Niue, a tiny island about three hours flight north of New Zealand, demands to be photographed differently to anywhere else I’ve shot in the South Pacific.
No stretches of white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees here. Instead, it’s coastline is a battlement of jagged, volcanic cliffs, rising sharply from the ocean. In a dwindling light, the island stands brooding, moody and defiant of the thunderous waves that crash against her walls.
The assignment brief was to photograph to the tourism authority’s new promotional tag line, “Nowhere like us.” They wanted images that stood out from their South Pacific competitors. The pictures had to be appealing to a mature demographic (45 and over), they had to be “real” (ie no posed shots or exadurated colours), and they had to capture the “feel” and “personality” of Niue. On the Shot List: Scenery, a traditional cricket tornament (Kilikiki), scuba diving, tourists soaking in ocean pools and engaging with the locals. And at least one “hero shot.”
Here’s a small sample of the photos supplied:
For more photographs of Niue captured during this and a previous assignment, visit the Niue Gallery of our library at www.davidkirklandphotography.com.
Now, I’d have to confess I was a tad anxious (read ageing rapidly) about the shoot a day after my arrival. The talent, I was to learn, was to be wherever we were lucky enough to find them, the forecast promised bad weather for most of the week, and the distinct visual culture I was seeking – that singular element I’ve shot with some degree of success in the past to differentiate one country from the next – simply didn’t exist as the local population (1,742 at the last census) is a melting pot of Kiwis, Tongans, Samoans and Cook Islanders. Added to that, it poured on the first day I spent driving around the island looking for insipration, the only visual distinction I could make of the largely flat, heavily vegetated landscape was that it was strewn with delapidated houses; and I had seven million billion tracks leading down to the ocean I had to explore to divine the best picture opportunities. Oh, and when it came time for the diving, I was off to photograph an underwater trench teeming with the world’s most venomous sea snakes.
So, yes, you’d be right to assume this was a long way from my earlier assignment …..in Tahiti.
But, here’s the thing, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Niue because it really is so different to the rest of the South Pacific. And, as the days progressed, I became grateful that there was only a single flight a week linking Niue to the outside world as it gives visitors like me little option but to explore the island and look beyond that first impression.