Photographer Derek Morrison at work in his office in the Imperial Building in Dunedin. Photo by Craig Baxter.
When it comes to a career, Derek Morrison has managed to
combine his two great loves - photography and the surf.
He has developed Box of Light, a photo essay focusing on the
beaches of Dunedin and now the mountains around Queenstown,
which is sent to subscribers each week from his office in
Dunedin's Imperial Building.
''It's nice to be able to do something you're passionate
about,'' he said.
Originally from the Waikato, Mr Morrison came to Dunedin for
a national surfing competition in 1998, while working for a
surfing magazine, and met his future wife, Rachael, a
The couple later spent eight years in Australia, where Mr
Morrison worked in magazines, and when they decided to return
home in 2008, Dunedin was the place they chose to live. He
was captivated by the city and the lifestyle it afforded.
''I love the surf. It's a bit of a curse for me; it kind of
rules/ruins my life because I'm always thinking about it,''
In 2009, he started Adventure Media Group and was still
working for a lot of magazines. But he was doing a lot of
travelling and he decided to try a project in his own back
yard, while enjoying Dunedin's ''beautiful lifestyle''.
''I absolutely love it here. I think this place is just so
amazing,'' he said.
He was inspired by Eugene Tan, the man behind Aquabumps - a
website and daily email dedicated to beach life, mainly on
Bondi Beach in Sydney, which has a subscriber base of about
That site depicted images of waves, surfers, swimmers and
sunrises and whatever else happened at the beach.
Mr Morrison began his project back in September 2011,
coinciding with the Rugby World Cup. His aim was to
photograph beaches around Dunedin, along with the people on
and around them.
He has recently rebranded to Box of Light and plans to also
capture the lifestyle of the mountains, along with the surf
and beach culture.
While initially Mr Morrison thought he would be targeting
surfers, he did not realise how much of a ''massive
population'' loved the beaches.
There was also strong interest from tourists who had
connected with either Dunedin or the New Zealand lifestyle,
and every week they got a ''reminder of a great time''.
''These are places the rest of world dreams of and we've got
it all the time,'' he said.
He took photographs throughout the week and the 10 best ones,
along with a report, were sent to subscribers on Tuesday
mornings, reaching about 5000 people every week.
Thousands of people were also reached through social media,
where other photographs were posted each week. He hoped
eventually to open galleries in both Dunedin and Queenstown.
He never tired of photographing beaches, saying photography
was like surfing - ''you always think you can improve''.
The couple's three children, Taya (8), Rewa (6) and Keo (4),
could ski and were all interested in the surf and beach, and
enjoyed accompanying their father on photographic
Taya was a keen photographer - ''she's right into it'' - and
the trio were all developing their photography skills.
Mr Morrison was grateful for the support of Mr Tan, saying he
had been very open about his work and that had been a ''huge