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

Backstage laughter

Backstage laughter

I reckon there would be nearly one hundred different cultural groups at this festival, including the foreign representatives of the Melanesian countries…..and Indonesia. Each of PNG’s 22 different provinces have sent at least two groups (from what I can see,  most have actually sent three) and there’s a big local contingent.

Unfortunately, the daily program is a bit up in the air (you who are familiar with PNG look surprised). It’s only being issued at about 10 am daily, then you’re left to interpret it and work out what group is performing at which of the five city venues.

Still, what an amazing cultural showcase – and what a massive challenge for organisers.

Its 5am now and I’m about to get myself organised for a couple of groups I’ve arranged to meet us for an early morning session in a bid to avoid the extreme light, the dust and the crowds ( I know, wishful thinking).

In the meantime, here’s a couple of cute ones from yesterday.

Back to the classroom

Back to the classroom


  • ACharlie - July 4, 2014 - 7:29 am

    There’s a story behind those shots I see ;-) Is this when we interpret Teacher? :-) Love em’ all!ReplyCancel

    • davidkirkland - July 4, 2014 - 9:35 am

      Indeed grasshopper…as there will be plenty of stories to tell when we next head off (though what happens on tour, stays on tour, right)ReplyCancel

  • Odette Nightsky (Kirkland) - July 4, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Love the top pic with the cheeky face looking :-) ReplyCancel

  • Spih - July 9, 2014 - 3:56 pm

    love the backstage photos…they look awesome(:)ReplyCancel

  • Simon D Pih - July 9, 2014 - 4:06 pm

    The head dresses are heavy indeed but people manage to wear it well. very decorative..ReplyCancel

My photo exhibition in Papua New Guinea’s  National Gallery seemed to go well (though I’m not really sure what that means), helped along – at least in terms of attendance – by the front page publicity it received in the country’s national daily when I jumped on my soapbox about the erosion of traditional culture  (refer earlier post).

There was no door count and the prints were not for sale so I guess the only measure was the response from those 50 or so people who attended the opening and the viewers I spoke to on the couple of occasions I dropped in which, as you’d expect, were quite complimentary.

It’s been fun. I like the idea that my work has been hung in a national institution and I’ve enjoyed the attention though, I’m not so sure exhibition photography is something I’ll pursue (I’ve long lamented one of my lesser career goals is to become a successful, poor fine artist).

It’s interesting though, at the start of this year, I made clear to the Gods my intention to go down this road of exhibiting my work and now, six months later, not one but three  exhibitions have materialised (Australia’s showcase photographic exhibition, Head-On, invited me in January to exhibit and I fly to Sydney a week after I get back at the invitation of South Africa Tourism which is exhibiting the work from my recent assignment to South Africa).

As my sister says (when she’s not wailing on about being left behind on one of my cruise assignments), I appear to have a gift for manifesting my goals.

…..now, about that vast wealth I’ve been asking for.

  • Odette Nightsky (Kirkland) - July 7, 2014 - 8:44 am

    Indeed you do my brother! You may want to write a book on that too ;-) ReplyCancel

A bit on the serious side for a tourism shot perhaps

A bit on the serious side for a tourism shot perhaps

Probably the biggest tip I can offer anyone photographing the cultural shows of Papua New Guinea is to engage your subject as their expectation is that you want to capture a serious photograph of them.

Proud, head-on and looking straight into the camera (above) is how they’ll often pose  for the camera – particularly the men. But,  just beneath the surface – as this young Chimbu woman joyously demonstrates (below) – you’ll find a smile and laughter eager to come out.

Eight days of the festival to go and so much to shoot, it’s hard to choose the best photographs. I’ll post a preview of my top 30 at the end of it.

Chimbu smile

a more welcoming Chimbu smile

…and I know I’m in trouble from at least one person for posting this!

  • Tee - July 3, 2014 - 7:03 am

    Beautiful big smile with bird of paradise feathers. ReplyCancel

  • Simon D Pih - July 7, 2014 - 10:48 am

    Stunning photographs…good backdrop. The highland warrior looking aggressive combining with the smiles of the beautiful Chimbu dancer. Nicely decorated feather of BOP and Parrots. Love to shoot similar shots once I acquire the rights skills and know how.ReplyCancel