Ian Macdonald is a landscape photographer primarily known for his New Zealand forest photography.
Born in Birkenhead, Auckland in 1946, he was brought up in a small Maori community on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour. His father was the sole teacher of the local school with 15 pupils. Moving back to Birkenhead as a teenager he lived with his family on a forested block inherited from his grandfather John Macdonald, a councilor on the Birkenhead Borough Council. His grandfather’s strong conservation ethic was passed down to him and he has remained a conservationist since.
He followed his uncle’s footsteps at his father’s behest and trained at the age of 16 as a deck officer in the British Merchant Navy. His uncle, whom he was named after. His uncle was killed in the Malta Convoy on the mv Waimarama during the Second World War. He came ashore in 1973 to attend firstly a graphic design course at Auckland Technical Institute and then Elam, University of Auckland School of Fine Art where he majored in photography. He was Exhibitions Officer at the Auckland City Art Gallery leaving to establish and run Real Pictures Gallery, a photography gallery in the Auckland CBD. He presently lives and works from a small holding, largely covered in kauri forest overlooking Omaha Bay on the coast from Matakana, North Auckland.
He is widely exhibited and published with work in the public collections of Te Papa, Auckland City Art Gallery and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as private collections. He photographed extensively for forest conservation groups in New Zealand and was part of the Whirinaki Forest Promotion Trust which ran a very successful campaign leading to the cessation of native tree logging in New Zealand public forests. He worked as the stills photographer for the BBC on series such as Walking with Dinosaurs and concurrently as a senior computer programmer. He assists his son, Andrew, setting up aircraft borne camera systems and developing software for his company Biospatial which automates photographic aerial surveys using oblique photography.