I leave next week on assignments to Vanuatu, then the Cook Islands which will pretty much take me up to the Christmas break.

As you might imagine, I’m looking forward to photographing both destinations again – particularly having spent the past few weeks in the studio processing images for three new coffee table books we’re publishing (previous post), and adding to our commercial photo library at  www.davidkirklandphotography.com.

I’d have to say, there are few pleasures in going back and scouring through my archive of, literally, tens of thousands of raw images from previous assignments – to find the ocassional photograph that may have potential for the projects we’re working on.

As a professional tourism photographer, my priority is to provide my clients with the best selection of photographs from the assignment, matched to their Shot List – which I do. But it needs to be done efficiently as the client tends to want them as soon as possible, and – from a business perspective – there’s a limit to how long I can spend selecting and working on the best images before handing them over and heading off on the next assignment.

So, having returned to the archives with a bit more time and a perspective that can only come with distance, I’m happy to say there has been some gems to be found. Of course, the raw images still need to be processed then captioned and meta-tagged (joy) before uploading but I’ve managed to take some comfort knowing that photographs like these two (above and below) from an earlier PNG assignment will get to see the light of day and that someone else might come to value them as much as I do.

Anyway, time for a change of pace ….and an appointment with the best Kava in the South Pacific (a controversial statement indeed….though I’m sure Alcina will agree).


Below: For your interest, this is the difference between the raw file and a finished photograph, as well as a summary of the post-production process I went through.

Workflow: Import folder of raw files into Lightroom (probably 300 images altogether) to select the image. Increase exposure and contrast, tinker with whites, tweak vibration and saturation, straighten horizon, crop to suit, vignette, and export to desktop. Then import the file to Photoshop, check for minor imperfections and clone if necessary, adjust curves, sharpen image, dodge and burn to enhance features (ie whiten feathers), layer photo to add “punch”, title the picture, export it to desktop as both 300 dpi RGB Tiff file and 300 dpi J-peg level 12 file.  Store Tiff on hard drive as back-up and upload J-peg to www.davidkirklandphotography.com. Then caption and meta tag the picture (which, as you can see from our library, has been the least of my priorities)….And yes, this is what’s involved in processing every photograph that makes the final cut.

We’ve started production on three new coffee table books to promote The Cook Islands, Vanuatu and The Solomon Islands.

The hard cover books (above) will be published early in 2018, drawing on the best of thousands of photographs uploaded to our on-line photo library at www.davidkirklandphotography.com

The 120 page souvenir books have been carefully designed to re-enforce the marketing efforts of each of the country’s national tourism authorities by including appealing images of their main tourists attractions, with subjects including scenery, activities, culture and the exceptional experiences on offer to visitors. Importantly, they are a convenient size (210mm X 210mm), so they fit easily into a suitcase, and they’ll be reasonably priced (probably around AUD$30 each).

Photographic souvenir books have long played an important role in a country’s marketing mix. Visitors expect to be able to buy them when they arrive so they can return home with something to remember their holiday by and share with family and friends – hopefully creating the desire in others to visit the country too. Unfortunately, the comparatively low volume of tourists in the South Pacific, coupled with transport, storage and distribution costs, and having money tied up in stock for so long, continues to make publishing books commercially challenging (if not seriously risky, as my general manager keeps telling me).

More than 150 photographs will be included in each book which has been based on the successful design of our Papua New Guinea Gift Book (below) of which 3,000 copies have already sold.

We have plans to create similar publications on other countries in the South Pacific on which we have built substantial photo libraries – maybe we’ll also do some wall calendars and playing cards which continue to prove popular. One thing I can say with certainly is that we’re out of the postcard business which has gone the way of the Dodo with everyone now using their smart phones to send photos home and avoid mailing costs.

So, expect to see our books on the shelves when you visit the Cook Islands, The Solomons, Vanuatu or Papua New Guinea next year.

Next Assignment: The Cook Islands (….though there’s still Lesotho (Africa) in the pipeline and a rumour going around that I might head back to Vanuatu beforehand….but then, who really knows).

Drones have become an indespensible tool in capturing high quality resort photographs.

Location, vicinity (particularly to the beach), activities and size are just a few of the aspects of a resort property that can be appealingly captured using a drone – and at a fraction of the price we all once paid to hire a helicopter.

And, given it can be up in just five minutes, there’s so much more flexibity to be had in terms of shooting in ideal conditions (lighting, cloud cover and tides), the subject matter you have time to shoot (property, scenery, activities etc), and the angles you can work at (high, low, distant, close). Added to that, the drone flies at 45 kilometres per hour, it can travel seven kilometres from where you’re standing, and it rises to 500 metres (not that you’re allowed to, he adds).

But it’s only recently that high quality still photography in a drone has become both affordable and easily transportable (as I have written before, I waited for the Phantom 4 Pro to be released this year before heading skyward, finally convinced the large file size and the quality the sensor produced were up to the job). That said, it’s an extra case to carry, a whole new dimension to work in, and there’s the technology to master, but the results speak for themselves.

It’s now hard to imagine a resort not wanting quality drone images featured in their promotional collateral – or for me to head off on assignment without it.

Here’s a short preview (above) of some of the drone images captured over the past few months which have all been shot to convey key marketing messages of the property.

I had a go at shooting some fireworks yesterday for the first time (I’ve long wrestled with what an incredible waste of money it is – a hugely extravagant  first-world indulgence, while the third-world continues to suffer).

But I figure one day a client might want me to photograph a fireworks event so I’d best get it worked out in my own time.

Here’s a stream of things I learned which may be helpful if you’re also planning to play with fire:


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Like a carpenter who never fixes the bookshelf in his own home or the plumber who never gets around to plugging the leak under his sink – as a tourism photographer who spends most of his time abroad, I’ve never bothered photographing my own back yard  – Brisbane.

I guess, I’ve just never thought of it that way. It’s where I live; I see it all the time.

It was with this in mind that I hurled myself from my bed at 4am this morning and went to a location I usually cycle past, having given myself the challenge of shooting my hometown as I’ve never seen it before ……..more

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I’ve just returned from back-to-back assignments, photographing two of Vanuatu’s boutique resort properties  – The Havannah and Ratua Island Resort and Spa, as well as postcard-perfect Erakor Island Resort.

Twenty one days all up (so I’m looking forward to putting the camera’s down for a while and finishing off a few publishing projects).

Short previews from each of the properties can be seen by clicking on the three photographs below: