Friday, 31 October 2014

Latest Kit Acquisitions: Treasures from the Far East

Home at last! After spending 2 weeks in South-East Asia attending and doing my cousin's wedding makeup, I had time to once again browse the myriad of skincare and makeup offerings from the ever ingenious Asian cosmetic market! And wow what a change in the less than 2 years! I was amazed to see more and more brands emerging from especially countries like Korea. Not only K-Pop (Korean Pop boy/girl groups) and fashion but also cosmetic brands. I knew of brands such as Innisfree, Etude House and Laneige but not luxury brands such as Sulwhasoo, are also firmly planted in the market in South-East Asia. All offering their own interpretations on how and what women want today in their skincare and makeup.

Let's not waste time, I'm gagging to show you what I got. Obviously I couldn't buy everything but picked out what really caught my attention!

First up, a few choice offerings from what seems like a major player in Singapore!
K-Secret Cushion Teint
I suppose this is Asia's answer to the chubbies which popped out everywhere in Europe and the West. Also there's a current trend for using the word "cushion" in may Korean brands. I have a feeling it's to explain the softness of the textures?  I'll talk more about this later!
I got 3 of the brightest, poppiest colours and what it's meant to do is to create that gradated fresh burst of colour which MUAs have been achieving by patting and blurring with either a cotton bud or a brush or fingers. So you're advised to pat the colour on the central part of the lips and then using the sponge tip, you blur the edges and spreading it out till you get the desired finish.
My thoughts? Gorgeous soft textures in gorgeous fresh candy shades! Love.

Water Drop Tint
Asia seems to be obsessed with anything water. Everything has to be drenched in water. I suppose with the humidity, brands don't want to use the word oil as it might equate to greasiness. Anyway water is good. This is a lip tint/gloss that aims to create a fluid, watery tint on lips and the doe foot applicator can be used to deposit more colour on the central lower lip to create that much favoured gradient effect.
I got Raspberry Pink for the freshness of the colour. I will try on a shoot as soon as I can. It's pretty though.

Pushbutton Shadow Palette
This was part of a limited edition collection and this doggie palette is simply sheer shimmer that looks pretty. It won't change any games but it's pretty and embodies the Asian fondness of anything pretty and shimmery.

Brush Pact 
An all-in-one retractable synthetic brush with a pink-tinged shimmery highlighter compact. The sheen is super fine and very very pretty and I think great for collar bones, decolletage and maybe even on the top of the cheekbones. Really pretty. I got No. 3 Pink Beam.

Gel Liquid Liner
A high pigment gel liquid liner with a super fine brush in Black and Brown. I liked how fluid the textures were and once again I will test it out soon. I can never get enough of gel liners. 

Water Gel Bank Cream
These were samples the lady at the counter gave me. I liked how light they smell and the texture is a combination of a gel and a cream! More hydrating than a water based gel but not as heavy as a cream. Good for combination or for men who don't like heavy hydrating products.

Time Freeze Eye Serum
I got this because I liked how cool the container was! Well mostly and also the texture was lovely. I thought there was no harm in trying. I had friends in Asia who swore by it so I decided to try it too!

This brand I noticed when I last went to Korea and while browsing the Internet. A brand drawing inspiration from properties of Korean Traditional Medicine with ingredients such as Ginseng. A luxury brand with a price point to match so it took a bit of time for me to decide to get this. I hmm-ed and ahh-ed about it in Aug when I was in Korea but August in Singapore,  I decided to take the plunge.

First Care Activating Serum
The brand's #1 all time best seller so without hesitation I got this! This multi-use go to product aids in prepping the skin to receive other treatments. I love the clean-smelling amber fluid that sinks in quickly and calms skin, ready to boost the other products in the your routine.

Essential Balancing Emulsion
A non-greasy high moisture full of Korean herbs to help nourish and balance the complexion. Everything about this range so far seems polished, potent and luxurious. I suppose it's too soon to say yet but I like what I am testing for now.

Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream
This star product is formulated from the berries, roots and water from the rare 5 year-old Korean Ginseng to deeply nourish, regenerate and resurface the complexion. It is a lot of money to spend but hey if I don't spoil myself who am I going to spoil eh? I'm a huge fan of Korean ginseng, taking it as a supplement and tincture to help with fatigue and to energise. I'm a huge believer!

Evenfair Perfecting Cushion
Now this cushion term seems to be everywhere in Asia. I think this is the next big thing in complexion makeup in Asia. As far as I can understand, it refers to the delivery system in the compact. A sponge cushion soaked with the latest foundation utilising flexible film-fixing polymers to form a barrier on skin. This results in a nourished and moisturised finish for that highly sought after dewy glow!

When I tried it, the foundation is very fluid and with the provided sponge applicator, you pat on the cushion to get the foundation and then you pat onto skin. If you want more coverage you just pat more on. The key is speed and convenience but the finish is really lovely and dewy. I have to work out how to use this professionally as the sponge would be unhygienic. Let me get back to you but for the general public, watch out. I have a feeling this will be headed our way very very soon!

I love this Korean brand for their BB creams. Great finishes and particularly for men! So I had to  stop by the counter see what they had.

Long Wear Cushion SPF50+
Promising a sweat + sebum proof finish, Innisfree's offer to the Cushion foundation has a gorgeous cooling finish. I will text and report but what a curious invention these Cushions!

Soybean Energy Essence
Asian women have for a long time had a one up on the us in the West when it comes to number of steps in their skincare regime. It's not just cleanse, tone, moisturise. They also have an essence water/lotion step to prep their skin to receive treatments etc. We are catching up though, with such brands as L'Occitane and their Divine Lotion!

An essence is basically a product to help balance skin after cleansing and to create an environment to get the best results for your moisturisers and serums. 

Biore Cleansing Oil Facial Sheets
A Japanese offering now. This time from a brand I've known all my life, using their face washes since I was a teen! A close friend swore by these and insisted I got some so I did! She is a MUA too and says that these oil-based sheets sweep ALL makeup off without any resistance and effort. And without harsh alcohol. Now that's a plus for me, time is always an issue when I'm on a job. 

Sorry for the huge post, lots of things to show. And I've kept a few things back as they were just too many! There's just a plethora of amazing products from Asia that we don't see in this part of the world. Have you tried any of these? If so, what are you thoughts? I would love to hear your opinions. I'm super excited about the Cushions in particular. I wonder how they will transfer to Europe! Let's talk!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Editorial Update: Black Beach for Min Max Magazine

Another stunning beauty for Min Max Magazine with Elisabeth Hoff. This time with beauty Sigail Currie modelling my looks and the most incredible set built by Simon from Set to Set. A black lagoon complete with black sand, rocks and shimmering moonlight courtesy of the lighting by Elisabeth! The brief was colour, textures and metallics and to make sure they popped against Sigail's skin, wet and shimmering in the moonlight. The results I have to say were breathtaking!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Editorial Update: Two Faced for Min Max Magazine

It is a makeup artist's dream to be told that they can do anything they want! And I got to do this when I worked on this beauty project with good friend and photographer Elisabeth Hoff for her new beauty project called Min Max. It's an online magazine catered specifically for beauty! Dream indeed! The brief? 4 models, 2 looks per model, one minimum makeup and one maximum impact! I was drawn to this project as it involved using different models, ages and even genders. Have a look at the results!
What do you think? Check out the site for a full list of the products I've used for the looks. I am quite excited as it means we have a platform to be able to do beauty shoots to express our artistic flair without the restraints of commercialism! The magazine is online here. Stay tuned for more of my work with Elisabeth!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Brand Alert: Synergie: Protect, Change, Nurture

Many of you would be familiar by now of my fondness for skincare in both my professional and personal life. Many brands come and go and I've tried lots. Some work better for me and some less so but it is safe to say there's a brand suited for everyone out there. A couple of weeks ago, I ventured to a meeting over tea with Rosa my PR friend, the creator of Australian skincare brand Synergie, Terri Vinson and Helen Ritchie, Director of Visible Skincare, the UK retailer.

Boasting a policy of "Clean Science", Terri asserts that she and the brand believe in "combining cutting edge scientific breakthroughs with naturally derived ingredients to protect, change and nurture all skin", and she will not use anything that is questionable and deemed dangerous and harmful to her clients. So once again I must insist that skincare is a very personal thing and not everything suits everyone. My pursuit of finding brands to use personally and professionally is tireless and when I tried the textures and had Terri explain the philosophy of every item, I got excited, correction very excited! So let me show you what I chose to trial and a breakdown of every single item.

Synergie Ultimate Anti-Ageing Kit
Here's a look at what my kit looked like, a 2 month supply kit of the hero products chosen to tackle all anti-ageing issues.
Working from Left-Right

A concentrate foaming gel cleanser free of Sodium Laureth Sulphate, parabens, artificial fragrance and artificial colours. A pea-sized amount is suggested and worked into skin with a little water. I chose to work it in deeply to dislodge the day's grease and dirt and remove with a hot cloth. Out of habit I did my usual 2nd cleanse which I removed with tepid water after. My skin felt refreshed and cleansed and without the stripped feeling usually associated with wash off cleansers.

Ultimate A
One pump of this highly active and penetrative serum day and night addresses dermal thickness, sun damage, promotes the formation of healthy blood vessels, protects skin from UV damage, restores the epidermal barrier, regulates oil levels (aids in the management of acne), reduces fine lines through collagen stimulation and reduces skin hyper pigmentation.

It boasts using the next technology of Vitamin A technology and is highly stable without any irritation and ingredient breakdown, which was often the case with Retinol products.

Vitamin B
Once again only one pump of this serum is sufficient day and night to tackle hydration, reduce pigmentation and excess sebum. A great multi-tasker to address skin's needs with Niacinamide, a much popular ingredient nowadays to help boost collagen levels, suppress oil production and help acne-sufferers. 

Super Serum
Synergie's new Hero product, a powerful cocktail of ingredients to address many ageing issues. I won't go into too much detail but ingredients include Hyaluronic Acid for skin support and hydration, Collagen to reduce fine lines and even muscle relaxants to relax facial muscles to relive fine lines. 

A creamy potent blend of antioxidants, peptides and other leading ingredients formulated to help address all anti-ageing needs. To use morning and night.

Highest pharmaceutical-grade Vitamin C, 100% pure L-ascorbic acid microfine crystals to mix and activate with a liquid component and ensure maximum efficiency and activity. Great for it's potent anti-inflammatory properties to help distressed skin, melanin suppression and promoting collagen production,  Terri advises to mix with Super Serum and press onto face only in the morning. Also not to be used at the same time with Ultimate A & Vitamin B as the C will neutralise their effects.

So, to recap, a very simple routine. So simple it's like learning your ABCs. You start with cleansing with UltraCleanse, then Ultimate A, Vitamin B and Reclaim for the evening. For the morning you would cleanse, then mix your Pure-C crystals with Super Serum and pat on face and neck to follow with Reclaim after a few minutes. Easy right?

There's a whole array of other products to address other skin issues so head over to their website here where there are great videos for every product with Terri explaining the key ingredients and how-to-use instructions.

In the UK the products can be bought from, where Helen is busy setting everything up so be patient!

I'm truly excited by this range, the textures and principals of the range are strict and high, just the way I like it. I will be reporting back as soon as I give the range a proper 30-day skin cycle trial. Synergie also has a very popular mineral makeup range that is fast gathering a loyal following. That will be launched in the future so I'll be trialing that out too so stay tuned. If anyone has used this range, I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Latest Kit Acquisition: Sensai Bronzing Gel: Bronzed Goddess!

I've recently returned from a week shooting in Sicily and although sunny, it was still fairly cool in the wind and especially the rain! Even though it feels summery on some days, our gorgeous model has to be bronzed up for the shoot to look all bronzed! 

Which brings me to this next product! Caroline Pugh who works at Dowal Walker introduced me to this wonderful genius of a gel/tint when I visited her recently for a catch up. Here a picture!
It comes in 3 shades and I had both Soft Bronze and Copper Bronze. Boasting 70% water content, the gorgeously comfortable gel goes on like a dream and blends seamlessly. It comes with a brush but I found the best way to apply if to use your fingers and blend it only skin and then finish by buffing in with the brush. Obviously like all bronzing products, you can apply how you like but I always blend it into areas where the sun would naturally hit the face. So that's the temples, forehead, cheekbones, bridge of nose, chin and even the decolletage. 

Enough with the chat, best way to show it would be to see it on a person. Here's my lovely model Sarah and how she looked when we shot in the Sicilian sun!
Foundation: Givenchy Teint Couture, Estee Lauder Maximum Cover Foundation, Sensai Bronzing Gel in Soft Bronze.
Eyes: Sensai Bronzing Gel in Soft Bronze, MAC Blush in Taupe, RMS Living Luminizer, Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara in Black Onyx.
Eyebrows: Shu Uemura Hard Pencil in Seal Brown, Estee Lauder Double Wear Brow Lift Duo in Black Brown, Eyeko Brow Gel.
Cheeks: Sensai Bronzing Gel in Soft Bronze, MAC Cream Colour Base in Virgin Isle.
Lips: La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Levres, L'Oreal Paris Colour Sensational in Honey Beige.
Powder: Givenchy Poudre Premiére Universal.

Here's a close up to really see the subtle but gorgeous glow this gel gives you.
Gorgeous huh? No filters, no retouching just beautiful light and clever makeup! I'd love to hear your thoughts, would you try this bronzing gel? Or have you already used it and I'm just behind, again! :-)

Editorial Update: House Of Fraser Beauty Confidential Campaign

I have to share these images with you guys, they're fresh off the press! I'm so pleased with them. I had the pleasure of creating 3 looks for the beauty department for House of Fraser showcasing some of the new trends and products from the brands they retail. Hair was created by good friend Bjorn Krischker and modelled gorgeously by Roxy Horner. Have a look and let me know which is your favourite!
I love them all but at a push I love the last shot the most. It's so sexy & smoldery! What do you think? 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Insight My Kit: New & Old Acquisitions

How did we arrive in March and Spring? I seem to remember just starting the new year! Life has been hectic with work and travels at KS central, so with the passing of yet another season, I've got a whole new set of products I'd love to share with you. I'm doing fewer product posts nowadays as I've decided that I am just not as fast as many bloggers out there! I also don't have as much time to attend events and launches anymore. So I have decided to trial the products I get sent at work and every once in a while, I will do a post to let you in on what I've loved and what has survived the gruelling  test of my day job! I'll also included products that aren't exactly new to the market but new to my knowledge. Shall we begin? Lots to get through!

A recent trip back from the french pharmacies of Paris during Paris Fashion Week has rekindled a love for all the treasures found within the countless pharmacies dotted everywhere. We all know about Bioderma as the micellar to get but I wanted to bring attention to a few other just as good ones on the market.
Vichy Calming Cleansing Micellar Solution
Fresh and refreshing, this micellar cleanser is every bit as good and gentle as it's fellow French micellar. 

Klorane Floral Lotion Eye Makeup Remover
I've come back to this beautifully gentle cleanser after many years! Saw it again with it's distinct blue bottle in Paris and bought some, used it on a client and once again impressed at how gentle and light it is but it is efficient! Smells beautiful too.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
I dug this out after seeing a friend exclaiming it's virtues and tried it on myself. Light but luxuriantly deep cleansing, skin felt clean, soft and nourished. What's not to like?

ThisWorks In Transit Camera Close Up
I'm so late with coming into contact with this product! To keep it simple, it's a really good primer that you apply all over the face after moisturiser and it make foundation go on easier and all in all seem to make skin look better! I'm not going to argue with that!

Zelens Z Recovery
I'd call this Rescue Remedy for stressed skin. I use it on models or celebs with skin that's been stressed from either wearing too much makeup, over-exposure to the sun or any form of distress. I apply a thick layer and massage it in geCntly. Skin soaks it up and returns to a state of calm.

Clarins Double Serum
One pump dispenses 2 powerful anti-ageing ingredients together into one gorgeous serum that packs a wallop! I love it on slightly drier skins or older clients during prep, to really punch an intense shot of nourishment into the skin. Skin seems to be plumper and smoother and receives makeup better after application.

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Levres
Instant relief for cracked dry lips, this is like a band-aid for lips in need of care. Replenishing and non-aggravating on model's lips especially during fashion week when they go through fatigue, bad nutrition and countless putting on and taking off of makeup. A MUA need in the kit!

Dior Dream Skin
I reckon this is like putting a veil over your complexion, so skin looks glowy, refined and generally soft-focused. I love it for closeup work when I really want skin to look it's best.

Givenchy Nude Look BB Cream
I'm not going to go into the BB cream thing again but I love how dewy this makes skin, with enough coverage to provide skin with perfection whilst maintaining the hydrated finish I like. I use it more like a highlighter and buff it into all areas of the face where I want to illuminate and highlight. 

Smashbox Camera ready BB Cream Eyes
I was stunned by how soft but yet high pigmented this was, I love it patted under eyes to illuminate and you don't really need a concealer afterwards as the coverage is really impressive.

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon
I love how soft but pigmented these pencils are, just draw on lid, blend with either finger or brush and you have a luxurious eye done. Use it as a base, it's a great way to really make your eye shadow work harder to create that much desired smoky!

L'Oréal Paris Eau De Rose Color Riche Les Ombres
I adore this palette at the moment and have been using it whenever I can. It's like looking through rose-coloured glasses. Flattering and soft shades to shade and define any eye colour. Particularly amazing with green eyes!

Clinique Lash Power Mascara
Introduced to me by my hairstylist friend Bjorn, I can't imagine being without this in my kit. Great great fine brush that really picks out lashes and coats it well with a dark lush formula. Just great!
Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kohl Liner & 3D Liner
This clever pencil has a hidden component in the lid that maintains an always sharp point. The nude one Bare is perfect for lining inside the waterline and the soft formula doesn't drag and is waterproof! The 3D liners come in 6 shades all with a beautiful fine glitter that creates intense but 3 dimensional impact.

Tom Ford  Eye Colour Quad
Reformulated and updated, one of my favourite brands has launched and replaced certain palettes in it's portfolio with a few new ones. One particular favourite is the new Ice Queen, a palette of buttery soft silvers and greys. I love it!

Charlotte Tilbury Luxury Palette
My current go-to whenever I want a natural eye. Soft and buttery, neutral and flattering, The Sophisticate is a gorgeous a must-have for my kit. I use this probably everyday!

L'Oréal Paris Colour Sensational Honey Beige
My current go-to for a nude lip, not the dead lip nude but a gorgeous creamy caramel nude that suits literally every skin colour I use it on! 

Lipstick Queen Invisible Lip Liner
Clever and why-didn't-I-think-of-it, a transparent liner to prevent bleeding for any lip colour! Genius. The whole of the Lipstick Queen range is stunning and very impressive too. 

So there we have it, a little selection of what's been tested in my day-to-day as a MUA. These will probably stay in my kit for a while but I get new things to test everyday so stay tuned for the next one! 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Editorial Update: ES Magazine: Spring Beauty

It's a week of beauty for me! Just out last Friday was this beauty shoot I did for ES Magazine. I had to research all the new Spring trends according to the shows and interpret them my way using mainly L'Oreal Paris products with a few of my favourite products thrown in. I love the results! 
What do you guys think? Pretty right? 2014 looks like it's all about colour! I'd love to hear your comments!

Editorial Update: Look Magazine: Pretty in Pastels

I recently did a beauty shoot and the brief was pastels. But instead of the pretty side of pastels, we decided to give it an edge and spike! So here are the results and I'm over the moon. Think it's both pretty and dangerous!
What do you think? Something you would try? Give it a go, spike up your Spring pastels to  make them cool!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Editorial Update: YOU Magazine: Spring Trends

Hello everyone! Just a quick post to share my latest shoot out last weekend. It's the latest Spring trends and it was all about colour. It was shot by Jouke Bos, styled by Hannah Hughes, hairstyling by Jamie McCormick and makeup by yours truly using lovely colours from M.A.C and skincare by Jurlique. Hope you like it!

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Before/After: My New Go-To Natural Face/All About The Brows

Hello! What better way to start the new year with a Before/After about a natural look and brows. Whilst chatting to people on social media, I realised that brows were another hot topic. Just like contouring. There's loads of how-tos and what not to do etc and to be honest, I suppose they are all right. It  boils down to personal taste. When I was assisting, the artists I worked with all hated that drawn in brow look, I suppose the extreme of this would be that "magic marker" Scouse Brow look so favoured by many women. Once again I will repeat it's personal taste and this is my humble opinion. I hate it! Haha I think there really is a way to make brows more defined and fuller and not have it look like a side effect of being an Essex/Liverpool/Manchester Girl !

Anyway first of all, the natural look. I do this look most often I suppose. It's a versatile look that emphasises a woman's features without drawing attention too much to any feature. It's designed to catch light and bring out a woman's natural beauty. To me anyway. Meet Emilia.
Face Prep: Bioderma Sensibio H2O, Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Moisturising Fluid, Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Luminescence Serum, Sisley Confort Extreme Nutritive Lip Balm.

Emilia is stunning without makeup and I really wanted to keep her skin clear and sheer and capture those stunning eyes. So I opted for very sheer nude, skin-tone shades. Here's the after.
Foundation: Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Nude BB Cream, Estee Lauder Maximum Cover Foundation.
Eyes: Givenchy Ombre Couture in No 5 Taupe Velours & No 9 Brun Cachemire, RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, Max Factor Excess Volume Mascara.
Eyebrows: Shu Uemura Hard Formula Pencil in Seal Brown, Anastasia Brow Wiz Pencil in Brunette, SUQQU Eyebrow Liquid Pen in Brown, MAC Brow Fix in Clear.
Cheeks: MaqPRO Fard Creme Stick in 117, MAC Taupe Blush.
Lips: Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer, RMS Living Luminizer, MAC Cream Colour Base in Pink.
Powder: Jurlique Rose Silk Finishing Powder.

What do you think? Pretty isn't it? Now let's have a close up Before/After of the brows shall we?
There really isn't an easy way to describe how I do brows. So to keep it simple I shall attempt to explain. I look at my model's brows and brush them up and out with a spoolie or an old clean mascara wand. Then I usually start with a brown shadow (not always) to create a very soft blurred shape of the brow I'd like to achieve. I do this with an angled brush and very little brown shadow and smudge it about to create the general shape. I then go in with a pencil and start lightly drawing brow hairs in the direction of growth. If you do this correctly, you will end up with brows that look full and natural and you don't see the strokes. Finish off by brushing a clear brow gel or sometimes I use hairspray with a mascara wand to brush upwards and outwards to create a fuller brow. 

I hope that made sense, just remember it's better to start lightly and also I love fine-nib pencils that are slightly harder in formulation to really be able to draw fine strokes. Good ones I also like are Tom Ford Brow Pencils and MAC Brow Pencil in Lingering.

Have a go, I will be more than happy to hear your comments and help answer any queries. I don't plan on doing a video, that's an avenue I don't think I have the time to explore yet. Maybe one day I will.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Happy New Year! Reflections and A Visual Diary: Kenya

A very Happy New Year to everyone! May 2014 bring lots of joy and adventures! I am finally back to blogging. My computer died a horrid death at the most inconvenient time and with a busier than busy work schedule, my beloved blog got waylaid and neglected. I finally got a new one and now have some time to start blogging again.

My last job for 2013 was a most incredible trip to Kenya where I spent 5 days in the Masai Mara. During this trip, I had a weak wifi signal and no mobile signal, I had a chance to reflect on many things, one of which was how I'd like to approach social media this year. Throughout the year, I've had mixed feelings about this medium of communication, Twitter especially. The highs were meeting and interacting with really diverse people who shared an infectious passion for beauty and food. The lows involved watching a lot of cyber bullying by more aggressive people towards more passive twitterers. There was also a constant underlying negativity amongst certain (I mean certain) bloggers and people on twitter about how they deserved this and that and that they were being looked upon as blaggers and threats to traditional print and journalism. I am always friendly towards everyone and maintain that I treat people how I want to be treated and as a result have made many good friends through social media. I'm also privy to many a direct message made in private about arguments, side taking and general pettiness that I thought I've outgrown from playgrounds when I was a kid. It made me sad and to be honest, slightly apprehensive about putting more of myself out there.

So when busy with work, I rarely tweeted and I missed it! I miss the camaraderie that used to be strong amongst beauty bloggers, I miss the banter and chit chats. Nowadays when I check my timeline, I see people making grand and usually inaccurate statements about anything, almost to provoke a reaction. I personally find it unkind and unnecessary. It doesn't happen all the time for sure and this is my personal feeling. Maybe I always stumble upon the wrong tweet at the wrong time. It's my blog after all so as a medium of putting out there my feelings about my life and work, I thought this is the perfect time and way to start a more positive year! So I am asking people to think and consider how their 140 characters might affect how other people feel before clicking send.

Anyway Kenya! I was a bit wary due to rumours of unrest and dangers towards tourists. I couldn't be more wrong! As soon I got out of our 12-seat toy plane onto the dirt track at Keekorok in the Masai Mara to be greeted by Masai Warriors, coupled with the heady earthy fragrance of nature, wildlife and plants, I knew instantly why Africa is sometimes credited as The Cradle of Life. The electricity I felt was infectious and left not only myself but the whole team, excited about our adventure to come.

It's hard to describe in words but during the 90 minute truck ride to the 1920s-style safari campsite The Cottars Camp, the landscape of the Mara unfolded. Plains as far as the eye can see with lush vegetation, silhouettes of solitary Baobab trees against nothing but sky and land, spiky Acacia bushes, trickling streams to roaring rivers, waving Masai shepherds with their cattle, dusty rocky paths all sent prickles of glee and excitement in me. I haven't even started with the animals! That 90 minutes I got to see various types of antelope springing away from us in herds, a family of giraffes grazing from horrid thorny Acacia trees, zebras trying to blend into the landscape to avoid attention, hyenas, buffalo and even a cheetah resting amongst tall grass. To finish it all, a pride of lions! I got so close that even with my Iphone, I took a sharp shot of the male's face all speckled with flies! And further down from him, a couple of females tearing into a buffalo they've killed only a few hours ago! I was stunned and should have been scared but it felt natural and to be able to experience all this first hand, to see the power and grace of these giant cats was quite something else!

I could go on and on but I should just let the pictures speak for itself. I do want to quickly point out a few highlights of the trip. When we were shooting on the 3rd day, we were positioned at a random location hoping to catch the sunset behind the distant mountains of the Mara. Nicky and Orsolya from the magazine and myself went about building this campsite using canvas and wooden poles and our Masai guide Mako built a fire in our impromptu campfire using nothing but his machete, dried grass, elephant dung and his breath. It was magical to watch! But that wasn't the highlight, this will stay with me for life. A few hours before all this, we had a slight shower of rain and everyone ran to the trucks to take shelter. I went back for my set bag left in the open and when I bent down to pick it up, I noticed that tiny white flowers were blooming everywhere as the rain hit the dried grass! I stood there and after my eyes adjusted, saw this happening everywhere. Just magical. 

The other magical moment was while shooting in the wilderness again, 2 masai boys crossed our paths with their cows. Silently the boys approached with bent heads and slowly came up to everyone. Why? They were coming forth with bowed heads and wanted each and everyone of us to touch their heads as a sign of respect and blessing. By this time I found myself welling up inside. It was a simple gesture and probably normal to everyone but I found this so beautiful and emotional. 

Right enough waffling on, if this is too wordy for you, come back later. I will revert to my usual before/afters and product blog offerings, but until then, enjoy the Masai Mara as seen through my eyes & my Iphone!
What do you think? Quite something else isn't it? I can't wait to go back with my family. Kenya is definitely one of the most amazing and magical places I have ever had the pleasure of visiting. And to have gone with some of my favourite people and colleagues only added to the experience. I can't wait to see what 2014 has planned for me, the places and the people I am going to visit and meet! So to conclude, shall we make a pact? To be nicer and more patient to the people around us. To think before we speak/tweet, to treat others how we ourselves would like to be treated. My gut tells me that if we achieve some of that, 2014 is going to be an amazing year!