The Stars among us

All around us are beautiful people who bring light into this world. They don’t make the loudest noise though so I thought I would find them and bring them to you. Naturally inspiring, kind people – who the world needs a lot more of.

Today I bring you Sofia.

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It all started when she made me Kombucha.  I went to her home to fetch it and she invited me in. I had to stop myself from gasping in awe at her sanctuary she calls home. In all my years of visiting my friends, family, and acquaintances, I have very seldom been greeted with such pure visual peace, harmony and beauty. Her neutral tones provide the perfect background to her family and memories.

I practically begged her for an interview and we met shortly after this brief interaction for lunch at my new favourite restaurant: Be Cafe. I came to learn many precious things about this remarkable lady over lunch and I’m truly thankful that she agreed to have me back in her home to photograph and showcase her incredibly well put together home and furniture pieces. This woman has remarkable style and elegance.

Sofia has always had her heart in art and creating, and has a strong fashion background. She moved to Kuwait about 10 years ago where she worked at Villa Moda as a fashion stylist, working only with leading high-end brands. She works and lives by the principle that beauty is all around us, and why would we wear or buy anything that is not beautiful?!

(I briefly cast my thoughts to my own wardrobe… cough, clear throat awkwardly…)  

She surrounds herself with beauty all the time. Famous for cooking in her gown on a Monday evening. Living the belief that beautiful things should be used and not simply stored away just for special occasions.

(Yes, I like where this is going!)

I stalked her on Instagram before our lunch so I could be better informed and more familiar with her work. And oh my goodness, one of the most beautiful Instagram accounts (Stories By Sofia) I have ever seen. While she finds Instagram intimidating, it certainly doesn’t show in her squares. “If you’re commercial you can grow your account very quickly but when you are true to yourself it is slower to take off”. Creative evolution is apart of the journey with her, her fans are more than happy to come along for the inspirational ride of all things wholesome and beautiful, as she searches for her artistic landing space.

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I marvel at the furniture that she makes locally, with imported materials. She embraces her Swedish culture and she loves to name her pieces. Her round marble tables for example are called “Full Moon” tables, in bright white and shades of spot colours, and lovely long veins for contrast and pattern.  Her vintage fabrics are all imported and are of the highest quality.

Her latest piece is a lamp where the base is from Sweden and the shells that make up the lamp shade are literally from beaches all over the world.

Nothing is without consideration. Even the lighting in her home has been carefully designed. The atmospheric lighting is able to change according to the time of day, or even mood and event. And when it came to the large hanging lights that unwittingly came with the apartment, she found a way to hide that too in a natural, cool, unapologetic way.

What I can’t get over is that kids live here too. Two beautiful little girls. I asked her what they think of it and how they are able to keep it clean, and she simply replied that they are taught to look after things. Seems simple enough!

(I’m still working on this one in my household). 

She lives a private life and is protective of her ideas, her beauty and her refined world and for these reasons I am so thankful that she opened up to me and let me showcase what makes her so remarkable. Her works are amazing and deserve to be seen and appreciated. A beautiful shining light in our every day walk.

Sofia, thank you for sharing your private space with me and with our readers.

Her work is available at Dar Nur.

Rose daybed/bench
Solid Teakwood with natural teak oil finish. Vintage Sanderson fabric.

(One day when I’m a famous artist I’m going to own this table)

“Sad things can shape you in life too. I am a calm person. Be kind, do the right thing, be thankful don’t just say thank you. And this is something we need to teach our kids too. It all blends in with creativity. Its about being in balance. But its difficult to find.” – S

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And if you open your organic cafe combining healthy food with art and fashion. I will be the first in line. It has been a privilege to capture this season of life for you and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Cheers

la

The power of colour as illustrated by Peter Jackson’s ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’

 

This is the best example of the power of colour I have ever seen.

Peter Jackson and his team have taken film footage of the first world war, 100 years ago, and restored it, taking out the scratches, reducing the grain and above all, adding colour. Painstakingly frame by frame, even computer generating additional frames, working in full colour and sound. 100 Years ago, film was only in black and white and with out sound, think Charley Chaplin. This remake of material brings the war and its soldiers back to life and honours them in the most remarkable way, giving us a unique view of the war as seen by the soldiers themselves.  It is powerful and emotional.

Watch the full trailer below.

 

Cheers

la

Derailed and Desaturated.

Forgive my absence.

5 months ago, as if a switch had been flipped, the narrative of my life changed forever. And absolutely NOTHING I did could flip it back. No amount of ugly crying and desperate prayers could take back time. No, this is it, a new turn, a new chapter, forward we go, step by step, reading a part of a story I want nothing to do with but as I am not The Great Author, I am simply left to make the most of the cards I have been I have been given.

I am angry, I am frustrated beyond words, I am deeply hurt everyday, I am sad. And through it all I am trying to continue to hold on to a Faith of a grand design, a bigger picture, one I am not able to see. I guess that’s why they call it Faith. And to be honest, it is also the only thing holding me together. Giving me the strength to ‘mom’ and ‘wife’.

I lost my beautiful grandmother in May, my mom’s 9th ‘death-aversary’ was on Monday June 25. But on June 24, one of my closest family members was in a bicycle accident which turned my world upside down. And for the cherry on top, my poor sweet little dog of 9 years, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Admittedly, for the past few months, I’ve struggled to find the colour in the world. My amazing children, husband, family and friends have made it somewhat easier but the sting of this new chapter has been a painful. And while we’re still in the middle of this turbulent time, I find myself once again starting to look for the colour around me.

This made me think and feel as if I was living in a desaturated world.

And this has lead me to today’s post on desaturation.

Desaturation is defined by the loss of colour in an image. So why would we want to take colour out of an image? Well, by reducing saturation i.e.: desaturating an image, we can create a more dramatic visual effect. You need to use this technique mindfully as it makes a strong comment on its subject. For example, you wouldn’t necessarily want to photograph a child’s party and then take out the colour perhaps, unless you have done so with a specific desired effect in mind, which may contribute to your style as an artist. Art says a great deal about the artist not just the subject. I have been told by Katie that my style can be quite moody and I certainly use desaturation almost all the time when editing so I would say she is right and it is now apart of my style. It will make an otherwise normal shot, quite moody, which can work beautifully when used with intention. However, if you use this technique to create drama that just isn’t there, you risk falling into the category of ‘forced’ and ‘faked’. So this technique is worth playing with and experimenting with while figuring out your own individual style. Be sure to master your visual grading technique first and with confidence before you decide it is apart of you.

Hopefully the screenshots below will encourage you to play more with desaturation in Photoshop.

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Above all, enjoy the process!

Cheers

la

Oh Boy, Here He Comes!

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Tomorrow is the day…tomorrow we meet our 3rd little man.

There have been days of wondering how we were going to do this whole birth abroad thing. In a country where we don’t speak the native language and not everyone can or is willing to speak English. I can’t tell you the relief I felt when a nurse came up to me and said, “Are you Katie?” in perfect English after we’d been waiting to meet our doctor at the hospital for our walk through.  Until then, no one had been able to help us. I hugged her!

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For the most part, I pushed these nervous feelings aside, because I knew that it was the best decision for our family, especially logistically, and I’m simply trusting that the Lord has this. That said, this whole process has truly been one big adventure. One Hebrew word I have adopted over the years is balagan. Essentially, it means a state of chaos, a hot mess, or a cluster f*@$. This word describes so many “Oh, Israel” moments so perfectly. Last Sunday, a week from our scheduled c-section, we sat in the hospital for our last check up, hearing balagan being tossed around by the maternity ward staff.  All we could do was look at each other, laugh and wait, because “this is Israel,” as they say. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Virginia anymore.

The other hard thing about delivering abroad is being far from your people back home. When one of my best friends said this was my first pregnancy she hadn’t been a part of, I ugly cried for a bit. That has been pretty tough. However, we have been surrounded by our wonderful Israel village of friends that have supported us more than we could imagine. They have cleaned, cooked, organized, loved on our boys, showered us with gifts, prayed over us, and even let me sleep on their couches when I was too tired to parent. We have felt truly blessed by these amazing people.

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They have also kept me accountable, especially this last month and half, to slow down. I’m a do-er, I tend to go all in…to a fault. Although there hasn’t been a lot of blogging this summer (sorry!!) there has been a lot of doing. So much so, that I may have overdone it…no I did, I did over do it…a few too many times. I even had a pre-term labor scare one night over Labor Day weekend and it was a wake up call that, if I wanted this little man to stay put until October 14th, then I had to stop doing all the things.  So I did, I said “no,” I hibernated, became a little anti-social, and I tried to limit myself to one outing/socializing/demanding thing a day other than parenting my boys. Obviously it worked because here we are, less than 12 or so hours from baby and now my mom is here so I can really relax! Phew!

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I think my biggest take away from this journey is how important it is to be intentional. Being intentional is not a new concept, I have even blogged on it’s importance before, but it really rang true in this season. We are meant to love fiercely, give grace, be still (I know!), choose joy, and above all trust that the Lord has this (whatever your this may be). We cannot do any of that without being intentional. Although I feel nervous about tomorrow, I’m intentionally setting my heart on higher things and trusting. Oh and praying away the BALAGAN!

I want to thank you for being a part of our community here on IACW, it has been whirlwind of year and we are looking forward to whatever may come next and #sharingthiscolourfullife together! I especially look forward to sharing our tiny man with you soon!

Cheers,

kdg

 

More Joy & Color

{screenshot of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED Talk}

A sweet friend of mine posted a clip of this Ingrid Fetell Lee’s Joy TED Talk on my FB page and I just had to share it. I mean, a talk on joy and color, what could be better?!

Ingrid is a designer, writer, and the founder of The Aesthetics of Joy website and community. As an expert in design and joy she took the stage to talk about our fundamental need and desire for, you guessed it, joy.

“On the most basic level the drive toward joy is the drive toward life.” 

In her research on joy she found that even though “the feeling of joy is mysterious and elusive, we can access it through tangible physical attributes, or what designers call aesthetics.” She began referring to these moments of joy in the world as the “aesthetics of joy.” Boy does that speak to my creative heart!

The aesthetics of color, patterns, multiplicity, and the shapes of objects in our world are definitely a few things that get me excited, I may even jump up and down. It’s true joy is mysterious, but wherever we find it we need to surround ourselves with it. As Ingrid notes, “each moment of joy is small, but over time they add up to more than the sum of their parts.”

I believe she is right, to live a joy-filled life we need focus our hearts and minds on the things that bring us that jump-up-and-down feeling. To pursue joy rather than happiness helps us find the richness and abundance in life we inherently crave.

Hopefully this talk and her website can inspire and encourage you to take the time to notice the aesthetics of joy around you and focus the things and moments in your life that lift you up. Maybe your joy will be contagious and inspire others to pursue more joy. You may even find a way to infuse joy into your sphere of influence through your skills, talents, and giftings. I’m excited just thinking about it!

Here’s to a joy-filled day!

kdg

Follow The Aesthetics of Joy on Instagram and Facebook

Scented IDentity

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Have you ever noticed how a smell can remind you a person, place, or moment in time? It has always intrigued me how memories can be triggered by our senses. Whenever I wear something my mom has worn it smells like her perfume and it makes me smile. One day while wearing one of her shirts my oldest said, “You smell like Mimi.” It made me want to find a scent that would be my own, so when an opportunity came up to take a workshop on perfume and create my own custom scent I was thrilled.

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I first learned about ID perfumes through a FB community post by a friend sharing about her collaboration with Idit the owner. The two tennis mates had created a beach inspired line of diffusers, combining Diane’s loves of the beach and collecting sea glass and Idit’s expertise. The diffusers have been a huge hit in our community!

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Idit started the workshop off by sharing a bit about her background. She used to work for a few big name cosmetic and body care companies, where she gained her knowledge of scents, marketing strategies, and theories about what people like. Hilariously, she  also learned that the most popular lines were actually her least favorites and it made her wonder if there were others out there who felt the same. While at an intense perfume and scents conference she was struck with inspiration: what about custom scents? She was so inspired and excited about the concept of customized scents that she decided to create her own personalized-perfume shop.

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Next, she shared a broad history of perfume to include the Egyptians and Napoleon’s affinity for carting around his custom scent as he attempted to conquer the world.  Idit also, educated us on the differences between eau de toilette, eau de perfume, and perfume, which essentially comes down to how concentrated the essential oils are in each (see what i did there ;-)). Then she tested our senses of smell with a few commonly used oils, only half of which I could identify. It was fascinating! I found myself making connections to what I know about the psychology of color, including the concept that they both trigger memories and feelings! I know, NERD ALERT!

When it was time to create our own scents we learned that perfume is two tiered, the top scent that fades after a couple hours and the base which remains well after.  To create the top tier of our scent Idit had put out several bottles of essential oils labeled with traits or characteristics. She instructed us to select a few traits that described ourselves and then smell them to see what three we were attracted to most. My final three were not surprising creative, innovative, and passion. The other girls selected oils ranging from sexy and romantic, to peaceful and calm. It was hilarious to see what we were all drawn too. Every single mixture was different.

Then we each filled out a personality surveys with questions about our favorite drinks and how we wear our hair. The survey would help Idit to guide us to a good base for our unique tastes. We then combined the three oils to our base selection to achieve our custom scents. It sort of felt like chemistry class with the beakers and measuring, but way more fun!

Idit challenged us to name our scents, which was a bit tough. I landed on Salty Redlines, because my scent ended up being a refreshing, laid back scent like the beach and redlines are a part of the creative process. Of course I was inspired and made a quick graphic just for because.

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The whole workshop was such a unique experience. Idit is lovely, down to earth, inspiring, and engaging. We got along so well that we are talking about collaborating on something in the near future. It is so fulfilling to work with and support other momepreneurs! Thank you again Idit for the fabulous time!

If you are in Israel, I highly recommend checking out her stylish studio and taking a workshop. You can also check out ID perfume on Etsy and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Cheers,

kdg

Lessons in Loss

View More: http://dgdesignsphotography.pass.us/wright-family-2016

This year has been marked by loss for both Lindy-Ann and myself. As we all struggle to process our way through these difficult times and cope with our own temporariness, I have been overwhelmed with life lessons. Things I have taken away from the lives of those we have lost, watching the people around me process through their grief, and best of all seeing how good truly can come from tragedy and loss.

From a grandfather who is finally at rest after a period of struggling, I learned that it truly is important to invest in your family to form loving and lasting connections that withstand distance and time. To not allow one day to pass without your people knowing you truly love them and they are worthy.  We were never meant to live isolated, and the technology of today can be harnessed to keep families connected regardless of distance.

View More: http://dgdesignsphotography.pass.us/wright-family-2016

From a beloved uncle, as you may have read, I learned that the way you live matters and impacts people more than you will ever know. Leaving a legacy of love and faith with your family and friends will help them heal and grow through the pain of the loss of you.

Then there is the tragedy of a young mother sacrificing her life for her child. Last September, Arlene blew into our community like a warm, floral scented, tropical breeze. Everyone who met her says the same thing: she was was full of life. She lived and loved vibrantly and with passion. Her kind heart and her willingness to be vulnerable and open drew people to her and she was able to share her faith and passions with them.

Our paths were weaved through volunteering at school, Bible Study and church. I also had the honor of capturing her family’s love last fall in their first ever family photo session. It was a fun seaside session with laughter, cuddles, and jumping for joy.

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For the second time this year I was reminded that my job goes beyond just a nice picture on a wall, it captures a moment in family’s life to be treasured, especially in loss.

Which leads me to the first thing I learned from Arlene:

1. Capture the moments with you in it: as I worked on the slideshow for her memorial service I was thankful for two things: the accessibility of Facebook and the way Arlene captured her life. Even though the majority of them were iPhone photos and selfies, she had documented her life and the people she loved. It will be a comfort to her family, especially her children as they grow. It has challenged me to pass my camera off a little more and care a little less about how I look in photos for the sake of my boys. We photogs need to be intentional about being in the photos, not just taking them.

2. Let your light shine: Arlene’s light shone brightly through her smile and her positive attitude; and she shared that with those she loved. The legacy she is leaving her children is one of faith, love, kindness, and living life to the fullest. At the memorial service and in the past few days, everyone agrees that Arlene had a special light about her and, I can tell you, it was supernatural. We all need to let our lights shine brightly and spread that love to others.

3. Don’t procrastinate life: In his speech at the memorial service, Arlene’s husband Joseph challenged us with two things: 1) have the tough conversation with your significant other about your final wishes and 2) intentionally schedule and spend quality time with your loved ones. He reminded us that tomorrow is not guaranteed – we can’t push things this important off to later date that may never come.

Now what? 

How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your family, friends, and community to say about you? It may sound morbid, but if we are truly meant to fight the good fight, and finish the race well, then the day to day does mean something. Your daily choices make up your life and build the legacy you will leave behind.

My hope is, that at my memorial party (which will be a pub filled with revelry and good beer – just saying), the attendees will say I lived boldy, loved deeply, laughed often, gave good hugs, and was His hands and feet. I want to leave my boys with a legacy of faith and truth, the power of prayer, and importance of a good belly laugh. In the midst of the sadness of loss, there has to be laughter in the memories of what has passed and hope in what is to come.

with love,

kdg

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Color Study: Cool vibes

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As a photographer you tend to have your favorite times of day and seasons to take pictures. For me it’s morning light and the Fall. What do they have in common? Cool light. Seriously, I love the freshness of morning light with all it’s possibility and optimism, it may be one reasons I’m morning person – but I digress.

Cool light, as well as colors tones, can be associated with tranquility and nature or when dark and contrasty, they can be moody and gritty. It all depends on style and what the artist is trying to convey.

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I will throw a little science in just for fun: As we discovered in my post on the color blue, we perceive these cool tones through an optical illusion called Raleigh Scattering. These shorter wavelengths have a temperature and that is measured on the Kelvin scale, rather than degrees of Fahrenheit or Celsius. On the scale the higher the temperature number the bluer it will be and the lower the number the warmer or more yellow it will be. (wikipedia Kelvin may sound familiar from your high school science class OR depending on your camera model, you may have Kelvin (K) as an option as a White Balance setting along with sun, shade, tungsten, fluorescent, etc.

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Side Note: White Balance (WB) is a whole blog post of it’s own, but if you are feeling creative and adventurous we recommend you play around with your WB settings and see what happens to your images.

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As the weather is heating up, we thought it would be fun to do a study of all things cool! For the next few weeks we will be capturing cool light and cool tones, if you would like to join us on this color adventure post your photos on our FB page or use the hashtag #IACWcoolvibes on Instagram. We will be sharing all the pics here on the blog. Can’t wait to see your cool world through your lens!

Stay cool,

kdg

 

Facing FaceBook

Facebook! What a wonderful tool! No one can argue what a remarkable social media and marketing site it is. How it brings people together, keeps us informed and even entertained. I am a user and a fan of Facebook.

I also believe that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. This week I did a little experiment! I took Facebook off my phone. I did not disconnect, I still have it on my computer, and since I do not have a desk job and only work from my computer about 3 times a week, I now check Facebook about 3 times a week and not 3 times before 10am.

My goal with this step is to get more intentional with my relationships. If I want to see how someone’s sick child is doing, rather than have Facebook tell me, I am reaching out on a personal level and finding out for myself. And what about my friends latest beach holiday, let me call them up! This little experiment has already freed up a lot of space in my mind, my thoughts are no longer consumed with what other people are doing.

Facebook is a fantastic tool in helping people stay connected and I’ve taken advantage of it’s marketing reach time and time again, but it can most certainly cross over into an unhealthy obsession with what thy neighbour is up to, if we let it. So let’s take Facebook back to being a tool shall we?! I wouldn’t carry a screwdriver around with me everywhere and look at it every 30 mins would I? Nope, but I would grab it and make full use of it when I need to. So why not do the same with Facebook, and many other time consuming social media apps. Time we can never get back, time we could be spending investing in relationships face to face. Time spent playing with our children.

I still keep up to date with news and groups that I follow through twitter and Instagram. And again I must stress, I really appreciate how Facebook keeps me tied to my family and friends around the world. This is by no means an anti-Facebook post, this is more of a post encouraging a healthy relationship with Facebook and even more so, healthy relationships with the people who mean the most. And yes, I will still post this onto our Facebook group, why? Because I like and appreciate Facebook, and I’m learning better ways to use it as the tool it was designed to be.

Cheers

My Madeira

As summer rolls around and I hear of people’s plans for grand summer vacations, I can’t help but think back to our “best ever family holiday” – Madeira, Portugal – 2016.

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During July/August two years ago our family travelled to Lisbon and Madeira. It felt like a ‘right of passage’ kind of trip. It simply HAD to be done. My children are Portuguese, as is my husband. For me growing up in a little town called Boksburg in South Africa, most of my childhood friends were Portuguese. I have always felt really close to this ‘family first’ community. As a young adult, one of my dearest friends was Portuguese and I was maid-of-honour at her wedding, it was at this wedding that I met John. He was the cousin to the young man who married my friend.

Needless to say I have always had a heart to explore Portugal. I think out of all of us in my little family, I was the most excited. I had just finished a Portuguese language course before this trip as well and I found that to be highly valuable. While most people in Lisbon speak some level of English, most of the family and locals in Madeira do not. While I still feel somewhat clumsy speaking Portuguese, my reading and comprehension, I think, is really pretty good.

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My kids at the time were 5y 10m, 4y, 2y 6m. My gosh looking back at it like this I think they were true travel stars! It is, without a doubt, the most amazing family holiday we have ever had. The weather was spot on. The perfect amount of summer heat! We were out everyday doing new things, exploring, soaking in new traditions and culture, tasting new foods, making memories. So yes, while everyone here is making their plans for this coming summer holiday, my heart goes back fondly to our time there. If you ever have the opportunity to go, please make a plan and get there. It really is one of the worlds greatest treasures! This time of year, my heart truly aches to go back.

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And as an added bonus this photograph below of, the worlds best Poncha, was featured on @ilovemadeira Instagram page.

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Above all though, wherever your summer holidays may take you, please stay safe and make beautiful family memories.

Cheers

la