Jam Cruise Portrait Series

Dennis Cook's Jam Cruise 8 Review Here.

All Photos and Intro by: Michael Weintrob

Three years ago I wanted to do a portrait project on Jam Cruise. I came on board with my camera gear, a backdrop, and a lighting rig. By the end of the cruise I had taken studio portraits of most of the artists that performed. The images came out really well, but they could have been taken anywhere. For the following couple years on the boat I wanted to tell the story of Jam Cruise in some way, and I realized that I needed to find a creative way to capture this unique event.

While attending the Caribbean Holidaze festival I was speaking with my friend Seth Weiner, who also works on Jam Cruise. We came up with the crazy idea of dressing up the musicians like crewmembers. Over the next month we brainstormed how we were going to make it happen. Seth was the point man who connected me with Eugenio Manfredi from MSC Cruise Lines. Eugenio helped us set up the locations and arrange the costumes for the artists.

With more help from Eugenio, I compiled a list of all the different jobs and workers that make the ship run. I then went around to all the different musicians and asked them what role they wanted to be. With the help of Brad Hodge, who handled the lighting, we wound up shooting over 20 individual portraits on the ship. The result is what can be seen in the 2009 Jam Cruise Calendar that was used as a benefit for the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.

Based on the wonderful response and overall success of our portrait project, the next year we came on the boat and continued to shoot unique portraits of artists dressed like cruise workers. The end result is a complete body of work called the Jam Cruise Portrait Series. All of the photos from both years are now available for the fist time right here on JamBase.

-Michael Weintrob

Al Schnier - moe.

As a performer, what makes Jam Cruise special for you?

Jam Cruise sets itself apart in many ways, the obvious one being a festival at sea on a ship. The key factor that I didn't get until I went was just how pro the whole thing was - from all sides. Even the fans on Jam Cruise are at the top of their game. The atmosphere is pretty amazing.

What specifically can you tell us about the photo shoot?

It was actually Michael's idea. We had been trying to get together all weekend and kept putting it off because we were both busy. The original plan was for me to do a photo shoot in the pool, amongst all of the chaos, in my scuba gear, as I'd been diving every day on the trip. It just never worked out. The uniform was borrowed from the ship's crew. They were very gracious. The funny thing is that I worked in a commercial dish room like this when I was in high school (in a local nursing home). It was a great time, but there was some pretty gross stuff that came through there. It didn't take too long for me to get "in character." It started off fairly tame, but by the end I was soaked and covered in food (and quite ashamed). It reminded me a lot of my teen years.

What do you think of the final product/photo?

I think I look just slightly sexier than Grace.

Continue reading for the next photo...

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