The visual narrative

One of the highlights of my two year photography diploma at Unitec was learning about documentary photography. I already knew that I was keen on telling stories with the journalism qualification I achieved at Whitireia in 2004.

However, when I was writing stories there was always something pulling me towards capturing stories through the lens of a camera instead.

I had this confirmed for me during my journalism diploma when my inspirational tutor, Destina, taught us about the basics of photography and taking photos for news stories.

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Two stories which I wrote and took photos for in 2004. Although I no longer do journalism, you will often see words in my personal photographic works.

Little did I know that Destina and I would become good friends when I joined the
Kapiti Camera Club in 2012, and she would go on to achieve the same degree I’m studying towards this year. She continues to inspire me until this day. Below is a small selection of her photography (the top three produced as part of her Bachelor of Applied Arts (Visual Arts & Design), majoring in photography).

You can view more of Destina’s beautiful photography on Facebook at
Destina Rose Photography.

Anyway, in the final year of my photography diploma in 2008, I got the opportunity to document the cement industry at Auckland Tank Farm before it was re-developed. I thoroughly enjoyed the project. The brilliant thing with photography is that it enables you to try things you’d never usually have the opportunity to do. I got to go onboard a barge, a ship and climb to the top of a cement silo which had amazing 360 degree views
of Auckland.

In my case, this particular project was an accurate record of the cement industry with the intention of the photos becoming historical records. However, documentary photographers who go back as far as the 1800’s haven’t always recorded things objectively. It’s an interesting genre to read about and is a very important consideration when you’re behind the lens of a camera.

A selection of photos were self-published into a book called ‘Set in Cement.’ I was stoked when I sold four copies to Sea + City Projects who were overseeing the re-development at the time. The book was printed by Momento Pro who are Wellington based. I can highly recommend them for book printing. The quality and service was outstanding.

Photos in the order in which they appear in the book:

Sea Tow’s tugboat Koraki brings the MV Marsden Bay (loaded with 2000 tonnes of cement) alongside the wharf at Westhaven for Golden Bay Cement. Photo taken from Silo 7.
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Peter Benson, the former skipper of the Koraki tugboat in 2008.
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John Rowe ties the barge to the bollard.
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The MV Golden Bay approaches the wharf with 4000 tonnes of cement on board.
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Having thrown the heaving line, the main bow line is being pulled ashore.
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Crewmen position the discharge pipes onto the wharf.
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Cams are used to lock the pipes into place on the wharf.
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Jim Mitchell operates the tow line on the MV Marsden Bay.
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Crewmen attach discharge pipes to the MV Golden Bay.
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Cams are used to lock a pipe into place on board the MV Golden Bay.
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The onboard derrick lifts the pipes into position on the MV Golden Bay.
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Golden Bay Cement’s six-pack of silos at Westhaven, 32 metres high, held 7500 tonnes of product before the company’s relocation.
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John Rowe dips Silo 7 which holds 5000 tonnes of cement.
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John Rowe dips Silo 7 which holds 5000 tonnes of cement.
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View from Silo 7 looking down on Golden Bay Cement tankers ready to collect product and deliver to customers.
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A tanker driver opens the hatch atop the tanker (using a safety rail system) before entering the weigh bridge to load.
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Cement is discharged into a bagging silo using compressed air.
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Tankers ready to enter the weigh bridges under Silo 7.
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Golden Bay Cement tanker with operator Bruce Walker.
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A Golden Bay Cement tanker is filled with flyash (a brown, dusty concrete additive).
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Six-pack of silos (left), Silo 7 (right), a Golden Bay Cement tanker leaves to deliver 26 tonnes of cement to a customer (centre).

Next time I’ll talk to you about my current body of work which is a mix of art and documentary photography rolled into one.

Bye for now,


3 Comments Add yours

  1. You’ve done a wonderful photo essay here Elyse! Thank you for your kind comments. xx


    1. Thanks Destina. It was a privilege to feature your work too.


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