I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to attend one of Kiara Rose Photography's retreats in the Blue Mountains for a weekend getaway of shooting, networking, teaching and learning.
This retreat rocked me to my core, opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and seeing, allowed me to meet and assist fellow creatives, and to teach and learn different skills and techniques. I highly recommend attending something similar; just throw yourself out there and try something new.
Here are a select few images from the weekend, including one of my favourite ever self portraits.
I spent an afternoon with my cousin, Willow, exploring the ruins of an old boarding school on the Wellington coast. Her crazy beautiful hair, and amazingly kind soul, bounced perfectly with the overgrown school grounds. Stay exactly how you are, my darling - you are an amazing human being x
It had been more than two years since I saw my best friend Matt and his gorgeous girlfriend Holly, and we spent less than 24 hours together, but we have that sort of friendship where that doesn't matter. I love you guys to the moon and back x
The entire trip involved food (and alcohol) and I don't regret it one bit. If you get the chance, check out Moustache - a cafe dedicated to specialty cookies!
None of us have a "normal" 9-5 job, so drinking games and catch ups on a Tuesday are no big deal! (I won, of course... even if they think otherwise)
Our main tradition is chocolate chip pancakes. We've experimented with different ways of making them, and now have it down to perfection!
We had some spare time before my flight back to Wellington, and I'd never been up Mt Eden before, so we went on a little adventure, and yet again the weather provided a breath taking view.
We ended up spending almost an hour watching this guy make wet collodion prints from scratch - he had all the chemicals in his car to prep the aluminium, and process it once it had been exposed. Watching Matt's face when the image appeared was priceless. It is a magical process that I hope everyone in the world gets to experience witnessing at least once in their life.
The weather also provided an outstanding view of Mt Taranaki on my way home!
Ahh, Wellington... You never fail to impress. I will love you until the end of time.
There's nothing quite like going home to family after a momentous life changing event has occurred. I am so lucky to have the family I have - they are amazingly supportive, and would do absolutely anything for me at the drop of a hat.
I spent two weeks at my dad's, and we took this opportunity to visit my Granna (she couldn't decide between Granny and Nana!) This courageous woman has been battling emphysema for coming on seven years, and she's still going strong! At one stage she even recognised that her organs were failing and took herself to hospital (she used to be a paramedic/ambulance driver). Her mother was the first female dentist in NZ, so after those two, I've got some big shoes to fill!
The two main men in my life and I got up before the sun, and took to the road straight away! I've never seen the Kapiti Coast so calm...
Every road trip calls for McDonald's for breakfast (and obviously multiple smoke breaks and sneak photos hehe please excuse how rude my kid brother is!)
Nothing quite like being a tourist in my own country... Every year, Taihape holds an interesting event. Can anyone guess what it involves?
I've been along Dessert Road countless times, and this was by far the best day for the trip. We couldn't have asked for better weather - Mt Ruapehu was absolutely breathtaking.
Yes, these are real bones... It's interesting what you can find when you go on an adventure!
My Granna's chicken coupe was filled to the brim with citrus trees - lemons, oranges, and even this odd looking fruit not sold in stores called a lemonade (like a lemon, but sweeter!)
So people do actually have pet sheep in their backyards in rural NZ - my Granna's neighbour had four! And my goodness they eat anything and everything! (including my hand...)
My uncle John fed the chickens so they'd come out from hiding so I could take a photo of them!
We picked around five buckets worth of fruit, and my dear Granna washed every single last one.
Clockwise from top left - home made preserves that Granna sells at the local market; original old school comic books; actual green eggs, from a grey chicken; images of my great grandma and grandpa (Granna's mum and dad).
Granna going through her belongings and playing a bit of show and tell (everyone knows I LOVE this game!) She divided what was left between us. I got a hand drawn sketch of the streets of London by my architect grandfather from before he moved to NZ.
Please excuse the candid shots - I just really love these sorts of photos. So pure and true to who the people in them really are.
(I love being a tourist! hehe)
I'm pretty sure he's sick of me pointing my camera in his face, but he's just such a handsome, well-rounded young man, and I love him to pieces x
It's taken me a while to work up the courage to post about my adventures at Camp Winona this year; a lot of personal events occurred, and now my memories of this magical place are bitter sweet. I will miss this haven dearly, but I know I shall never return. Even writing this, I have a lump developing in my throat...
Camp Winona is a place where dreams come true; these girls literally grew up before my eyes, from cheeky little brownies to beautiful young women. I met people from every corner of this glorious earth, and now my best friends are spread across the oceans. It is by far the hardest job I have ever had, and also by far the absolute most rewarding adventure I have ever endeavoured.
I ended up leaving camp early this year, for multiple reasons. I still know it was the right decision, and I don't regret a single thing that happened. I spent four of the most amazing summers of my life here, and it will always be one of my favourite places on earth. Since I left early, there aren't too many images or stories to share, but I hope you enjoy what I could provide below:
Teepee Valley grew every year. When I first started, there weren't enough teepees for the counsellors, so we slept in a tent, and there wasn't a clearing so we were up by the health centre. This year I got to enjoy the valley in it's full glory in the middle of the woods. It was certainly an experience, but I did get more sleep than I thought I would!
The original Hammock Village location got cleared out, but this year's spot was so much more relaxing, down by a stream and far from reality. I often went down there to hide from the world.
The mud pit was as amazing as ever, if not better! Watching both children and adults a like forget all inhibitions and cover themselves head to toe in foul smelling muck is something I will never forget. The squeals of delight yet pure terror, the manic laughter, the beaming smiles, all magical.
This year, the slip and slide got a little destroyed (by a little, I mean someone's leg went through a little hole and ripped a ridiculously huge hole, and they almost tore themselves in half... but don't worry, they're ok!) It still served relief from the crazy temperatures we had to endure, and the children enjoyed nothing more than all going down together and dragging me with them...
The Balloon Paint Arena was always an adventure in itself - I never, I repeat NEVER, got out of there clean. My camera would wear the brunt of the paint, something I'll carry with me always (mostly due to the fact I can't get it out...)
Ahh Brook's Pool... Where children would pile themselves on top of you, chase you with water guns, pretty much attack you in any way, shape or form... Our saviour from the heat and humidity, and entertainment for hours on end.
We didn't have too many animals this year. This bearded dragon who's name I can't remember was definitely the crowd favourtie!
Who knew two ingredients would entertain children for hours on end?! It was either baking powder or soda (I forget) and water, and it made "goo" - a half solid, half liquid substance the kids absolutely adored.
One of my favourite ever science experiments was making fake snow! You just add water and it looks and feels just like snow, and to re-use it, you just let it dry out then add more water!
Having other New Zealanders at camp was always the little taste of home I needed when I was missing my family and friends. Teaching the girls how to make poi then teaching them simple movements was such a fun way to show them different parts of the world.
(Side note - one little girl, Grace, had been coming to camp since she was a brownie, and I looked after her in her first year. I taught her a song I used to sing when I was her age, and four years on, she still knows the words off by heart. I had no idea she was at a campsite when I walked up, and I heard her singing straight away. It absolutely melted my heart)
Now this image is funny on different levels - I found this craft on Pinterest and suggested it to the Arts and Crafts specialists. They obviously loved it and taught the girls! They paint their own terracotta pots, then line the pots with foil and burn coals in them for their own mini fires to melt marshmallows!
This year, the director Goof (Jenn) got these rocks punched in the shape of a mermarie (a mermaid fairy that's folklore at Camp Winona) and dispersed the rocks all over camp! It was a crazy scavenger hunt trying to find them! (I never ended up finding one...)
The Art Smart girls spent hours upon hours painting murals all over the camp - the pool house, the basement, the health centre, and even in the woods. They did an absolutely amazing job!
This is one of the last images I took this year. The last mud pit I ever watched the girls enjoy. The end of one adventure, and the beginning of another.
I will always love Camp Winona. I'm not angry about what happened. Everything happens for a reason, and I know I am a better person now because of what I went through.
"People in cities don't understand; falling in love with the land"
It's that time of year again! And my oh my has it come around extra quick this year!
It's now only a matter of hours before I board my flight and head off on round four of my American summer camp adventures!
I'd just like to say thank you so much to all of your support this year! It's been a super busy few months lately, and I am truly grateful for all of my new friends!
I'm going to try my hardest to keep this bad boy updated with events and happenings, but the internet in the woods isn't always reliable, so thank you so much in advance for your patience and understanding!
I'm trying to keep this short and sweet, so once again, thank you, ALL OF YOU, for absolutely everything, and stay safe this winter. xx
C E L L O P H A N E
As seen partially published in Ondine Magazine's "Weird" issue
Model: Georgia Carter | HMUA: Kate Surplice | Stylist: Stacy Semiklit
Andre Corey is:
Mr Pole Dance NZ
A pole dance teacher at poleclass.co.nz, with guest appearances all over NZ
About to become a personal trainer
The first pole dancer I ever photographed, opening my eyes to a whole new fairly unseen world
Competing on an international level in May
A beautiful specimen, inside and out.
A warm, bubbly, charismatic, elegant, majestic beast with a heart of gold.
Very patient and understanding
A wonderfully supportive friend
I thought I'd try some fisheye madness on this shoot, and I'm super happy with the results! What do you think?
PS - down the bottom is a little treaty for your eyes x
Thank you so much, Rachael and Jayden, for welcoming me into your beautiful home, and allowing me to photograph your darling mini family.
Lily is an absolute gem - super chill and happy! A treat to photograph! She's already a stunner, with captivating blue eyes and a calming persona.
My job is a blessing, and portrait sessions like this are the best kind of reminders.
These guys are my rock; my relentless support system, full of love and encouragement, laughter and never-ending hope.
Check out my stunning mermaid of a sister. She is without a doubt the strongest, most caring person I know. Those beautiful blue eyes hide a world of pain and worry, yet they sparkle on a daily basis. She has to overcome the most horrendous thoughts every waking minute, and still has the ability to listen and understand, to sympathize and care, to love and nurture. No words will ever describe the love I have for this girl.
And then there's this giant teddy bear of a kid! This is expression I got when I said "look at me like you love me"! He, also, goes through a crazy amount of trouble. And he is exactly the same - sympathetic, supportive, and a generally good guy. I do not worry for his future - I know he will go far.
I love you guys more and more by the day! You are so incredibly special and dear to me, and I don't know who or where I would be without you xx
Elena took the below photos of me - a budding little photographer in her own right!
This little blanket was a handmade Christmas gift from our grandmother.
We all got our own, and I know they will stand the test of time, and be passed on to our own children and grandchildren
Elena and Nathaniel, stay exactly the way you are. Don't ever lose your spark, and I know you'll go far in this life!
We are the King's kids. We will stick together through thick and thin. And I wouldn't change that for the world.
On New Year's Day, Bianca and I ventured out to Manly to catch up with my old neighbours, Kirsten and Adam. It had been around two years since I last saw them, and my how their beautiful daughters have grown!
Kaydam is exactly how I remember her - absolutely full of life and such a laugh! An absolute darling to be around.
Kali Ann was a mere baby, just learning how to crawl; now she's got an amazing personality, so bubbly and individual, and positively hilarious.
And Paris, you really are a beautiful young woman. You will go so far in life, I just know it.
Kirsten and Adam, you are completely blessed with the lovely children you have. And I am blessed to call you my friends. X
I don't know about you, but as the days go by, I certainly appreciate how precious time is; 2014 absolutely flew by, and my what a year it was!
My photography (as well as my personal being) developed and changed so much over the past twelve months, and I have so many creatives/new friends to thank for this!
I've already said a huge spiel about how much you mean to me, so I won't bore you with another one.
Instead, I've decided to do a round up of my favourite images from through out 2014:
As my 25th birthday is coming up (t-minus less than 10 days...) I decided it was about time I really knuckled down with this business! So TA-DAH! New website, new branding (coming soon...), new me!
A lot has happened in the past ten years (that's how long I've been practising photography - isn't that crazy?! Crept up in no time!). When I first picked up a camera, film was the way to go - digital was a crazy new invention to me, and it took a while for my high school teacher to convince me to pursue this strange field. All I wanted to do was hang out in the dark room, stinking of chemicals, and experimenting with my hands.
If it was possible to study film further in tertiary education, I would have been there with bells on! Alas, the only way to do so was with a four year Arts degree, only delving in photography near the end... So I undertook a Certificate in Digital Photography, which turned into a Diploma, which I was going to use to find a studio job, and ended up working for myself. I've now had this business for almost five years!
My style has changed ever so slightly with every shoot, my knowledge bank has expanded, my contacts list is now HUGE, all over New Zealand and spreading throughout Sydney - when I stop and think about it all, it's rather overwhelming. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such a social passion, and the people I come across on a daily basis through the pursuit of this passion just astounds me. Every one of them have taught me a lesson, mostly about myself, but also about life in general. Every one of them has a story to tell, and I love that I can share their lives through my photographs. Every one of them is beautiful, and I'm so thankful that we have crossed paths, and that I am lucky enough to call most of them my friends.
I know that the majority of you will be reading this post, and I want to thank you again for your love, support and encouragement - I couldn't do any of this without you.
So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU - all my love xo