Near the end of 2012 I was invited to spend two weeks with a lovely couple, Hal and Carol, in Phoenix, Arizona for a one-on-one private workshop to enhance my basic skills using off-camera speed lights.  Through Hal’s patient tuition I gained a wider knowledge of illumination, both natural and artificial and I can’t thank him and Carol enough for their hospitality and genuine friendship.

A reception was organised in my honour with over forty friends of Ha’sl and Carol’s attending, many enthusiastic and professional photographers.  During the reception I talked about my photographic journey, why I was here, how I had met Hal through an amazing forum, Nikonians, and I described my life on the tiny sandbar of Cocos (Keeling) Islands.  Standing up in front of people always causes me horror. I’m not a public speaker, however I have never felt more welcome or relaxed as I did in front of those wonderful people from Arizona.

Hal and Carol also organised a two day trip to the southern rim of the Grand Canyon staying at Bright Angel Lodge and another couple of days in Page, where I had the privilege of meeting LeRoy and Shirley Dejolie, two world-class native Navajo American photographers and close friends of Hal and Carol. LeRoy personally acted as our tour guide through the Lower Antelope Canyon, watched over me as I hung over the cliff face at Horseshoe Bend to capture that iconic scene and treated us all to his special place well off the beaten track, the Hoodoos. It was an experience I’ll never forget.

Through the generosity of Hal, Carol, LeRoy and Shirley, I have been able to visit places I only dreamed about and can’t thank them enough for their time and continuing friendship.