Steve Dunlop – A Proper Photographer
I don’t know the official statistics, but whenever I have been to a significant cruise event, Steve Dunlop always pops up out of nowhere like a stealth meerkat. By the time you’ve noticed him, he’s halfway across the room. When flicking through the weekly trade magazines, you can guarantee to see his name credited to the big events photos. So let’s find out more about the man of mystery.
What was the first cruise ship you photographed and when?
P&O Oriana at the naming ceremony in 1995.
You have been the official photographer for many naming ceremonies. Have you ever met one of the Royals? If so, which one(s) and can you tell me about it?
Her Majesty The Queen on three occasions; with P&O Cruises in 1995 for Oriana and 2015 for Britannia, and with Cunard for the naming of Queen Elizabeth in 2010.
Also there was, Princess Anne at the naming for P&O Cruises Aurora in 2000, The Duchess of Cambridge at Princess Cruises Royal Princess naming ceremony in 2013, and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall for Cunard Queen Victoria naming ceremony in 2007.
You can’t chat with the Royals so they’ve never had the benefit of hearing about my favourite Draught Bitter.
Many years ago I was photographing The Duke of Edinburgh at his Awards scheme. He unexpectedly asked me directly if I was certain I wouldn’t get the rather voluptuous Rubenesque figures featured on the paintings in the room in any of the shots I took of him. I didn’t.
Can you name other Celebrities you have photographed? Do you have a favourite to work with and why?
I love Jonathan Ross because he once said I looked like a proper photographer!
As Brucie would say (and I’ve photographed him at The P&O Cruises Britannia Naming), ‘They are all my favourites.”
In cruise I’ve been fortunate to have worked with all the P&O Cruises Food Heroes; Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanlard, Olly Smith, James Martin. Attul Kochhar.
I’ve also photographed many guest celebrity chefs in the Cookery School onboard P&O Britannia, such as Carluccio and Alex James.
Marco Pierre White and Eric Lanlard are wonderfully nice people. I’ve enjoyed many days at sea over many years aboard P&O ships with each.
I once spent a day with Marco, island hopping en route back from a promotional shoot in the Caribbean. We had 8-9 hours to spare in Antigua before our transatlantic flight. My wife who was also out there working, sourced a beach bar nearby. We spent the afternoon eating chicken wings and drinking cold beer. He’s great company. At the airport he insisted on sitting with us in the main terminal instead of seeking refuge in the Business Lounge.
I’ve met many famous people attending as celebrity guests at all of the Naming ceremonies. I’m a big Corrie fan so meeting Liz Dawn (Vera Duckworth) at the Cunard Queen Elizabeth naming was a biggie for me.. nearly outstripping being part of the Royal Rota photographing the Queen for that ceremony.
Twiggy at Seabourn Sojurn Christening 2010. I had to report to Twiggy’s cabin so that she could OK the pictures I’d taken of her. Sat with her going through the shots and chatting. I told her I was great fan and that she reminded me of my Aunty Diane. She looked at me (not surprisingly) in a quizzical manner. I had to explain that looking like my Aunty Diane was a good thing…
Some ship Namings:
Dame Kelly Holmes, P&O Cruises Arcadia 2005
Dame Helen Mirren, P&O Cruises Ventura 2008
Darcey Bussell CBE, P&O cruises Azura 2010
Dame Shirley Bassey, P&O cruises Adonia 2011
Nina Barough Celebrity Cruises Eclipse Launch 2009
Emma Pontin Celebrity Cruises Eclipse 2010
Dame Joan Collins, Uniworld Joie de Vivre Christening 2017
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Deadlines are usually easy to meet. You can send images immediately so unless someone wants it before I’ve taken it then I should be ok.
Biggest challenge is keeping up with ever changing technology
Is there an occasion that you have worked on that you are most proud of?
P&O Cruises Britannia Naming and being on the Royal Rota for Cunard Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria Namings.
Do you have a favourite photograph that you have taken?
A portrait of Marco Pierre White taken way back in 2006 which was first time I’d met him. The photo was taken at his restaurant in St James’s Street and was used throughout P&O promotional / marketing material for years and years. I still see it in use now. I think it was because I managed to capture him smiling.
The Queen smiling at P&O Cruises Britannia naming.
Cunard Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Southampton from a helicopter.
If you could do any other job, what would it be?
A gardener. My younger brother is a gardener by profession. I’d be hoping that I could look as fit, lean, sun kissed & healthy as he does
What is an average day like for you?
If I’m at home in Bayswater like to start at 6.30am with walking our two Tibetan Terriers in Kensington Gardens. It’s the most relaxing start to a day. I take my iphone and shoot the sunrises and misty mornings for instagram & Twitter as I go.
I try to clear as much of a shoot off my desk on the day I shoot it. After a Big Awards Night this can mean working through to 4 or 5am. The incentive for doing this is to start the day relaxed in the park.
Most days I have a shoot during the daytime but if I don’t then I’m usually at my desk updating social media feeds and website. Equipment needs preparing ready for the next shoot. The dogs will need an afternoon walk… sometimes to the local pub.
Is there a ship that you would love to photograph that you haven’t done yet?
I feel as though I’ve been on the best. I’ve certainly had the Best of Times on the ships I’ve photographed.
Do you cruise yourself?
Yes . I’ve been on two cruise holidays. Both with Celebrity Cruises.
What was your last holiday
Long weekend in Mykonos in May with my wife.
Do you have your next holiday booked? If so, can you tell us about it?
I will be cruising up the Mekong on AMA Waterways AmaDara River cruise ship. I am travelling with my wife and four other friends we all work in the travel and/or cruise industry. I don’t usually take my camera on holiday but will be making an exception on this occasion.
Do you have a dream destination or cruise?
Would love to cruise the Antarctica or Alaska.
Do you have a funny or embarrassing story to tell?
Not a cruise story but it is water related. I was shooting Sir Steve Redgrave for the Leander Club Henley Regatta brochure. It was in the days of shooting on film . I think he only had the two medals at the time. It was FIVE in the morning in Henley. I’d just driven across London from Greenwich. Oooof. Got some great shots of Steve training on the river from a launch following them tight in their wake . On reaching dry land I was busy chatting away with them – probably not concentrating enough. The roll of film dropped from my hands as I unloaded , rolled slowly along the jetty, and dropped into the Thames. He looked at me with a smile and said “see you here tomorrow then”.
Can you give any tips for people to help capture great moments while on their cruise?
Don’t take too many photos or videos. Enjoy the moment. Live it in real time. Failing that – step up to your subject and think about what it is you are photographing. That will help you frame & compose the shot to best effect. Don’t just shoot away hoping. Don’t use filters!
Visit Steve’s website for more information stevedunlop.com