Hundreds of thousands of people have seen The Needle – Rarotonga’s most recognisable landmark – but I’m confident few would have seen it quite from this perspective.

Otherwise, it’s day six of wind and overcast skies and we head for Aitutaki tomorrow with its absolutely drop-dead gorgeous lagoon. Please gods, I’m begging ya, give me just two days of blue skies and I promise I’ll try and drive within the island’s 30 kilometre speed limit.

Photography Tip: Unless you’re wearing a cape, you’re going to need a drone for these photographs. To any photographer who has one, it’s worth recognising drone technology has opened up a whole new world of opportunity in terms of photographing recognisable landmarks from a different perspective. Unlike expensive helicopters, they can quickly rise and get you to some of the best angles, and in the best light, effortlessly.
These photographs were shot in overcast conditions at around 3pm, when the light was shining strongly through the clouds to bath the landscape in a gloriously even light. Details: iso 100 at 1/50th of a second at F3.2 (remember you don’t need great depth-of-field for sharp aerial pics).

Visit the Cook Islands Gallery of our photo library at to see pictures from our previous assignments to the Cooks.

It’s been a couple of years since I photographed the Cook Island aunties – Nani and Lydia – hilariously riding their motorcycle. Now they’ve stepped up to a flash looking mini minor …and they appear to have abducted a tourist (Below).

Ya gotta laugh (certainly I did). What great talent.

Abduction in paradise

Photography Tip. In a place like the Cook Islands – with its stunning lagoons – it would be easy for a photographer to slump into depression with overcast skies. However, there’s a lot that can still be photographed in an even light. Assuming you’re not as lucky as I was to grab the “aunties”, there’s Wigmore’s Waterfall (don’t forget your polarising filter if you want that soft water effect), local food to be captured and some beautiful gardens and flora to be photographed. (….This said, enough’s enough. Four days straight and the weather had better turn soon or I’ll be wandering into that not-so-glorious lagoon that surrounds me with my 23 kilo camera bag on – never to be seen again!

Reason to be happy – Cook Islands signs up to our plans to build the largest photo library on the South Pacific.

The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation (CITC) is the latest national tourism authority to join our plan to build the largest on-line photo library on the entire South Pacific (featuring, of course, the Cook islands).

Vanuatu signed up last month. Three other countries are in the pipeline.

Our intention is to involve all 16 countries in the region – prioritising the tourism authorities who recognise the benefits and value of the association.

The new initiative sees the CITC gaining unlimited access to thousands of high quality photographs in our commercial photo library ( for promotional purposes. It also sees savings of at least 50% being passed on to local tourism operators who purchase images through our library’s Tourism Industry Assistance Scheme (TIAS).

“It’s a no brainer,” said the organisation’s marketing manager, Karla Eggelton, recognising the distribution of thousands of appealing images of the Cook Islands worldwide will contribute to elevating the country’s profile, and that it will benefit local tourism operators who will gain access to a wide range of reasonably priced, high quality promotional photographs of the destination to promote their own businesses (the average price of a photograph is between AUD$50 and AUD$200 an image).

Additional benefits of the association include:

A bigger, broader photo library of the Cook Islands: David has since committed to significantly expanding the range of photographs in the Cook Islands Gallery of his library to ensure it meets the organisation’s, and the local industry’s, future marketing needs (more than 300 images are likely to be uploaded at the end of his current assignment).

Capacity Building: A single CITC staff member will be “taken under wing” and tutored personally by David in tourism photography during his visits (hopefully creating a network of country-based tourism photographers throughout the region).

Platform for local photographers: The opportunity will be created for local Cook Island photographers to add their images to the library and sell them worldwide.

Promotional photo Library for media and travel agents: David’s company specialises in building on-line photo libraries, customised to the needs of national tourism authorities. Such libraries are built to be self-managed by the tourism authority and to run parallel – and independently – to our commercial library.

High quality souvenir book: David’s company has published 15 successful souvenir books. The association will see the publication of a new, hard cover souvenir book on the Cook Islands in 2018, drawing from the best of the images uploaded to our library.

If grabbing attention is one of the main purposes of a promotional photograph in the tourism sector, I’d like to think the photo we captured today goes some way towards it. Imagine turning the pages of a glossy travel magazine to see this full page image, followed by an essay of other photographs from the Cook Islands (which we’ll be working on over the next week).

Well done to Anania (pictured), Papatua, Donna and Daniel. It was fun to see it all come together.

The Vanuatu Tourism Organisation (VTO)  is the first national tourism authority to enter into a strategic partnership with Kirklandphotos to build the largest commercial on-line photo library dedicated to the South Pacific (

As a result, the organisation will gain unlimited access to the hundreds of photographs in the Vanuatu Gallery of our library to promote the country.

The partnership will also see Vanuatu’s local tourism operators given a 50% discount on any photograph purchased from our library through our Tourism Industry Assistance Scheme (TIAS).

In 2018, our plan is to work with tourism authorities throughout the South Pacific to build a comprehensive photo library of the tourism highlights of their destination. Every country gallery will feature hundreds of high quality promotional photographs, which can be purchased and downloaded instantly at an average price of just AUD$50 to AUD$200 an image (buyers registered with our Tourism Industry Assistance Scheme will pay only AUD$25 to AUD$100 for an image that would otherwise be sold on international stock libraries for hundreds – in some cases thousands – of dollars).

Our intention is to substantially increase the quantity, range and quality of promotional photographs currently being used to promote the South Pacific.

While tourism authorities and tourism operators will be the immediate beneficiaries of the library, funds generated through the sale of photos will be re-invested back into building the library by adding more photographs and expanding the number of country galleries as quickly as possible to represent the entire region.  In addition, local photographers will be invited to become part of the library, and a dedicated gallery will be established to record and promote the value of traditional culture throughout the South Pacific.

In the VTO’s case, this new association has already resulted in the national tourism authority gaining access to more than 400 new promotional images of Vanuatu – with the promise of hundreds more images to be added in 2018.

Following is a link to our recently updated Vanuatu Gallery:

Next Stop: The Cook Islands (hopefully, the next cab off the rank), with back-to-back assignments that will take me through to Christmas.

I’m just back from a particularly productive 10 day shoot of Efate Island in Vanuatu for the country’s national tourism authority.

The brief: Cover at least 15 subjects on the Shot List we’ve drawn-up, primarily concentrating on scenery and the island’s tourism highlights. Include aerials (drone) and underwater. We’ll give you a car and plug you into our operators. Beyond that, we’ll try and get you some “tourist talent” but they will be local and you’ll have to work around their day jobs.   

So, here’s a short preview of hundreds of new images which the Vanuatu Tourism Organisation will be drawing from as part of a new association we are building to promote the destination worldwide.


Next: Two back-to-back assignments of The Cook Islands which will see me through to the end of the year.