Joseph Pooley
Publish Date: Sunday, 19 September 2021
Joseph Pooley

New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5) student

#SIT2LRN #SITuation #Student Profile #Photography

Joseph rolled the dice on a solid career in Auckland, and chose to ditch the spanners and sockets for lenses and light meters.

“I spent 16 years living in big cities and travelling occasionally. I’ve left behind the city, as well as a former career as a car mechanic.”

“After discovering that I had an eye for photography and enjoyed doing it, I really wanted to give it a solid shot,” he said.

Joseph discovered his passion for photography after starting his OE in 2014.

He’d photograph the places he visited on his phone or a little point- and-shoot, and was surprised by the reaction his photos received from family and friends. He eventually upgraded his equipment to a mirrorless system camera and set up social media fan pages to catalogue his adventures and genuinely exciting portfolio.

Then the big opportunity presented itself – a photography and guiding role with commercial stargazing operation, Dark Sky Project (formerly Earth and Sky), which Joseph considers one of the premier astrotourism companies in the world.

More than 40,000 people from around the world travelled to the Mackenzie country, in South Canterbury, to take in Tekapo’s unpolluted night skies last year.

“I’ve definitely taken a big risk. After returning to NZ in 2016, I worked in Auckland up until late 2018, earning really good money, but lusting for a new career when the job that I’m in now came up.

“It cut my annual earnings in half and my cost of living went up, but hey, life is for living and for now, this is what I actually want to be doing.”

On top of his fulltime job with Dark Sky Project, Joseph freelances as a commercial photographer, as well as selling his images as printed photo-art. He is also partnered with another Mackenzie-based photographer to offer landscape and astrophotography workshops.

“It’s pretty exciting! It’s going to be a really busy year, but it feels like my business is gaining a lot of momentum, which is great,” he said.

“Astrophotography is growing hugely, and it’s very exciting because the whole industry is still in quite a pioneering stage.”

Always looking to challenge himself, Joseph is studying the New Zealand Diploma in Photography (Level 5).

“I’m mainly a self-taught photographer. While I was travelling and first getting into photography I was learning from the internet and I’ve also done a few workshops for key areas. I became good enough to build a respectable portfolio and used that to get a job. But over the past year, I’d got to a point where things were starting to feel a little repetitive.

“I always like to be in a state of progression, and felt like I wasn’t learning anything new. I wanted something that would challenge me to grow as a photographer and as a businessman. I looked at a few different courses, including SIT2LRN a couple of years prior, so decided the time was right to sign up.”

Balancing work, his own business, interests and study had been a challenge, but a worthwhile one, Joseph said.

“It’s been tricky in terms of time management – working a 40-hour job, running my own business, as well as studying 10 to 15 hours a week and somewhere in there trying to get some sleep and have a social life. I was thinking I would breeze through the introductory units, but some parts were quite challenging and I’m glad they were that way.”

“I’m quite an ambitious person, which can be a good and a bad thing. I want to keep progressing, getting better at what I do. I want to diversify and refine my skillset and be able to use it to support myself financially while flexing my creativity. I also just genuinely enjoy learning.”

To see more of Joseph’s work visit:


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