Capturing the End of a Chapter

IACW - sib love2

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.

IACW - ta sand.jpg

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!

IACW - sib love.jpg

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!

IACW - stuffies.jpg

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.

IACW - sib love3.jpg

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.”

IACW_assistant.jpg

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 Love Culture – part 1

IACW_W 3546

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).

Print

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!

IACW_O 3545

Inspiring Creative: Marissa Moss

IACW_2955.jpg

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.

IACW_8966

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.

IACW_2947.jpg

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?

IACW_2942.jpg

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

IACW_2944.jpg

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.

IACW_2951.jpg

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

What binds your family?

fam
Photo credit: Katie

How many of us fall victim to talking AT our children instead of talking WITH our children? I do. I recognise this and certainly do my best, where I can, to carve out intentional moments for conversation with my 3 littles. But lets go a step further, what do you talk about with your kids? First thoughts may be conversations around them, their day, their school, their friends, their activities or possibly even their favourite foods.

A lovely friend of mine sent me this article on Wednesday “The Stories That Bind Us” by  which touches on just this. In this article the results of the research conducted showed that a child who knows more about their family, i.e.: the history of their mom and dad, their grandparents, their aunts, uncles and cousins etc, proved to be more resilient, more self-confidant with a better mental health and were ultimately happier.

“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” – Dr. Duke.

The author encourages us to think of a family motto, I challenged my eldest with this task and this is what she came up with:

“Live kindly, love completely and protect ever after.”

I’ll take that, thank you.

Please give this quick article 10 minutes of your time today, it may encourage and inspire you as it did me. {article}

Cheers

la

Acrobranch – Tree climbing adventures for all ages.

IMG_1909 copy

We are very slowly getting back into our old routine living here in our beloved desert homeland. By slowly, I mean snails pace. I think that may be due to an extended period of humidity which has been challenging, but we’re getting there. What the kids miss most, other than family, are the trees… climbing the trees to be exact. I keep going back to the time when we went to Acrobranch in Centurion, South Africa. If any of our South African readers have not yet been to Acrobranch, please read this post.  It is an aerial tree top adventure that caters to the whole family. All ages from children as young as 3 to adults of all ages.

IMG_1902 copy

IMG_1899 copy

IMG_1905 copy

I went there with my three minions, plus their cousin and her mom, and we had such a wonderful afternoon. The kids were climbing for over an hour and we then settled in to The Big Red Barn for lunch. It was truly a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Side note: The next time you find yourself there over lunch do yourself a favour and order the house fries. I may or may not have eaten the entire plate #sorrynotsorry.

IMG_1997 copy

“Acrobranch is Kid Heaven! Swinging through trees, dangling from branches, balancing in the air. But wait, Acrobranch also takes care of every parent’s fear and tucks those kids safely into snug harnesses, hooked into secure lines all through the course. It’s all with adult supervision, but the children are encouraged to go at their own pace and move their own clips themselves.

All courses are designed with specific ages in mind to keep your kids entertained…and safe. Check out your desired park for more info on our kids course age and height requirements.” – via Acrobranch website.

IMG_1974 copy

IMG_1970 copy

IMG_1968 copy

IMG_1964 copy

IMG_1959 copy

IMG_1954 copy

Now what I appreciate the most about this concept is the benefit to a child’s physical development.  A child is constantly thinking about which hand they need to put where, which foot they need to move first, and which clip goes where. They work on balance, how the brain interprets where the body is in the environment it is in, they need to orientate their whole being to work as one to navigate the course safely, they build core strength, and improve flexibility and reach.

The next time I go, I promise to take more grownups with me, which should leave me hands free to carry my ‘big’ camera and get proper photos, but hey, they say the best camera is the one you have with you, so thank you iPhone.

Acrobranch – super affordable rates and fantastic for kids parties, I can only imagine how much fun it would be for team building too. You can contact them on +27 86 999 0369 or visit their website for more information. I highly recommend it.

If anyone has tried them out and would like to share your experience with our readers, we would love to read your comments below.

Cheers.

la

Tree Climbing & Kids

1IMG_2252

There’s one thing my kids cannot seem to get enough of on our African adventure – tree climbing. EVERY CHANCE THEY GET!

We get palm trees in Kuwait, lots of them, and they certainly add to the oasis look and feel of the desert. But it is very rare that you come across a tree that is climb worthy. It’s no wonder that when the kids come home to SA they are in tree climbing heaven. I am no professional and i’m not about to hash out statistics about why climbing trees is good for kids, all I can do is tell you what we have experienced first hand.

  • Outdoor play – the kids are always outdoors. The weather is amazing, the air is clean and they are constantly being drawn to the trees outdoors. I love the fact that it happily keeps them off their screens and tablets.
  • Creativity – its amazing what the kids come up with only one large earth grown prop around. Did you know that the ground is lava?! And apparently hide and seek can actually be played in a tree? And bark rubbing crafts are so much fun.
  • Gross Motor skills – they are constantly lifting their body weight, moving it around, pulling it up, pushing it through. They’re finding out what their bodies are capable of. Big movements left and right encourage both hemispheres of the brain to work together to solve problems. Excellent when you have a dual dominance child which means that both right brain and left brain competing for dominance.
  • Understanding their own limitations – they are discovering what they are capable of. They are figuring out when to climb higher and when to step down a little. And the joy in their faces when they climb higher than the day before is priceless.
  • Respect for nature – I am answering questions all day long about why we have trees in this world and why they are important, how do birds make nests, what animals live in trees, etc.

1IMG_2299

1IMG_2298

1IMG_2257

1IMG_2249

We have only 3 weeks left of our holidays and I think the kids will miss the trees the most. Next to family of course.

1IMG_2300

Happy Climbing,

la

As a disclaimer, I do urge you to please keep a close watch on your kiddos, safety first!

 

Moolmanshoek – Free State

1DSC_5243

This past weekend we had the absolute joy of visiting the beautiful Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Free State in South Africa.

It is a place where families and friends get together and appreciate mother nature at her finest. This magnificent reserve is nestled in the heart of the sand stone mountain area, and home to over 200 horses. The open bush veld is home to Springbuck, Antelope, Ostrich, Waterbuck, Wildebeest, Jackal, and many more of Africa’s beautiful creations.

The bed and breakfast retreat is beautiful and old. With all the original charm of the early 1900’s. It has not yet lost itself to modern amenities like wifi. While the rooms themselves have no cellular connection to boast or wifi availability, the main house does. So while you appreciate the pockets of isolation and being cut off from the rest of the world, calling home and checking emails really is just a little walk away, up to the main house.

1DSC_5306

It’s at this main house that we were treated to a buffet breakfast every morning, beautiful farm home made soups for lunch with home made fresh bread, and a thoughtfully put together dinner in the evenings. They even went out of their way to accommodate my gluten-free child and my own vegan preferences.

My dad and his wife, Anne, are amongst the fittest people I know. Every morning they went out on their bikes with a few friends and rode through the bush for miles, getting right up close to the reserves wildlife. If they weren’t on a bike, they had running shoes on to see what nature to show them by foot. While they went about their physical explorations of the area, the kids and I went for a gorgeous 2.2 km trail walk, perfect for my 3.5 yr old. The kids loved it. They really felt as if they had the freedom to go exploring the bush on their own trail, yet I knew that it would not be too strenuous for them – it really wasn’t. They really LOVED it! This reserve really has something for everyone, for all ages and all physical fitness levels.

The highlight for the kids and I was the horse riding. On our last night there, we went for a magnificent 1 hour horse ride as the sun was setting. Not to mention the play gyms set up for the kids that litter the grounds with childhood charm.

Yes, Moolmanshoek has something for everyone; for me and the kids and for our family and friends. It gave us precious memories and for those few days we were there, everything seemed right with the world again.

1DSC_5100

For more information about Moolmanshoek, click [here]

Cheers from SA,

la

The Colour Purple

DSC_4920 copy

Back in February I took you through the colour wheel in the post, Exploring Colour. You would have learned there that purple is a secondary colour combining red and blue. It’s complimentary colour is yellow. Thus, when you mix yellow and purple together in equal parts, you get the neutral colour, brown.

1DSC_4770 copy

To clarify, purple is not the same as violet. Violet is slightly closer to blue on the colour wheel, but more importantly, violet is a pure spectrum colour. This means that violet has its own wavelength in the visible spectrum of light, the same violet you find when the sun comes out revealing the rainbow after the rain.

To learn more about visible colour spectrums, click here.

COLLAGE - 7

Purple is known to be a colour of royalty. Think Empires, Emperors, and even Bishops from the Roman Catholic Churches. Why was this such a high end colour, you may ask? Well, let’s look at it’s origins for clues. Purple first showed up in prehistoric times in caveman paintings, these paintings were coloured using manganese and hematite minerals. Commercially however, purple dye was first discovered way back around 1570 B.C. by the Phoenicians. Known as Tyrian Purple, it is the colour that is formed when the secretion from predatory sea snails, from the Mediterranean Sea, is exposed to air.

Bolinus_brandaris

It was said to be so valuable because they often needed tens of thousands of the little snails and many hours of labour to produce the dye. This dye did not fade with time, but only got better and brighter as it aged. Its impact was so significant that Phoenicia means land of purple.

To learn more about this Tyrian Purple dye, click here.

In nature, purple is the colour of blackberries, cabbage, grapes, eggplants, and flora and fauna galore.

DSC_5164

DSC_0715 copy

In psychologically purple represents creativity, fantasy, intuition, selflessness, passion, power, respect, leadership, ambition and confidence to name a few.

I will never forget back in high school the head boy and head girl had to wear purple blazers. I’m not talking deep, royal purple either, I’m talking about bright, magenta-purple. It was an eye sore, to me at least. Purple can be a very beautiful colour that pulls design together, but if you get it wrong, it will draw everyones attention and highlight a bad desicion. Therefore I recommend in design, use purple wisely. In photography, it is a great way to attract attention, but not as aggressively as red.  In addition, it can be both a  masculine and feminine hue.

DSC_0881 copy

Side note: a super fun sorting game to play with the kids is to have a bucket of legos and have them sift out all the block in one chosen colour to display.

Sienna purple

Where do you see and use purple in the world around you, we would love to know. Share your purple world with us and don’t forget to use the #itsapurpleworld and #itsacolourfulworld so we can follow along.

Cheers from me – your fellow friend of purple,

la

 

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:

2DSC_8207 100X20 copy

IMG_1307
Photo: Kirrily Morris

Typical Kuwait Date Palm Tree:

1DSC_5795 copy

1DSC_4897

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

1DSC_5766 copy

skyline mix media copy

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