Capturing the End of a Chapter

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As a photographer, and an expat myself, it is my heart to capture my client’s stories for them to share with their loved ones far away and memorialize them as they were at this time, in this place. For those back home, they will get a sense of the setting and how much kids have grown.  For the families it will be how they remind their children of where they have been and reminisce about friends and experiences they made while they were there.

This is exactly what my friend, Mel, wanted when she asked me photograph her children before they moved this past summer. She had her older two photographed before they moved to Israel, and now they were closing their chapter here as a family of five.

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About a year ago my husband was flying solo at an event and met this lovely Australian couple. He came home and told me all about them and that I would really dig her. He was super impressed with her braving the summer heat of the Israel in her third trimester. He was so right, Mel is is one brave, kind, and fun-loving gal. Her laugh is infectious and she is always willing to help anyone in need. Needless to say I was honored to do the session.

Location: Herzliya Beach, Tel Aviv, Israel

Date and time: June 8:00am

Weather: Bright & Sunny

The spot I chose has this great garden and rock formation before you walk all way to the sea. It has since become one of my favorite spots. It is perfect for getting some extra texture and colors, in addition to the tans of sand and the blues of the sea. Not to mention, kids cannot help but be the pulled to the waves and play with the sand, so starting on grass is helpful. The shots we captured here are some of my favorites, the sibling love is overwhelmingly adorable!

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Often times when shooting children I use the goofball technique to help them let their guard down, but another way to do this is by using props. I suggest the kids bring any special toys we could photograph with them, putting them at ease as well as capturing the memory of the toy. Mel’s gorgeous littles each brought their most treasured stuffed animals, which are really special because these stuffies are “tragedy teds” received during hospitalizations and they can’t be replaced by look alikes! I was told they are not allowed to travel with them because if they lost them it would be forever. Gah, are they the sweetest!

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Once we made it to the sand and most of the posing was over, the real fun began for all of us. I encouraged them to jump, do cartwheels, play in the sand, and simply let them be kids.

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Overall, I adore this session on so many levels: the colors, their coordinated outfits, getting to bond with each of them separately and truly seeing each personality, and above all the sibling love!

I am so grateful when I walk away from sessions like this when I feel inspired and impassioned – knowing that one day they will look at these images to remember their life here fondly. That one day came a few months ago when I awoke to whatsapp’s from Australia with photos of new canvases mounted, and my heart swelled! This is why I do what I do. These are the clients remind me of that! Thank you Mel!!

Lesson learned: Our session was the first day of summer vacation so I had my oldest home with me as my “assistant.” Little lesson learned here, even if your client is super cool with your kiddo being there (and Mel was), for me, it is distracting. Maybe when he his older he can join me as a second shooter, but I will wait a few years. On the flip side it is fun for him to see what I do and hear him tell people that his mom takes “really good pictures.”

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We have about 18 months before the DeeGees close our Israel chapter and I can hardly believe it! If you are in Tel Aviv area and want to capture your family’s time here I would love to chat!

Cheers mates,

kdg

A morning at Egaila Beach

I must have jinxed myself in my New Years resolution post where I set a goal to be super healthy and reduce my medication. I have had a really tough 6 weeks with my health and it overflows into other areas of the life. I’m tired. So very tired.

As I find my way back to good health, I am so thankful for the encouragement of friends. Jillian suggested that we head out to Egaila beach, here in Kuwait, for an early morning photography exploration walkabout and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Here is a little video clip and a few photos of the morning out. I hope it inspires you as much as it did me, and I encourage you to get out and explore your surroundings too. Sometimes all we need to get us up and on our feet again is a little love and encouragement and I hope this post can be that for you.

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Cheers.

la

A Love Culture – part 1

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A lifetime ago, when I worked full time (and then some) for an amazing architecture firm in DC, we talked a lot about mentorship. There was always the debate about what was better, organic mentorship or assigned mentors. I can see it both ways. I personally prefer to mentor, and be mentored by, people I’m drawn to. Alternatively, what happens to those that don’t really connect or are too shy to put themselves out there to be mentored?

For better or for worse, my firm chose the organic approach in mentoring, as with design in general. It became a sink or swim situation for people; a culture that you either fit in or you didn’t – and you simply moved on. In addition to mentorship, we used to discuss personality types. The thought process was if you understood where your bosses, peers, or subordinates were coming from, then you would know how to relate to them better. Again, this was a part of forming the firm’s culture.

Even though I’m no longer in the workforce, I still find these concepts relevant and important to cultivating healthy relationships. I also believe love languages play an important role in how we can learn truly love the people in our lives. They way they prefer to be (as opposed to the way we prefer).

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My mentor, Anita and I talk about this a lot. She shared with me that their family took the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to identify each individual’s personality types and the results helped refine how they relate as a family. It was a revelation! Using what we know about my-ENFP-self, my ESTP husband, and our boys, we can learn to adjust what we do (and how we might prefer to do it!) to create an environment where they thrive and develop into who they are meant to be.

Just like in the firm setting these tools can help us form the culture of our families. From the things we prioritize and value to how we relate to each other. Each child is different and often what works for one does not work for the other, but hey they are our kids, we don’t want them to leave our firm…

er family, due to the culture!

Let’s make the decision to mentor and motivate our kids, love them they way the receive it best, and relate to their specific personalities. Then we can be a generation of families that raise each other up, honor our differences, and spread love.

Here’s to developing a culture of love!

kdg

Check out these resources for more:

Personality: Myers Briggs  | Quick MBTI test | GEMS  

Love Languages: 5 Love Languages | For Children: Love Language

Stay tuned for PART 2 on creating your own family culture in the coming weeks!

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There’s no place like home

House – ‘a building for human habitation, especially one that consists of a ground floor and one or more upper storeys.’

Home – ‘a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates.’

I think as an expat this is something we need to process a little more deeply, especially an expat living in a country where you cannot legally own property. You need to be able to make a house a home yet mentally somehow stay detached as you know it will never be yours. And this adds to the confusion when house hunting in a foreign land.

But house hunting here has been an interesting experience. I have always been taken back by the variety of architectural influences one finds in this travellers region. This makes sense given that most of the country, Kuwaitis included, go on vacation to other countries over the summer months, so naturally they would bring back ideas, shapes, colours, lines, materials, art work, etc from these other countries and incorporate them into their Kuwaiti lives and homes. Just take a look at my photos below and you will see immediately what I mean by this. Now please go easy on my very basic surveillance photography skills! Its not my strength, I was not meant to spy on people and secretly photograph their houses. I was way too shy to get out the car and do these buildings justice and what you get now is my very best ‘drive by shooting’. But it’s simply wonderful to be witness to this amount of diversity. It does make house hunting interesting. My heart looks and longs for lots of natural light, bright open living areas with outdoor space for the kids to run and play. A tough ask in a desert land, but I know it’s out there.

This just adds to our colour world after all!

Cheers,

la

For the Love of Israeli Food

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Last month, while my folks were visiting, we took them to all of our favorite restaurants and introduced them to some fantastic Israeli cuisine. My mom was overwhelmed by the combinations of spices and flavors, so much so, that she was determined we should take an Israeli cooking class. Now I love to eat, but cooking is definitely not my love language, that said any new experience I can photograph is a WIN for me.

One of our lovely Israeli friends, Shani, offered to look into an instructor for us and came up with the best solution ever…her husband, Shai.

Shai is an amazing chef with several years of experience in the restaurant industry, however he had only done cooking classes for his close friends before our group. We were honored that he was willing to plan and execute such an amazing event! For three hours he awed us with his skillZ in the kitchen. Seriously, in three hours he prepared 16 different menu items to serve 8-10 people! Ah-mazing!

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He had purchased all the groceries at his favorite local markets and shops, each item was fresh including fish, beef, lamb, fruit, veggies, and spices. Shai even said he could offer classes at the markets and teach people how to shop the markets, especially for spices.

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Speaking of spices, Shai had prepared a packet describing each spice we would be using. The biggest surprise for me was sumac, this beautiful garnet colored spice can be sprinkled on anything from meat to focaccia bread. Shani told us her boys request it on everything, ha!

We learned a lot about food, Israeli culture, and where they intersect. When we all sat down to eat it was quiet with the exception of the sound of “mmmmms” from around the table. It was truly a perfect and memorable day.

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Of course, the entrepeur in me couldn’t help but suggest Shai do this more often. I know the expat community is literally hungry (pun intended) for great experiences like this. He agreed to think about it, so if you are in the Tel Aviv area and you’d be interested let me know!

L’chaim {cheers in Hebrew},

kdg

Special thanks to Shai for teaching & feeding us, to Shani for setting it up, to Vienna for hosting, and to my clever momma for the fabulous idea!!


PS – Don’t forget to join us for the L O V E Photo Challenge this month!

#IACWLOVE2018 – Shot 4 – Pink or Red….RED, of course!

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Love is in the air.

Ahh February, the month of love. Haters will say that every month should be about love and love should be celebrated every day. While this is supposedly true, commercialism has given ‘Love’ the month of February. I hope that doesn’t mean it gets eleven months off!

If you are curious to read up more on the origins of Saint Valentines day, click here.

Katie and I are excited to share with you our ’14 shots of Love’ photo challenge. Whether you celebrate Valentines day or not, we do all celebrate love.

William Shakespeare is my favourite poets of all time. Much of this has to do with the fact that my childhood home literally sat in the middle of Shakespeare street in Brakpan, Johannesburg. We went on to study him in school and by this point I was convinced I knew him better than anyone. My favourite writings from him came from his Sonnets. I want to share one of my favourites with you today to inspire you to embrace, appreciate, and celebrate love this February (and beyond).

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-William Shakespeare

I hope you enjoy this photo challenge and I can’t wait to see what wonderful love-filled imagery floods our social media sites. If you play along, please tag your photo with #IACWLOVE2018.

Valentine Photo List 2018

Much Love,

la

PS Tutorial: Fun Text & Clipping Masks

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As this is last Tuesday of January I wanted to share a #tutorialtuesday post! Using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator softwares, Lindy-Ann and I both love creating graphics incorporating the use of typography. Typography is a pretty fun and powerful design technique used to layout and arrange text. The font, spacing, sizing, and layout of text can tell you a lot more than just what the words spell out.

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With the addition of a photograph you take your 2 words to 1,002, because a picture is worth a thousand words, right? ha!

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Today I’m going to show you how to overlay a photograph or background design using a clipping mask and layer mask in Photoshop. Use this as a jumping off point to play with the different blending modes, colors, and more…go crazy, love!

Another fun link I wanted to share with you is my favorite source for commercial free fonts, Font Squirrel. These designers are fantastic and super generous to share their work with the rest of the world for free!

If you have a favorite font or a fun graphic you created we would love to see it! Share in the comments below!

Have a type-tastic day!!

kdg

PS – Did you notice my love theme?? Let it inspire you for our LOVE Photo Challenge starting this THURSDAY the FEBRUARY 1st!! Can’t wait to see how you capture love through your lens!

WINNER! – 2017 Christmas Photo Challenge.

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Cheers to Keturah Maraska for being the winner to our 2017 Christmas Photo Challenge.

Your gift voucher is on it’s way.

What we liked about your image: 

  • Your composition was spot on in our books. Clear subject, hero and direction.
  • Your colours here are contrasting, warm and joyful.
  • My favourite quality of all has to be the contrast in texture from the prickled background to the smooth wooden ornament so carefully carved out.

Well done you!

With love-

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Note: Keep an eye out for our Valentine’s challenge around the corner.

Marbles of Kindness

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A few posts ago I mentioned how lucky we are to learn something from the people that we meet along this path of life. This morning I met Ruth, she is American and her family have been in Kuwait for 16 years. Our conversations with her were wonderful and she was an abundant source of experience and encouragement. The best advice I got this year by far, (yes I know it’s still only January) came from her.

If you have children who struggle with telling on each other, especially when you have more than 2 small ones in the house, (there’s extra chaos and so many more stories to tell mom about), buy a big glass jar. Buy enough marbles to fill this jar. Every time one of the kids tells on a sibling for doing something good or kind, they get to put a marble in the jar. When the jar is filled, the family does something special, like go out bowling or go to the movies.

When I heard this tip, I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that” moments, as it seems so simple, I imagine it to be quite effective. I will most certainly be trying this in my home and I will report back on how it goes. We may open it up to more than just acts of kindness on those desperate days like, “Fine! If you finish your pasta you can put a marble in the jar”. Yup, I can see that happening, but I will do my best to try stick to the plan.

I would encourage you to try it as well and I’d love to know how you find it and if/how it works for your household. In addition, if you have any extra tips to encourage kindness between siblings and less tattle-tailing, I’d love to hear them, please post in the comments below.

Cheers to global parenting, it takes a village after all.

la

Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

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Nurturing creativity in our children is one of the most important things we can do for them. Last week, Lindy-Ann shared an inspiring TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He eloquently and wittily shared that our public education system, around the world, is broken when it comes to this crucial skill set. For this reason, I am so overwhelmingly thankful that we are able to send our son to the American International School here in Israel, where he is given opportunities to flourish creatively and encouraged to embrace how his brain thinks. The most recent celebration of creativity was a week of workshops hosted by children’s author and illustrator Marissa Moss.

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Marissa spent the week holding writing and illustration workshops for each grade. Through her stories and her own personal experiences she encouraged each child to embrace their unique story because, as she puts it, “everyone’s life is interesting.” Marissa also taught them the importance of making mistakes.

On Friday, at our monthly Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting, she spoke with us parents about some of the activities they did and how important it is to help our kids hone their visual storytelling skills. She even answered questions on how to encourage our budding creatives in ways that would challenge them lovingly and encourage with sincerity, not false praise. She also encouraged us, as parents and teachers, to help the children harness their innate critical reading and thinking skills, because “kids won’t read bad books; if it’s not good, they’ll tell you.” This critical reading by her own sons is how Marissa knew that children would enjoy her books. She even told us that her sons are her best and most brutal editors.

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There are two truths that Marissa hoped to leave with our kids that I think hold true for everyone, no matter what age you are.

Truth #1 Revision is your friend

In working with the second grade classes, Marissa had them work on crafting and revising a great opening sentence. As you can imagine most kids struggled with the fact that their sentence was not perfect the first time and did not want to revise it. In order to help them understand that revision is a good thing she showed them one of her sketches of a first draft – all lines and scribbles, and then the final published revision. Reworking and revising can actually be fun and exciting as you get closer and closer to that “A-Ha!” moment and the children were able to learn and experience that.

I asked my second grader about his sentence, and he exasperatedly told me he had to do it twice, but in the end it was a great hook: Peter has a big secret.  Did I mention Peter is a piece of toast. I’m intrigued, aren’t you?

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Truth #2 Mistakes are opportunities

I first heard this exact truth from my incredibly talented artist friend Joy, as I struggled to perfect a craft we were doing for fun at a girls’ night. Silly Katie.

Back when Marissa was an art teacher she saw this struggle in her own students and she was inspired to use one of their true stories to help other children see the beauty of making mistakes. She wrote and illustrated Regina’s Big Mistake and has helped other children be bold and just get something down on paper. It is the ideal book for the little perfectionist in your life.

Funnily enough, even when signing the books I purchased, she misspelled my son’s name and beside it she wrote “sorry, I make mistakes all the time.” It’s truly a great life lesson for everyone, not just creatives.

“Let yourself explore, take risks, and make mistakes. You never know where a mistake will lead you.” -Marissa Moss

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After hearing Marissa Moss and Sir Ken Robinson words I’m impassioned to encourage my boys and the other children in my sphere of influence to take those risks and be creative. I want them to be a part of this creative revolution we are experiencing and help shift the tide.

Learn more about Marissa and her books here. I also recommend the After School Monster, which I bought for my 4 year old. It’s a great story of being brave and conquering your own monsters.

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A NOTE OF THANKS

Marissa, thank you for your time and your heart for our children. I know all you taught them will impact how they see their {art}work going forward. Hoping the all best for you and your new authors!

Cheers,

kdg