Sailing to Antarctica on rough waters of Drake Passage is challenging as it is. Even more so for galley staff. This is a short photographic tribute to the crew that worked in the galley on the Bark Europa during our voyage to and from Antarctica.
There were lots of great photographers on this trip, including 3 professional photographers that joined us on the voyage. I knew that everybody will have great photos of amazing landscapes, icebergs, and wildlife. It is hard to come home and have nothing. Even people with less advanced gear or photographic rookies came home with some amazing shots. I have plenty of landscape and wildlife photographs myself. But I wanted to do something else, something different than other people won’t have. So I came up with a plan.
I like photographing people and documenting life. The genre of photojournalism was why I got into photography at first place. I decided to photograph the galley staff. The initial idea was doing a story on all the crew. They are the most amazing folks ever and they would definitely deserve it. But most of them are all over the place while galley staff is in the galley 14 hours a day!!! Seriously, if we didn’t have night shifts when crossing the Drake Passage, one would think these guys never sleep. Gjalt and Renjsje, king and queen of the galley kingdom, I have the utmost respect for you and the work you did during the voyage. And of course, rest of the crew who helped in the galley regularly as well, Monique from ship bar and fellow voyage crew who often volunteered helping to peel potatoes and apple for an apple pie. You have no idea how good apple pie tastes in Antarctica :)
There is very little room on the ship and especially in the galley. The challenge was to be at the spot while staying out of their way. They had a job to do and the last thing they need a rather big guy in their way while working. I made an effort to wake up early before breakfast couple of times and sneak into the galley before the daily frenzy begins. At first, they were confused about my presence but after a while, they got used to me, especially in later days they opened up. Especially Rensje wasn’t very comfortable in front of the camera and I was actually told she always hates photographs of herself.
Getting a good photograph is often a matter of being in the right place, the right time and of course have the camera at hand. Two examples here. First. I managed to capture a photograph of Rensje that she loved. Probably first ever. She was writing something with crayon on the board while sitting on the galley table. Short moment but I noticed it walking into my room. I quickly fired 4-5 shots and moment was gone, She didn’t notice anything. Some of the crew members later told me, she loved the photograph. Once we got back to Ushuaia I got her a framed print. She was so happy and there were tears. On both sides. Very humbling moment.
Second. The shot I didn’t get. Work in the kitchen is challenging as it is but when the boat is rocking in high swell it is a miracle that these guys can cook at all. I mean we had a soup every day. That is just crazy. Anyway, if an occasional rough wave hits the ship with a force that creates absolute mayhem in the galley. Everything that is not secured flies in the air back and forth. Knives, forks, pots, the fruit. You name it. And flour…imagine a snowstorm in the galley. Or flourstorm? I guess we can call it that way. That’s what happened few times and I was always sleeping. It would have been an epic shot. Luckily somebody did get that shot so you will see it once Bark Europa releases the photo story of this trip.
All in all, the galley staff was amazing and food the prepared for as on daily basis was delicious. Challenges of sailing to Antarctica in high swells didn't seem to bother them too much. This little photo story is a small tribute to their hard work and my way to say thank you. You guys rock.