Author: suastilyephotography

Gluten Free – Grand Hyatt Mezza9

Going to Mezza9 at the Grand Hyatt on Scotts Road is a joy because they know what gluten is! Yes, its true!

On my recent trip there, we were seated and a fresh loaf of bread was placed on our table. As the waitress approached for our order, I told her I was gluten free and she looked extremely concerned and quickly pushed the bread basket as far as possible from me! It made me smile. She was helping me! In Singapore!

One of my favourite dishes here is the Sashimi Moriawase. The seafood is fresh and the best part is that when you ask them for gluten free soy sauce, it arrives promptly. These are the things that excite a food fanatic who can no longer eat gluten. It’s the little things.

I also had the Spencer Gulf Wild King Prawn Cocktail. The prawns were simply, well, just prawns but the cocktail sauce was well balanced with just the right amount of acidity and that lingering mouth flavor that makes you want that little bit more.

I was hoping that I could have the pork chop on the menu and the waitress complied by going to ask the chef if it could be done. And lo and behold it could! It was delicious. The interesting name of Dingley Dell Pork Chop with a Warm Potato Salad, Caramelized Apple and Gravy really hit the spot. The smoky grilling of the pork chop, added flavor and the actual pork its self had a nice layer of fat which kept it tender and moist. The caramelized apple was tart and cooked perfectly, holding its shape long enough for you to be able to get it in your mouth. You can never go wrong with any kind of potato salad as far as I am concerned. I was a happy girl.

The fact that the chefs and the staff know exactly what gluten is and were happy to help, gives Mezza9 a huge nod of my head. I will be back. Gluten free comfort food has my name written all over it.

*image credit to the Grand Hyatt, I was too busy eating to take any photos.

 

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Choosing the Right Photography Location For Your Client When You Don’t Have Time to Fly to France

Choosing the right location for a photo shoot is so important for your client and the message you want to help them create.

A big part of the shoots I do is spent in pre-production before I even think about picking up the camera.

What does my clients business stand for? What are THEIR key values and brand promises?

It is really important to have conversations and get to know who you photograph. Visual branding is coupled with brand strategy and often times you have to do the translation for your client using your camera and your skills! What I have learnt over the years about different industries has been awesome! Details upon details that I never knew.

I spend a lot of time scouting locations out before a shoot. In my previous post It All Starts Outside I had to find the right spot that was reminiscent of the countryside in France – hard to do in Singapore!

So off I went looking far off the beaten track for what would work for the overall shoot.

You can see the varied options I came up with here.

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I had to think about forests and picket fences and country sides. Do they want to seem like they are in Scandinavia?

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In presenting to the client you talk more and show them the options and delve further into what they want their brand to look like and feel like. You can then both decide on the location.

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Its actually a big task but if you love being outside, one you can really enjoy. Before I head out I always thinks to myself “I’m going on a little adventure to see what I can see”. It makes it fun and the possibilities are endless!!

 

You Forget It All Starts Outside

When it comes to cooking, dining and just enjoying food, we sometimes forget that it all starts outside. Great produce is what makes a great dish and it’s something that I keep being reminded of.

There are two things that I love and its food and being outside. The connection between the two is often forgotten or overlooked but when you remember, your appreciation for what you eat is so much more.

To me, there is nothing as great as stepping outside into the sunshine, fresh air and wide open spaces. As a photographer I look at the light but I also make it a point to step outside every day for pure joy. It helps me to feel more grounded and remember the simple things in life. My friends joke about it because my delight on a sunny day has me even jollier than normal. We call it a ‘Suasti Kind of Day’.

There have been so many times that I have gone to eat in a great restaurant to be amazed at the food but the moment that I think about how long it took to actually grow a certain tomato, raise a piece of kobe or mature a beautiful cheese my appreciation sky rockets. It takes so long! The people who create these products for restaurants to use and put on our plates, go through so much trouble to nurture and take care of their produce. In a world which is about fast consumption, the slow and time honoured way that these producers work makes me think twice about how it ALL starts outside – in nature.

In doing this photoshoot for Odette, we decided to take Chef Julien Royer, outside, to where it all starts with food. We are so used to seeing chefs in the kitchen that we thought the often unspoken symmetry between nature and the kitchen would be a good way to remember exactly where a great dish starts.

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Julien Royer 

With Chef Julien growing up in the country in France we had to shoot this series outside in Singapore, for his restaurant, Odette, named for his grandmother who first taught him to cook. I imagine growing up in France, he spent countless hours outside on the farm, growing vegetables and harvesting them from season to season and perhaps even sitting under a tree and day dreaming about being a great chef one day.

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Julien Royer 

 

For The Love of Food and People

I am by no means a food photographer but I love food. I love photographing people and telling their stories through images that capture their spirit. I have to get to know them and I have to wait for it – the exact right time, the right moment, the look in their eye that shows themselves to me.

Food to me is a central part of everyone’s story. The stories that I try to tell. If I ask someone about their favourite dish or restaurant, their most memorable meal, their eyes will light up and they will tell me with great fervour the details that they remember. Their eyes glaze over or they wave their hands around in excitement the way I do. Sometimes salivating with the sheer memory of deliciousness!

It is so easy to travel these days that cuisines collide, people are influenced from all over the world in the dishes that they prepare. Someone who has lived in many countries takes their mother’s favourite dish with them from country to country, as it is a piece of home. When this happens, they share the story of the dish, the way it was prepared and the love that goes with it to friends who sit at their table.

Food is central to someone’s heritage and no matter how well travelled you are or how many restaurants you go to, there is still something so precious about being invited to share a meal at home. I recently went to visit a friend, and upon leaving, was gifted a box of sweets. My friend is from France, most recently moving from Paris, but the box of sweets was prepared by his mother, who is from Algeria.

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The joy that was on his face when he gifted me this box was unmistakable. He was not only proud of his mother but the memories associated with this box of handmade cookies he had eaten his whole childhood, lovingly home made. As he named each cookie, asking me the equivalent of the world in English (one translated to gazelles horns!), I was able to see his childhood and his heritage, just through him describing each cookie. If I had a camera in my hand it would have been the perfect capture, the history – the joy – the memories.

Food is such an amazing way to create memories, to tell stories, to remember the past and to share it forward, it delights me no end. I have so much respect for extraordinary food photographers as it is not an easy task, but to me, it’s the story that goes with the food, the people, and how it was made, how it affected them and the happiness that it brings them. It’s the stories that go with the food that I like to tell.

PS I would have loved to photograph this gorgeous box of cookies however they were all eaten in my house by the time I got around to writing this piece! Good food waits for no one… I’ll be quicker next time!

 

Show People the Real You

There are so many social media platforms these days and so many options to buy from! It can be overwhelming but when you Google, it is an article with great imagery that is often the one you connect with. One that is real, inspiring and inviting.

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Pictures will appeal to various people for different reasons but the one consistency is that a well lit ‘real’ picture will engage your audience more. 60% of end users are more likely to engage with your business when you use pictures.

The power of the market is in your hands by combining authenticity with real imagery. Show people who you really are, what you stand for and why they should be doing business with you instead of your competitor.

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Humans like a good story and there is nothing more compelling than telling your brands visual story through a series of images. Planning your shoots with foresight to create a story will see your clients engage more and get to know you better. It’s a win-win situation for building long term relationships.

 

Choose Beautiful. Which one would you walk through?

The latest Dove Real Beauty campaign #ChooseBeautiful has come out and it is one that makes you think twice.

The video which you can see above shows two doors that women must walk through to get to their every day destination. One door is labeled Average and the other Beautiful. As you watch you see many women falter, enter through the door marked average and one lady turns around and walks in the other direction altogether.

The greatest impact that the short video had was that there was no one but themselves that had to choose which door they should walk through. In the resulting interviews you hear the women feeling bad about them selves and questioning why DID they walk through the Average door. Do they see themselves as average or is it how they believe they are perceived by the outside world.

I was fascinated with what was said and did my own little survey and asked a few ‘women’ I know which door they would choose – Average or Beautiful?

The 7 and 8 year old instantly said “of course I would walk through the beautiful door – I am beautiful and on the inside!”. Fantastic I thought, exactly the sentiment I would hope to hear.

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The 19 year old said “ God I would walk through the Average door because I wouldn’t want anyone else to think I rate myself – especially if I was with one of my friends or if someone I knew saw me”. Hmmmm not so great as it appeared to be very peer dominant. When do you validate yourself for all the amazing traits you come with from the get go? At what age?

The 40 year old said “ I guess I would walk through the beautiful door now because with age comes wisdom and some wrinkles! I have a good heart and beauty always comes from the inside”. Wise words to me. Its ironic that realizing what is truly beautiful comes with age.

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Which door would you joyfully push your mother, sister, best friend or aunt through instantly – without thinking twice? I think I know the answer.

Now which door would you confidently walk through?

 

 

 

A Photographer and The Light

I have just returned from an amazing trip ‘home’. I am not really sure where home is these days but perhaps I am one of the lucky few that feel at home in many different cities. There is something that ties me to each one, and for Australia, as a photographer, it might be the land itself.

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I have barely spent any time in Victoria being from Sydney and for the first time I got to spend a week there and take it in slowly. Why do Victorian’s feel so strongly about their state? It had baffled me but now that there are some years and countries between our ingrained Sydney and Melbourne rivalry, I was able to see what everyone was talking about.

The streets are wide and tree lined in Melbourne and reminiscent of one of the things I love about Singapore. Growing up, we would drive through one of my favourite streets and it was lined with giant majestic trees. Big solid trunks and branches full of leaves that the light would filter through. Each day I would press myself against the car window to see this street and I would hope and wish that one day I would get to live on a street just like that.

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The weather was beautiful in autumn and I was able to see Melbourne in all her sunlit glory. A huge highlight for me was being able to venture into the backyard and pluck sun ripened apples and peaches straight from the tree and eat them. Organic, sweet and juicy – I had not tasted a peach straight from the tree in ten years and all of a sudden my appreciation of that simple experience heightened everything I would take in for the rest of the trip.

I looked up every day mesmeriezed by the sky in Australia  – so blue and wide with fluffy rolling clouds that go on forever. There are big open spaces of land and scrubby gum trees, long sea grass, wattle and clean, crisp chilly air to breathe in. The magical thing to me was the light, there was such clarity to it. I could basically reach out and touch it. Different times of day saw the light change dramatically and I watched with delight.

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I spend a lot of time looking at the light in different countries.  You may think ‘same sun same light’ but the light hits differently on each location on earth and there is a crispness to it in Melbourne that I adored.

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I hope you enjoy these few images from my trip. The simple, everyday things can sometimes be overlooked but if you stop and slow down to even look at the light for a minute – you will see that life really is beautiful.

IMG_4328-2 copyPhotographer Yarra Valley

 

 

Chef Julien Royer | JAAN | Swissotel | Gluten Free |

It has been months and months since my last blog post and there is so much to catch up on. Something came full circle recently and I just felt the need to put it out there and write about it. Especially if anyone else out there had been struggling the way I had.

August of last year saw me feeling very tired and run down. True, I had been busy but there was no reason for me to feel as dismal as I did. After going to the doctors many times and having lots of tests done we realized that I had become highly sensitive to gluten. I didn’t realize that this naturally occurring protein was prevalent in so many foods and so I went on an elimination diet. This was hard but I was able to do it. Within two weeks I saw a huge change in my levels of energy, just feeling ‘clearer’ and being able to focus better. Incredible after so long.

On one hand I  was delighted to feel better but on the other hand I was devastated about my change in diet. I cried. Literally. I was a girl who loved food. Grocery lists, markets and recipe books were a great way to spend a weekend for me. In Sydney I would spend hours at all the different markets we had nearby and in New York there was so much to look at and discover. I would come home from work and bake bread from scratch, kneading the dough into submission and filling the house with the aroma of fresh bread. Nothing pleased me more than getting a bunch of friends together and cooking for them. It’s always the simple things that make me happiest and food was one of them. Things were definitely not going to be the same. My mental adjustment to this was one of the hardest things I have had to face and I am still dealing with it.

At the same time as I was learning about my food intolerance – work went on as usual. I was requested to go into the kitchen of JAAN to do a profile piece on Chef de Cuisine Julien Royer and his team. The Honeycombers were running an article and needed me.

I remember clearly getting a short slot during their busy lunch period to do my shoot. JAAN is located on the 70th floor of the Swissotel and I had no idea what to expect from the kitchen side of things. I was warmly greeted by the staff though and I got to see first hand what goes on inside the kitchen of a fine dining establishment. Chef Julien Royer and his team were very accommodating and I got images that I didn’t expect to get. The article went live and I was contacted by the marketing team at Swissotel for me to come in again and shoot the team. When you take as much care as I do with other peoples businesses and images it is always so nice to be asked back, its something I value a lot.

JAAN - Julien Royer | Kirk Westaway

On my second visit to the JAAN kitchen I had more time to observe as they allowed me to stay in the kitchen for hours. While I was there I was able to really see and experience what went on. Watching for some time allows me to be able to translate the ‘feel’ of things into imagery. Sometimes just one shot has to tell a whole story.

Julien Royer From an observers perspective, everything that happens in the kitchen at JAAN just flows. There is a rhythm and pace with the team that speaks volumes for Julian Royer and the way he helms the kitchen, a true gentleman. The service was busy as it usually is however the order and deliberateness of everything was a joy to watch. In a busy kitchen there was a sense of peace that I had not observed before. Each person knew their role and it was like an orchestra of musicians that were playing their part for it to all come together beautifully. Even when the pace picked up during the busiest time there was no tension. It was such a pleasing experience to be watching a kitchen run at such a high level of precision, delivering beautiful dishes with fluidity and a sense of fun.

JAAN Team - Krik Westaway, Julien Royer Fast forward to 2014 and I finally go back into JAAN for lunch. Since discovering my gluten intolerance, eating out had not been fun for me to say the least. I was always apprehensive but had been assured that JAAN would be able to cater for me.

I was joined for lunch by Andrea Lui of Frolik and Maria Kuvshinova and Andries de Vos of Clubvivre. All three of my lunch partners were food connoisseurs to say the least and I was in great company.

As I sat, took in the view and enjoyed the amazing courses put before me I felt I really had come full circle from a year ago. My appreciation was heightened even more as I had been in the kitchen and seen first hand what was happening behind the scenes. And I was still blown away.

Chef Julien RoyerThe joy I felt was probably more intense as each of my beautiful dishes was completely gluten free and delicious. As a photographer, the plating was artistic and so visually balanced that I had to pause in mid conversation to let my eyes happily rest on what was in front of me.   As a lover of food, the freshness of ingredients and the execution of each dish had a finesse that I wanted to applaud. Julien Royer had surpassed my expectations. I was surprised, happy and appreciative.

Chef Julian Royer

Chef Julien Royer and his team do an incredible job and the care that they take for people with food intolerances is notable. For many people with gluten sensitivity I am sure you see it as I do – that this level of care has sense of kindness about it. I, for one, was very grateful.

Chef Julien Royer

 

The whole experience starting a year ago has now put me back on track and I am revisiting my love of food. I am sure my friends and I will be back sooner rather than later.

So in sharing this with you, I will close with images my friend Andrea took of the meal. Enjoy.

 

JAAN Egg beetroot photo Granita Hen Hen2 Scallop UniHoneycomb

JAAN Dessert Truffle Ice Cream JAAN

 

 

 

Point Yamu in Phuket

I recently went on a work trip to Phuket for the Honeycombers. What an amazing work trip it was!! My destination – Point Yamu, the newest addition to the world of COMO.  The trip was extraordinary as Point Yamu is in a league of its own. Being a ‘visual buff’ I was delighted at the design of the hotel. The intricate details they had thought of were amazing and the flow of the whole resort its self was superbly seamless.

People have commented on it appearing stark compared to other resorts but those people obviously missed all the beautiful nuances and detail that come alive as the light changes throughout the day. Each shift of light showcased a design detail unseen before.

The hand made wall and furniture are all from Navone's limitless imagination.

The hand made wall and furniture are all from Navone’s limitless imagination.

Point Yamu

The beautiful Thai trays and the comfy couches in the foyer where you can watch the bay.

I was given a private tour of the resort by the general manager, James Low, who described to me the way that the resort was created. The flagship of Point Yamu is that the creative genius Paola Navone has her design flair all over the resort. She was able to take the time to create what you see at Point Yamu and you can see the beauty in nature and the feminine restraint that has gone into various areas of the hotel. Modern yet warm,  Navone has been able to blend Europe and Thailand in a way that I have never seen before.

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A sentimental story that was shared with me by James was that as the Italian Navone visited the artisans who were creating the intricate fittings it suddenly became clear that she could not speak Thai, the artisans could not speak English or Italian – how were instructions to be given?!?  I was told communication barriers were leapt over through Navone’s warmth whereby she would show her joy and exuberance for their work with big smiles and hand clapping to show her enthusiasm. The artisans were more than delighted and they were able to complete the amazing walls and detail at Point Yamu with joy.

The beautiful gold leaf wall and giant goldfish.

The beautiful gold leaf wall and giant goldfish.

Nhammya the Thai restaurant at Point Yamu serves amazing food and the venue is modern. Here Navone instructed the workers to gold leaf a magnificent wall and when they did it painstakingly symmetrical she disagreed and showed them how – it had to look organic and what better way than to get your hands dirty slap it on the walls and sing while you are doing it! The artisans were again thrilled with this manner of doing things and the giant gold fish and the placement of the wall thrill you as you turn a corner. Just beautiful. 

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Each room at the resort has the most stunning blues incorporate into it. Each having a different tone of blue to complement the ocean outside the windows. The blues, whites and greys somehow remind you of Greece yet blends so well with the waters of Thailand . Each bathroom is fitted out for a queen and I love the gorgeous rain shower and the huge tub. Each bathroom comes with signature products from the COMO Shambala spa as well so you feel truly pampered – I sure did.

The beautiful blue tiles of the bathrooms and the amazing tub I soaked in. Bliss.

The beautiful blue tiles of the bathrooms and the amazing tub I soaked in. Bliss.

The other highlights of the resort of course were the 100m pool as well as the La Sirena – the Italian restaurant. Each morning I would stare at the beautiful cutlery in my hand. Each spoon, fork and plate is designed by Navone as well and is just stunning! I wish I could have bought some so I could use it for my breakfast everyday and relive a little of Point Yamu.

What a huge feat to design such a hotel which flows so well. The longer I spent at the hotel the more I appreciated the thought that had gone into the design. I am often a woman for a woman but Paola Navone really has done an outstanding job. Point Yamu is modern and crisp with a softness and eye for intricacies  that comes from a women.

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Thank you to the Honeycombers for sending me. You can always count on the Honeycombers for the best information in Singapore. Whenever you are in a bind just look it up on the site – I guarantee you will find something that helps you out.

Head to Point Yamu if you get a chance – the design, the food, the amazing detail will make you as happy as it did me.

Here are some images of what caught my eye. Enjoy!

These two lovely ladies sit atop a coffee table installation in the foyer.

These two lovely ladies sit atop a coffee table installation in the foyer.

Stunning private dining room which Navone designed. The walls are lined with flickering candles which reflect off the thousands of hand placed mirrored tiles lining the walls.

Stunning private dining room which Navone designed. The walls are lined with flickering candles which reflect off the thousands of hand placed mirrored tiles lining the walls.

The stunning 100m pool at Point Yamu

Breeze in the afternoon.

Breeze in the afternoon.

Foyer by Night

Foyer by Night

Are You Camera Shy? Five Reasons Not to Be

Being involved with the Dove Camera Confidence campaign recently has helped me overcome my own camera shyness. People always thought it was strange that I was so camera shy  – I would always be the photographer to avoid actually being in pictures. Each time a group photo was to be taken I would stiffen up, freeze and manage to scrounge up the worst expression possible thinking that it would resemble something of a nonchalant smile – sound familiar?

According to the dove campaign 77% of women world-wide face the same issues I did. That’s a lot of us ladies!  My camera shy tendencies stemmed from female friends over the years commenting on how unattractive I looked in photos or how un-photogenic I was. Not many friends said this – but a couple definitely did – and it’s always those comments that stick with you for some reason – right?

I had one girlfriend take a photo of me – look at the back of the screen and make a disdainful face solely about me. I have had comments about how big my head seemed ( when in fact it was that my co-subjects head was extra small!!) and a girlfriend who constantly drew attention to how lean she looked in pictures as opposed to me. The list goes on – and it all resulted in varying degrees of camera shyness.

Here I am trying to get comfortable.

Here I am trying to get comfortable.

When people come to get their photos taken by me, I know what you have gone through – I understand that you may feel camera shy and I am there to help. Sessions with me are very relaxed as I have walked a mile in your shoes.

Well, now its about two miles. My camera anxieties all came to ahead when I had to be in the Dove Camera Confidence Video. Yes, actually in it (panic). Can you feel how I started to perspire? I even asked if we could have stick figures giving pointers and I would be the voice over person!

Can you see my jugular popping out?

Can you see my jugular popping out?

I had to get over my camera anxiety pretty quickly. First of all I wanted to help lots of people out there like me and secondly I was excited to get such a wonderful opportunity.

Our day in studio was a long one – twelve hours to be exact. I put on my game face and went into hair and make up before the shoot started. All glammed up with various outfits tried on we were ready to hit the camera. Celes and I had various lines each but boy was I nervous sometimes. When the camera was on me and I was delivering my lines – my heart was pounding so fast I was worried that the director could see my jugular vein popping out!  After twelve hours of filming my camera anxieties had flown out the door. My body ached from sitting on the couch but my camera confidence had finally been found!

We spent a lot of time on that couch!

We spent a lot of time on that couch!

You can see the results of the video here:

Goofing around with my camera.

Goofing around with my camera.

I had to photograph myself for this campaign - quite a challenge!

I had to photograph myself for this campaign – quite a challenge!

The whole crew who made the video happen. What a great bunch from the Dove Team to the director Julius Landau and the crew.

The whole crew who made the video happen. What a great bunch from the Dove Team to the director Julius Landau and the crew.

The final celebratory group shot!

The final celebratory group shot!

With this post I urge you to find your own camera confidence. Five reasons to have pictures of yourself :

  1. Fantastic moments will pass and you will not have a momento of it. The picture will not capture everything about a great experience but it will jog your memory so you can re-live the joy of it in years to come.
  2. You are who you are and there is no one else like you. Learn to love yourself. The angles of your face, the nose you inherited from your grandmother, the cheeks you got from your father and the colour of your eyes that are your mothers. You are  the result of a fantastic genetic mix of your history and there is no one else who looks just like you. That’s pretty cool.
  3.   You may think you are getting older and not want to take pictures of yourself but remember that each day everyone gets a little bit older and women grow into their looks. A face that has character and definition is one who has lived a little! Got laugh lines around your eyes – great! It shows that you have laughed and enjoyed yourself.  Mature faces are beautiful to look at.
  4. Worried about your body shape and a little tummy you may have – own it! You probably delivered a few beautiful children into this world and that soft spot is where they came from. It’s just a part of who you are and it’s OK.
  5. Most people in this world are looking for what is great about you. If you smile with joy and happiness your photos will be attractive and radiate energy from them because you are comfortable. It’s all about being confident.  Naysayers are usually people who are insecure themselves and they are few and far between – forget them. 98% of people out there are looking for what is great about you – show them!

    Here I am smiling like no one is looking for a change. Thank you Dove for helping me find my own camera confidence.

    Here I am smiling like no one is looking for a change. Thank you Dove for helping me find my own camera confidence.

Don’t shy away from the camera any more – as time passes it is our photo collection that will mark great moments in our lives and enable you to re-live wonderful occasions. Like I have said before – I’m looking for all the many things that are beautiful about you when I shoot. By the time I am finished hopefully you will be able to see them too!