Passion combined with ambition

This story was first published in 2015 with permission from the author.

by planter’s child adventures

 I have been reading a book about success written by an Indian author, Joginder Singh and what inspired me was the wisdom that you can be successful if you dare to dream, capitalize on your talents with a sense of creativity driven by passion, determination and a positive attitude to grow.

Here is an inspiring story of a military photographer whom I met in New Zealand in 2015. He has been to some of the worlds amazing places including the Antarctica.

Sixty-one year Colin McDiarmid tells me: “photography, done well, takes a great deal of skill and the people that do it well are very good indeed, unfortunately it is an under valued profession and not many people can maintain a practical income from it, if you can then it would have to be the best thing you can do!’’

 In February 2015, I was privileged to be among a group of trainees and officers from respective government departments that underwent a professional development training at the Victoria University of Wellington.

The training was specifically tailored for a career in the PNG Foreign Service.

It was at that time that I met Colin who was working as a photographer for the university.

Colin had gone to Kelburn campus to shoot for the powhiri, a Maori welcome ceremony hosted by the university.

By then the ceremony ended and everyone was walking around admiring the designs in the house and busy taking photographs.

I walked over to Colin introduced myself and politely asked him for a photograph to be taken.

I learnt later that Colin owns a corporate photography business in Wellington and that interestingly he had a vast experience of working as a photographer for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Colin was born in 1960 in Southland, New Zealand where he grew up as a sheep farmer’s son until he flew off to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force at the age of 16.

“I joined the Air Force because it sounded like an exciting thing to do, back then’’ Colin told me.

Becoming a photographer for the military was a dream come true for Colin. He was doing things, which he would have never imagined.

Working for the RNAF he has been photographing parachutes leaving a C130 Hercules at 10,000 feet flying in small, fast and jet aircraft-aerobics from inside the aerobatic aircraft (under crushing “G forces) which he described as doing air to air shots of other aircraft in tight or loose formation.

This may sound risky for others but he said there have been few exciting times throughout.

Colin described working for the army as bouncing around in the back of an Armoured Personnel Carrier (like a tank without a big gun) or truck or helicopter so he could get to an either dusty or snowy Army exercise somewhere in NZ or in a jungle overseas or spending a rather intense time photographing with the New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS).

For the navy it was cruising the Mediterranean on board a naval frigate and photographing the ship from the ship’s helicopter around Greek Islands or providing publicity images of the work of the Navy’s hydrographic research vessel, tanker, dive tender or the rigid hull inflatable boats which hang off the sides of the ships.

“I spent three and a half months over the summer period, in Antarctica attached with the US Navy and travelled to places like Somalia and Cambodia with the United Nations, USA and Hawaii, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Athens, Crete, Dubai, Bahrain, Germany, lots of trips to some of the Pacific Islands (alas not PNG) including Australia,’’ he said.

His most frightening experience was flying in an Andover with the back ramp open to take photos of another Andover that was following them.

He was secured to the floor with a long strop when they hit some turbulence.

“I was thrown against the roof of the aircraft then crashed to the floor (near the end of the lowered ramp) my camera followed and hit me in the face. Unable to continue we called off the sortie,’’ he said.

Half of his twenty years service was spent as a publicity photographer, which saw him travelling around the world, a number of times, to photograph military personnel doing their “thing” overseas.

“Eventually I would be found travelling around the Pacific Islands and around the world taking newspaper/magazine images to give the folks back home an idea of what their sons, daughters, friends or relatives were doing in those often trouble lands’’, he said.

During that time this was a fantastic recruiting idea, as people in the serviceman’s hometown would read about what “Johnny Bloggs” had been doing in some exotic overseas destinations.

As a result of such images and caption detail “Johnny Bloggs’s’’ and ’friends could then imagine themselves in that situation and could contact the local recruiters to see if they could join up.

Colin said once out of uniform he was able to dedicate his skill and enthusiasm to own a corporate photography business which he operates today in Wellington. He is involved in planning and creating images for wonderful customers for wedding, corporate clients and shooting videos for websites.

Colin said wedding photography has been a real strength and reckons he must have been doing something right when past customers meet him on the street and introduce their children or friends to him.

If you are creative, keep on doing what you love and the world is yours. Find your passion and create that reality.

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