on the kindle | daring greatly

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Inspired by Circle of Pine’s #theyearinbooks and my new kindle …

This might be my year of reading life changing books!

So I came across this Ted talk through the rabbit hole that is the internet and then realised that I just had to read this speaker’s book.

Brene Brown is an academic story-teller who has been researching shame and vulnerability for over a decade. Sounds like a fun book – right? Anyway, after years of study she realised that all the “Wholehearted” people she had interviewed, those who lived full happy lives, had one thing in common. They were open to vulnerability, they were willing to open themselves up to uncertainty and be all in.

Daring Greatly, explores our fear of vulnerability, how we protect ourselves from it, the price we pay for not being vulnerable and how to own our vulnerability. It also looks at the opposite of vulnerability, shame, and how it differs from guilt.

For me the underlying message is not what would you do if you couldn’t fail, it is what would you do even if you might fail. A much more vulnerable idea but one that is certainly mind opening.

A second idea that struck me was that we live in a ‘culture of scarcity’. We are always worried if there is enough. At the societal level we ask if there are enough jobs, money, etc but on the individual level we (definitely myself included) have a constant voice saying I am not good / thin / talented enough. And I certainly say I don’t have enough time on a daily basis. For Dr Brown the opposite of scarcity is not abundance but enough, what she calls ‘wholeheartedness’ which at its core is vulnerability and worthiness.

I have to say I think I am open to trying things out and taking risks but only in some areas of my life (hey, you don’t just wake up one day and find yourself in Italy). But I know that it is not something I do with my dreams of making photography a bigger part of my life. There were some big aha moments all through this book and I definitely recommend it to everyone. This is one for the boys too as I think if we all worked some of this into our lives the world would honestly be a better place.

If you don’t have time for another book check out the ‘original’ Ted Talk and this is a great longer form talk especially for creatives on Chase Jarvis Live.

I might move onto reading some of her other books or perhaps some of the other authors she mentions. Oh so many options.

Have you read any life-changing books this year?

let’s learn composition | negative space

Negative space is the ’emptiness’ between an object and another or the ‘edge’ of the image. Negative space is a standard in the art world (think Cy Twombly or Mark Rothko) but has become an increasingly popular trend in many elements of design (the white space in web pages, simpler logos) as well as photography. I think in particular for photography the use of negative space is a simple tool to highlight something specific: perhaps the simplicity or beauty of an object.

Negative space also allows space for the viewer to come in and wonder around and feel the emotions that you (as the photographer/artist) are trying to communicate – loneliness, calmness, peace.

But I think I have a new appreciation for the idea after reading this piece by David Duchemin for Artifact Uprising. Ponder these words:

there is only so much impact a frame can contain; the more the included elements compete for that impact, the less impact any one part of the frame can have. That is to say, the photograph is stronger for the photographer’s ability to say no.

Obviously that doesn’t mean all images should fully embrace the concept of negative space but perhaps concentrating on the subject and what is important can help bring the value of what is created through negative space with your more ‘inclusive pictures’.

Let’s look at some examples.

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One of the easiest subjects to capture with the minimalist effect of negative space are landscapes. It really highlights the lines of  the landscape or highlights a feature. Think of the ‘postcard’ images of Tuscany with rolling hills and a tree or farmhouse on a hill somewhere. As the viewer of such an image, I am also left feeling the grandeur or awe of a place when you think of the amount of space you would take up in that image.

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Use of negative space in interiors and styled shots really helps the graphic elements to stand out.

portrait of a lady female portrait 4 - michelle young portrait of baby

Again, in portraiture the negative space really acts as a way to frame and highlight the person (or people) you are photographing.

Max Wanger is one photographer in particular who uses negative space in a really beautiful and effective way to simplify his images and highlight the subject. Creating plenty of room for emotion.

What do you think of negative space? Do you use it often? Share some examples in the comments if you like.

well aware

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I was listening to a podcast this morning and even though it was an hour couldn’t stop listening (I am not one to normally listen to podcasts so that is saying something).

The podcast is the Well/Aware Show from Lindsay Mueller. In this first episode she talks to Alex Sharry, a rather awesome sounding yoga teacher.

The whole hour was interesting and I am even thinking I will go back and listen to it again tomorrow. But I thought I would share some of the words that Alex said about doubt, and intimate life and persistence which connected with me and I thought the words needed some writing down and sharing. They are a little disjointed and not verbatim so I hope Alex and Lindsay forgive me.

I doubt myself all the time, … and I think almost everybody doubts themselves all the time.

I guess the thing that helped me overcome my major self doubt was picking what it was that I love to do and doing it full time and seeing that I could. I think for a while most of my self-doubt stemmed from not really knowing what I wanted and therefore life just feels out of your control, especially if you are someone seeking an intimate life with yourself, a life where you feel fulfilled, a life where you feel like you are just going to work and going home … Find what it is that makes you happy and do it with no excuse.

The more you do what you love and the more you put it out there the more you exercise persistence, the more that everything you love will unfold and unravel. It doesn’t mean that self-doubt goes away but it gives you a confidence.

The more you see yourself and not your doubt the more you trust yourself.

Coping mechanisms for doubt:

Trust yourself more than it feels comfortable. Trust the world or whatever higher thing you believe in will show you clues when you need them the most

She also talks about perfection, mean girls in our heads, change and persistence and meditation. It’s a good one.

read ’em and eat

hot-cross-bun-french-toast-mycreativeRead em

More movies should have dance scenes ’cause this just made me happy.

Best easy cookie idea ever! (not a healthy one).

There is always a bit of obsession around money, how to make money from blogging, how to make more, etc, that it is nice to see someone talking about a ‘big enough’ business.

An interesting idea of leaving yourself wanting more.

I really need to make the time and space to declutter. Some good reminders here.


I made these hot cross buns over the Easter weekend (because can you believe you don’t get hot cross buns in Italy). The only change I made was swapping the flour for spelt. But I never seem to get bread-y things right and they were a little dry. So a few days later when I hadn’t devoured them all I made some chopped up hot cross bun french toast. Topped with bananas and my attempt at coconut butter (which I am not sure is as smooth or spreadable as it should be. Might try again with adding some coconut oil).

On a side note: a major benefit to cutting up the bread into chunks is that you don’t need to use a knife when eating it and can probably also type a blog post, or read a book, or something while you are eating breakfast. That is a power move!

travel | rovinj

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Our destination on Friday after stopping in Buje, was the beautiful Istrian coastal town of Rovinj. I can’t believe it has taken us so long to go because it is absolutely gorgeous. Helped of course by the spring sunshine and some good company.

The city is lovely to wander around along it’s cobbled streets (which are warn smooth and actually rather slippy – I wouldn’t want to be dealing with them in the rain). There are plenty of art galleries and shops with things marketed at the tourists, ranging from standard tatt to things with a bit more quality. There are also a few vintage shops which I browsed around in longingly. I was tempted to pick up a beach basket but avoided the urge and just got some postcards instead.

For lunch we headed away from the touristy restaurants along the harbour and into the alleys on the hill. We found the perfect spot in a little courtyard where the sun was shining, Restoran Santa Croce. Highly recommended if you find yourself in this part of the woods. There weren’t any other diners, but we arrived for a late lunch. Despite holding the staff up, they were very friendly and helpful and changed dishes to make them vegetarian friendly.

I look forward to heading back in the summer maybe and lounging in the sea, enjoying a drink on one of the bars that are situated on a rocky seaside area. Dreamy!

on a hill in croatia

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Somewhere in Croatia there is a little hill town village which is the perfect place to stop on your road trip for a quick coffee.

Here there are women who talk to the people they know who pass under their windows, there are picturesque church yards which have tomb-stones that honour donne forti (strong women) and locked church doors that you can peak through the keyhole and see a beautiful pieta.

If you find yourself in Istria you might want to stop in Buje. It is a nice diversion.