Painting, if my kids can do it, so can I

IMG_1311 copyWhen I was in Junior High, my top 3 subjects at school were Art, History and Accounting, 97% for all 3, but who’s counting right?! With my heart in the arts from the beginning I continued down that path with a skip in my step. My grade 12 art finals were the last time I painted anything of significance. I mentioned before how my gran is an artist and how she really inspired me as a child and into early adulthood to embrace my creative side.

Almost 20 years later I find myself inspired once again to pick up the brush and dust off the old easel. I have started painting again and I’d like to take you through my first few pieces. What I have found so many years later is that my skill set for composition has greatly improved from my experience in advertising and more recently in photography. My understanding of colour has grown in leaps and bounds with my studying of interior design. That last point was a surprise to me. I thought I knew all there was to know about colour, turns out there’s so much more to how, why and when certain colours go together, which is one of the many inspirations behind this blog –  you’re welcome.

Side note: There’s an important lesson here, never stop learning in life. You may find yourself using your newly found knowledge in unexpected places. With our whole lives ahead of us, and so much information out there, there are so many channels to enrich our characters and influence the people we will become, and ultimately, the legacy we leave behind.

Let me take you through my process. Go easy on me, like I said, it’s been almost 20 years.

The concept

  • Inject joy into the images that I capture in and around Kuwait.

How

  • With careful consideration of the use of colour in my painting of these images onto canvas.

The process

  • My starting point is photography. I go on many walkabouts in and around the city. After I select my personal, favourite photos I begin to work on these images, one at a time. I prefer to work from photographs I have taken and not from other’s work as this makes it personal and original, not simply a painted copy of someone else’s vision.
  • With a 4×6 print carefully taped to the easel I start with a loose sketch. From there I carefully pre-select my colours. With my pallet board prepped, my brushes and pallet knives ready to go, I begin the process of trying to extract the interpretation of the photograph I see in my mind and project it onto the canvas using acrylic paint.

Kuwait Water Towers:

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Photo: Kirrily Morris

Typical Kuwait Date Palm Tree:

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  • My most recent work explores mixed media. I do enjoy the structure that photography brings, but I prefer the depth I get from painting.

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The only way I know whether I am finished or not is when something inside me says: “Yes, that’s what I saw and that’s what I want to show people” 

Now that the painting is finished, what do I do with them? You may remember my friend and inspiring cultural photographer, Kirrily Morris, also based here in Kuwait, she has started an Instagram and Facebook art gallery called PhotoArt Kuwait. She invited me to join her gallery so this will be my main platform for now. It is a place where people can purchase slices of Kuwait life and hold on to the moments of joy that this season has brought them.

We would love for you to follow us and keep a look out for new work being added to the Instagram and Facebook account often!

Special thanks for the courage to pursue a long forgotten passion goes to my children. I saw them painting so confidently and so proudly and I envied that. I always thought that painting is something I’d love to get back into, but filled my head with lies thinking that it was something to be left behind in my childhood. But why? Why not paint? Isn’t it great that our kids are able to teach us something, that WE can learn from THEM! If my kids can do it, with such confidence and joy then so can I. And so can you! Honestly, no matter what it turns out like as long as long as you enjoy the process it is worth it!

Happy painting,

la

 

Photography: Father and Son

I was so deeply inspired and moved by Jenny’s post on Sunday, Flavors of Fatherhood, that it further inspired me to look at the father closest to me here in Kuwait, yup, the one I chose to be the father of my children, my husband. As young and in love 20 somethings we get married for our own selfish desires, and rightly so, this is the person WE plan to spend the rest of OUR lives with, we better choose carefully right. But more than that, for me, this was the man I was also choosing to be the father of my future babies. And I simply could not have picked a better dad for my children than this one.

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A year ago, he came to me with this idea that he wanted to do a father and son golf themed photo session and I was all over it. What a charming way to capture this season of life. Our son was 2 and at the perfect age for this assignment. Still holding onto his baby cuteness but old enough to follow guided instructions.

Date and Time – April (Warming up here in Kuwait), 8am

Weather – warm and hazy, dust started to creep in by 10am

Location – Golf Course

Top Tip – We had spoken to one of the members of staff about the session and they were able to take us to a part of the course which they new would be empty that time of the morning. And since he then escorted us, we had no problems trying to explain what we were doing to security. Always get approval ahead of time when shooting on location, it will make for a smooth stress free morning.

The morning was a huge success, our little guy was on top form and just loving all the one to one attention without his sisters around. And my husband was more than thrilled with the results. He has his favourite three photos printed and proudly displayed in his office. I know that he will hold that moment in time close to his heart always and it was an honour for me to be able to have gifted him, them, with that.

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Now before anyone accuses us of favouring the boy, we are planning on doing a daddy-daughters session as well we just haven’t quite found the right theme yet. So if anyone has any original ideas, I’d love to read them in the comments below.

To quote Jenny “There are many different kinds of fathers in this world. There is the stoic father who labourers tirelessly for his family, expecting his actions to speak the words he can’t seem to share.” – Thank you my darling husband for everything that you do for us, for your actions in our lives are deafening.

Cheers to the dads

la

Flavors of Fatherhood

{Guest post by: Jenny Delaney Frickie}

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Fatherhood is not something you can easily define, for the seasons of fatherhood are as fluid as the cold beer he drinks after a long hard day. There are many different kinds of fathers in this world. There is the stoic father who laborers tirelessly for his family, expecting his actions to speak the words he can’t seem to share. There is the goofy dad who seems to be as young and carefree as his kids, exemplifying the art of playfulness at all stages of life.  There is the adventurous father who is only satisfied exposing his family to the wonders of the world, instilling a life long fascination of exploration. There is the handy daddy who can fix anything he sets his mind to, especially the treasured toys of his children.

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A father can be each of these and more at one point or another. As the seasons of life pass from one to the other, and the challenges of each season wear heavily upon his shoulders, a father never ceases in his labor of love for his family. He will move from the season of “daddy” to the season “dad”, just as spring all to quickly turns into summer. The summer years will fade to the brisk fall evenings, as pre-teens begin to push against authority. Then suddenly a father must weather the blizzards and winter storms of the teenage years with the hope that the spring of adulthood is just around the corner- when once again he will be a wanted voice of wisdom and encouragement.

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Through it all, a father’s heart carries the burdens of his family with pride. He takes great care in providing shelter and food for his little tribe. Yet his provision goes so much deeper. His encouraging words and cheering smiles provide the very confidence that will propel his children into world in search of success and prosperity. A father’s love fills his children’s souls and prepares them for the day they will encounter the enormous love of their Father in Heaven. A love they are able to receive and believe in easily, for they have been loved unconditionally all their lives.

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A father instills within his son what is means to be a good man; devoted and loving. He helps define the man of his daughter’s dreams, as she will seek a man who embodies the positive characteristics of her daddy. 

John Luke

Fathers instruct their children, raising them up with honorable character and setting ever-widening boundaries that prepare for adulthood. Father’s are caretakers, providers and lovers. They are hard workers who make investments not just financially, but emotionally and spiritually. No, fatherhood is not easily defined for it encompasses all aspects of life and is displayed as uniquely as the beers displayed at a store.  Fatherhood is determined by the man’s personality and season in which he resides; his flavor and color is unique- but a refreshing cold beer nonetheless. 

Cheers to you dads!

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IACW - Jen bio picAlong with being Katie’s little sister, Jenny is a Christian author, a home school mama of three, and Marine wife. In between parenting and teaching, she uses her limited free time to write inspirational devotions and children’s literature. Her first published essay was chosen for the I HEART MOM anthology of motherhood.

This is Jenny’s first guest blog post on IACW and we look forward to her sharing her heart and inspiration with us in the future!

 

Ein Hod Artist Village

{Guest post by: Keturah Maraska}

Have you ever thought about running away to live amongst other artists? Well, if you ever do feel the urge I have the perfect location – Ein Hod. Last week I was lucky enough to join a group of ladies for a tour of this quaint little village and learn a bit more about the wonderful artistic culture here in Israel.

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This Israeli artist colony is nestled just south of Carmel Mountain National Park and has a great view to the Mediterranean Sea thus providing the perfect picturesque inspiration for new pieces of art. Artists first began to move here in 1953 when artist Marcel Janco invited some of his talented friends to join him in settling in a colony with like-minded individuals. The original group of villagers was part of the Dado movement arising post WWI. Though there were just a few initial residents of Ein Hod, the village has grown to approximately 150 artists and their families.

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What makes this village unique is that only artists are allowed to own homes and live in town. Artists are not permitted to deed their property to their descendants unless they too are artists who are living and working in the community. This policy maintains a creative culture inside Ein Hod, even leading to second and third generation artists living in the neighborhood.

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Artists in Ein Hod consist of photographers, potters, painters, jewelers, sculptors, those who work with textiles, and even musicians. During our tour we had the privilege to meet a few of the artists and experience short demonstrations of their craft. First, we encountered the Magal sisters. These twins are second-generation Ein Hod residents. They are potters who use glaze to paint their pottery before they fire it. They do not paint and then glaze, but use the glaze as the paint, which makes the process more complicated since the glaze melts and blends during the firing. This technique is laborious and tedious, but these women spoke of their work with a passion that filled the air. The final product is vibrant in color and often very detailed. My favorite pottery items are the sheep they painstakingly create by rolling and looping each piece of “wool” before glazing and firing the final product. As I admired their work it was clear the Magal sisters love what they do and are extremely proud of their craft.

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As second-generation artists, the Magal sisters first found themselves in Ein Hod due to their father’s love of painting. His original oil works are available for a hefty penny; however, the sisters produce silk screens of his work which are much more economical. The sisters are also quite proud of the work their father produced and will gladly discuss his inspiration – the Mediterranean Sea and elements of Jewish culture.

Another artist we met was the potter Tal Shahar who opened her Ein Hod workshop in 1985. Shahar shares her workshop with budding potters and serves as their mentor and guide. Her palette is more earth tone than the Magals though she does paint her creations at times. Cups, dishes, and vases that Tal produces in color are usually developed by using a pigment and underglaze. One more unique technique that Tal employs is the Japanese style of Raku – firing at a high heat, them removing and “smoking” the ceramic so that it darkens and cracks in spots. I have seen this technique before, but I did find Tal’s finished products rather beautiful. The most interesting were a white design made through useof the “naked” Raku process. (For more information on ceramic pigments and stains visit this site).

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Finally, our tour guide, Lea Ben-Arye, demonstrated her silkscreen technique for us on the steps just outside her store. Nestled under the trees in a corner, Ben-Arye’s shop is the perfect location of group lessons in silkscreen. She has her own technique that allows her to reuse her stencils and create unique designs. Her husband Dan Ben-Arye works beside her creating jewelry, wooden sculptures, etc. She said he likes to learn from the other artists in the colony and then develop his own technique. Their store is filled with many of their creations from scarves, necklaces, wooden benches, and Dan’s newest passion – photographs of the clouds of Ein Hod. The one item that really caught my eye was their necklace design of a pomegranate and Star of David in one – both very symbolic of Israeli culture and life.

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Should I ever decide to run away this would be high on my list of places to end up. Art is everywhere – from the garbage cans, to chairs, to roadblocks, etc. Sculptures are on just about every corner. You can’t help but have some pop of color catch your attention around each bend in the road. Traffic is almost non-existent so strolling through the streets and admiring all of the craftwork around you is not only possible, it is almost demanded. Oh, and don’t worry, there are great restaurants and a coffee shop or two to fill your stomach and please your eye with “art on the plate” in order to energize you for the next set of galleries and workshops on your list of “must-sees”.

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It doesn’t take much of an imagination to understand why people would be drawn to this location; it takes even less of an imagination to see why generation after generation would want to stay here; once here, though, your imagination is the only thing that can limit what lies ahead.

keturah

 

 

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Keturah is a Marine wife and mother to two high school boys, and an Elementary school teacher.  Their family is currently transitioning back to the United States of America after a year abroad in Israel. She loved living in Tel Aviv and will miss living on the Mediterranean Sea.

Katie featured her family’s photo session earlier this week and shared about their creative bond and friendship. We are so thankful to have Keturah as a part of our creative community and look forward to  having her share her adventures with us again.

Portraits & Trust

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We are indeed our own worst critics. I know I am guilty of it as well. Compound that with a few incidents of people speaking ugliness into your life and you start to believe those lies about yourself. It makes me so sad when friends and clients tell me they are not photogenic. My response is always the same: let me try.

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Ok, I know not everyone is a super model, but hear me on this. If you tell yourself the photo will be awful before it’s even snapped then your inner thoughts will be all over your face. Half of the equation for a good portrait, selfie or otherwise, is being hopeful that your inner super model will shine.

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The other half is the photographer. Let’s face it, there are bad portrait photographers. Not every professional photographer should work in portraiture. We all have our strengths. I for one, am not a landscape photographer – I want to put people in that field! So, what makes a good portrait photographer? Skills, obviously, but beyond that it is the ability to capture that inner beauty we all have. Seriously, no matter what you have been told or think of yourself, you are beautiful, or handsome as the case maybe.

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It is our job as photographers to make our subjects feel comfortable and trust us. It is on us to ask questions and listen to the answers as we get to know them, and then hone in on what makes them light up.

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Lindy-Ann and I are blessed with the ability to be self-depreciating and goofy for the sake of our clients. There is no silly song, word, face, or conversation we won’t try to engage our subject from behind the lens. I’m talking about our grown up subjects too, not just children!

There is a triangular relationship between the subject, the photographer, and the camera. It is normal for my boys to talk to me through the camera, but that is not everyone’s reality. Therefore photographers have to help their subjects see and hear them between snaps, poses, and faces, and build that trust.

View More: http://dgdesignsphotography.pass.us/jankord-family-2015

Here are a couple of our tips for capturing a portrait that says more than just a face.

  1. Pre-Session chat – We recommend meeting, emailing, and/or calling your clients beforehand if you don’t know them. {This is even easier if you have an existing relationship, yay for coffee dates!} Ask them questions that will help you to get a sense of who they are and what they are about.
  2. Night before prep – Go back over those prep notes and communications. A person’s name is important to them, so if you are like me and are horrible with names, then the night before is the best to double check that list of the family member’s names. It also gives you a chance to make sure you pack any props or other items you discussed with them. This will go along way for them to trust you have their best interest at heart.
  3. Names – We are going to hammer this in: USE THEIR NAMES! Saying,  “You, with the blue shirt, move over to the right” will cause them to withdraw from you. Engage them by using their names and those things you learned about them. Now, we must have a little grace with ourselves, because in the midst of shooting even I still get a little confused and call people the wrong names, but I make up for by saying, “I’m so sorry I know your name (INSERT CORRECT NAME HERE).” Again, they will trust you are focused (literally and figuratively) on them.
  4. One-on-One – at some point each session you will be focusing on one member of the group and it is those moments you have to up your trust game. Remember the things they like and ask how they are doing. Talk and help them relax.
  5. Art Direction – This maybe one of the toughest and most intuitive parts of photography. Art direction is taking in scene and eliminating and adding to the scene as well as directing the subjects poses and body placement, all to make the photograph. Thanks to mirrors and selfies, most people have practiced their  “best looks” so allow them to be a part of the art direction. To be clear, a part of the art direction, not the director. You must remain in charge, which also lends to the client trusting you know what you are doing.
  6. Pause – There are a few stages in a session that we recommend you pause. When you start out, instead of ducking behind the camera right away (Guilty!), pause and engage them in conversation. Another moment to take pause is just before snapping, to see them, really see them, through your view finder. Pause on their face and appreciate, as an artist, their unique characteristics. SEE THEM. I’m reminded of that scene in Hook when the littlest lost boy smushes Robin Williams face around and then says, “Oh, there you are Peter.” He saw him.
  7. Be goofy – Be ridiculous, laugh, make fun of the awkwardness – all of this will help them let you in and let down their defenses. Instead of the stiff fake smiles you will capture the genuine joy and laughter.

Next time someone you care about says they are not photogenic, we challenge you to try and capture what you see in them. We guarantee that if you are thoughtful about it, the photo you take will make them smile.

Keep snappin’-

kdg

The Maraska Family in Jaffa

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A few months after I first met Keturah at a Diplomatic Spouses of Israel event I taught her photography, and we have been creative buddies ever since. Funnily enough, her younger son was taking photography class at school, so they were sharing one camera, and he almost took it to school that day! Side note: He has done some amazing work this year – it is really inspiring to see how our high schoolers capture the world around them!

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Keturah has been a great boy mom mentor to me as well as my creative adventurer friend. We have shared a few walkabouts and my favorite time was when she accompanied me on a recce to Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel before a client session. A recce is a term I learned from Lindy-Ann, as it is mostly used in the places where they speak the Queen’s English to describe a fact finding mission coming from the term reconnaissance.

 

We had so much fun finding the most picturesque nooks, crannies, graffiti, and doors in the old city and chatting over coffee. Jaffa is definitely one of my favorite locations to shoot and one of their family’s go to spots, so it was the perfect location choice when she decided to trust me with her family’s first photography session ever!

Location: Old City Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv, Israel

Date and time: May 9:00am

Weather: Bright & Sunny – cool in the shade of the buildings

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As this was their first professional family session, we talked about what she wanted from the session a bit beforehand and I was challenged by a comment she had made about not looking good in photos. It was my mission to prove her wrong!

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We had such a great time and we joked and laughed our way from graffiti wall to colored door. It was really fun for me to shoot “big boys” and get a glimpse of my future – a tall and skinny big brother and a cheeky little brother. When I say cheeky, I mean he was hiding his signature thumbs-up pose behind his parents backs in every photo! It was hilarious.

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The lesson learned for this session would be that a ladder would have been helpful to capture those tall boys and some overhead shots that I visualized – I couldn’t climb high enough. Short girl problems, right? As I mentioned earlier, there is such huge benefits to doing recces of new locations prior to the session. It can make all the difference to know where you want to lead your subjects and planning ahead will never fail to make you more confident.

 

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This session is special to me of course because of our friendship, but more than that, it was about trust. As a photographer, it is an honor when someone trusts you to let you into their lives, to capture their family, and to truly see them. We must never take that for granted, because trust is not freely given.

Here’s to trusting and to bringing out the best others!

Cheers,
kdg

PS –  Look for Keturah’s upcoming guest post on It’s a Colo{u}rful World, sharing her trip to Ein Hod Artist Village. She really is a fantastic and inspiring explorer, mom, wife, and friend!

Creating Colour Palettes

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Have you ever found yourself trying to figure out what colours go where? Perhaps your family photo session is coming up and you’re not crazy about ‘matchy-matchy’ styling but you want your outfits to fit and flow well with each other. I have a little tip for you today that will take out all the stress and uncertainty when choosing colours and colour combinations.

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Colour palettes are everywhere.  They are not just for designers and artists, or for creatives who seem to have a gift for colour. All you need to do is open your eyes and look around you. Bring out your favourite dress and analyse the colours within the patterns. Or how about your most recent bouquet of flowers. Even your child’s art work can be a source of colour combination inspiration.

As was the case for our last family shoot with Katie.

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I have prepared a little video tutorial for you to help guide you through the process on retrieving colours from images through photoshop. It’s my first video post so be kind to me 🙂

Cheers

la

 

Strength and Beauty

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I have this friend, Vienna. She is strong. I mean physical strength combined with an inner fortitude that makes her a true force to be reckoned with. She personifies strength to me.

In the year that I have known her, she has shared her strength with me and come to my rescue more than a few times, whether it’s babysitting my boys, letting me cry it out in her van, or editing blog posts.  I can lean on her and know that my load will not break her.  She is strong enough to take it.

In the past two weekends I have watched, cheered, and photographed her as she displayed her physical prowess at the Israeli Ready For Action (RFA) CrossFit competition and participating in the Memorial Day Murph Challenge. This girl is amazing and definitely inspiring.

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We joke that she is not my first CrossFit friend {Love you, Drennans!}, but this was my first CrossFit competition and I left the stadium in awe of her dedication and her never-quit attitude. Five weeks prior to the RFA Vienna participated in the CrossFit open. Only 2 weeks into the open she contracted an insane eye infection that made light intolerable, and yet she persevered and finished 2nd in the Masters Woman division, over all of Israel, qualifying her for the RAF.

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She killed the first event of the RAF and finished first in her division and 2nd over all the woman. To be clear, she beat out women half her age! Seriously, incredible! Friday’s events proved to be a bit tougher for V, as she struggled to scale the rope with a 20lb vest, which cut into the time she had finish the other elements of the event, particularly the things she is better at; lifting heavy things. The suspense of that rope climb was so intense and she shared afterward that, when she finally hit the top, she felt the stadium shake with our cheers! Even though Friday was not as successful as Thursday had been, she was in great spirits, showing everyone that inner strength to keep moving forward.

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Saturday was full of life lessons and impactful moments as well, especially because her kids were in the crowd with us. As a mom watching a daughter cheer for her mom, I was struck with what V was teaching her children; moms are strong, do your best, and if you fail it’s going to be ok, failures are opportunities to get better, never give up, sportsmanship, and, of course, keep smiling! At four, seven, and nine, they may not see of that right now, but I have a feeling those were ideals imprinted on their little hearts.

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She ended up qualifying for the finals and obliterating the event! It was a fantastic way to end the RFA!

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Those of us that had the pleasure of cheering on our friend from the stands were in awe.

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A week later, she put herself to the test again to join thousands of other athletes around the world in honoring our fallen on Memorial Day with a CrossFit Hero WOD ‘MURPH’. Named for fallen seal, LT. Michael P. Murphy. The challenge consisted of 1 mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups 300 squats, followed by another mile run; all done in a weighted vest. Her personal goal was to stay under 50 minutes and she finished with a 48:54. Another life lesson: set goals and reach for them with all your heart!

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t inspired to work out after all this, I may not be jumping on the CrossFit train, but I’m ready for {a little more} action. We can call it the RFalmA for short.

More than that, I proud of my friend, for pursing her passion for fitness, for facing her fears of failing, and for preserving. Thank you Vienna for your strength in my life, in all its beauty.

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On a photography note: I was thrilled with how the images of the indoor stadium came out even with a high ISO. My only regret is not having had a telephoto lens since I did not have press access at the stadium and for when the runners were far off during the Murph. This was the first time since my yearbook days in college to shoot a sporting event. It was fun to step outside my portraiture comfort zone and challenge myself. I really liked it!

What inspires you to stay strong and work out? Share your secrets in the comments below!

In addition, to being a great friend, Vienna is also a personal trainer, so if you are in the Herzliya/Tel Aviv area and interested in getting fit with this superstar, email her at Rucksack Fitness.

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Thank you Adi Edri for capturing me getting my cheer on!

I’ll be here cheering you on too!

kdg

Dive deeper:

Rucksack Fitness

CrossFit

 The MURPH Challenge

Adi Edri Photographer

Colorful Oman

{Guest post by: Jillian Bellamy}

As Lindy-Ann described in her recent Sepia post, life in the desert can become a bit…. monochromatic. Sure, we get to enjoy the ever-changing blues of the gulf, and the color of sand has its own charm; especially when it blows in and turns the whole world orange, but there is a lot to be missed when you decide to call a Kuwait  your home. Of course, there are the obvious changing autumn leaves, bright blooms of spring, and even the dreariness of a grey winter sky, but what my family and I didn’t realize we were missing were the not so obvious scenes. The colors of the earth itself were lacking in our palette. That is, until we hit the road out of Muscat, Oman and embarked on a feast for the eyes and the soul. This was our third trip to the Sultanate of Oman, and this gem of the Middle East is certainly worth the repeat visits.

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We have been fortunate to travel to some pretty enchanting places on this planet, and Oman nears the top of the list. I’ve never felt so beckoned to explore every nook and cranny and venture down so many paths less chosen. Oops, back to reality – we had two kids in tow, so ALL of the nooks and crannies may have been off limits, but we managed to stumble upon our fair share.  

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Our first stop was Jebel Shams. Our journey to the highest peak in Oman took us through an otherworldly landscape of colorful rocky mountains that had our 4 year old chiming in from the back seat to ask, “Are we still on the Earth??”  In addition to the usual greys, tans and browns of the mountain rocks, we were surprised to see the mountains reveal deep, earthy purples, sandy reds, and sage greens; all set against a clear blue sky and dotted with funny, little goats. At the end of our drive awaited an orange-pink sunset, that transformed the rocky landscape into an amazing blue-grey before the night sky became a blanket of stars. We treated ourselves to a campfire and a little taste of home as we roasted marshmallows in the orange glow.

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Our next stop, the highlight of our trip, was a visit to the quaint farming village of Misfat al Abriyeen. Nestled in the mountains, we came upon this village of crumbling mud brick homes and countless palms.  A meandering path took us through alleyways donned with colorful doors in various states of disarray before passing through an archway into a hidden world of date palms, an ancient aqueduct (falaj) system, and terraced farming fields of papayas, mangoes, bananas, corn, pomegranates, limes, figs… the list goes on. We were mesmerized by this oasis of green and life tucked away in these barren mountains, and neither words nor photos can really do this village justice.

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Before heading out of the mountains, we stopped to browse the souq in Nizwa, whose main wares were clay pots, silver, and dates. The people of Oman greeted us warmly with their deep brown eyes, friendly smiles, and hospitality rooted in Bedouin tradition. The men in the shops wore perfectly pressed disdashas that strayed from the typical whites and creams and seemed to emulate the colors of the landscape – earthy blues, greys, greens, browns, and even purples were complemented by beautifully embroidered caps called kummahs. I would be remiss if I failed to mention that my camera met its demise at this souq, which was both devastating and, admittedly, liberating.

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We descended from the mountains, armed with only our cellphone cameras, to the fringes of the Empty Quarter, a vast expanse of picturesque sand dunes inhabited by Bedouins. Along the way we saw tiny mosques with domes of glistening gold and colorful mosaic tile set against the mountainous backdrop, as well as dozens of whirling sand tornadoes that conjured up images of genies and desert mystery.  When we crossed the threshold into the desert, we were surprised to see so much greenery sprouting from the red-orange sands. The abundant shrubs and bushes were being happily munched on by camels and goats alike. After arriving at our chosen camp and being greeted with dates and Omani coffee, we settled into our Arabic tent surrounded by the familiar black and red fabric that we are accustomed to seeing in the diwaniyas of Kuwait. We scaled a giant dune to enjoy another sunset, another campfire, and another star-filled sky.

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On our last night in Oman, we sat poolside on a bluff, and we talked about how grateful we were to have had the opportunity to visit this colorful little piece of the world.  We watched the big orange ball of a sun dip behind the sparkling sea, framed by two perfectly silhouetted palm trees. I wished I’d had my camera to document the scene, but instead I jumped into the cool blue pool to watch the little guy enjoy his last holiday swim. It turns out that some moments are best captured with your mind.

Safe travels,

Jillian

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Photographer Irving Penn – for the love of black and white

Irving Penn, 1917-2009.

“I can get obsessed by anything if I look at it long enough. That’s the curse of being a photographer.” – Irving Penn

Not only was he one of Vogues top photographers for 60 years, but he was also one the world’s greatest photographers of the 20th Century. He was a master communicator through his work and it was said that he photographed with an ‘artists eye’. His works range from advertising to nudes, from portraits to fashion. His black and white style is undeniable – strong, contrasting, and emotive.

He preferred the studio where he could masterfully play with light and carefully and precisely orchestrate his set. He knew what he was doing, at all times. Me on the other hand, I generally prefer photographing outdoors with available light, I like the odd element of surprise and enjoy capturing spur of the moment happenings, more real to life.

His works are deeply inspiring and thought provoking. They keep you looking longer, lingering, searching. I think the magic lies within his subject’s eyes. Anyone can photograph a person’s face, but not many people can capture a person’s soul.

My two favourites from him are of my two favourite artists – Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.

Here are a few of my own portraits that I feel capture something more than just the human frame. Not quite on par I humbly admit, but none-the-less, it’s always fun to experiment with black and white portraits.

The next time you have your camera out, look for high contrasts, they make for strong black and whites.

To find out more about this amazing photographer, visit the Irving Penn Foundation online. 1DSC_5019 copy1DSC_5078 copy2_DSC0352la-kdg-bw

Cheers,

la