The recent Auckland Festival of Photography featured an exhibition entitled `The Lie of the Land`. This was at the Circle Gallery in Newmarket. Organised by AIPA, the exhibition was a visual survey of New Zealand`s native, rural and urban environments featuring imagery created by leading professional photographers from around the country. I had selected one image for this exhibition entitled `Apartment Views`. This was an image I had recently taken whilst undertaking a commercial assignment from the top of an Auckland tower block which enabled a square level view of the apartment balconies. This image can be purchased as an open edition print in either A2 or A3 sizes from the AIPA website fotopia.nz
Auckland, one of the first cities to welcome in the new year, celebrated with the traditional fireworks extravaganza from the Sky Tower, the southern hemisphere’s tallest man-made structure. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, a famous eight minute firework display setting the skyline alight signalled the start of 2015.
This year I had been asked by Getty Images to cover the firework display. With the weather forecast not too promising with the prospect of rain and bad weather, I decided that a close vantage point was necessary. The surrounding cityscape would be missing but I had a better chance of capturing the fireworks should the rain arrive. So having checked the likely wind direction I found a good vantage point clear of obstruction in Victoria Street West. I arrived early to set up and to make sure of a parking space nearby to provide additional protection from the forecast of rain. As midnight approached , the sky was cloudy but no sign of the threatening rainclouds. A group of spectators joined me, assuming that I must have a good vantage point and on the dot of midnight the fireworks began their eight minute display. I shot several exposures all in manual mode with a shutter speed of around 5 seconds or so. Eight minutes passes quickly when shooting like this. As soon as the display was over and as the nearby crowd were wishing each other a happy new year I was back in the car and downloading the images to my laptop, preparing them for immediate dispatch to the Getty Images picture desk. Whilst Auckland may not have the biggest or best display it being the first usually guarantees worldwide usage. This year proved no exception, within minutes my images were appearing on the BBC, NBC, The Daily Telegraph and many major newspapers and news websites around the world.
Thanks for taking the time to visit my website and have a happy new year.
A last minute assignment this week resulted in following the Secretary-General of the United Nations, His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon, around Auckland. After covering a mundane press conference where he showed his diplomatic skills in avoiding answering questions that would compromise his neutrality on several issues, it was onto Auckland University.
Here an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree was bestowed on the Secretary-General of the United Nations, by the University of Auckland in recognition of his role as an international statesman and his past engagement with the University. After the honorary degree ceremony His Excellency gave a Public Address in a packed University’s Auditorium.
The degree ceremony was more of a challenge to photograph as apart from the heavy security detail there were many VIP’s occupying the front rows and to disrupt the ceremony or block their view was a big no-no. So I carefully circumvented around the edge of the stage between the thankfully seated audience grabbing a few shots at a time. For the actual capping ceremony I was able to get down low in the centre gangway near the front to get the shot that really captured the event.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate with baby Prince George visited New Zealand in April 2014. I was working for Associated Press (AP) to cover the Royal Visit to New Zealand and many of the events they attended. I was at Wellington Airport for the arrival and first glimpse of Prince George in public for sometime.
Despite low cloud and fog making it marginal as to whether my flight would get on the ground, two attempts by the Air New Zealand pilot got us down in one piece and I rushed to the military terminal just in time to capture the arrival of the Royal New Zealand Airforce 757 and my first sight of the royal party. Quickly capturing the Royals coming down the steps of the aircraft with the Duchess carrying Prince George, who did not seem perturbed by the long flight from the UK, I then had to file the pictures for the images to be made available to the world’s media. It was then back on another Air New Zealand flight back to Auckland in time for dinner. My images featured in many publications, including British Newspapers and the front page of Wellington’s Dominion Post.
Later in the week, in Auckland, I covered their match racing with Team New Zealand on America Cup yachts and also their journey by a Sealegs craft, a boat that can be driven from dry land into the water. It was then off to Cambridge to witness and photograph the Duke and Duchess lay two roses at the war memorial and finally onto Dunedin to watch a Rippa Rugby tournament at the Forsyth Barr stadium.
Despite an early morning downpour, the weather cleared for the Anzac Day dawn service at Auckland War Memorial Museum where I was attempting to capture the atmosphere where veterans were applauded and fallen soldiers remembered.
A crowd of 10,000 gathered around the Cenotaph where the sounds of the City of Auckland Pipe Band heralded the start of the city’s 74th Anzac Day Dawn Service. Flags were lowered and the flood lights dimmed as the Last Post, played by a Salvation Army Musician, to the hushed crowd before a minute of silence. After the service, members of the public from the young to old placed their own Poppy on the Cenotaph or the Field of Remembrance.
Arriving from Sydney in the early hours, entering the Port of Auckland at sunrise, the luxury Cunard liner Queen Mary 2 was carrying rare personal letters and draft journals from the explorer Captain James Cook.
Paul Brunton, emeritus curator of the State Library of New South Wales, which owns and is accompanying the historical collection said “the signature is so obviously a signature of a great man. He even worked on it and rehearsed it before it became his impressive scrawl.” Other documents also reveal that after his first landing at Gisborne, Captain Cook regretted that a number of Maori lost their lives, with the following paragraph in a draft journal written between October 9 and 11, 1769. – “I can by no means justify my conduct in attacking and killing the people in this boat who had given me no just provication [sic] and was wholly igernorant [sic] of my decision and had I had the least thought of their making any resistance I would not so much as looked at them.” This was deleted from the final copy of a report. Captain Cook was under orders to treat the communities in the South Pacific with restraint, so he wanted to explain his first encounters with Maori after landing at Poverty Bay. He gave the bay its name because “it afforded us no one thing we wanted”.
New Zealand appears to have gone Hobbit mad with the world premiere of Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit-An Unexpected Journey, the first of three films from the book. Not to miss out, I had several projects photographing aspects of the Hobbits mania. First was Air New Zealand’s effort by covering one of their Boring 777-300ER aircraft with a giant graphic depicting hobbits and characters from the film. This was at Auckland Airport before the plane went on a round trip to London to pick up cast members.
Next was the red carpet in Wellington for the premiere itself. I was positioned at the start of the 500 metre walk the stars and celebrities had to tackle, so they were relatively fresh and happy to pose for me. First up was Sir Peter Jackson with his daughter Katie and after Television interviews got to my point and posed for a few photographs. Other cast members including the hobbits followed with Cate Blanchett finally appearing to make the long walk to the Embassy Theatre to watch the film.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are in New Zealand for six days as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. For the Auckland part of the visit I accompanied Charles and Camilla to various engagements photographing the event as one of the accredited media, supplying pictures to local and international publications and agencies. Whilst visiting the New Zealand Shear Brilliance event at The Cloud, following a walkabout in the rain along Queen Street, Prince Charles tried his hand at carpet making using a “tufting gun” with the help of Sam Maloney, 30, from Christchurch who is creating a rug representing Charles’s coat of arms. He was handed the tufting machine that resembled an electric drill, and set about the half-completed coat-of-arms rug that was hung from a large frame. Just outside the border of the piece Charles tried sowing tufts of wool into a thread mesh. He said ‘I’ll write my name’, but his first attempt left a tangled mass of wool but after a short practice he wove a couple of straight lines.
One of the advantages of being a part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee accredited media, is that I had the opportunity to meet privately with the Prince and Duchess at the Auckland Museum following the Armistice Day Service and had a short discussion with both of them. Royal Protocol prevents me from reporting what was said, but it was an enjoyable experience, which I shall remember. So, whilst I now have a break from my royal duties, the tour continues with visits to Wellington, Palmerston North Feilding and Christchurch.
The time of year for Designers in the New Zealand Fashion Industry to show off their creations arrived and I spent four long days capturing the various outfits. Some not particularly inspiring, whilst others showed promise.
The jewellery designers Kagi took a novel approach to their show, featuring a David Attenborough impersonator introducing Birds of Paradise, which featured models scantily clad in feathers dancing and featuring various items of jewellery. I do wonder how much attention the jewellery got, with so many distractions particularly with the Burlesque feature.
I was in London for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and had media access to the River Thames Pageant with over 1,000 vessels participating in a flotilla on the Thames from Battersea to Tower Bridge. It was one of the largest flotillas ever assembled on the river, with rowed boats, working boats and pleasure vessels of all shapes and sizes beautifully dressed and turned out in their finest rigs.
Although the weather let the day down, as is normal with the English summer being cold and wet, even putting Prince Philip in hospital after standing for 4 hours watching the flotilla.
New Zealand had three entrants, the controversial Waka, Te Hono ki Aotearoa, which was initially banned for health and safety reasons but the organisers relented when Prime Minister John Key intervened. The Waka was joined by the Shackleton and Swiftsure 2, both crewed by young New Zealand Sailors. Despite a case of hypothermia, I am sure they all had the greatest experience of a lifetime.