Ian McKenzie

Excitations Photo Adventures, photography instructor, Ian Mckenzie

Meet Ian Mckenzie, Excitations Photo Adventures photography instructor.

We sat down with Ian and asked him a whole bunch of questions about himself in the hope that it will give you an insight into his credentials as a photography instructor. The only two instructions we gave him was to keep the answers short and be honest.

The following is a result of our question and answer session.

  • Q: When did you first become interested in photography?
  • A: 12
  • Q: What age were you when you decided photography was your career choice?
  • A: 14
  • Q: You started competing in national and international competitions in open classes at an early age, How early?
  • A: 16 but didn’t win any prizes until 17
  • Q: Can you remember your first published photo?
  • A: Full page in a European photography magazine, a young woman dressed in period costume looking soulfully through a broken window. Some journalist filled the facing page with a discussion of what must have gone through my mind while creating the image. Nobody interviewed me for the story, and no-one knew my age.I was just an Australian photographer.
  • Q: What was your first steady job?
  • A: Bread delivery driver. I accepted the job 3 hours before being offered a contract to supply images for a small regional newspaper. I decided to take on both. Bread delivery started at 4 am and finished at 10 am, and photography began at 11 am and mostly completed by 10 pm, some days earlier.
  • Q: Long hours, how long did you keep that up?
  • A: Until I got the sack from driving. The truck’s engine blew up while I was at the wheel. Therefore it must have been my fault. For the record, I never exceeded  80 kph in it, because it had dodgy brakes and bald tyres.
  • Q: You got involved in TV news work early in your career, How did that happen?
  • A: My photography mentor, a lady by the name of Del Rasche, decided to get out of TV News stringing. I bought her 16mm Bolex film camera, took over her position with the ABC, then expanded that into stringing for a couple of regional commercial networks and occasionally the nationals.
  • Q: Any significant scoops?
  • A: Not really, I had one story picked up across Australia and the UK. And there were two other 90 second edits from a week-long project which were syndicated out to an international program with an audited audience of just over 250 million people.
  • Q: Wow that’s an impressive number of people. Did you make a lot of money out of it?
  • A: It paid the wages of our crew of four people for a couple of weeks from memory.
  • Q: Name two of your dream photo jobs when you started out.
  • A: Shoot a picture story for National Geographic and the centrefold for American Playboy.
  • Q: Did you achieve those goals?
  • A: No I did not. Playboy Centrefolds where only shot by staffers in those days. The closest I came to shooting for National Geographic was when approached to shoot a photo essay in WA for one of their spinoff publications.
  • Q: Did you jump at the chance?
  • A: I turned it down. The assigning editor had no comprehension of the distances involved. Around 6,000 kilometres of travel in four days. Much of it by car and not on ideal roads.

    Ian Mckenzie, Photography Instructor with Excitations Photo Adventures. Photography course across rural Australia.
    Ian shooting a fishing scene on 75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island.
  • Q: You and your wife Robyn started Excitations back in 1983, How did you meet?
  • A: Robyn was the creative director for a client of a TV station where I worked. We started dating after I resigned.
  • Q: How long did you date before you knew she was the one?
  • A: First date, we married three months later. Robyn was way out of my league, so I had to jump before she came to her senses.
  • Q: When did you conceive Excitations?
  • A: The whole thing was thought up, named and business plan designed on a 700-kilometre stretch of road South East of Darwin.
  • Q: Is Excitations your only brand?
  • A: Mostly yes, maybe 99% of our total output over the years. We ran a second studio called Central Images for 15 years. It catered to a different style and demographics. Some of my art photography bears the Ian Mckenzie Brand as does a little of our stock photography.
  • Q: So Robyn did the admin while you photographed!
  • A:  Robyn was in charge of design, art and the studios “look”. Excitations have been from day one the amalgamation of two peoples ideas.
  • Q: Excitations was mostly just a wedding studio then?
  • A: Now you’re pushing your luck. Excitations started shooting mostly commercial, editorial and TV jobs. It then morphed into a portrait studio photographing thousands of family portraits and glamour images. For a while, the studio was in the top ten in Oz for product produced. And for your information Mr oh you’re only a wedding photographer, we still do weddings, and we always look forward to every one of them.
  • Q: Sorry, don’t get all aggro. I just meant some forms of photography are more critical than others.
  • A: You are kidding. I believe all of us come into the world the same way and all of us end up dead. Regardless of whether you are Prime Minister or clean toilets you are equally important. In fact, if I had to choose between the above I would retain the cleaners. Think about that for a minute.


  • Q: Have you been exhibited in galleries?
  • A: Yes.
  • Q: What was the most successful exhibition?
  • A: Disney Epcot Centre in the USA. 6000 photographers invited to submit work, 144 chosen for the exhibit. Three million people through the turnstiles.
  • Q: Your worst exhibition?
  • A: Country gallery two-artist show. Four days from opening the curator banned our work based on the title of the collection. Apparently calling a project “The Naked Landscape” is not the thing to do. Our enlightened administrator didn’t even look at the images.
  • Q: What is the best picture you’ve ever taken?
  • A: The next one will be it.
  • Q: What is the most money you have charged for a single image?
  • A: $11,000
  • Q: Wow that must have been a great photo, was it a work of art?
  • A: No it was crap. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of the chequebook. We’ve probably sold a few others for more, but that one sticks in my mind because it was embarrassing.
  • Q: Is there anything you would like to photograph, either because you haven’t done it or would want to do it better?
  • A: There are so many subjects I want to photograph or redo that I need to live to two hundred at least.
  • Q: What is your favourite camera?
  • A: The one in my hand.


  • Q: Are there any significant projects?
  • A: I want to lead a group of adventurous photographers from the Southernmost point to the Northernmost point of Australia.
  • Q: Phew! That would be an excellent Photo Adventure. Can it be done?
  • A: South to North is a walk in the park. It is probably 95% blacktop. There are excellent accommodation solutions for most of the way. Food and fuel are not a problem. Five percent of the journey is more problematical but can be solved. Challenging is the next logical adventure. Transversing Australia East to West right across the centre. Vehicle choice, provision of supplies, self-sufficiency, sanitation, accommodation, permits, and distance to name a few.
  • Q: Are you seriously looking at taking a group of photographers on an adventure like that.?
  • A: YES.
  • Q: Are there any other epic projects floating around in your head?
  • A: YES!
  • Q: Can you give us a clue?
  • A:  I dream of building the ultimate off-road expedition vehicle for photographers. A high clearance, long range, reliable base for photographers.





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