I’m sitting in Brisbane airport again with an hour to spare before my flight to Fiji.

I used to run around like a headless chook to make the plane on time but now I arrive an hour early so I can sit quietly amid the airport announcements and savour my good fortune. Coupled with the ritual subway six inch, a latte, the newspaper and the prospects of the assignment ahead, this – for me – has become a blissful moment.

I have eight more assignments scheduled over the next six months, with South Africa to go to three days after I return, so life’s grand.

It isn’t for everybody – travelling up to eight months a year – but it’s a lifestyle I’ve chosen and one I continue to enjoy as I’m drawn by the variety of experiences, the people I meet and the associated challenges (and pleasures) of arriving in a new destination. On top of that, I have a purpose –  to produce winning photographs – which, again, suits me as I’ve sat under enough palm trees to realise that paradise without purpose just ain’t  paradise.

So, leaving home for me is as much a pleasure as it is returning. The fact that the extremes are so close together merely enhances the appreciation I have of both worlds.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Anyway, boarding shortly; time to set the away message on my phone: “Sorry, you’ve missed me. I’m away on a cruise assignment photographing Fiji’s remote Lau Islands. Back in two weeks.”


Listing the subjects you plan to photograph into a Shot List – and prioritising them on a scale of 1 to 10 – focuses your assignment and is a critical part of my process to manage my shoot and my client’s expectations.

Generally, I provide 30 prime images and 30 secondary images from a seven day shoot which, given I take a couple of thousand shots every assignment, means some serious culling is required. So it’s important, and certainly more efficient in terms of processing, to know what you’re going after at the outset.

Generally it falls on me to initiate the Shot List unless, of course, the client knows exactly what they want and how to get it. In the process, I visit their marketing strategy, the images they already have, the type of tourists they want to attract and the destination’s highlights. Having recognised what needs to be shot and what the client wants the photographs to say, we work through the logistics before mapping out a plan to deliver as much as we can within the time (and budget) available.  The outcome of this process is a Shot List we both agree to which is largely what I expect to match at the completion of the assignment.

I have a draft Shot List template of the subjects that generally need to be photographed to promote  a destination which I customise with my client’s input at the beginning of the assignment. As I gain a better sense of their needs, I draw from my experience to provide advice on the best way to capture the images. Potential “Hero Shots” are canvassed and subjects in the list are prioritised on a scale of 1-10 so I can weigh the time I spend on capturing an image against the time available to complete the assignment.

Of course, nothing goes quite according to plan as we look to take advantage of the conditions and opportunities but, from the outset, we’re all heading in the same direction so the likelihood of me delivering to my client’s expectations – and my own professional standards –  is a lot higher.

For more tips on Travel Photography, click here.

If we

If we’d not prioritised this shot and planned for it, it never would have happened.


Next Assignment: I’m heading off on an 11 day cruise of the remote Lau island group in Fiji….and I’ve been given a serious Shot List. Three days back and I’m off to South Africa for three weeks.

  • ACharlie - April 17, 2014 - 8:19 am

    Thanks for the Tips (downloaded a copy). Practice should make this grasshopper become better. See you in August!ReplyCancel


I’ve just entered a joint venture with an international image library to sell my photography worldwide.

I’ve been with Getty Images for the past five years but, while I’ve enjoyed the royalty cheques, the process involved in uploading my images to their library is just too time consuming. There is also the strict model release conditions which, in many of the countries I photograph, is simply unrealistic (using an ‘X’ for a signature can only go so far, he says).

So Designpics – a Canadian company which acquired Axiom, First Light, Pacific Stock and a couple of specialist libraries – wants to build its profile on the South Pacific and got in touch. One of their editors subsequently flew over and we have just spent a week going through my entire library to select pictures for uploading. One of the conditions I had was that they include in their selection the best images from my film library (which hasn’t seen the light of day since the dawn of digital) and that they have the images scanned and distributed. As it turned out, they left with about 1,000 premium photos to start, 50% of which came from my film library, the balance was digital.

It’s been an interesting exercise learning more about what the market wants and understanding how such libraries work (and it wasn’t without its trauma, with me literally throwing away 90% of a film library I’ve spent 10 years amassing once we’d made the selection). But a more efficient system to distribute and add value to my work is emerging, with a plan to package the images up and circulate them to a plethora of image libraries and buyers worldwide. I did weigh up the option of building a dedicated library of the South Pacific under Kirklandphotos but the reality is, I was never going to make the time needed to process the pictures and set up the library properly and, if I did, it was unlikely to have the reach needed – particularly in the northern hemisphere – to do it justice. So my film library would have suffered the same fate as the film libraries of thousands of other photographers around the world and died quietly in my filing cabinets waiting for my attention.              


Click the picture (above) to see a short preview of some of the images to return from the Timor-Leste shoot.

Considering the amount of travelling we had to do, and the fact we didn’t have talent (though thank you to the nurses and expat volunteers we did manage to grab at short notice), it was a reasonably productive assignment.

Combining these images with those from the last shoot (sample below), the country’s Department of Tourism now has a solid foundation of images with which to promote the young country’s tourism prospects.


  • Odette Nightsky - March 27, 2014 - 6:23 pm

    Definitely a great destination for an adventure! Love the elders and the kids. Reminds me of old indo.ReplyCancel


I’m back at the hotel room in Dili,  winding up a 10 day shoot of Timor-Leste.

It’s been productive assignment but I’m buggered as we literally drove the length and breadth of the country in search of photographs – 14 hour days largely spent thundering around in a four wheel drive on unsealed roads.

While I’ll post a preview of the top 30 pics of the shoot when I get back to the studio next week, here’s a couple of cute shots of “Goggles” (the spear fisherman) who joined us on one of the islands we visited.

"Goggles" - the disappearing spear fisherman.

“Goggles” – the disappearing spear fisherman.

  • Odette Nightsky - March 24, 2014 - 8:07 am

    Oh what a great face and character :-) ReplyCancel