I return to Papua New Guinea tomorrow, embarking on my most ambitious, and prestigious, publishing project to date – the creation of a Special Edition coffee table book on Papua New Guinea (below).

Special Edition coffee table book of Papua New Guinea.

                                  Special Edition coffee table book of Papua New Guinea.

The full colour, 30cm x 30cm, book will be a major departure from the souvenir books I have published on Papua New Guinea in the past. It will dedicate a single page to each of what I consider to be the best 200 photographs I have captured of the country over more two decades. Designed for collectors of fine books, it will be beautifully presented on the highest quality stock with a range of prestige embellishments including the delivery of the publication in a gold-leafed presentation box.

The book will be launched in 2017 – at a price yet to be determined.

The prototype of the book has already been produced, with additional photographs of the highlands of Papua New Guinea and the country’s Western Province likely to be added at the end of the assignment I’m about to embark on. All the provinces of Papua New Guinea and each of their distinctive cultures will be featured in the book which – as far as I am aware – will be the most comprehensive visual reference of this amazing country ever produced.

If you would like to receive more information about the book and be one of the first people to receive this special edition publication, contact me directly at david@kirklandphotos.com and your name will be added to our mailing list to keep you informed of the publication’s progress.

Five names will be drawn from the mailing list when the book is published to receive a signed copy of the publication as a gift.

I’m just finishing up a seven day shoot of Taumeasina Island Resort in Samoa (below).

We largely had great weather and everyone couldn’t have been more helpful (which was surprising given the property is only three weeks into its soft opening and guests are streaming in from all over the country to check out the new resort).

Overall, it’s been a productive shoot although there were some limitations to what could be shot with landscaping still to be completed.

Top Tips for those visiting: The Chef’s outstanding food (simple presentation but exquisitely tasty) at the property’s fine dining restaurant, Sina’s. And rooms 516 and 515, looking out over the water, would be my recommendation.

Otherwise, a few days off then I’m straight up to Papua New Guinea for two back-to-back assignments (a corporate shoot and two wilderness lodges) before returning to the Solomon Islands to complete the promotional photo library for the national tourism authority.

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The Solomon Islands will be the third Melanesian country to have us build their On-line Photo-Library, allowing media and travel agents worldwide to access hundreds of high quality promotional photographs.

Papua New Guinea’s Photo library has been operating successfully for more than five years now; Vanuatu’s more than two. The new photo library (below) is expected to be officially launched in July.

Otherwise, the rest of my year is now fully booked, culminating in another assignment to the Middle East for Saudi Arabia’s tourism authority in December.

The Solomon Islands new On-Line Photo Library

The Solomon Islands new On-Line Photo Library

I’m just wrapping up the first phase of a project to build a promotional photo library for the national tourism authority of the Solomon Islands.

The assignment ended in a workshop to review what has been shot and to plan for Stage Two which will concentrate on capturing some defining images of the destination including a cultural “Hero Shot” (yes, I’m excited), some ariels, a few wreck diving pictures and a some serious cruising images from around the islands. Importantly, we’ll be involving talent next time so expect to see more local interaction with tourists and images captured from a first-person perspective.

In the meantime, here’s a short preview of some of the photos that came out of the first stage of the project.

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Swimming with manta rays off Uepi Island in the Solomons.

Swimming with manta rays off Uepi Island in the Solomons.

Now this is an exceptional experience – swimming with a school of manta rays in the Solomon Islands.

I’ve headed out to photograph manta rays on several assignments in the South Pacific – each time without success – until today.

In fact, my last attempt in Micronesia nearly killed me as I stupidly tried to get ahead of three of them in a strong current and vomited into my regulator at about 20 metres from over-exertion before making a dangerously rapid ascent (yes, all you diving devotees, I have since been informed I can vomit into my regulator and stay underwater).

Hence, a distant blur is as close as I’ve come to photographing manta rays so you can imagine my delight to be surrounded by five of them in relatively clear, shallow water for about an hour with two free divers happy to swim around and be part of the photograph (well done Kate and Jason).

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With their large, white underbellies flashing against the blue backdrop, they’re such exquisite creatures to watch – surely the most graceful beneath the surface – hovering over their cleaning station like giant winged spaceships; able to disappear almost instantly with the slight unfurling of their two metre wings.

And thankfully (unlike the frigging whale sharks off Western Australia, he says), I didn’t have to swim frantically to keep up with them; they circled playfully, sometimes gliding straight towards me before effortlessly peeling off within arm’s length.

A mesmerising engagement; what an absolute joy.

This ranks as my second exceptional underwater encounter – the other was swimming with the humpback whales and their calfs near Vavau in Tonga several years ago.

And, like the whales, the mantas were almost enough to see me put my camera aside and just enjoy the moment (….I said almost. I’ll add a few more pics to this post when I get back).

In the meantime, here’s a few quick tips for those planning to photograph them:

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