Living in a Sepia World

no filter – this is real life

Sepia – a reddish-brown color, named after the rich brown pigment derived from the ink sac of the common cuttlefish Sepia (1,2,).  Sepia tones are most commonly associated with photography. In film photography chemicals are applied to a black and white print producing the warmer hues of sepia for a visual effect or for archival purposes. Now in the days of Instagram and digital post processing the same effect can be added as a filter to achieve the look of aging photographs.(2)

My sepia is the colour the world turns when the sand from the desert rolls in. For those of us living in Kuwait, these sandstorms create a surreal 3-dimensional sepia toned world.


For newcomers to the region, these sandstorms are intriguing, but for us who have been here a while, they are hazardous, and simply awful. The sand gets in everywhere. It seems to linger behind for days. They are common for this time of year as seasons change and the full force of summer approaches. To learn more about these sandstorms click [here].

When I lived in South Africa, I was blessed daily with waves of colour rolling in from every direction; everyday, all day long, no matter the weather or season. Growing up with that visual abundance, I definitely became accustom to it. It was only when I moved to the desert 10 years ago, when my colour range reduced that I truly realised how blessed I had been all along.

We really do live in a beautiful colourful world. Every colour adds such dynamism to life and the world around us, pause for a moment wherever you are and look around, see the colours around you as if feasting on them for the first time. For us here in this sepia season, the dust will settle, and the blue sky will make her appearance again, but until then stay safe, stay indoors. That said if anyone is brave enough to venture out to take photographs, please remember to use your UV filter on your lens, you don’t want these little particles anywhere near the inside of your camera. Share your photos in the comments section below, especially from yesterday’s sandstorm, we would love to see them!

Until the dust clears for us in Kuwait, lets fill our timelines with the colour blue and stay inspired. #itsablueworld

I will leave you with a few images of what inspires me these days; African skies and Kuwait textures!

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1 – Wikipedia contributors. “Cuttlefish.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 25 May. 2017. Web. 25 May. 2017.

2 – Wikipedia contributors. “Sepia (genus).” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 25 May. 2017.

3 – Wikipedia contributors. “Photographic print toning.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 May. 2017.

Al Shaheed Park phase 2 – at first glance

It’s no surprise that Al Shaheed Park is one of my favourite places to photograph here in Kuwait City. I have been waiting a long time for phase 2 to open and when it did this past week I couldn’t wait to get down there and see for myself how it compares with the original.



The creators of this gorgeous park have kept consistent with the look and feel of phase 1 beautifully and have managed to continue with the theme – a representation of Kuwait incorporating both old Kuwait and new Kuwait. That said, phase 2 comes with it’s own design uniqueness and promises to inspire and engage it’s audience from the minute your eyes meet the land as you rise up from the escalators.


A prominent new attraction is the miniature of old Kuwait and new Kuwait villages that both inform and encourage us to imagine times as they once were.

One of the most interesting features I found was the modern design of the new mosque, I’ve never seen anything like it, when I hear mosque I automatically think traditional, but this was anything but. Truly original.


Lastly, I couldn’t leave you without sharing this amazing water feature, literally bursting up through the ground.

It is worth the trip into the city to explore the second phase of Al Shaheed Park. You will be amazed to see how the layout of landscaping within the park organically becomes a part of the city skyline.




The Secret Garden


Tucked away in the neighborhood of  Salmiya in Kuwait, just off Bagdad street, you will find The Secret Garden.

At first glance, it’s a little dusty plot of land sprinkled with colour. But then something magical draws you in.

I went on Sunday morning, with everyone heading to the office, I found myself being wonderfully distracted by the details within this carefully carved out space. There is plenty of parking and it’s really easy to find. This urban community garden took off in 2014 lead by a lady named Mimi.

The garden is a constant work in progress with the community all coming together to plant and grow and keep it alive. It’s an amazing place to teach children about plants and encourage them to participate in growing and looking after their own. With gardening taking place on most Saturdays in the cooler weather it’s a unique Kuwait experience and one that should be taken advantage of before the heat of summer lands on us with full force.


Over the weekends this place is buzzing with people, conversations, small farmers stalls and fresh initiatives. But when the hustle and bustle dies down and the clutter of people clears, that’s when you get to take in the finer details of this special place, and that is what adds to its magic. The chairs waiting to be sat on, waiting for conversations. The freshly stitched creations waiting to be admired.

It’s in this silence that I realise that this Secret Garden is actually a lot like my Kuwait experience. My first impression was that Kuwait was this dusty plot of land, but it’s only when I embraced it with an open heart and mind that I truly started to find the hidden gems within. This garden is an environment that fosters kindness and community.


My absolute favourite feature of this Garden is this Wall of Kindness.  I don’t know why I never knew about this wall before. If you find yourself in the area and have something you are willing to re-home, please keep this spot in mind.


Essentially it is a unique space that has been created at the hands of the community for the benefit of the community with kindness at its core. Stop by during the quiet hours of midweek mornings to absorb the hidden gems or embrace the hustle and bustle over the weekend, there is something for everyone.





Inspiration from the streets

Lindy-Ann and I find that when we are feeling uninspired we need to look at other art forms for a fresh perspective. If you have been following me on Instagram (@dgdesignsnphotography) you may have noticed lately that I am really inspired by the urban art scene here in Tel Aviv, Israel.


What is urban art?

Urban art is a term that refers to the various art forms found in or about a city. Including graffiti, architecture, sculptures, street photography, and the application of yarn or Perler beads to buildings.

To be honest, I have missed out on appreciating urban art for a long time. Even though I worked as an interior designer at a firm just south of Dupont Circle in Washington D.C., I just hurried past on my way to the Metro. It wasn’t until someone asked me what my favorite thing about Kuwait was and I tried to think of something other than my amazing friends, that I realized it was the urban art that spoke to me.

Driving is worst thing about Kuwait, seriously Israelis do not compare. However, it was sitting in traffic at the longest streetlight rotations of my life (10 minutes long!) when I started to look around and  noticed that the bridges were painted with themes of the Gulf. I pointed them out to my Liz, who had been driving the same roads 2 years longer than me, and she was amazed she had never noticed them.


As I started to look for inspiration around the city, I found that there really is art everywhere. In Kuwait there are also the swanky blue and white water towers, the geometric and iconic Kuwait Towers, and my favorites spot with painted steps and graffiti by the fabulous the Cocoa Room restaurant. (If you are in Kuwait it is a must!)

Now living here in Tel Aviv, I’m inspired on a whole other level by the gorgeous Mediterranean, landscapes, and ancient ruins melding with modern urban art. There are sculptures of people climbing walls, giant flower pots in the center of traffic circles (kicars in Hebrew), and streets of graffiti. There is literally art everywhere, it is a photographer’s dream.

We recently went on a graffiti tour of the Florentine neighborhood in Tel Aviv, with a fantastic tour guide, Guy Sharett from StreetWise Hebrew. He educated us on a few artists, shared about the gentrification plans for the neighborhood, and helped us slow down and see hidden gems around us. Guy also noted that there is a clear distinction between a street artist and a kid with a can of spray paint, there are unwritten rules of respect among the artists and a vandal doesn’t abide by them. Unfortunately, this along with some of the edgy content lends to the negative stigma of graffiti as an art form. I walked away thinking about how these artists are sharing in creation of the city’s culture and that their art is out there, however temporary it may be, for people to appreciate or if nothing else, start a conversation.

If you are feeling uninspired or negative about your current city, I challenge you to take a closer look and notice the urban art around you. See what speaks to you, some of it won’t and that’s ok, but you may be surprised.