Tropical | Oceania | Melanesia | Papua New Guinea ©ReeveJolliffe

Melanesia is a photographer’s paradise, brimming with natural wonders and rich cultural heritage. By adequately preparing, employing thoughtful composition techniques, selecting suitable gear, and refining photography techniques, it is possible to capture the spirit and beauty of the region. Respect the local communities, embrace the stunning landscapes, and dive into the vibrant underwater world to create a visual narrative that truly represents the allure of Melanesia. Get ready to embark on a photographic journey unlike any other.


  • Embrace the Golden Hour: The soft, warm light during the golden hours of the tropics can transform ordinary scenes into magical moments. Plan shoots around these times to capture the ethereal beauty of Melanesia.
  • Include Local Elements: Incorporate unique elements of Melanesian culture, such as traditional clothing, dances, crafts, or rituals, to add depth and authenticity to your images. Engage with the locals, learn their stories, and capture their emotions. Be sure to maintain respect around spiritual events and rituals and always ask permission before pressing the shutter.
  • Balance Landscapes and People: Melanesia boasts awe-inspiring landscapes, but don’t forget to include human subjects to add scale and narrative to your photographs. Compose shots to strike a balance between natural wonders and the people who call these islands home.
  • Experiment with Perspectives: Move beyond the typical eye-level shots. Explore high vantage points, shoot from low angles, experiment with reflections, or capture unique textures to create visually arresting compositions. Think not only about wide shots of landscapes but also zoomed-in detail shots of the textures and patterns of the jungle.
Tropical | Oceania | Melanesia | Papua New Guinea ©Reeve Jolliffe
Photo: Reeve Jolliffe


  • Versatile Camera System: Choose a camera system that suits expedition shooting style and offers versatility for various genres, such as landscape, portraiture, and underwater photography. Consider mirrorless systems for their lightweight nature and advanced features.
  • Lenses: Opt for a range of lenses to cover different focal lengths and capture a variety of scenes. Wide-angle lenses excel in landscapes, while telephoto lenses allow for intimate portraits and wildlife photography.
  • Waterproof and Underwater Equipment: Melanesia’s pristine waters beg to be explored. Invest in a waterproof camera housing or underwater housing for your gear to capture the vibrant marine life and mesmerizing underwater landscapes. Many simple, cheap options are available; it doesn’t require a bulky, expensive, professional underwater rig to capture the corals.
  • Essential Accessories: Pack extra batteries, memory cards, a sturdy tripod, lens filters (polarizers reduce the water’s glare), lens cleaning equipment, and a backpack to ensure your gear is protected and ready for any shooting scenario.
Tropical | Oceania | Melanesia | Papua New Guinea ©Reeve Jolliffe
Photo: Reeve Jolliffe


  • Portraits with Respect: When photographing locals, seek permission and engage with them on a personal level. Capture authentic expressions and tell local stories through your lens. Show appreciation for their customs and rituals and avoid objectification. One easy and fun way to do this is by simply sharing your photos or camera display with the people of the communities.
  • Master Exposure: Experiment with settings to understand the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) and achieve optimal exposure in various lighting conditions. Pay attention to the dynamic range when capturing high-contrast scenes, such as volcanic landscapes or vibrant festivals.
  • Long Exposures: Utilize neutral density filters or iPhone long exposure to capture the dynamic motion of dreamy waterfalls, milky seascapes, or flowing lava. Experiment with long exposure techniques to create stunning visual effects and convey a sense of movement.
  • Underwater Photography: Familiarize yourself with the basics of underwater photography, including buoyancy control, proper lighting, and white balance adjustments. Capture the vivid colors and unique marine life that thrive in Melanesia’s pristine waters.
Tropical | Oceania | Melanesia | Papua New Guinea ©Reeve Jolliffe
Photo: Reeve Jolliffe
Photo: Mosaic Studios