A chat with George of Attain
George Caldwell

Travel photography makes up a huge share of the industry’s output nowadays. Whether you are a tour operator looking for idyllic landscape shots for your website or a marketing agency helping a client with a thematic campaign, having access to images that illustrate the world we live in as well as a sense of adventure is key. So when the pandemic hit nearly two years ago and countries began imposing travel restrictions, it was a matter of course that the photo industry would be disrupted. And, as a consequence, many companies and organisations that relied on fresh travel images for their projects found themselves at a crossroads, wondering how to navigate the situation without compromising the quality of their content.

"Plane and bird in the evening sky" by Markuza

“We have had to utilise what resources we have available during these lockdowns,” says George Caldwell, a Social Media Specialist at Attain, a revenue growth agency based in Auckland. “We've got excellent in-house videographers and photographers, but the ability to get out and travel and do shoots for our clients has been really limited. So a lot of last year's focus has been on how we can repurpose all the content with a new fresh feel, whilst also utilising what resources we could find out there.”

Over the last three years, Attain has grown from a small company to a full-service agency dealing with everything from branding, to sales, to marketing integration. George has been a part of the digital marketing team for the past year; his role being to look after the social media and digital advertising side, including issues relating to stock photography and content creation, whilst also helping the team with process-and-tools-related decisions.

"Trampers, Great Barrier Island" by Shaun Barnett

Given his responsibilities, George has experienced first-hand how this shortage of travel photos impacted both his work and the industries Attain works with. “With the lack of fresh photographs to use for content creation, we are doing a lot more graphic design and illustration work,” he explains. “This new approach has worked well for industries like hospitality that use primarily photo-based content, as we can utilise photos of menu items/food that we already have and combine them with new graphic elements and/or stock photos that show the ambience and atmosphere. But in other industry sectors where we would usually use a lot of image-based content to showcase the local authenticity of the brand, we have had to find different ways to source fresh images for content creation.”

"Soothing time" by Isaac

George and Attain are definitely not the only ones who have lived through this dilemma: When movement has been restricted so that photographers can no longer travel to shoot, and online databases haven’t got what you need, where can you find fresh, authentic photos? One of the solutions, which George himself has resorted to, is turning to local photographers.

“We have a lot of clients that are Kiwi-owned and operated companies and we always want to be showcasing their content looking authentic and in line with their brand. The lack of ability to travel to locations to shoot has meant we have had to re-think strategies, including exploring options such as repurposing older content, utilising user-generated content but most importantly, making use of stock images and videos from local photographers.”

Still, as much as this sounds good in theory, finding the right photographer with the right photo, and then drawing up contracts and agreements to work with them, can prove to be a logistical nightmare – especially when an agency has a lot of other things on their plate. Fortunately, platforms such as Excio have developed frameworks that grant agencies and organisations direct access to a large database of diverse and authentic New Zealand photos – from landscape to wildlife through to events and portraits – whilst also giving you the option to make custom requests for the kind of shot needed.

"Beached Yacht Sunrise" by Damon Marshall/DaMoJo

If there is one thing this unexpected and unfortunate pandemic has taught us is the importance – and indeed the value – of appreciating and making use of what is domestic. And for companies like Attain, this has extended to the way they source photographs, allowing them to navigate through these times without compromising the quality of the content they produce. As George himself puts it: “We are seeing an increased need for locally sourced content in a post lockdown world. Utilising fresh and local images for our clients is an essential part of creating good content.”

Check out Excio’s Library for high-quality, authentic New Zealand photographs shot by locals. To make a custom request, click on any photograph in the library and look for the button “Not quite what you need.”

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