I’m convinced there’s a price to be paid for the pleasure I derive from photographing Papua New Guinea –  the suffering, certainly from where I’m sitting now, being equivalent to the richness of the imagery that appears in front of me whenever I go over.

It’s 8am. I have been sitting at Jackson’s International Airport in Port Moresby waiting for my flight home since 3am (as in when most sensible people are still asleep). A five hour wait and the uncertainty of whether the flight will actually leave seems bearable you might suggest but my uncharacteristic enthusiasm at arriving at any airport early has been born by the fact that I sat for nine #^%$$*#@! hours yesterday, through three %%$$#@! false starts, in the steamy airport in East New Britain waiting for my flight to the capital.

Why, I ask the gods, does this always happen on my way home from a demanding shoot when a hot shower and my own bed seem within reach?

Still, here I sit, drawing on my darkening mood to add a few more black and white pics from the assignment which I’ll post when I get back (this, of course, assumes I will get back, that I don’t strangle the screaming child who has just appeared next to me, and that I don’t behead the legion of spluttering coughers who are promising me their wrenched colds should I ever step onto this cursed plane).

Postscript: My computer battery is blinking and still no sign of departure. Arrrrghhhhhhh!!





I’ve just completed the first stage of an assignment to photograph East New Britain as part of a regional branding exercise for Papua New Guinea’s national tourism authority.
I’ll compile the best images of this shoot, and those of the second stage, into a preview I’ll post a few weeks from now after I return with talent to complete the project.
Assuming good weather (and Tuvuvur volcano not erupting again, he says), it’s likely to be a particularly productive shoot as a solid range of generic pictures of the destination has been shot over the past five days. Having done the reccie and organised contacts, we’ve largely mapped out stage two around the activities tourists can do when they come here.
In the meantime, I’m sitting in my hotel room in Port Moresby, playing with a few of the images from the shoot. Here’s a couple of personal interpretations I quite like, incorporating the Tolai money ring which is a symbol of wealth and status in East New Britain.


Baining Fire Dancer

Baining Fire Dancer

“….so you can imagine my surprise/dismay when – in the first five minutes of the ceremony – a three metre Baining fire dancer leapt from the shadows, spiralled towards the fire and crashed straight into my lighting stand.”

After two hours of negotiations and three days of planning, it was not quite the start I’d envisaged.

We are day five into the East New Britain assignment having shot the the Volcano, some WW11 war relics, the Duke of York Islands and the Baining Fire Dancers (Above and Below). A few inventory shots to go (markets, scenery shots, textures etc), then I fly back to Brisbane to plan for the return trip in a couple of weeks with talent.

It’s been a productive shoot – with the best yet to come.

baining 3

baining 4

Tolai Money Ring

Tolai Money Ring

A Tolai Money Ring (above) denotes wealth and status in the Papua New Guinea island of East New Britain.

Beads of shells are skewered onto thin strips of cane and woven with pandanus leaf into rings – some so large 20 men are needed to pick them up. This one is worth about 1,000 kina (AUD $500) and will be held along with several much larger rings until the passing of an elder when it will be broken up and divided among family and friends.

With Tuvurvur volcano rumbling in the distance and the sun casting a golden light over the nearby waters, Lipirin Pulpulung from Matupit Village frames himself with a Tolai Money Ring for this photograph.

….I’d write more but, after a day on Pidgin Island (below), we’re heading off to photograph the elusive Baining Fire Dancers.

Yahoooo (though they’re not in front of my camera yet, he adds).


Pigin Island

Pigin Island

My assignment cycle has started and I’m typing this quick post on a plane heading to PNG on an assignment to shoot the Volcano Island of East New Britain (you may remember, its capital, Rabaul, was largely buried under Volcanic ash about 20 years ago).

Efforts are now underway to turn East New Britain into a tourism hub for PNG’s northern islands so I’m off shooting for the new promotional collateral (brochures, posters, web site etc). Two seven day stints; I’m back in a couple of weeks with talent.

Last time I was there, I had to be initiated into a secret society (below) before I could photograph anyone involved. Following instructions to bend over in a remote jungle location in nothing but  a red loin cloth with lime sprayed across my body, a Duk Duk (custodian of Tolai culture) bounded from the bushes behind me and beat me across the back with a large cane.
……I’m hoping to avoid the initiation this time around.

my surprise initiation into theTolai culture

my surprise initiation into theTolai culture