I’m just back from assignment in Vanuatu and thought I’d post a few quick pics from the photographic exhibition I did in Sydney just before I left  (below).

It’s was a clever idea, mounted by South African Tourism. Grab five Australian photographers and send them around South Africa for 10 days then invite travel agents and media to a fund raising  exhibition of their photographs in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

The launch was tastefully done at an intimate venue (The Black Eye Gallery). The photographs were professionally mounted, there was nibbles, wine and live music and the speeches were short – a snapshot of the photographer’s motivation and a few words from the sponsors. Funds raised went towards the South African charity Afrikan Tikkun.

Altogether, an enjoyable experience – and a clever way to showcase and market a destination.


  • Odette Nightsky (Kirkland) - August 11, 2014 - 8:05 pm

    Wonderful stuff! And great that the proceeds go to charity.ReplyCancel

  • Roderick Eime - August 11, 2014 - 10:00 pm

    Look at me standing in the middle like I’m important. The truth is I had one image squeezed in between a forest of Kirklands. Still, there I am. Imposter.ReplyCancel

    • davidkirkland - August 11, 2014 - 10:17 pm

      Funny comment Rod. I’ll give you a bell tomorrow so we can talk about how to make both of us more important (certainly in our own minds)…….. In Italy!ReplyCancel


Alcina’s photograph

I should probably begin this entry by saying that this is not my photograph (above). It was captured by Alcina Charlie from the Vanuatu Tourism Office, who’s a student in the photography mentoring project I began in the South Pacific last year.

The project looks to build capacity in Pacific island countries by transferring my skills and experience to national tourism offices I work with in the region. Entry to the program is by invitation only as I am keen to ensure there is a tangible and lasting benefit to the country from the investment of my time and energy.

As you may deduce from this photograph, in less that eight months, Alcina is showing considerable promise. Armed with the Sony RX 100 compact camera (“Rex”, she affectionately calls it), her enthusiasm to learn the craft and the initiative she has shown is an absolute delight to work with. She has accompanied me on three assignments of Vanuatu now and has been unflinching in the tasks I have set her, including taking on a plethora of photography challenges and returning me 10 written lessons a day which will eventually be used as a training tool for other photographers. In fact the progress she is making often sees me struggling to keep up with her and saying “its only a matter of time before you’ll be putting me out of a job.” (….and while she may laugh politely when I say it, she has that glint in her eye that makes me think it may well be the case).

Truth be told, with the advent of digital technologies, quality photography has never been more accessible and, with the right direction and support, tourism authorities are now capable of capturing up to 70% of the images they use to promote their destinations themselves.

Alcina is proving that’s certainly the case.

Top student. Alcina shares her photographs with staff at a guest house on Malecula Island

Top student. Alcina shares her photographs with staff at a guest house on Malecula Island

  • Odette Nightsky (Kirkland) - August 12, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Great opportunity and project.ReplyCancel

  • ACharlie - August 12, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    Oh my! What a pleasant surprise!
    Thanks for the plug teacher ;-)
    Sincere Regards,

    • davidkirkland - August 12, 2014 - 5:18 pm

      …..wait until you see my early morning banana tree photos. -DKReplyCancel

      • ACharlie - August 13, 2014 - 7:26 am

        Year sure David… So you do have banana trees, island spinach, tapioka plots, and pawpaw trees in your Brissie backyard I heard.. Aha! LOL!ReplyCancel

I’m just finishing up a 10 day shoot in Vanuatu but, as I’m heading straight out on assignment as soon as I get back, I thought I’d quickly post these few pics (below).

It’s been a productive shoot built around Vanuatu’s competitive strength as a holiday destination – the fact you can indulge yourself with fine food, comfortable accommodation and a range of activities and, within just an hour’s flight, you can be having an amazing world-class adventure on some of the friendliest and most remote islands on earth (remote, assuming you’re flying in from Europe he adds, as it’s all just an hour and a half’s flight from Australia).

We spent the first five days of the shoot on the main island of Efate, working with talent we flew in for the assignment. Then, as I’ve already shot Espiritu Santo, Pentecost and Tanna islands for the tourism authority, we headed off to Malekula Island for the Nalawan cultural festival.

Anyway, must away as the sun’s coming up and Alcina’s still cracking the whip.  I’ll look to post a full preview when I get back.

A bit of indulgence


Malekula Island culture


  • Gavin - August 8, 2014 - 9:00 pm

    I think you’ll find the talent was on the boat that was there a few weeks back …and I mean me :o)ReplyCancel

  • ACharlie - August 12, 2014 - 7:44 am

    Thanks for the 10 days Mr Kirkland.. Learning is never ending with you which I’ll always appreciate as your student ;-) … An important note for practice while the teachers away: Work on those “Chicken legs chicken legs chicken legs” – you know what I mean ;-) Until then lukim yu lo Phase 4 gudfala foto tija blong mi :-) ReplyCancel

    • davidkirkland - August 12, 2014 - 7:49 am

      Its a brave (though obviously talented) student that draws attention to my Chicken legs!!!!! I’ll be considering that when your “homework” comes through. Lukim yu – DavidReplyCancel

I’m sitting at Sydney airport on my way back from a photographic exhibition of some pictures I shot for the South Africa tourism authority which flew me down for the launch.

The exhibition was held at The Black Eye Gallery in the seriously cute art precinct of Darlinghurst.

It showed the work of five Australian photographers – all of us sent on a 10 day assignment to South Africa in May to shoot the landscape, its people and, of course, the wildlife. The best of the images were to be placed on display and auctioned off to raise money for the Nelson Mandela charity, Afrikan Tikkun which helps orphaned children (did you realise an estimated two million children have been orphaned in Africa by AIDS!).

It was an interesting experience (my second exhibition in three weeks), with the results of the “silent” auction (done cleverly through an app which allowed you to see the highest bid before deciding if you want to enter the fray). Bidding closes in three days so I’ll have a sense then of what people are prepared to pay for my photographs through this vehicle and whether it might be worth pursuing (I did have a peek. One of my photographs has an offer for double the reserve price and four others have received bids beyond the reserve).

So, what have I learned about exhibition photography you may ask? Well, it’s certainly awkward standing in a room with people around you critiquing your work …..and what a relief it is when someone actually bids/buys a photo (15 of the 32 prints exhibited were mine so I guess the chances of it happening were higher). Apart from that, you need to be prepared to sell yourself as part of the picture if you want to make a sale and you need to ensure the quality of the prints reflect your own professional standards (in this case, thankfully – as everything was done remotely – they did). And one final point: This exhibition was part promotion of South Africa, part raising money for charity and part displaying the work of photographers. If I was to do my own exhibition (and pay for it myself I might add), I would be careful to ensure all the pictures I hung had the best chance of sitting in someone’s home by connecting emotionally with the viewer – as did, it appears, these two pictures (below) which are shaping up to be the most popular in the exhibition.

elephant boy

the two most popular pictures at the exhibition

the two most popular pictures at the exhibition

  • Odette Nightsky (Kirkland) - July 28, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    Love both the photos! A fabulous showcase of your talent :-) ReplyCancel

It’s hard to view this collection – captured over just five days – and not appreciate the richness and incredible diversity of Papua New Guinea’s culture  (and for a photographer, it simply doesn’t get much better).



  • Odette Nightsky (Kirkland) - July 6, 2014 - 8:27 am

    Wonderful colours….so many good shots. Hope your bug goes…am sure they have something local you can chew on.ReplyCancel

  • Roan Paul - July 11, 2014 - 12:05 am

    Beautiful Photography… Love your work… Thank you for the inspiration in photography…ReplyCancel

  • Ivan Pomaleu - July 11, 2014 - 11:49 am

    David, Awesome pictures, great imagery, and the colors – simply breath taking. Thanks for sharing. I took the time off and took the kids, and I sure am happy I did because the kids had a great time. Ivan PomaleuReplyCancel

  • Victoria - July 11, 2014 - 11:54 am

    Amazing photos! So much colour and vibrance. Please let me know if this is an annual event as this event just went into my bucket list after seeing your gorgeous shots!ReplyCancel

    • davidkirkland - July 11, 2014 - 12:25 pm

      Hi Victoria,
      Thanks again for the kind words. It’s a once every four years event and I suspect we won’t see anything like it again given PNG spent a reported AUD$16 million staging it (it’s not as if the other Melanesian countries have got that sort of money to throw around). Not sure who’s hosting it next time.
      Lukim yu
      - DavidReplyCancel

  • Fiona - July 22, 2014 - 9:32 am

    Beautiful evocative images David – what a treat!ReplyCancel

    • davidkirkland - July 22, 2014 - 9:36 am

      Howdy Miss Fiona. Ta for the kind words. Yep, fun to shoot. Next stop, Vanuatu. Lukim yuReplyCancel

  • Hayley - July 22, 2014 - 3:59 pm

    Thanks David for sharing. Incredible images as usual. I particular loved the ones that included the peeping person. What an amazing thing to be part of. Part of me felt like I was there after seeing your photos. Safe travels Hayley xReplyCancel

    • davidkirkland - July 22, 2014 - 6:18 pm

      Howdy young Hayley,
      Nice to hear from you n thanks for the kind words. Hope the resort’s going well and that you’re remebering to pull your subject to where the light works (though not so much underwater, he adds). Take care – David.ReplyCancel

  • steve brown - July 22, 2014 - 6:12 pm

    I am tempted now to come to the Canoe Festival in Alotau Milne bay 7-9 November – great hero shots indeed.ReplyCancel