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.

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

Image_Hack – Changing the way women are portrayed in the media

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Do you remember the Real Women campaign by Dove a few years back? As women – we saw “real” women in the pages of magazines, we pictured ourselves as one of them, we related to them and therefore to the brand. In response, some of us went out and started buying more Dove products. Although, it was successful in building brand loyalty, creative director, Kenneth Kaadtmann, of Mindshare ad agency, states that,  “For Dove, it has never been about Dove; it’s about making an actual difference to society. Great brands hold great power, and therefore great responsibilities.”

Unfortunately, it never really made a long lasting impact to change a rather unrealistic industry. According to Dove’s Global Beauty and Confidence Report from 2016, 7 out of 10 women can’t identify with the images they see in ads. The advertising industry tells us that according to research, they are simply giving women the images they want to see. Alternatively, if the industry truly started showing women images they could relate to there would be a paradigm shift and the numbers would start to reflect that.

Interestingly enough, when you search for “beautiful women” on Shutterstock, a popular image search engine used for media campaigns, these are still the first images we see:

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However, there is hope. Image_Hack is Dove’s fantastic, new initiative that has potential to truly change the market with long term and lasting effects. It challenges the ad agencies and companies to use more realistic images in their campaigns. Browse some of the images that have already been submitted here and learn more this innovative concept.

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As a mom of two girls, a previous art director in advertising, and now a photographer, I am excited to get involved with this project and be a part of that change. Will you join me and the Image_Hack initiative? #equalwomen

here’s to change,

la

CREDITS FOR THIS FORWARD THINKING CAMPAIGN GO TO:

Client: Dove
Agency: Mindshare, Denmark
Creative Director: Kenneth Kaadtmann
Client Director: Michael Hansen
Strategy: Mette Bierbum Bacher
Copywriter: Kenneth Kaadtmann
Copywriter: Anne Ingevold
Art Director: Sune Overby Sørensen
Digital Designer: Andreas Berglund
Media Buyer: Henrik Welling