Image Nation 2014: Day One

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

Meet the Image Nation speakers, part one

One of the must-attend events of New Zealand photography is coming up next month, and this year's programme looks as dazzling as ever. Image Nation is a two-day conference of back-to-back presentations by some of the biggest names in commercial photography, both local and international. This year it is taking place on Friday, June 13 and Saturday June 14 at central Auckland's Q Theatre. The organiser, the Advertising and Illustrative Photographers Association, has done a wonderful job in keeping the price of admission down to make the event accessible: check out the tickets here.

To make sure you're all clued up for this weekend of information overload, D-Photo introduces you to the prestigious speakers taking to the stage at this year's Image Nation conference:

Simon Harsent

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Originally from England, photographer Simon Harsent emigrated to Australia and has spent over two decades developing his career to become one of the country’s most highly regarded commercial shooters. Working from bases in both Sydney and New York, he now counts BMW, Emirates, Sony, Singapore Airlines, Subaru, Canon, Mastercard, Levi’s, and Range Rover, Hyatt Hotels among his covetable list of clients.

His commercial work has brought him a slew of both national and international awards, including Cannes Lions, One Show, Clio, D&AD, London International, and Australia’s first Cannes Grand Prix. In 2011 he co-founded the New South Whales-based POOL photography collective.

As well as being one of the world's most awarded commercial photographers, he has also cultivated a respected career in the fine art world. In 2009 he published his first monograph, Melt: Portrait of an Iceberg, which was exhibited in galleries and museums around the globe. He also has work in the permanent collections of the Queensland Art Gallery and The Powerhouse Museum.

Below you can watch a video of Harsent discussing his Melt project in the Canon Seconds video series.


Mark Watson

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Regarded as one of Australia's leading adventure sport photographers, Mark Watson is undoubtedly a man with a few thrilling tales to tell. Motocross, heliskiing, free climbing, mountain biking, cliff diving, paragliding – if it's the sort of thing that has the potential to scare someone half to death, you can bet he's shot it.

Watson is a photographer who has turned his love of adventure into a thriving career, shooting for a wide variety of clients, from the usual suspects in the commercial, sports and auto industries to government agencies, editorial magazines and websites, and advertising campaigns.

He has also attracted sponsorship from a variety of big brands, including being a Nikon Australia Ambassador and Red Bull Australia's key photographer. In the following video Watson discusses a motion and stills shoot he devised with a hang glider sailing through amazing clouds.


Liz Ham

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With a distinctive style comprising equal parts humours irreverence, storytelling aptitude, and a nostalgically charged visuals, Liz Ham has become one of Australia's leading fashion photographers in a career just shy of two decades.

Ham's work has been featured in the pages of Vogue Australia, Blackbook, Dazed and Confused, Nylon, InStyle, Madison, Russh, Oyster, GQ, Vogue Nippon and Manuscript. Her distinctive style has also been brought to bear on such celebrities as Emma Booth, Miranda Otto, Xavier Samuels, Jessica Mauboy, Sia and Jennifer Hawkins.

As well cultivating an inspiring fashion career, Ham also creates editorial and advertising work for the likes of Australian Ballet, Herringbone, Ksubi, Wrangler, Peter Alexander, and Telstra, and her creative personal work has been featured in the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Monthly journal.


Emma Bass

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Auckland photographer Emma Bass is well positioned to discuss both commercial and fine art photographic areas, with a prominent two-decade career to draw upon.

On the commercial side she shoots for a range of the country's leading magazines, including Life & Leisure, Good, Taste, NZ House & Garden, Next, Fashion Quarterly, and many more. Specialising in both environments and portraiture, she has employed her bold and vibrant style to create images of some of New Zealand's biggest celebrities, including Denise L'estrange Corbet, Lucy Lawless, Jonah Lomu, Keisha Castle-Hughs and Peter Jackson.

Her most recent fine art achievements include a second edition of her Imperfect series, comprising elegant still life images of flower arrangements in various states of decay. Some of these works can currently be seen at Auckland's Black Asterisk gallery.


Christina Force

Once the founder of both New Zealand's first photographer's agency and dedicated stills production company, Christina Force is a wealth of knowledge and experience perfectly tailored to New Zealand photography.

As well as being a key player in shaping the way local ad agencies deal with photographers, particularly in terms of production values and copyright issues, Force has also been instrumental in launching many local commercial photographers onto the international stage.

Since 2011 she has rededicated herself as a marketing and folio consultant for photographers, helping her clients craft folios to appeal to the specific markets they wish to launch into, including Asia and North America. Any photographer that has been on the receiving end of Force's tuteladge will tell you the opportunity is not one to pass up.