If you’ve spent any time on our Facebook page, you’ll have no doubt have seen some of talented photographer Yvonne McKenzie’s photos. Yvonne has wonderful ability to capture images that reflect the spirit of Christmas Island, the character of its unique creatures and the beauty of our natural surroundings.
We asked Yvonne about what inspires her as a photographer.
CITA: How long have you called Christmas Island home?
I’ve lived here for nearly 5 years (since July 2010) with my husband Peter and our two gorgeous sons, Dylan (5) and Jesse (3).
CITA: How do you spend your days?
I work 3 days a week for the Shire of Christmas Island and one day a week from home. On Thursdays I try to sneak out for a boat or shore dive at times. On Fridays I have a date with my two boys and the weekend is mostly filled with family time. On Sunday afternoon I am lucky enough to spend time with my camera venturing around our beautiful island home. It’s like meditation and preparing for the next busy week ahead.
CITA: What first brought you to CI?
After spending several months on some South-east Asian and Pacific Islands, my husband and I both fell in love with “island life”. The appealing idea of living on a tropical island that is still part of Australia directed our attention to Christmas Island.
CITA: What do you love most about living here?
The flights plus the price and quality of vegetables. Haha, only joking J! The friendly people, the tropical location and the unique natural environment. Every day the beauty of this island and its people still amazes me and warms my heart. I feel so blessed and grateful to be able to call Christmas Island my home!
CITA: Top 5 things to do here on CI?
1. Surprisingly…photography. Any passionate photographer has unlimited opportunities when it comes to taking photos: birds, crabs, critters, flowers, landscapes, sunrises, sunsets, beaches, views, people and their cultures, underwater etc.
2. Scuba Diving. The underwater world surrounding Christmas Island is stunning.
3. Experience the annual Red Crab Migration including the spawning.
4. Jump in for a snorkel with the whale sharks and manta rays.
5. Exploring the island: stunning lookouts (great for views and birdwatching), the Dales, caves, jungle, beaches, historical sites, temples etc.
CITA: How long have you been developing your photographic skills?
Ever since I was a young teenager, I always loved taking photos and never went anywhere without a camera. However, I only started taking photography more seriously about a year ago. I still see myself as a novice photographer with a huge love for being outdoors and a passion for nature and wildlife, above and under water.
It’s taken me five years to find a new passion, something for myself that I love and enjoy doing. I’m so glad I found it.
CITA: What are your favourite subjects to photograph?
My love for animals (apart from scary and hairy critters) and animal behaviour (like feeding, courting, nesting, fighting, protecting etc) is a huge drive for my photography. I can sit and watch a bird or crab for hours. When under water I am never ready to come up; I should’ve been born with gills.
Marine life (big and small), birds and furry animals are my favourites. I do miss my furry animal friends from the mainland at times, but luckily the local crabs have started to captivate me more and more and they sure know how to keep me entertained.
CITA: Do you have a favourite photographer?
The simple answer is “no”. I follow a lot of photographers on their journey; I respect and admire each one for their view on life and the way they capture the beauty around them.
In the past few years I have met some amazing and inspiring photographers like Hugh Brown, Paul Parin, Richard Woldendorp, Steve Fraser, Steve Parish and Kingsley Klau. All very different, but all truly amazing in what they do best. I am hoping to meet plenty more (hint)! They are all inspirational people and are happy to share their photography journey and helpful tips.
You can line up 10 photographers and ask them to photograph the same subject. The result is 10 complete different photos, reflecting each person’s unique eye and take on life. Another reason I love photography.
CITA: Do you have an all-time favourite photo of your own?
Photography is a dynamic hobby and passion. I like my images to be unique or different so my favourite changes all the time. Every time I hunt for an image, a new trophy is found. This becomes the new favourite until the next hunt is on.
Any photographer knows that there is a lot more to an image than just snapping away. Research is involved before going on the hunt for that capture. I love it when I finally get my “first” ever photo of a particular subject, view or event. My current favourite is my first proper Golden Bosun shot as that has been a mission and since moving to Christmas Island I have been captivated by this beautiful bird.
I wouldn’t call it an all-time favourite though as there is always room for improvement.
CITA: What’s your favourite time of the year?
Here on Christmas Island the four seasons blend into two: wet and dry. The wet season is my favourite because the jungle is dense, the island is green, the red crab migration is on, the whale sharks and manta rays pay a visit and the weather is unpredictable creating dramatic scenes and sunsets. As long as the weather permits me to get out with my camera gear!
CITA: What’s your favourite time of day?
No matter how beautiful a sunrise can be, I am so not a morning person, especially since having children (they start jumping on the bed around 6am every day of the week!)
My favourite time of day for photography is late afternoons; I just love the warmth and colours the sunlight creates at this time of day. This is also the best excuse for hanging around to see if our Wondrous World provides a stunning sunset to finish the day.