my side.
How Important is the Cruise Ship as the main setting – in telling the story of this series?
The cruise ship was, at first, like an enormous beast who stole people’s identities; then it becomes the perfect scenery for my play, the container to tell my stories.
What camera and other equipment (lens) you used while shooting this series?
I used two cameras: a Canon Eos 5D Mark II with three lenses (24-105mm, 70-300mm and 40mm) and a Sony a7r with a 35mm; the last one is useful to shoot inside the ship, during the night events or in all photographic situations requiring more discretion and quickness in shooting. I also use my iPhone 5s for a parallel project always about cruise ships, “the crystal ship”.
Lastly, what are you cooking up for your next photography project?
I’m still working on this project: it has changed a lot since I started 3 years ago. My dream is to make a book with it. At the same time, I’m working also on another long term project, “Aunt Sara”. I have also some new ideas to develop, but it’s too early to talk about!
To see more of Simona Bonanno’s work, check out her Website. To be considered for Photographer of the Day, follow us on Instagram @resourcemag and e-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “POTD Submission.”