Open up a world of possiblities


By Tania Phillips

As a child David Magro loved staring up into the night sky – now he does it for a living.

Seemingly destined to become a science teacher David has instead combined his love of teaching, photography and science to create himself the dream job.

Now he travels across Australia teaching his Milky Way Masterclass Suite to enthusiasts or absolute beginners which means he spends a large chunks of the year photographing stunning Milky Way Landscapes and guiding amateur photographers and enthusiasts in how to plan, capture and process the images.

He is coming to most major Queensland centres this year and will in the Southern Downs and Granite belt region during May, to take pictures, hitting Warwick on 16 May.

He admits sharing his love for photographing the night sky is his true passion now.

Since 2014, David has taught more than 4000 beginners and enthusiasts the skills needed to create stunning images under the Milky Way.

“I’ve been doing Milky Way landscape photography for over a decade, and I tour around all of Australia visiting all of the amazing dark sky locations teaching total beginners, amateurs and enthusiasts how to photograph the Milky Way,” he said.

“It is a little complex but once you get a basic understanding of it, you’ll be able to figure it out.

“I like to bridge the gap between someone who has an interest in Astro photography and bringing them up to the level, so they feel confident in shooting the night sky.”

David admits it’s a lot of fun and he never anticipated it would grow as it has.

“It all just started as hobby,” he admitted.

“When I was at university, I was studying to be a science teacher, studying science and education but I was doing a lot of photography on the side.

“That was my true passion.

“After a while, after winning many national awards, people were asking me how to do it, so I developed the master class.

“I started putting on events, the next thing you know they were selling out very fast and people asked me to go elsewhere.

“I began touring all across Australia, going to the most amazing places.”

He said the rural locations were the best.

“That’s where you have the best view of the Milky Way and the stars, places like Stanthorpe and Tenterfield, Warwick, the South East Queensland region and all through NSW are great,” David explains.

“However, I also do it near the city as well. You can photograph the Milky Way, not far out of Brisbane and also on the Gold Coast, you don’t need to have completely dark skies to be able to do this.”

Growing up in rural NSW, David is now based on the Sunshine Coast, but he spends a lot of time on the road running his classes around the country. Last year he conducted around a hundred throughout the year.

“This year I’ll be eloping in Europe, so I’m not doing as many,” he said.

“I’ve only got about 40 or so this year. I’m focusing a lot on Queensland though I’m currently in Nowra in NSW and then I go to Bowral and Forster for two weeks, then I come back and do Hervey Bay and Roma and all that region.

“I go to Europe and come back in September to do Cairns, Toowoomba, Bowen, Mackay, Beaudesert and some other interesting places around.”

It’s an amazing way to make a living and has been his full-time job for the past five years taking him all over Australia including his favourite place to photograph in Australia.

“I would say Mungo National Park is my favourite location as the landscape is quite barren and it’s quite iconically Australian,” he said.

“It has this element of a Martian landscape, something from out of this world and in Australia, even though we have some pretty diverse landscapes, there’s nothing like it.

“Along the coast there’s beaches, they’re all quite similar and when you go out to country NSW it’s quite similar. It’s all beautiful and amazing but once you start going to Broken Hill, Lake Menindee, Mungo National Park – in that desert landscape -it’s something that you are instantly drawn to. You could just walk around and visit the area endlessly and stumble upon rock formations and plants which you’re not familiar with and as it’s so far from civilization you don’t get any light pollution as well. The Milky Way looks crazy out there.

“It looks great in country NSW and Qld but far in the desert away from the light pollution without much atmosphere to block your view it’s just completely sensational just watching the sky.”

And watching the sky is something David knows a lot about. His whole career started as a little kid doing just that, enjoying the night sky.

“I grew up in Glen Innes, which I suppose is kind of near Warwick, and that’s where I got my first interest in astronomy as a kid and I’ve been able to continue as art as an adult,” he said.

“I still kind of can’t believe this is my life, it’s really fun just being able to travel and take photographs and teach people how to do it. It’s something that I didn’t anticipate at all.

“It’s very humbling in that there’s a lot of people who enjoy my work and want to learn. It’s good to inspire other people to want to go and share my passion.”

And it’s pretty easy to share that passion according to David who said he tried to make his course accessible to everyone whether they have a camera or not.

“No, you don’t need anything at all,” he explained.

“Most people have a camera when they participate. However, I’ve got three cameras and people borrow them for the night just so they have no barriers of entry and to ensure it’s completely accessible to somebody who just wants to start out. It can seem daunting in the beginning, not knowing what to get, where to go or what the settings are, so I keep it to a very foundational level to ensure anyone is able to do it. That’s why I bring three cameras – for someone who doesn’t even know if they’d like photography yet but has an interest. Many people go on to borrow my camera and end up buying one afterwards.”

Even then you don’t need an expensive camera according to David.

“I started doing this with a 15-year-old camera and you’ll be surprised at what can be captured with the most basic equipment,” he said.

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