Capturing the country

16 July 2018

With a career envied by many, Lloyd Homer survived two plane crashes to continue working as a passionate landscape and geological photographer, often in extreme conditions, and captured the vast, rugged scenery of New Zealand.

Trentham resident Lloyd Homer has seen areas of New Zealand’s terrain that most people wouldn’t know exist. His job as a photographer for the New Zealand Geological Survey (now GNS Science) saw him scaling the land and soaring the skies to capture the country’s geological landscape, resulting in more than 140,000 aerial and landscape photos.

Trentham Lloyd Homer Photographer GNS April 2018 007 WEB

Lloyd’s work has been recognised internationally, and he received a bronze medal from Sir Edmund Hillary for his contribution to science. However, the creative and adventurous 76-year-old didn’t start his photographic career familiar with the process of developing images in the dark room.

“I was a draughtsman, and I worked next to a photographer. I did one map as a draughtsman and decided, ‘No more!’ It wasn’t creative enough for me. I got a job as an assistant to the photographer, and he taught me what I needed to know. It was all black-and-white development then, no colour.”

With a love for the outdoors and a passion for tramping and climbing, Lloyd had found his ideal job, which allowed him to see the whole country – including areas that had never been accessed before. He has flown over all of New Zealand’s national parks countless times, always with the door open (or off completely), and with a Perspex floor in the plane.

“I could be out in the field for weeks on end. It was tremendous. Some of the caving photos I took, no one had ever been there. Now the caves are open to tourists!” Lloyds continues, “The structure of the country is exciting to me. I love the formation of the land and how it changes with earthquakes and volcanoes – the manufacture of the Earth.”

Trentham Lloyd Homer Photographer GNS April 2018 015 WEB

His wife, Sheryl, says he had no fear. “Lloyd would hang out of planes, over cliff edges, and perch on tree branches to get the perfect photo!” Lloyd was involved in two plane crashes where the aircraft was a write-off, and many emergency landings. He still has the door from one plane crash.

Although Lloyd was based in Lower Hutt, his job took him to other countries, including Hawaii and Hong Kong. He published four books and had his work featured in countless others around the world. “I did what I loved and got paid for it. My work is geology, not just pretty pictures. I loved it because you always got a result from the work you’d done and where you’d been. You had something to show for it.”

Numerous posters were made from Lloyd’s photographs, some of which sold very well and are iconic images still on sale today. He was never one for hanging up his own work, but many friends and family did. “I just did my photography, I never thought they’d sell.” He worked with a Pentax 67, and his favourite camera, a Technorama 617.