photoshoots

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

 

 

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Suasti Lye Portrait and Lifestyle Photographer: I am Dove’s Featured Photographer and Camera Confidence Expert: Any Questions .. Ask Away…

Over December I was honoured to work with Dove on their Camera Confidence Campaign. “When did you stop feeling beautiful in front of the camera?” You may have heard this line via the Dove commercial that launched earlier this year.

As a woman and a photographer I have always been fascinated with Dove’s approach to women’s beauty. When their REAL Beauty campaign first came out I sat up and took notice. It was so refreshing to my eyes to see real and happy women in a marketing campaign.

Below are one of the many images that Dove used to showcase the wide variety of shapes and forms that all women come in. Magnificent, petite, curvy and gorgeous.  Real beauty showcased! I loved it!

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As my career in photography moved into the commercial realm I always maintained time for photo shoots of real women. I can seen the beauty and the potential in the everyday woman on the street. Many women don’t realise that that all the models we see  and gaze longingly at in magazines have all been meddled with, airbrushed and had hundreds of pictures taken of them until we find one that is just the right fit.

When Dove’s Camera Confidence Campaign came out I sat bolt upright and watched – saying YES YES YES – to myself – this is the message that I am trying to convey to all my subjects and to people – that real natural beauty is something to be treasured and to be proud of. I watched the campaign with delight and urged women to look up – look at the camera – because I can see that you are beautiful.

To my honour Dove asked me to be their photographer and the featured expert on camera confidence for a workshop they were holding.  I would work alongside Celestine Chua  of Personal Excellence– a life coach and personal development blogger.  Dove wanted us to help women who were the most camera shy to come forward, participate and transform themselves. Women whose lives were rushing by without documentation of all the high points and celebrations because of their camera anxiety.

Through this door - ten women's lives were changed.

Through this door – ten women’s lives were changed.

We worked closely with the Dove team and selected ten women whose stories resonated with us all. I was so excited; this campaign marked a milestone for me in that my photography was going to show real people just how attractive they were. I have had countless people leave the front of my lens  filled with new confidence and their head held high because they finally had an image of themselves that captured their true spirit. Dove had now given me the chance to do the same for these ten women.

Everyone really got to know each other during the workshop.

Everyone really got to know each other during the workshop.

I am very proud to say that the workshop and photoshoot were a success with each of our ten participants shedding their camera shyness and embracing their real beauty.

There was lots of laughter and a few tears.

There was lots of laughter and a few tears.

Each woman I got to know had a story to share about how and why they were camera shy. You can read their stories on the Dove site.  Each story was something that I could identify with and with Celestina’s workshop I was able to photograph them in a way where they felt safe and joyful- letting their real self show. The photoshoot was so much fun! Each lady worked it for me and utilized the tips that I shared with them. All were great at taking direction  and the best part was that they smiled for me with a true sense of joy.

The Camera Confidence Photoshoot was a lot of fun with all of the ten ladies showing us their gorgeous smiles and personalities.

The Camera Confidence Photoshoot was a lot of fun with all of the ten ladies showing us their gorgeous smiles and personalities.

The ladies who participated in the Dove Camera Confidence workshop took this new found confidence away with them and some wrote and told me that it had been a life changing experience.

I love every bit of camera confidence that these ladies discovered . From L to R Qiao'E, Conne and Adeline.

I love every bit of camera confidence that these ladies discovered . From L to R Qiao’E, Connie and Adeline.

Look at them glow. Camera Confident and ready. From Left to Right - Wei Yin, Kiran and Pauline

Look at them glow. Camera Confident and ready. From Left to Right – Wei Yin, Kiran and Pauline

I am currently featured on Dove’s Facebook page and if you have any questions on posing or tips on how to overcome your camera anxieties, you can write in to me here and I will personally answer any questions you may have. Looking great in a photo is within everyone’s grasp. It’s true that having a skilled professional makes for a great photo but confidence is the key!  Maybe you just need me to see how beautiful YOU are ….

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Stay tuned for more behind the scenes pictures and a post about the video filmed. It was my turn to be in front of the camera and work on my own camera confidence!

A Yummy Plain Vanilla Housewarming

This past weekend I was delighted to attend the Housewarming of Plain Vanilla Bakery in Tiong Bahru. The event was cosy, warm and laid back just like Vanessa Kenchington herself who owns this charming bakery.

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Going back in time, many of you know that I photographed Vanessa for a Hello Honey shoot and this is how I met her. She is one busy lady so we only had a small window of time in which to do the shoot. I admit that I do feel nervous at times turning up to a complete stranger’s home to photograph them. Who wouldn’t be right? There are so many things at play when I shoot. I have to consider the light, the location, small details and most importantly the subject.

So there I was climbing the stairs to Vanessa’s home (noisily hoisting up my camera bag behind me) wondering about my subject. Was she in the mood to be photographed, how had her day been going, and so on and so forth. Well, my fears were happily flung out the window (or the second floor balcony) when she opened the door and this complete stranger greeted me so warmly.

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Vanessa showed me around her beautiful apartment and we got talking – really talking about life, love, work and doing something you are passionate about. Vanessa is a trained lawyer and left a career in law behind to pursue her dreams of offering people the simple things in life by way of Plain Vanilla Bakery.  It was such a refreshing and open conversation and she spoke from the heart.

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I photographed her while we chatted and time flew! Before I knew it my hour was up as the hard working Vanessa had to make an emergency cupcake delivery.

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I saw her again this past weekend at the official housewarming of Plain Vanilla. It was aptly named a housewarming as there were children running around, homemade lemonade, big communal tables and a true feeling of community.

Each person was made to feel welcome and I could see how Vanessa’s hard work had translated into this beautiful space. The cupcakes on offer at the bakery are delicious and homely with a price that lets you enjoy the simple things in life without a care – the way it should be!

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I know how hard this amazing lady has worked and as you can see from my photos she has done it all while still being true to herself  and keeping a beautiful smile on her face. Hard work pays off and Vanessa’s laid back personality and friendliness comes across in Plain Vanilla Bakery as a whole. I had a blast.

Why Are You Camera Shy Woman? Stop It.

I just came across the latest Dove advertisement and it focuses on women and how camera shy they can be.  The focus of the ad campaign is ” when did you stop thinking you were beautiful?” Towards the end of the clip you get to see some beautiful little girls preening happily in front of the mirror. When did it change?  If all the camera shy women in the world could see themselves through the eyes of their children, husband or loved one, the world would be a better place. They would feel gorgeous, sexy, happy and full of warmth.

I get to see how beautiful women are when I photograph them as their beauty shines when they are the least self conscious. During a shoot, when a mum leans in and has a whisper to her six year old and then throws her head back laughing, her beauty shines. When resting with a little one on her shoulder, relaxed and nurturing, again, her beauty shines.

A woman’s beauty is a combination of how she moves, the curve of her cheek, the joy she shows and the warmth she radiates. It is so much more than a straight photograph. Sometimes its the quiet moment in which she can gaze straight at the camera while relaxed, that is the moment in which even I can be startled as I see her confidence and her strength. The completeness of this woman hits home.

The images that capture your inner beauty, at the same time as making your outside looks shine, are the images I want to take.

Look up lady, look at the camera, you are beautiful.

Camera Shy? Look Up Beautiful

Grateful

I had a beautiful family shoot this afternoon. And I was grateful. Not only do I love photography but I am deeply touched that people choose me to photograph them on special occasions. My shoot this afternoon was to capture some memories for a two year old as her cousins were permanently migrating overseas.

Families often come to me to capture their last few months in Singapore and to me this is a special request.They want to capture the fun they have had here, the births of one or more children and the extraordinary experience they have had. The photos I take commemorate the life they had here and are memories that will be ‘looked at’ when the move home.

After my shoot finished today, I took a moment to sit in the botanical gardens, look at the golden light and feel truly thankful to all the people who have chosen me to photograph them. If any of you are reading this – thank you – I am so blessed to be able to meet and photograph many of you and treasure the friendships that have evolved over time.

What I try and do for you in a photo shoot means the world to me and I hope to always get better and deliver images that will delight you now and in years to come.

The sky is missing!

The unexpected haze in Singapore due to the burning of land in Sumatra has caused the sky to go missing! I can’t see very much at the moment so it has put a damper on all the outdoor  photography that was planned.

I’m keeping a watery eye on the haze outside but will be re-scheduling some shoots for health reasons.  Health warnings suggest that all people should stay inside because of the air quality.

Thinking of everyone and hoping for some rain! I miss blue skies.

Eat, Pray, Love’s Ketut and Bali.

My most recent photography adventure has been to Ubud in Bali. Set in lush greenery, Ubud is so very peaceful and serene. Steeped in religious practice and tradition, it is miles away from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak and Kuta.

After arriving at Denpasar our main goal was to get to the beautiful hotel “Uma by Como”. We pleasantly chatted away to our driver Rocky who was transporting us to the hotel. Completely taken by the scenic views from our van, I was thoroughly engrossed in general chit chat and rice paddies. As the van slowed down I was expecting to pull into the hotel, however we found our self at someone else’s actual home.

Whose home you may wonder? If you have read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert or seen the movie starring Julia Roberts, you may remember a good portion of the book being set in Bali. As we pulled up I asked Rocky  “Is this the hotel Rocky?”

“No, no. This is Ketut Liyer’s house. The medicine man!” replies smiley Rocky.

“Whaatttt? Oh my gosh!” I screeched. What in the world was I doing here? We had asked Rocky (just generally) if Ketut Liyer from the book Eat, Love, Pray was a real person you could visit and then lo and behold he actually brought us to see him! Surprised didn’t quite describe it. We scrambled out of the van to see what lay beyond the beautiful stone wall.

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A welcome from Ketut Liyer.

It was a bit surreal to see a character from a book right in front of your eyes. He looked pretty good for his age considering he is meant to be about 110 at this point. Sitting cross-legged on the verandah of his compound he was happily telling the fortunes of the tourists before us.

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Eat, Pray, Love’s Ketut Liyer. Still smiley at the age of 110 it seems!

He was delighted to have his picture taken and to see what he looked like. We were number 24 for the day and one of the last people he saw. While I don’t place too much faith in his fortune telling skills, it was a treat to see him in real life.

Take a number to see Ketut.

I spent some time looking into his eyes as he spoke and was greeted with a warm spirited person.  All the best to you Ketut Liyer, thank you for being so pleased to pose for me.

Ketut is thrilled to see a picture of himself on my camera.

Ketut is thrilled to see a picture of himself on my camera.

Show Us Your Personality Please

The Honeycombers in Singapore is an online destination that tells you what is happening all around the island. They cover openings of new restaurants to fabulous new brands arriving and even quirky little stores you didn’t know existed. It is also an online directory so whenever you are in a bind you can simply look things up on the site. You can discover everything great in Singapore at http://www.thehoneycombers.com after you check out the fab team below.

After moving to Singapore from Manhattan I was at a loss as to where to find things on my new little island. I longed for something like The Honeycombers and BAM, one day, everything just collided perfectly. I found them and they found me! It was a match.  The photography gods were listening and I now have a team I love working with in conjunction with my own brand.

The Honeycombers have just launched a newly renovated site and with that came new team photos. We shot it against a nice grey wall at Chris’, the founder and owner’s house. I really love this grey wall. It has such character. But I digress, I wanted to show the team’s character – not just the wall’s!

The aim was to showcase everyone’s personality and that it was a fun team. Doing ‘work’ on this team involves a lot of laughter and it is part of what makes The Honeycombers the way it is. I wanted to capture the spirit of each team member, the semi-formal and the goofy sides of their personalities.

The shoot was fast as we are comfortable with each other and, here, you get to see the final product. Team Honeycombers, show us your personalities please.

Chris - our fun, fearless, fabulous leader

Chris – our fun, fearless, fabulous leader

Mel - our marvelous senior editor who is the bomb diggity of writers

Mel – our marvelous senior editor who is the bomb diggity of writers

Tina - our awesome relationship manager

Tina – our awesome relationship manager

Rachel - our super talented graphics guru

Rachel – our super talented graphics guru

Cosmopolitan’s Fearless Men

These are some of the fearless men who I shot for Cosmopolitan Magazine Singapore. They were featured in September 2012’s issue. This is my personal black and white edit which I only just got around to doing, months later! I say better late than never.

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I have shot Bobby Tonelli and George Young before so it was a very easy shoot and these guys are great at what the do. They all have such ease in front of the camera. They can relax into different moods and be sexy and laugh on cue – that is what I call talent.

I am using this post to draw some light to how a commercial shoot goes. You can see here that I have edited these images to look sultry and sexy and a little bit dark, just like the fearless men themselves. However, on the set of the shoot it was anything but dark and sultry – we were all having a laugh and teasing each other, getting the shot, checking make-up and just rolling along. Very different to what the end result actually looks like.

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George Young posing perfectly.

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Oli Pettigrew is also featured and although he looks very sombre here – between shots he managed to try and eat his shoe!

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Commercial shoots are planned and organized well beforehand. The tone of the images can be edited and what goes on during the shoot is definitely not what you end up seeing. I enjoy seeing how shoots are made and what goes on behind the scenes so I thought I would share a little insight with you. The cheeky posing of George and Bobby and the shoe eating Oli are not necessarily going to make it to print but it is definitely fun to see and know about.

Whose Eyes? Mama’s Eyes

Suasti Lye

Mama’s Eyes

Where did I come from? Who’s eyes do I have? Who do I look like? My Mum or Dad?  Everyone wonders these questions. This shoot captured that this little pumpkin truly has her mother’s eyes.

Time goes by so fast  and when she is a ‘big girl’ six she will hardly believe that she used to be this little. She will be curious about what she sounded like, how she acted and what she looked like. Having  a photo session like this gives such a good reference point to talk about the past. It always amazes me that there can be traces of ancestral history all over a child’s features. Perhaps her grandmother’s chin, her father’s face shape and so forth. It is  like a beautiful map of people and time combined into a tiny little person who is adored

When she is sixteen, then twenty-five and when she has children of her own, these are the photos she is likely to treasure. A snapshot in time of a beautiful baby girl, treasured and loved and who has beautiful eyes, just like her Mama.

Suasti Lye

Baby Girl