Capturing the End of a Chapter

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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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

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

To Market, to Market we go!

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In Kuwait the market is referred to as the the “souk” and in Israel it is the “shouk.” They are similar language and atmosphere, with vendors selling their wares, calling out for you to come over, and the colorful array of people milling about. It is fascinating and quite a sight to see. It is a great place at which to shop and grab a bite to eat. We particularly enjoy sipping a local Israel craft brew at the Beer Bazaar and people watching.

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That said, my favorite part of the Carmel Market (shouk) in Tel Aviv is that it’s adjacent to the arts and crafts fair on Nachlat Binyamin Street.

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Every Tuesday and Friday starting at 10:00am, the artists setup their stalls on what used to be the longest street in Tel Aviv. First created by a group of craftsmen as a suburb of Tel Aviv, it ended up becoming a part of the city limits and was further developed. Nachlat Binyamin is made up of historic buildings dating back as early as 1911.  In 1988 the converted pedestrian street became home to one of the largest arts and crafts markets in Israel, hosting over 250 artists. (Visit-tel-aviv.com).

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The thing that makes the Nachlat Binyamin experience unique, is that it is mandatory that each artist sells their own work. Allowing you to meet and purchase directly from the artists themselves, not a broker or studio employee. This also creates a vibrant culture of creatives working together and developing relationships. Which you know I love!

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I have to credit my fabulous neighbor/explorer, Julie (above), for introducing me to the market as well as the Hatachana Train Station and Neve Tzedek neighborhood.  She introduced me to several artists she had purchased from in the past and with which she enjoyed good rapport. It was through Julie that I met my favorite Israel ceramist and Instagram buddy, Orna Barel.

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Orna’s work is beautiful and inspiring, but beyond that, she is a lovely person. I have been know to message her and give her a heads up that I am bringing friends to the market or pre-order items that I love on her Instagram and she is always welcoming and treats the newcomer really special. {I’m hoping to feature her in a post in the near future, so this is not the last you will hear about Orna!} Honestly, it is creative community in action. On that note, check out Orna on Instagram or at her Etsy shop.

There are so many artists that I enjoy seeing again and again at the market including Smadar Dagan-Yehieli, a fabulous jewelry designer, discovered by my mother-in-law on our adventure to the market. Thanks to our Kiwi friends’ visit, I was introduced to a new-to-me painter, Osnat Shavit, who produces some gorgeous landscapes, still life, and scenes of childhood. There truly are so many great artists to check out.

To complete the art scene of the market Nachlat Binyamin is a hot spot for sighting some of the incredible graffiti art by MR and other well known Tel Aviv artists.

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Since Julie’s first gave me a tour of the area, I have introduced the market to all our visitors and a couple other expats. After Melissa’s visit to the area, she said I have to bring everyone there when they stay with us; and I totes agree. A trip to the market and the surrounding areas is a must for everyone visiting Tel Aviv!

If you have had the pleasure of shopping the at Nachlat Binyamin we would love to hear what artists you recommend!

Cheers,
kdg

Inspiring Artist: Banksy

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If you read my post a couple months back about urban art, you know I’m pretty inspired by street art. During our visit with our Kiwi friends this past week we talked a lot about the culture of street art here in Israel. The graffiti art that gets the most exposure outside of Israel are the pieces painted on the wall dividing Israel and the West Bank. One of the most well known contributors is the artist Banksy. It just so happens that we noticed a billboard of his art and our friends were interested in seeing some of his work.

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ― Banksy

I had heard of the name before, but I was unaware of how pivotal Banksy has been in the world of street art. Although he originated in the UK, Banksy has painted several pieces on the wall and recently created the Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem. We were thrilled to find out that the billboard was advertising (in Hebrew) his pop up gallery running the month April at one of our local malls. It was truly meant to be!

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The exhibit at the Arena Mall, runs three different 4-hour time slots where visitors can peruse and admire several pieces of Banksy’s work all curated by his former spokesperson (and friend) Steve Lazarides. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

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Although, the artist is anonymous, there are tidbits out there about him, all with the disclaimer that everything “known” has never been confirmed or denied. What is known is that Banksy has changed the genre of street art into art for the high-end consumer. There are stories of Banksy walls being dismantled and sold for millions. It is truly amazing that something that can be seen as vandalism to some is also fine art to others.

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As a political activist, Banksy gives a voice to people being oppressed and marginalized in the public arena and challenges the viewer to think beyond their sphere. He is also known for pranking and producing exhibits that push the limits of being socially acceptable. These include his very own theme park Dismaland and his Hang-and-Run prank where he vandalized faux masterpieces and hung them in museums around the world. He is edgy, anarchic, and he frankly does not care about offending others. Take it or leave it, laugh or ignore it. With anonymity it is easy to let the art speak for itself. In addition to the work itself, Banksy has produced documentaries and self published several books making his art even more accessible to the masses.

“People either love me or they hate me, or they don’t really care.”                 ―Banksy, Wall and Piece

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What I like most about Banksy’s style is the juxtaposition of gritty and innocent; bows on helicopters, little girls and soldiers, and bombers with bouquets of flowers. Specifically, my favorite piece is the showcased Girl and the Red [or Gold] Balloon.

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If you are in the Tel Aviv area I urge you to visit the gallery see if his work speaks to you. Also, as the title of one Banksy’s documentaries reminds us, don’t forget to Exit Through the Gift Shop.

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Let us know if you have seen any of Banksy’s work, we would love to hear what you thought! 

Cheers,
kdg

Referenceswikepedia / quotes

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.

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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.

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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.

cheers,

kdg