Capturing Hapi Isles Tourism through Photography: Papa Paza


Papa Paza, just a village kid as his social media handles read, graduated from The University of the South Pacific in 2023 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Tourism Management and Management & Public Administration.

The inspiring Solomon Island alumni’s work of capturing the beauty in simplicity in the Western region of the Hapi Isles (Solomon Islands) has brought smiles to the faces of everyone who beholds his work of art and eye for beauty. This is how it all began for Papa Paza.

I worked as the operations manager in our family business, the Titiru Eco Lodge, in the Western Province. At the same time, I picked up a hobby in photography and shared most of my amateur work through my Facebook handle, ISLaNDER.

My love for photography and capturing the simplicity and beauty of living in the islands through short videos to showcase our culture, people and beautiful islands in the Western part of the Solomon Islands took off when I started sharing more content online.

Often, people only see the end product of any production through photography or video and are oblivious to the work and support behind the scenes. In my case, it was my father’s support and investment that started this whole journey.

My late father bought my first camera in 2015 when he realised my passion for photography. It was a cheap secondhand camera (Canon 1300D).

At first, he wasn’t at all aware of my photography passion. Like any other kid who found something they loved doing, I couldn’t keep it to myself and often shared my stories with my father and family about borrowing my friend’s camera and phone to take photos and capture videos.

After sharing stories about my work, my father believed that one day, my pictures would be the medium of storytelling, sharing the stories of my people and showcasing our beautiful culture and where we’re from.

When I got my first camera, I took photography seriously and began to improve, develop and learn new skills that elevated the quality of the pictures and videos I captured.

This propelled me further, and in 2018, my work was recognised when I won the ‘Best Pacific Photographer Award’ with a photo of two students studying under a mango tree.

When informed about this, I wasted no time and travelled to Fiji with my best friend to receive the award. I am humbled and thankful to see that my work is being recognised not only by my family and friends but also in the Pacific.

Last year, I picked up my camera again after my mother told me, “It is better to do what you love doing and make a difference with it rather than work to earn a living”.

So, I started sharing pictures and videos about the places I had revisited in the Western Province, and I was happy to see that many of my photos and videos are being used and shared today.

My photos are now used by Western Province Tourism, Tourism Solomons, Solomon Airlines and the Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC) to promote my island country and all it offers.

I believe my work will also inspire other youths and photographers in the different provinces of my country to appreciate and be proud of their islands, natural environment, cultures, and people by showcasing them through videos and photography. You can share your stories not only through photography but through other hobbies as well.

My advice to my peers is to have a life plan for yourself on what you would like to be or what difference you would like to make.

Pursuing your dream without a plan is the same as a boat that travels and does not know its destination. Trust me, once you set a plan for five years or more, you will see how positive opportunities and people are drawn to you to fulfil your plan.

Have a plan, as it will serve as a guideline towards your purpose and destiny.

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