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Image Nation 2014: Day One

16 June 2014

Kelly Lynch reports on the first half of the annual two-day professional photography conference, Image Nation
Day one of this year’s Image Nation conference saw a diverse array of photographic professionals take to the stage at Auckland’s Q Theatre (a new venue for the event) and share their expertise with a crowd of hundreds. The accomplished presenters gave personal accounts of their photographic journeys, shared plenty of advise and awe-inspiring imagery. The following is a brief recap of the day’s presentations.

Dean Zillwood


Wellington advertising photographer Zillwood aims for his portfolio to inspire, provoke and entertain, which are the very same components he delivers during his opening talk.  A photographer for 20+ years, he knows the importance of building good relationships and communication, working with the All Blacks, dance companies, opera, Lego, wineries, and more.

“Show the work that you’re doing and you’ll generate more of that kind of work,” he explains.  He plugged the idea to survive you need to adapt: “Photography is what I sell, creativity is my currency”.

He showcased quirky and amusing images taken during photography study at Whitireia last year, stating it’s one of the best things he’s done [for more on Zillwood’s personal projects, be sure to pick up the latest issue of The Photographer’s Mail].

Top tip: don’t just do what the client asks for – always bring something more to the job


Joseph Michael



A guru on the film The Hobbit, Michael works with motion control techniques, builds 3D time-lapse rigs, and creates 360-degree cinema experiences. His latest personal work, Dark Cloud/White Light, is a result of him and his team travelling to isolated South Island locations to record one view for a 24-hour period, producing them as four-minute looped videos in ultra high definition.

Each video was accompanied with a personally composed soundtrack.  Sound easy?  There were myriad technical issues along the way: lens fog, rendering footage, changing batteries and memory cards, sandflies, keeping exposure constant.  The result: a gripping view of 24 hours in a spectacular setting, giving perspective to the earth, night sky and universe we wouldn’t otherwise see.

Top tip: don’t be afraid to fail, through this you learn and adapt


Richard Robinson



Robinson says he wears two masks; one as a photojournalist working at the New Zealand Herald, the other as a passionate  underwater photographer whose  work regularly appearing in New Zealand Geographic magazine.

Inspired by his grandfather, a photographer, he laments the old days of inhaling fixer with him in the darkroom.  Award-winning Robinson loved his photojournalist job on the paper giving him access into people’s lives, but became disillusioned.  His new passion takes him away from crowds and deadlines to remote locations anywhere between the Kermadecs and Subantarctic islands.  He constantly works outside his comfort zone with specialist gear designed to go to greater depths for longer, giving a voice to endangered species.  He shows the graceful side of sharks, captures the essence of organ pipe sponges, and documents the demise of Hector’s dolphins [you can hear more from Robinson in the latest issue of The Photographer’s Mail also].

Top tip: be prepared, always have your gear ready


Geoff Blackwell

PQB book stack

Blackwell assures us that publishing is not dead.  Chief of PQ Blackwell, publishers of specialist books like those of photographers Rachel Hale-McKenna and Andrew Zuckerman, Blackwell is also creator of world famous Milk Books. With the almost-demise of bookshops, the company has devised a new way to publish photography books.  Photographer Emma Bass is the first to undertake the project in which there’ll be a short print run of books followed by online version printable to a high quality.

Photographers will be masters of the books, PQ Blackwell the curator.  Blackwell says the books that will work are ones that affect and inspire people. “There will always an audience for quality books,” he insists.

Top tip: good work never goes unrewarded – it might not be financial but good things happen in due course


Liz Ham


Building a reputation on producing soft, feminine shots, showing women sexy yet in control of their own sexuality, Ham has broken with the traditions of a male-dominated industry.  Her love for fashion, fresh concepts, and gorgeous girls with legs up to their ears shows.  She works with a mostly female team, knows the names of all her models, and her work crosses genres of fashion, editorial, and advertising, appearing in magazines everywhere.

With a playfully unconventional style she chooses industrial, rustic locations wherever able, and has even introduced animals to her shoots – a rot wielder, a rat, a parrot perched in the model’s beehive hairdo.  Keep an eye out for her upcoming series of portraits of punk females.

Top tip: don’t be precious, say yes – the interesting things you do will lead on to others

Check back soon for Image Nation day two