10 days in Tonga, and over 30 sites to photograph
It was ambitious goal that allowed me little down time. Driving, planning and shooting during the day followed by backing up, reviewing and further planning in the evening.
It was such a different way of working and I found it challenging. I am used to detailed briefs, location scouting and 4hrs or so to photograph a project at, usually, the perfect time of day.
In Tonga, for most locations it was just a matter of getting the shot and making the most of what I would usually consider to be unsuitable conditions. I had to take more of a documentary approach than that of a architectural photographer. Once I had realised and moved past this I started to make progress.
I am fortunate enough to be working with architectural historian and writer Bill McKay on this project. This concept has been of personal interest to him for a number of years, but as there is little commercial value it has understandably taken awhile to get started. To date it has been entirely self funded, however we are hopeful that we will be able to secure funding through corporate, government and NGO sponsorship to continue this research and fully realise its potential.
The project is summarised by Bill below:
A Field Guide to the Architecture of the South Pacific - Tonga
"This is a guidebook that will not just be helpful to visitors interested in architecture, but be a resource widely disseminated throughout the Pacific, of use to villages, schools, heritage organisations and governments, and to the Pasifika diaspora: those young people of Pacific heritage living in New Zealand and Australia.
The book covers each Pacific nation, identifying structures that are important in terms of history and heritage. The definition of architecture is broad and ranges from ancient sites, through traditional buildings such as fale, to the buildings of the missionary and colonial periods, to vernacular buildings such as markets, notable modern architecture and significant contemporary structures. In addition, subjects such as vaka are also touched on as technology such as lashing, perfected in the construction of sea-going vessels, has also been intrinsic to traditional structures such as fale. The book will also incorporate old engravings and period photographs as well as identifying useful local resources such as museums, libraries and archives.
Good books on the Pacific islands, their culture and heritage are rare. This book will not be an expensive publication but it will be well designed and illustrated with specially commissioned photographs, maps and diagrams. It is intended it be sold at a low cost supported by commercial sponsorship, government, NGO and educational funds. In a time of change for the Pacific, this book will be valuable in celebrating Pacific architecture and assisting in the acknowledgement and preservation of the region’s history and built heritage".