Gareth Eyres - Wildlife Photographer
For Gareth Eyres, being successful and self-employed means freedom - freedom that comes from the discipline of working for yourself for 25 years. Freedom to say, "That's enough of that" and go fishing for the afternoon.
Gareth loves his work. He enjoys the variety, going to interesting places, meeting interesting people and photographing them, and sharing a bit of their lives. His preference is people 'doing their thing' in the landscape that is uniquely New Zealand.
He also enjoys the solitude of shooting stock imagery - just waiting for the sun to strike on some piece of land or sea. Or being back at the studio, retouching the images and uploading them onto the computer. These files are then available to be hired for use in publications around the world via his website.
Unlike most professional photographers these days, Gareth still chooses to shoot a large proportion of his images on roll film using his large format German panoramic cameras (even though he has three pro digital cameras)
"They offer unparalleled quality," he says, "with the ability to blow the image up to any size you like – from beautiful crisp A3 spreads to billboards, big posters, truck sides, and murals."
The big murals for the tourism i-sites at Auckland International Airport are one example of his work.
"It sounds funny, but the images come out just looking right." Gareth says this is because the camera shares the same angle of view as the human eye without the distortion of wide-angle 35mm cameras, so they are architecturally correct and horizons are straight with nothing being distorted.
One of the most memorable photo shoots that Gareth remembers taking on was in an underwater cave in the Nelson region.
"I was on my own, 30 metres underwater and 400 metres underground, waiting to take a picture of a cave diver swimming past – I had a gear failure, which led to me inhaling cold water and subsequently nearly drowned. Its one of those photo shoots that is hard to forget!"
But the job also has many funny moments. Gareth describes one experience that took days and a lot of patience to shoot.
"The client had asked for a photo of a Tuatara roaring like a dragon with it's mouth open.
"Well, if you know anything about Tuataras, you'll know that they do not move from one day to the next. And when they do, they move as though they have blood like glue.
"We'd put marmite on the tip of it's nose to tempt it to take a lick and I had been in front of it for hours and was just about to give up, when [finally] it lazily opened it's mouth and took a lick.
"That was the money shot and the last frame on the roll. The client got the photo they wanted and the Tuatara resumed its statue-like posture."
Gareth has a number of projects on the go at the moment, but his big summer project is a panoramic book, working around ongoing projects for clients. He says that as long as the weather's co-operative he's planning to get some lovely images this summer. With five books already published, Gareth reckons they should really be called, "What I did on my holiday part 1, part 2, part 3 etc etc etc"
Outside of work, Gareth enjoys being on his 1.5-acre block at Point Wells. "We're one property back from the water – it's peaceful, with good fishing and kayaking on the doorstep and no shortage of visitors."
Gareth also goes overseas twice a year – most recently Vava'u, Tonga - but can't seem to leave town without at least two or three cameras in his luggage!
Gareth's top tips for successful self-employment
- Get up in the morning.
- Stick to your knitting and what you know best, and do it well.
- Always do your billing as soon as you have done the work.
- Ensure customers stay within the payment period, and don't flinch if it comes to calling in the debt collectors (non-payment in my view is tantamount to theft and is abhorrent).
- Treat people in a civil manner, and don't lose your cool if things go wrong.
- Stay positive and stay optimistic when things go quiet and plan what you can do when things pick up.
- Pace yourself and make a fixed time of day to finish work, turn off the computer and call it a day - there is always tomorrow.
- Stay in touch with people who matter to you. It can be hard not having someone to bounce ideas off or share the burden with, but that is the price of freedom.
"Oh...and a good accountant can save you a heck of a lot of money, even though they can send you insane every now and then, wanting pieces of paper and what was spent where......"
Gareth's work has appeared on numerous websites and in New Zealand magazines like Metro, North and South, and Life and Leisure. Internationally his work has featured in Forbes and Islands magazines amongst many others.
He's won underwater photography awards and has been named Travel Photographer of the Year, twice. To find out more, go to www.exposure.co.nz