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

Marbles of Kindness

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Shutterstock

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

11 years in the desert

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It was 11 years ago today that I landed in this desert land. It has been an absolute whirlwind of an experience. It has been the best and the hardest season of my life. I came here at the tender age of 25 years. I left my family, friends and my little dog Gizmo to take on, what I thought at the time to be, a two year adventure in the Middle East. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be sitting here 11 years later writing this post, on a blog that I started with my dear American friend who now lives in Tel Aviv. Wow, what a mouth full. I thought it would be fun to share some of my very first Kuwait memories with you, so here goes:

This was my first apartment –

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I will never forget the day that I came home from Ikea (my first experience with Ikea at that) and I started to build my very basic essential furniture. I was very proudly using my pink screwdriver that I had bought earlier from the local supermarket when I reached a point in assembling my wardrobe where I need to “get a friend to hold one side while you bla bla bla the other”. I remember the sense of helplessness that I felt when I fell to the floor in tears thinking “well, that would be great if only I had one!”

It’s tough adulting I tell you!

Those who know me will also know that I’m a little shy in nature. The fact that I jumped from my comfort zone of home and landed in this strange land to begin with is nothing short of a miraculous leap of Faith. But jump I did. I slowly grew braver and through the advertising agency I was working for at the time and a few good flat mates, I started to make some friends, got out and did things I that would ultimately change the very core of my being. I grew up, FAST!

My first trip out to the quad bikes in the desert –

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During my time here I lost my mom and more recently my grandfather, and I had to shelve my preconceived ideas of what the ‘right’ career path was for me. I got married, and had three very cool little people. And since then I have been able to reinvent myself, reignite my love for art and art history.  I explored my photography interests and became accredited through the NYIP (New York Institute of Photography) in the United States. I’m now also studying Interior Design. I have been Blessed with abundant travel opportunities. When I was working, I got to film TV commercials in Romania, Beirut, Dubai, Barcelona and Kuwait. I got to watch the Grand Prix in Bahrain. I went to Cannes, France for the Cannes Advertising Awards. I went to romantic Paris, and loved travelling the Rome and Florence with my better half.  I got diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (Google it – better yet, don’t Google it. Scary). I went vegan. We had our first family holiday to Portugal, Lisbon and Madeira. I learnt a new Language. I found God.

Top 11 things I have learned in these 11 year. 

1 – Life is short.

2 – If you can’t find the joy in life, BE the joy in life.

3 – Practise tolerance, the world is made up of so many different cultures and beliefs.

4 – If you’re not happy, make a change. If you stay in your unhappiness you will only bring people down with you.

5 – Tell people you love, that you love them. You never know when will be the last time you speak to them.

6 – If you’re toying with the idea of going from 2 kids to 3, go for 3.

7 – The food that you put inside your body REALLY does effect the way you feel.

8 – Listen to your body. It speaks to you.

9 – Love those who are difficult to love, that is when you can really make a difference.

10 – Write letters.

11 – Pray – there will always be an answer. It may not always be the answer you’re looking for, but there will be one nonetheless.

I have no idea where the next 11 years will take me. I may very well still be here and will report back then with another recap.

I have met so many very interesting people here, and from each person I have met, I have taken something, and learned something new about myself in the process. I have also learned to look back at my beloved home country with fresh perspective and new appreciation.

Cheers

la

Note: These photo were taken 11yrs ago on a very basic camera.

A building worth touring – The Arab Fund

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Ahhhh, my creative soul has been filled again. I have recently felt myself running low on creative juices, but yesterday morning I had the opportunity to visit The Arab organisations Headquarters Building, also known as the Arab Fund Building, in Shuwaik.

Ok, so I agree the name needs a little work, but the building is truly quite remarkable. A piece of art. An administration building created by craftsman, designers, and materials from the likes of Italy, Morocco, Syria, and yes, even South African Yellow Wood can be found within it’s walls.

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According to their website,

The Arab Organizations Headquarters Building, situated outside Kuwait City in Shuwaik, blends modern architectural techniques with traditional artisan crafts. Completed in 1994, it is home to four major Arab organizations: the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development, OAPEC (Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries), the Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation and the Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Company.”

And I suppose big fancy meetings do take place there with really important people but…

…according to me,

“It’s an exquisite collection of art, antiques, and ideas – collected and bartered for – for the viewing pleasure of anyone willing to appreciate it.”

And appreciate it we did.

Our tour started with a sense of contrast. We were 3 housewives, with quite an artistic flare (think ‘almost cool’ Gypsies) combined with 3 middle aged men in black suits who probably held important titles and regularly used terms like; “not withstanding” and “including, but not limited to”.

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Anyway, it was a treat for us all.

This building took 2 years to design and only 3.5 years to build. The attention to detail is unrivalled. It’s so very beautiful.

An absolute treasure of a find for a photographer like me, who has a passion for history and culture.

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May these images from today inspire you as much capturing them did me. In this world filled with contrasts, details, and distractions, sometimes to find the most beautiful side of something, all we need to do is look up.

Cheers

la

Side Note: Please make the effort to visit the website, it is filled with many interesting behind the scenes imagery and extra details of each piece of art within the building itself. To book your tour, email adnang@earthlink.net.

 

Embracing NO-vember.

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My 7yr old put it perfectly, “it’s like trying to draw a straight line with a ruler yet you keep going all wonky”. Brilliant! It is the most spot on explanation for how I try to calm things down, yet never seem to succeed.

For the past 6 weeks or so my life has been this wonky line. I’ve tried in vain to pull it straight, but without much success. While off loading to my friend Kerry, she kindly reminded me of the book I read, Grace not Perfection, and how important it is to actively allocate down time. She presented me with a brilliant strategy.

NO-vember!

What if we took one month out of 12 where we reserve the right to say ‘No’ without guilt or explanation? (While I recognise that some people are lucky enough to live their lives like this permanently, Katie and I are not one of those lucky ones). If something falls within this month that does not ‘feed’ us as a family or individually, then it’s ok to say no. For one month, to not be obligated or coerced into something that eats away at precious family time. Our family time is really precious and yet it is something that we usually compromise on first. Why is that? We are always commenting on how quickly our kids are growing up and how quickly time is passing us by, yet we seem to be so willing to give it away at the same time. I’m going to try this crazy plan and I dedicate this post to my dear Katie who desperately needs a NO-vember in her life, as well. My ‘Yes’ friend needs to take heart and find the rest that can come from a simple and uncomplicated ‘No’ (or ‘No thank you’ if it makes you feel better).

If you have a ‘Yes’ friend, or are a ‘Yes’ person then I challenge you to give this NO-vember thing a try. Please share this with your ‘Yes’ friends and encourage them to get on board. If you find yourself on the receiving end of my ‘No’, then please don’t take offence, it’s not personal, it’s simply me trying to regroup myself and my family and restore a little energy to my soul so that I can be a ‘Yes’ person for the rest of the year.

I want to leave you with a little TedTalk that my other friend Kirrily shared with me. One of the reasons we are even more drained of time in today’s society is the fact that our screens and devices no longer have ‘off’ cues. This turns our news feeds into complete time sponges. If you take nothing away from this post this week, I challenge you to at least watch this 9 minute clip. It will, at the very least, encourage parameters and help you set those all important screen boundaries which will pull your eyes off your device and help you look at the world around you with a little more detail and love.

As we say goodbye to October, I wish everyone a happy No-vember!

Cheers,

la

 

Martyrs House – a suburban pocket of war

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As I drove into the neighbourhood, the site of the house took my breath away. I parked the car and made my way inside. This house, this moment in time, has been restored ever so slightly to make it safe for visitors to walk around. And walk around I did.

Al-Qurain Martyrs House is a museum dedicated to those brave Kuwaiti souls who gave their lives for their country. During the invasion of 1991 a group of Kuwaiti men formed a resistance group that fought against Saddam’s army. This house, in an ordinary Kuwaiti neighbourhood, became the hide out and headquarters for the 31 member group known as the Al Messilah (Kuwait Force). At the time of this particular attack on February 24, 1991, their were 19 members present and sadly 12 lost their lives while 7 managed to survive.

After the liberation of Kuwait a few days later, H.H. Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait, ordered that the site be transformed into a historical museum which will commemorate the sacrifice and heroism of these Kuwaitis. It has become a symbol of national pride. It stands tall as a reminder to future Kuwaiti generations of how their forefathers fought against their Iraqi invaders, and the price that they, and many coalition soldiers, had to pay for them to maintain their country.

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What struck me first was the sheer damage that had been done over the 10 hour battle. But what came next is actually what stayed with me. There is a strange unexpected peace within these walls. You see the destruction yet you hear the birds chirping. You imagine the chaos, yet you feel the stillness of the air.

I looked closer at the inside of the house. The tiles in the kitchen were probably thoughtfully and carefully chosen.

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The ceiling fan in a bedroom resembles a wilted flower.

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For me, the detail that still lives within the walls, carries the voices of family gatherings, children laughing, the memories of lives lived, and now the sorrow of lives lost as well.

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The cars outside still parked as they were on that fearful morning.

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If you find the opportunity to explore this fiercely patriotic country, or perhaps you already live here and you have family and friends visiting, then this is a trip that is an absolute must. It was an hour well spent, we were able to walk around freely and if anything, the locals in the area appreciated the fact that we were interested in their history and a place that was clearly very important to them. I got the sense that they respected us for paying our respects. One gentleman took the time to come talk to me in broken English and explain the history, even happily leaving me with English translated booklets with further information. Yes, this trip is a must. It will move you.

Cheers with a humbled heart,

la

Night Photography fun

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Night photography in reality encompasses just before, during, and just after nightfall. The genre is still utilizing the available light, just a lot less of it. Night photography incorporates a variety of light sources ready to aid you in capturing your magic shot, such as street lights, moonlight, window lights from buildings, and even the last glow of the setting sun.
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Night photography is a wonderful opportunity to experiment and play with light. The most critical tool or accessory you WILL need is a tripod. This is due to the slow shutter speeds needed to expose the scene. You may even consider a flash if that is the look you are going for.
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It’s a good idea to set up your shot while there is still plenty of light in the sky and take a number of photographs of the same shot as the light changes, this is a great way to practice your manual settings as well.  Here is a good place to start would be ISO 400, SS – 60sec, f4.
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Enjoy the process and don’t forget we would love to see your night(life) images, share them in the comments below.
Cheers
la

Whats in your bag? – episode 1

Katie and I thought it would be a neat idea to start our own IACW series of the popular ‘What’s in your bag?’ videos. As the title suggests, it will be a small video clip of different people, that we interview or write about, taking us through the contents of their bag. So naturally to kick off the series I thought I would take you through what is in my bag on any given photography exploration walkabout  or photo shoot day. Enjoy!

Want to see who’s bag we will be going through next? Make sure to follow the blog so you don’t miss out.

Cheers

la

When Lexi turned 2

I would not call myself a “kids party” photographer, nor do I see myself going in that direction professionally. But for my dear friends, it’s a privilege to capture the freeze-frames of celebration, endless amounts of fun, contagious laughter and abundant love. Not to mention that kids parties are full of one of my favourite things to photograph, – no, not the kids….COLOUR!

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Two years ago, when my new friend at the time, Debbie, asked me to photograph her daughter Lexi’s 2nd birthday party, I was a little nervous. I had never photographed someone else’s kid’s party before. My own kid’s parties, yes. However the pressure another’s once off, no chance of a reshoot, precious memories in my hands, that was new. I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and went for it.

When I arrived at the scene, it was clear that this mom was skilled. I mean the put-Martha-Stewart-to-shame kind of skilled. The happy scene was infectious. I was even able to have some photography fun of my own, and truly capture the memorable event.

Camera – Nikon D90

Lens – Nikon 10-105MM f/3.5-5.6

Conditions – Indoor shoot, medium light with low light in places, shoe horn flash needed

Prep – To prep for this shoot I met with Debbie a few days before to have a conversation about what the job would entail, in this briefing we got to know each other better and laid out each others ideas and expectations. I then met with her at the venue the day before the party to take a good look at lighting and environment so there wouldn’t be any surprises on the day of the shoot.

I arrived early, brought a large water bottle, extra memory cards, extra batteries for both flash and camera, and wore comfortable clothing that did not attract attention. I was ready and settled with the decor shots out the way before the first guests even arrived.

Lessons learned – I only brought 1 set of extra flash batteries, it was about 3-4 hours total of shooting and I underestimated how much power the flash would use. Luckily when the flash batteries ran out for the second time it was at the end of the party and I was just getting a few extra shots here and there which I was still able to get with an adjusted higher ISO and a little extra love in Photoshop.

Top Tips – When photographing groups of children keep an eye on aperture – you don’t want the back row of kids in group shots to fall victim to depth of field blur, and Shutter Speed, kids move fast, enough said.

  • For anyone photographing kids indoor with a shoe horn flash or speedlight, you need to pay extra attention to your Shutter Speed. If you set it too fast you will essentially out shoot the speed of the flash and end up with half your image correctly exposed and half your image in black. So just keep that in mind.

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I went on to photograph two more events for Debbie and her amazing family before they moved on from Kuwait, but I will always hold this particular celebration close to my heart, as the first one.

Thank you Debbie for all your attention to detail and your impeccable style. Your love, joy, and friendship is a blessing to all who get a chance to know you.

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Her family really is every child photographer’s dream client.

Cheers,

la