Having a bit of fun on a Westpac shoot

Having a bit of fun on a Westpac shoot

…on any other day

…on any other day

I’m just back from a shoot in Fiji for Westpac Bank where we took the idea of a banking institution understanding their client’s business to new heights (Above).
I thought I’d have to fight tooth-and-nail to get a Client Manager up in the para-sail with the owner of the water sports business but, as it turned out, we all but had to drag her away. Pearl earrings, skirt, newly set hairdo and all.
Good, fun, eye-catching photograph which – with the right tag-line – should do the job.
Of course, we did all the straight, corporate shots as well (tellers, clients, locations etc)….. but you can’t expect a tourism photographer not to have a bit of fun with the subject matter when he gets the chance.

Next stop: Back to tourism and over to Western Australia to swim with the Whale Sharks.




Up close and personal to a humpback whale calf

Up close and personal to a humpback whale calf

I head for Western Australia in a fortnight to photograph the Whale Sharks on Ningaloo Reef – a challenge more likely to be determined by the weather and the clarity of the water, as much as my ability to position a 12 metre, 21 ton leviathan in front of my camera.

But, assuming everything plays its part, the key to a successful promotional photograph will not just be in capturing the Whale Shark, it will be in capturing the vicinity of swimmers snorkelling alongside the Whale Shark which is an exceptional experience that can be had in just a few places in the world, including off Western Australia’s Coral Coast.

And herein lies a good lesson for travel photographers.

If I was a wildlife photographer shooting for National Geographic, it would be a different matter (ie I should expect to be shooting a spaceship-like creature sucking in an ocean of plankton, captured from inside the whale Shark’s mouth etc). But that’s not what I’m there to do. I’m there to record an exceptional experience which will entice tourist to this Western Australian region by showing them they too can get up-close and personal with one of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. And, in my view, the best way to do that is to capture people in the water with the whale shark so the viewer can see themselves right there in the water alongside them.

I did something similar in Tonga when I was swimming with a Humpback Whale calf  (above) and again when I was on a safari in South Africa (below). On both occasions, I chose to shoot through people to my subjects to give my viewer a greater sense of the experience and vicinity to the subject. Both images are now used widely to promote the destinations.

It’s a technique worth baring in mind when it comes to shooting wildlife for promotional purposes.

 For more tips on travel photography, click here

Next Stop: I fly out to Fiji tomorrow.

Shooting through people to place your viewer in the picture.

Shooting through people to place your viewer in the picture.


What is it about working with Victoria’s regional tourism authorities that ages me so rapidly, you may well ask.

The last assignment I did in Victoria was around Daylesford where the tourism authority began the assignment by giving me the travel section of Vogue Magazine and telling me that was the calibre of photography they expected me to match – even though we didn’t have a stylist, talent, the props or a wardrobe to play with.

Having barely recovered from the stress of looking to reach such lofty heights (and that assignment was more than six months ago I might add), I returned to rural Victoria last week on a separate commission to be handed a copy of Country Style Magazine (think a country version of Gourmet Traveller, Belle and Vogue Magazine combined), along with a Pinterest selection of some of the best imagery in the world. “Yes, David” they said. ‘This is the style of photography we want you to replicate over the next five days.”

I could feel the years drain from my body before they’d even finished the sentence.

To add to my escalating angst, the weather bureau had forecast near-perfect autumn conditions with clear, sunny skies ahead which, I’d have to say dear reader, may well be perfect for a holiday but it’s the kiss of death for any photographer looking for the soft, even light that was clearly evident in every one of the ##@$%!! photographs they showed me.

Suffice to say, a long night was spent staring at the ceiling on my arrival (and the fact it was done within the four walls of the lunatic asylum in Beechworth  – renovated or not – did not go unnoticed).

Still, as you can see from the preview (below) it was a productive shoot, thanks largely to the professional team I worked with (well done Susannah, Jade, Melissa and Brendon). Certainly, the images will complement the shoot we did last time: (click here to see previous preview).

On the Shot List: Mouth-watering food, cycling the historic Rail Trail, autumn colours, a bit of “Country Chic”, some cosy cottage settings and children playing.

Next Stop: Fiji on a shoot for Westpac – then its off to Western Australia and South Africa for their respective tourism authorities.

PS:  In the meantime, a couple of foodie tips in case you’re heading that way: Keep an eye out for Steve and Maggie’s roll-your-eyes-in-delight, Jim Jam Chutney, and make sure you stop off and do the papers and a big breakfast at the Fez coffee shop, set inside the exotic antique emporium in Myrtleford (….who would have thought).



We’ve just been commissioned to decorate the entrance way of Papua New Guinea’s International Airport in Port Moresby with my photographs (concept below).

All things being equal, the project’s completion will co-incide with the June launch of my latest coffee table book, Papua New Guinea – The Last Great Frontier 

It’s a big project and Tim’s now madly running around working with production houses to make sure it looks the part. The feature photograph of the Huli Wigmen preparing for a Sing-Sing with the small boy sitting, captivated, in the middle, will be broken up into three, two metre high, perspex panels mounted to the wall. A range of smaller photographs of various sizes, also set behind 10 cm thick perspex, will be mounted along the side to provide a contemporary collage of appealing, friendly images of PNG. Stylish, brushed metal mountings and spot lighting will be added to provide the finishing touches.

I was tempted to propose a fine art piece combining my photography with one of my artefacts as a feature, but I thought better of it given the timing and my assignment schedule (I leave again tomorrow).

…with hundreds of thousands of international arrivals a year, it’s not a bad place to showcase my work methinks (Poor Tim though, I think the project’s ageing him).

International Airport Concept

International Airport Concept

airport blog5


The entrance page of PNG

The entrance page of PNG’s new Photo Library

This week we completed a major upgrade of the Papua New Guinea Tourism Authority’s On-Line Photo Library which we built for them about five years ago. The library has proved to be an invaluable tool in promoting the destination, with the software we have just introduced providing a range of new features including added security, search engine capabilities, the ability to track and monitor downloaded images, and a user-friendly registration and management interface (it’s completely managed by tourism authority staff; we just oversee it).

On-Line Photo Libraries are an amazing resource to promote a destination (particularly when you think that just 10 years ago we were all having to burn images to a CD and send them off  in the post). Now, high resolution promotional images can be downloaded instantly from virtually anywhere in the world to be used in advertising, magazines, newspapers and electronic media .

We build the On-Line Photo Libraries (above) for tourism authorities as an extension of the service I offer as a travel and tourism photographer. That means that if you’re a travel writer, a publisher, a travel agent or anyone else who wants a photograph to promote one of the destinations I work with, you can go directly to one of the libraries we’ve created and instantly download high resolution pictures for free.

As a photographer, I’d have to say, the libraries are a bit of a two edged sword as, once my images are available for free on-line, it certainly diminishes my ability to sell them commercially through my own library or the two international agencies that represent me. On the other hand, it adds value to the service I offer, I’m obviously paid to create and capture many of the images that populate the libraries, and it extends my reputation as a travel photographer (one of the few condition of usage is that the images must be credited).

Certainly, it’s a brave new digital world for professional travel photographers – as exciting in terms of new opportunities as it is challenging.

…..there’s no doubt we’re all having to think outside the viewfinder to make a living.

Next Assignment: Back down to Victoria’s High Country – hopefully to capture the changing seasons.