“Oh my gosh, they’re really living the dream, eh?”
So says my partner as he starts on Todd and Sarah’s photographic journey of New Zealand. Having been told they weren’t able to have children, the couple decided to sell up and buy a caravan to focus on landscape photography, travelling the islands and seeking out the “freakishly beautiful”. Two months later they were pregnant and a second child followed not long after. They stuck with the plan and took the kids anyway. This glorious book is the result. Each image is stunning – as an amateur photographer I’m jealous – and it hasn’t happened by accident. These guys are talented but you don’t get iconic shots without what they describe as “excruciatingly early starts” – the Moeraki boulders without tourists are even more impressive. There are some gorgeous dawns, fleeting pink hues perfectly captured: if you want nice pictures, you’ve got to get out of bed.
Publishers Potton & Burton have done a marvellous job with the design: the print is stunning, the colours first-class and the layout striking. Panoramas across two pages with naught but a white border on the page means the photos shine. Most photos have a simple sentence of explanation underneath while the double page spreads are left alone, the information on the preceding page, and are quite breath-taking. Many a “wow” or “oh, that’s so nice” (and the occasional “I’ve been there!”) escaped my lips as I turned the pages. I would have any number of the pictures on my wall (and I can! www.sisson.co.nz). The only criticism: the cover design doesn’t do justice to the rest of the book. They’ve gone for classic but it feels old-fashioned, which is a shame. If the book is on your coffee table, and it really should be, leave it open.
The Sissons have made sure that the places they visited are accessible to people; you too can see these glorious vistas and attempt to recreate their transcendent works (best of luck) if you just hop in the car. Tourists and locals alike can enjoy and explore all that New Zealand has to offer in terms of landscape with the couple. Take the book with you on a road trip or have it as a memento of one – why ever you buy it, you’ll be inspired. And you should buy it, either for yourself or a friend, because it’s exquisite.
My partner has reached the end of the adventure and, so engrossed was he, his coffee is stone cold. He sighs deeply, “I’ve got wanderlust again, darling. Let’s buy a campervan.”
REVIEWER: Kate Spencer
New Zealand A Photographic Journey, by Todd and Sarah Sisson, is published by Potton & Burton. RRP is $49.99 (standard) and $19.99 (pocket)