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Seeking new Frontiers

May 19, 2011: After more than 20 years behind a photo counter, Frontier Photographics’ Michael Coyne has decided to put his successful Darwin camera store on the market and move on to new challenges.

Frontier Photographics is a second-generation photo retailing business, established by Mr Coyne’s highly-respected and admired father, Damian Coyne, in the 1980s. Damian Coyne died last year at just 59 years of age.

Mr Coyne told Photo Counter that he wanted the opportunity to spend more time with his young family than the continuous 12-hour days, six days a week at the shop allowed.

He said Frontier Photographics was a $1.3 million per year turnover business with little direct competition in hardware and, situated in Darwin, offered some unique advantages.

It’s situated in the heart of the Darwin CBD and has both corner shop street frontage and extended into the main shopping mall in Darwin. An ANZ ATM terminal provides an added revenue stream. The only other hardware-oriented photo store in Darwin is Darwin Camera House.

He said the dry season up in the Northern Territory attracted a huge number of tourists, which gave the store a peak selling season running over at least three months.

‘During the dry season we do the same turnover as most stores do in December. It’s like three months of Christmas trading,’ he explained.

He said that the NT government’s legislated policy of sourcing products and services locally wherever possible also boosted business, as did the existence of a lot of military infrastructure and personnel in and around Darwin.

Frontier Photographics has built up its professional clientele over the past few years with a comprehensive range of Canon and Nikon pro bodies and lenses, as well as being a distributor of Leica, Hasselblad, Gitzo and Manfrotto gear.

Mr Coyne expressed some disappointment with the direction photo retailing was taking (‘particularly the big boys’) and noted that the approach of Fujifilm under its current leadership left a lot to be desired, whereas 10 years ago Fujifilm’s support of specialists was outstanding.

Referring to the issue of cut-price prints, he said that Fujifilm should take note of the recent actions of Carlton in refusing to supply grocery giant Coles after it discounted and thus devalued its brands.

On a more positive note, he singled out CR Kennedy as a company he continued to enjoy doing business with due to the culture of honesty and helpfulness to smaller customers, and the value for money its product portfolio represented in the Australian market.

For further details on Frontier Photographics, call Michael Coyne on 08 8981 5142 or email

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