Monthly Archives: April 2014


It was only a couple of months ago I left on a cruise of Fiji’s picture-perfect Yasawa Islands and bobbed around in near cyclone conditions for a week before convincing both my client and myself that if I came back later, the weather would be more settled.
Well, dear reader, this is it and settled it certainly isn’t.
The island pictured – Wailagilala- is absolutely stunning… least it would be if the winds would abate, the dark clouds parted and the pelting rain stopped. Even in this weather, you can see the ribbons of turquoise water lining its pristine, white beach.
As we have briefly drifted into internet range, I thought I’d have a vent.
So, %%$$##@!!!


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. 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 like a challenge and I’ve sat under enough palm trees to realise that paradise without purpose just ain’t paradise.


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 client 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 we identify the destination’s highlights. Having recognised what needs to be shot and what the client wants the photography to say, we work through the logistics and the costs and map 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 which is largely what I expect to match at the completion of the assignment.

I have a 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 most effective way to deliver the images. Potential “Hero Shots” are canvassed and subjects 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 quite goes according to plan as opportunities arise and circumstances change but, from the outset, we’re all heading in the same direction and the likelihood of me delivering to my client’s expectations is a lot higher.


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).

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 for uploading. As it turned out, they left with about 1,000 premium photos, 50% of which came from my film library, the balance in digital.

It’s been an interesting exercise learning what the market wants and understanding how such libraries work (and it was traumatic literally throwing away 90% of a film library I’ve spent 10 years amassing). But a more efficient system to distribute and add value to my work is emerging, with the plan now to package the images up and circulate them to a plethora of image libraries worldwide. I did weigh up the option of building a dedicated library of the South Pacific under but the reality is, I would never have had the time or the reach – particularly in the northern hemisphere – to do it justice.

I guess six months from now I’ll know if it was the right call.

David’s personal blog

Photography Tips, Travel Recommendations, Photos, Interviews, and the occasional words of wisdom you stumble across on a road less travelled

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A successful promotional photograph starts with knowing what you want it to say and who you want it to appeal to - before you even bring the camera to your eye.




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