Finding the Light within

“You were like raw gold. Somebody threw you into fire. You are molten gold now. You are in the middle of transformation. Come to me. I will cast you into a beautiful shape. That is the only way to forget the one who threw you into fire.” (Shunya)

Shot with Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic + + Composer PRO II + Canon 5D Mark III

This year I had proper plans for Christmas. I had plane tickets and accommodation booked in Northern Italy. I had a precise photography project lined up. I imagined taking long walks along the shore, collecting ‘sea’ glass and pebbles, capturing powerful waves and dramatic sunsets, admiring the freedom and dance of the seagulls as they catching their prey. I could see myself sitting on the terrace of cosy cafes, observing people as they pass by, and just simply loosing myself in the la dolce vita. NONE OF THIS HAPPENED. Due to newly enforced travel restrictions (less than one week before Christmas), I had to cancel it all. Gloomy, grey, dark, damp, smoky London, here I came again. I got stuck here second year in a row.

You’re probably thinking I must have been devastated. No, I wasn’t. I told myself no matter what I’m still going make this time count.

I had absolutely no idea what I was going to photograph, but this is what it takes to be an artist. You adapt, you find new ways and you bend and stretch your creativity every possible ways.

Of course I’m just a human, so part of me had the determination to keep my creative flow going, but in the back of my mind I also had the reoccurring thought of: ‘Seriously, what the hell am I going to photograph? No light, no colours, nothing inspires me’ bla bla bla bla blaaaaaah.

Shot with Lensbaby SOL 45 + Canon 5D Mark III

I needed to set some realistic goals. Am I going to create masterpieces? Most likely not, but who knows.  The most important thing is to keep going and treasure everything I have available, and create something extraordinary out of the MOST ordinary.

It’s quite a common winter ‘issue’ that we are struggling to find inspiration and there’s not enough light. All true. I haven’t seen the sun in the past 2.5 – 3 weeks. It’s just clouds and darkness all the time, and every day I wake up with the hope that maybe today is gonna be THE DAY, when the sun blesses us all, and life is going to be amazing again. Nah! Forget about it. This is the Great British winter! Seriously, who am I kidding?!

Shot with Lensbaby SOL 45 + Canon 5D Mark III

I told myself: enough is enough, and what if instead of constantly CHASING the Light, I MAKE my own light. Of course we all love natural light, it’s nothing like it, but I am not willing to wait for spring to come, until I can create again. No way!

As I was setting up my still life arrangement and started shooting, I had an epiphany. It was completely unrelated to photography, but it was through photography that the realisation hit me: all through my life I was always searching for The Light, and I was looking in all the wrong places, because it is not outside, it is within us.

Shot with Lensbaby SOL 45 + Canon 5D Mark III

Through the process of creating a still life composition and having tremendous amount of struggles to get the images right, I had realised that I am the Sun, I am my own light. No matter where I am I can create because I create from within, from my inner light. All of a sudden I understood that I don’t need to be completed, because I’m already a whole, and everything else that life blesses me with is a bonus. Who would have though that a dark afternoon, a juice bottle, a semi wilted stem of hydrangea, my Lensbabies, and a small lamp would lead me onto a new path of self discovery.

Autumn in Lucca

“Autumn is the very soul of metamorphosis, a time when the world is poised at the door of winter – which is the door of death – but has not yet fallen. It is a world of contradictions: a time of harvest and plenty but also of cold and hardship. Here we dwell in the midst of life, but we know most keenly that all things must pass away and shrivel. Autumn turns the world from one thing into another. The year is seasoned and wise but not yet decrepit or senile.” (Catherynne M. Valente)

The Golden Trees of Lucca – Freelensed

Since my last post in June, I’ve been pretty much in constant motion.

I took ownership of an 18th century house in the mountains of beautiful Tuscany, (this itself deserves a blog post, and it will come eventually), and I spent most of the summer embracing my new home. I explored, lived and struggled a lot, but I needed it all.

This post however is not about my summer months in Italy.  Right now I’d like you to dive into the autumnal light and colours of Lucca with me.(Who says that everything needs to be in chronological order all the time?)

Autumn in Lucca

Lucca is my absolute favourite Italian city. 

The centre is surrounded by gorgeous walls that were built during the Renaissance.

The Wall of Lucca

This beautiful city is elegant yet down to Earth. It is cosy and it is homey. It is vibrant but also relaxing. 

Cosy atmosphere in Lucca

Lucca is a major cultural hub, and it is  also home for the world famous Lucca Comics. (I haven’t had the chance to attend yet but hopefully I will make it next year.)

There is no place like Lucca. 

You should really pay a visit to truly understand what I’m talking about, but hopefully with my photos I can pass you some of those feelings that this magnificent place created in me back in October.

The images are more like digital paintings than photographs, and they were created with freelensing technique. 

Antique Store

During freelensing you detach your lens from your camera body, and as bizarre as it sounds you shoot through the lens by holding it in front of your camera. 

All images are one of a kind and can never be repeated.

Depending on which way you move and tilt your lens, you can create gorgeous blur in different areas on your photograph.

Antique Store

Alternatively you can make the entire image out of focus. (Yes, your image will be still very beautiful and also unique.)

Autumnal Blur

I have always been an admirer of street photography, but I have never been brave nor bold enough to practice it myself.

Why?

In my personal opinion, street photography an incredibly difficult genre. Whenever I attempted to capture strangers I always felt very intimidated by the fact that these people in my frames were completely unaware of being photographed. It almost felt like stealing their moments and their identity. (Of course this is not true, this is just my personal experience and perception.)

Cyclist

I have always been amazed by my ‘street photography hero’ Joel Meyerowitz’s work, and his attitude towards this peculiar field.

He says:

“We all experience it. Those moments when we gasp and say, Oh, look at that. Maybe it’s nothing more than the way a shadow glides across a face, but in that split second, when you realize something truly remarkable is happening and disappearing right in front of you, if you can pass a camera before your eye, you’ll tear a piece of time out of the whole, and in a breath, rescue it and give it new meaning.”

This is exactly how I felt as I was wandering the streets of Lucca that was bathing in gorgeous autumnal light … I was capturing architectural elements of ancient buildings and I literally found magic in every corner, and I wanted to preserve it all.

Porta Elisa

I had absolutely no intention to photograph people, but as I was taking pictures of a beautiful arch, unexpectedly, they wandered into my frame …

People wandering

I told myself: ‘It’s okay, I’m going to delete these images later.’

When I checked out the photos later, on my laptop screen, I got absolutely mesmerised by, how human presence added so much life to my images.

Passersby

Since my pictures were freelensed, only blurry silhouettes of people appeared in the photos, and their identity remained a secret.

Tourists

I no longer felt like a thief … I was more like an architect, creating and designing my very own world, the way I see and feel. Humans are important part of this, so I’m very happy that unintentionally I found a way to include them in this sphere. 

The images I created remind me the work of Cezanne … bright and juicy colours … rich orange and yellow shades … and light … so much light …

The People of Lucca

I spent almost two months in Tuscany during the summer but it is nothing compared to this glorious autumn.

In August I was struggling to create as I was suffering from the heat so much. Even just carrying my camera around felt like a huge effort. I had to realise that the climate in autumn is just perfect for my creative flow. The mornings and the evenings are fresh and crisp, but during the days it still gets warm with the temperature around 20-22 degrees Celsius. The gorgeous colours and light are the icing on the cake. They truly are out of this world …

I always say that I am a citizen of the World, but Lucca really feels like home.

Lucca

I am not exactly sure what it is that makes me feel this way … In September 2020, I was fortunate enough to travel Tuscany for two weeks. I visited beautiful cities and many picturesque little towns, but being in Lucca wasn’t just about a visit. Even though I have never been there before I felt content and grounded there, and I knew, one way or another I have to return.

I cannot wait to be back in this wonderful place, where even the most ordinary subject turns into extraordinary, and magic sparks up in such unexpected spaces, like in a home decor store ….

Tableware

I hope you enjoyed this colourful and light flooded trip to my ‘home at heart’. If you have any questions about freelensing, Lensbaby products or you need guidance on your photography journey, I am offering one to one creative mentoring via Zoom. I hope to hear from you soon, but until then, wishing you all a wonderful weekend 🕊️

Peony Season

“And the wind upon its way whispered the boughs of May, And touched the nodding peony flowers to bid them waken.” (Siegfried Sasson)

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

I have always admired peonies,  but I have never been as excited about their arrival as I was this year. From early May onwards, every time I took a trip to my local supermarket, I was hoping and longing to spot them in the flower aisle. Finally on the 19th of May there they were! My heart was singing with joy as I picked up two bouquets, and I could not wait to get home and to start photographing them.

Shot with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack

For the first set of series I decided to get super close to my wonderful subjects and I used my macro lens to capture the finest details of my peonies. I gently showered them to create beautiful water droplets on their petals, making them look like they were caught in the refreshing spring rain.

Shot with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack

To add a magical twist to my images I used my Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System and my OMNI Colour Expansion Pack. My aim was to make the flowers glow, and to enhance the beauty of the ‘rain drops’. I wanted those to really stand out but without stealing the show.

Shot with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack

I absolutely adore using my OMNI crystal wands with my flower photography, as I can create additional colours in my photos. Like this I can achieve dramatic contrasts between my subjects and their surrounding areas.

Shot with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack

My macro-peony shots were taken in my little home studio mainly using window light, but for the last photo I added a small lamp as an extra light source, because I really felt like experimenting a bit with ambient light. I have never been particularly fond of artificial lighting, but I always need to take new paths and discover new things to feed my inspiration.

Shot with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack

For the second set of images I swapped my 100mm Canon macro lens to my Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens, and I used my Lensbaby OMNI stretch glass to turn my ordinary still life set up into one of a kind images.

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System
Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

I decided to photograph the last series on my balcony, and I placed my  lovely bouquet in direct sunlight.

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

Shooting against harsh light can be challenging, but after spending so much time indoors due to our cold and long winter in the UK, I was very happy to take up on this challenge and leave my home studio behind for a bit.

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

For these images I carried on using my Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens accompanied with my Lensbaby OMNI Seahorse Crystal and Rainbow Filter.

While I was shooting I got even more inspired by the gorgeous beauty of these flowers, so I decided to take an adventure into mythical lands, to see what legends I would find out about peonies.

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

I came across a story that says, the peony is tied to a nymph named Paeonia. Paeonia is beautiful and she attracts the attention of Apollo, who begins to flirt with her. When Peonia realises that Aphrodite is watching them, she becomes bashful and turns bright red. In her anger, Aphrodite transforms the nymph into a red peony. This is how the peony came to symbolize bashfulness.

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

I hope you enjoyed this little story and this year’s Peony Season as much as I did!

Peonies are surely one of the most stunning flowers of all, and their beauty creates endless creative opportunities to capture and preserve  their magnificent features.

Shot with Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART Lens + Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System

I am a Lensbaby Ambassador, and if you have any questions regarding products and techniques, please feel free to get in touch, as I am always happy to help.

The Golden Hours and Showers of May

Recipe: Add sunset to an ordinary juice bottle and as a topping sprinkle some magic with your OMNI filters. Including raindrops are highly recommended. For extra perks, adding pampas grass is optional.

Created with Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack + Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART

We are having an unusually cold spring in the UK. 

The other day, during my morning walk in the little garden (next door to my apartment), someone asked me: “Are you enjoying the weather …?” 

It was a typical gloomy day with soft rain falling from the grey clouds. I was pretty much alone in the whole garden, only this lady and her dog walked past me. I nodded and smiled at her: “I actually don’t mind rainy days. I learnt to appreciate them.” She gently smiled back at me and said: “You’re probably the only one.”

She was probably right. I had the whole garden for myself. There was peace and quiet. I had no distractions. How could I not enjoy it? Of course I wouldn’t mind if the weather was warmer and I saw the sun more often, but rain makes my surroundings so peaceful. I can hear the birds and I can truly embrace the beauty of the trees and the green of the grass. Living in the overcrowded city of London, these moments are so special to me.

River View of the City of London – Created with Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack + Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART + Canon 5D Mark III

Rainy days somehow feed my inspiration too. While I’m working at home, I light some candles and listen to relaxing jazz music. These also boost my creative flow and focus. I love the sound of the rain, and I admire watching the gorgeously round drops rolling down on my window. On days like this even magic can happen.

One evening we had a storm passing through the area with heavy showers. The sky was almost black, and the wind was howling … The last thing I could imagine was to see the sunset that day, but life is always full of surprises, isn’t it? As the thunder was fading away the sky finally opened up at last, just in time for the sunset. It was such a magical moment to see not only the sun saying goodbye, but to witness those gorgeous rays lighting up the raindrops on my window, and making them glow like thousands of tiny diamonds.

Created with Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack + Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART + Canon 5D Mark III

I feel so incredibly fortunate that I was at the right place and at the right time. I immediately reached for my camera! The set up was already quite extraordinary, but I decided to give some extra sparks to it  with my Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack. To create extra glow, I used my Crystal Effect Wands. These are my absolute favorite tools to create a surreal and a fairytale like atmosphere.

Created with Lensbaby OMNI Colour Expansion Pack + Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART + Canon 5D Mark III

I wish I had more time to photograph the vision of the sparkling raindrops, but unfortunately it only lasted for a few minutes. I can tell you for sure it was a one of a kind experience. The spark might have disappeared quickly, but it got replaced with amazingly glowing colours and smooth silky / velvety like textures, so I thought it would be rather silly to call it a day just yet.

I added an ordinary glass juice bottle to my composition, and the game was ongoing until the sun completely disappeared behind the horizon.

I tend to keep glass bottles (water / juice etc.). Why? Very good question! I actually have no idea why I am so drawn to glass objects. After the bottles are empty, I peel off the labels and I wash them. I quite often use them as props in my photography. I admire how the light hits them and gives them a precious glow. (I also keep the glass dishes of candles after they burn down completely, and I collect the little glass pebbles on the shore.)

I think it is safe to say that I have a certain obsession for glass. Gloom or glow, I always find happiness in photographing them.

On those rare occasions, when we get to see the sunset in London, I always try to make most of them. I find beauty in simplicity, therefore my subjects are quite ordinary most of the time. Shooting in the golden hour and using my OMNI filters is a chance for transformation, in which even the most average object turns into something extraordinary.

For instance, take a look at a composition of a juice bottle with some pampas grass stuck into them. Sounds rather boring, right? BUT according to W.B. Yeats “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” I think this is 100% true.

The pandemic has been depriving me from so many precious things, but at the same time it has definitely made me grow as an artist, and it has been sharpening my senses immensely. I have been bending and stretching my creativity to get the most out of my days, and to find beauty in the most unusual places. Even in something as plain as a juice bottle.

A Camera Painted Spring

This spring I decided to challenge myself and I spent seven days shooting with my Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic.

I absolutely love using this lens for portraits, as it gives a soft painterly touch to my subjects, and it also creates movement in the images.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic – F2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/400

I had to realise that I barely use this lens these days, as due to lockdown restrictions I don’t really have the chance to photograph people. I was very curious how I could use this lens with different subjects, such as capturing naturing in its finest.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic – F4 | ISO 100 | 1250

I have always admired watercolour paintings. Their lightness … their undefined lines … different shapes merging together and creating a symbiotic whole. Capturing these glorious blossoming branches made me feel like I had spent hours with painting, but instead of using a traditional paintbrush and paint, I used my camera, and my Sweet 80 Optic.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic – F2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/2500

Shooting at F2.8 with this lens was quite challenging, especially that the branches and blossoms were in constant motion, and swinging in all sorts of directions due to a strong wind. But nailing that sweet spot focus in such weather conditions was so rewarding, and well worth battling with the elements.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic – F2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/1600

The lens kept my focal point crisp and sharp, while it turned the rest of the image and the out of focus areas into a vision of a pastel painting.

If you have used pastel crayons before I am sure you can picture what I am talking about. These crayons are very soft and they have a powdery texture. You can blend different colours together even just using your fingers. I know it does sound like quite a messy procedure, but if you enjoy painting or drawing you should totally give it a go.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic – F2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/1600

Being a colour obsessed artist I barely create black and white images, but I took a leap, and I was incredibly impressed with the results. The black and white conversion added a charcoal drawing touch to my image, and it created a beautiful contrast between the different textures, lowlights and highlights.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic – F4 | ISO 100 | 1/640

I also did a bit of an experiment and I combined the optic with the OMNI Seahorse Crystal.

I love shooting flowers backlit as it reveals their beautiful and finest details. The sun was very high, as I captured this image around noon. I used the OMNI Seahorse Crystal to reduce the harshness of this strong light, and to add softness and more texture to my image. The real challenge was to keep the photo balanced. I did not want to make it look too soft, and to avoid that I kept my subject partially in the shade. This way I created highlights, mid tones and lowlights within one frame.

Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic + OMNI Seahorse Chrystal Wand – F4 | ISO 100 | 1/4000

I captured these blossoms taking an advantage of the cold tones of the morning light. I was aiming for cooler image tones to express even though these lovely blossoms are already out, the weather can be still very chilly. I wanted to show, no matter how fragile these little flowers look, they have so much strength and resilience. They are standing against even the harshest wind, like little soldiers and spreading the hope of warmer spring days ahead.

3 Days with the Lensbaby Edge Series

Since I absolutely adore my Lensbaby Edge Optics and their beautiful slice of focus, I decided to take pictures of the same subject for 3 days using:

  • On Day 1: the Edge 35
  • On Day 2: the Edge 50
  • And on Day 3: the Edge 80 Optic. 

I was very curious to see how the images were going to compare.

You would think: ‘Eh! They are the same, only the focal lengths are different.’ 

Well, reality could not be any further!

Day 1 –  Edge 35

This optic is the newest member of my Lensbabies.

Shot with Lensbaby Edge 35 Optic

Prior to purchasing this lens I was shooting primarily with the Edge 80 for about a month and a half. Changing to a much wider angle felt very strange at first.

Looking through the viewfinder for the first time made me feel like I sunk into a surreal world:  How can so much information fit into one single frame ?! 

My brain got totally confused in a weirdly wonderful way. I was so used to focusing purely on my subjects and  their surroundings didn’t really catch my attention. All of a sudden I started observing my subjects in a way that I never did before, and I realised their surroundings are just as exciting as the subjects themselves. 

Shot with Lensbaby Edge 35 + OMNI Stretch Wand

I can say this with confidence even though it wasn’t love at first sight, I’m very much in love with my Edge 35 now!  

Why?

It is an incredibly versatile lens:

  • It is wide enough to capture landscapes / cityscapes 
  • Also great for architectural photography
  • You can get real close to your subjects
  • It picks up the finest details, so it is a perfect choice for products / flowers / still life, or for anything really that you want to capture by enhancing details.
  • It is a wonderful choice for storytelling 
  • It is excellent for portrait photography too.

So you can use this lens pretty much for anything.

The secret of adapting my visual thinking into such a wide angle was practice, practice and practice more. That’s it really. I spent hours and hours, day by day photographing different subjects, and here I am now, madly in love with this beautiful optic. 

Shot with Lensbaby Edge 35 + OMNI Stretch Wand

I absolutely love how the Edge 35 is wide enough to show everything that surrounds my subjects, but instead of being distracting having all that information in one frame, it actually draws the attention to the subject through its environment.

Day 2 – Edge 50

The Edge 50 is the perfect in between optic: neither wide, neither narrow. Looking at my images taken with this lens makes me feel like I’m looking at traditional film photographs.

It creates a very special mood that I adore so much.

Shot with Lensbaby Edge 50 Optic

In comparison to the Edge 35:

  • It is still wide enough to capture landscapes
  • Being 50mm is a classic focal length for portraits 
  • It is a great choice for still life photography, as your subjects would have just the right amount of surroundings 
  • Compared to the 35mm you will not have any distortions in your images (that’s another extra perk for the Edge 35! Being wide angle you get a slight distortion, but instead of disturbing it is rather a wonderful and creative vision).
Shot with Lensbaby Edge 50 Optic + OMNI Stretch Wand

Day 3 – Edge 80

Changing from 50 to 80mm was an absolute joy for me. 

When I took my first 80mm shot my stomach got filled with butterflies, and my eyes with tears, as the beauty of the photograph I captured was beyond my imagination. It was like a little piece of heaven, and I told myself that Lensbaby photography cannot get any better than shooting with the Edge 80.

Shot with Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic + OMNI Stretch Wand

The Edge 80 is a state of art. It is the perfect lens to photograph details (that I adore!) and to fully focus on the subject itself, fading everything around it in a beautiful way.

The areas in focus are crisp sharp and full of fine details, and the smoothness of the blur is just out of this world. With this lens you can truly transform the most ordinary subject into the extraordinary.

In comparison to the Edge 35 and 50:

  • Your photo is about the subject itself 
  • It is quite a narrow focal length so there is not much room for what surrounds your subjects
  • It is all about the details
  • It creates the smoothest and silkiest blur in the out of focus areas (out of the three optics I find the Edge 80 having the silkiest blur).

I’m so happy that I came up with the idea of spending 3 days with my Lensbaby Edge Optics. Shooting a whole day with one and then the following day changing to another really made me see how beautifully different they are.

Using the same series of optics, and exploring how they act in different focal lengths has transformed  my photographic vision immensely.

I know what you’re thinking now: ‘But which is your favourite one …?’

Honestly, it would be incredibly difficult to choose between the Edge 35 and the Edge 80. 

I am obsessed with details and they both enhance those in their own magical way. 

Looking at the world around me through the Edge 35 my perception has changed. I’m still obsessed with details and getting close to my subjects, but I grew to adore their surroundings too.

The Edge 80 is pure magic. No piece of equipment has ever made me feel the way this optic has.The areas in focus are super sharp and crisp and the blur around it looks like velvet. This also relies on the Edge 35.

So I guess the most adequate answer I could give to this question is that they are both my favourites!

I hope you enjoyed my little 3 day adventure as much as I did, because for sure I had so much fun with these beautiful Lensbabies.

My journey into Lensbaby photography

I have been a photographer for over ten years, specialised in portraits and weddings. I have always loved capturing my subjects with very shallow depth of field, through my favourite 50 mm lens.

My journey with Lensbaby began in December 2019, nine months after I was badly hit by a car and I was left on the road by the driver.

I hit my head very badly, and this caused chemical imbalances in my brain, which resulted in a change of my personality. I would wake up in the morning and looking into the mirror a stranger would stare back at me.

Self Confusion – Shot with Lensbaby Edge 35 Optic + Composer Pro II

The justice system never solved my case, and this had caused even more damage: It took my voice away, and completely broke my trust in human beings.  I thought I had nothing left to hold onto. Being a photographer I tried to create artwork, but traditional photography didn’t give me joy anymore.

Around October – November time (2019) I started thinking about my college years as a photography student (2009 – 2013), and how much I enjoyed experimenting with different techniques and equipment. I remembered during a research for a college project, I came across some photos that were taken with the Lensbaby Edge 80 Optic, and how mesmerised I was by the beautiful blurry effect of the images. 

The Beautiful Blur – Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic + Composer Pro II

Accessing this memory was like a light switch in my head, and the feeling just hit me instantly: I am a blur, I am undefined, I am neither this nor that. And this is pretty much how I perceived life itself back then. I needed a medium that allowed me to express not only what I see, but how I see it and how I feel it.

In the blurriest time of my life it became perfectly clear to me that I wanted to shoot extraordinary and I wanted to create perfectly imperfect images. 

Morning Light – Shot with Lensbaby Edge 35 Optic + Lensbaby Colourful Crystal + Composer Pro II

I spent an entire month researching, looking through reviews and observing pictures taken with Lensbaby products. 

My first two Lensbabies arrived in December 2019: the Edge 50 with the Composer Pro II and the Sweet 80 Optic.

I still remember exactly how I felt after taking the first few shots with my new optics. It was like waking up from a coma. All of a sudden everything had become interesting and even in the most ordinary subject I could see the extraordinary.  I found myself in a world where I was finally content. In a world where I had found my voice again and I was able to use that voice through my images. 

Sunset Dance – Shot with Lensbaby Edge 50 Optic + Lensbaby Composer Pro II

In July 2020 Lensbaby featured one of my photos – Waterlilies – on their Instagram page. The feeling of being acknowledged, and to be seen by the company I so highly value, was a life changing moment for me. 

Waterlilies – First Lensbaby Feature – Shot with Lensbaby Edge 50 Optic + Lensbaby Composer Pro II

People, who I never knew before, congratulated me and this caused me such joy that was unknown to me before. Their appreciation warmed my heart greatly, and gave me a huge amount of encouragement and positive energies to keep going. I finally didn’t feel alone. I felt a certain kind of belonging that I had lost a long time ago.

It made me realise that Lensbaby is not only an amazing brand with the most incredible and unique products, but also a kind and supportive community of people.

I never in a million years could have imagined that I could make connections through my Lensbaby photography, and this is absolutely priceless.

In October 2020 I was one of the winners of the Lensbaby at Home competition, which was a great reassurance for me that I am on the right path with my photography. I was awarded with a gift voucher and I used it towards the Edge 80 Optic, which was the main source of my inspiration to become a Lensbaby Artist.

Winner of the Lensbaby at Home Competition – Shot with Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic + Composer Pro II

Through this brand and community I am not only creating but I am also healing. 

In January 2021 I received the great honour of becoming a Lensbaby Ambassador, which is a dream coming true, and there are no words to describe my happiness. 

Lensbaby had a profound impact on my life as a person and as a photographer, and for me it is far more than just a brand.  It is a way of seeing: in a new way, a way of feeling: everything is possible, and a way of living: embracing life as perfectly imperfect.

The year of stillness with a bit of Tuscany …

It’s been a long while since I last posted here. Just like most of us I’ve been putting all my energies into adapting to this new reality that we are currently living in.

As an artist the best way for me to feed my soul and to get inspired is to travel. To discover new cultures, new landscapes and to connect to people of other countries.

Tuscany was on my bucket list for approximately 16 years, but I never in a million years would have imagined that I was going to visit this miracle place in a middle of a pandemic.

In the summer it actually seemed like things were massively improving with the virus. The infection rates were dropping significantly, especially in Italy.

In early September with all the precautions and safety measures I took a leap and flew right into the Italian dream, as travelling was permitted at that time in Europe.

Of course I saw Tuscany in movies, books, postcards and on the Internet before my trip, but I never imagined that reality was going to be far more beautiful than the finest photographs or documentaries could ever present it. 

I spent two weeks under the Tuscan sun, and every day was a real adventure.

After four months of lockdown, and the summer spent with constant studying, walking all day every day, for two weeks was a real blessing.

My favourite town was the historical Lucca with its picturesque walls that were built during the Renaissance. 

The most delicious food I had was in the dreamy Cortona, where I also found the cutest little church ever. Its cupola looks just like the Italian Christmas cake called Panettone.

The best wine bar was located in the medieval town of Siena. With its cosiness and friendly staff it was a real treat sipping a glass of wine after a long day of walking and sightseeing.

Visiting a prestigious vineyard of Montalcino was a once in a lifetime experience, and it made my trip even more special.

Driving through morning mist, chasing rainbows after heavy storms, overlooking ancient cities from high up domes, visiting the most exquisite artworks in the finest museums and galleries, getting peace and quiet in sacred churches … this trip had it all …

But the most outstanding experience was finding my home amongst the Tuscan hills.

I never even dared to dream about having a house in Tuscany … It is probably true that magical things can happen when you least expect it …

I’m counting the days until I can finally return and I can put all my love and care into the place that I can finally call HOME.

Where would you be … ?

4D8ED971-7538-47ED-A5FE-293593407C6CIf the pandemic did not happen, where would you be …?

I’m sure, everyone out there had some sort of plans, before things got critical with the corona virus.  I’m sure most of us are supposed to be some place else, instead of where we are right now.

As for me, I’m supposed to be on a 5 star cruise ship, working as a full time portrait/wedding photographer.
I got hired on 11th of February.
I was supposed to leave on Friday 17th of April.
I was supposed to fly to Germany.
I was supposed to cruise up to the magnificent Norwegian fjords, to record love, joy, special moments and spectacular places.
I was supposed to live on a ship with 5200 passengers and over 2000 crew members, for at least 6 months.
My visas to the United States and Australia were issued, I received the required jabs and my uniforms were ordered.
The ship is still in Germany. It has never left. Neither did I.
Life has made another plan, but not just for me, for all of us.

Isolation is shaping us in many different ways, and I’m sure, everyone can notice this.

As I was gathering my thoughts to compose this post, I realised something.
I have been moving around since I turned 24.
This June I will have my last birthday, beginning with number 3, which means that I have been in MOTION for almost 15 years. This time includes some epic trips, but also some complicated moves from one place to another due to different life events.

If I was not on the go, I would be always thinking and planning the next step, where to go, how to go, what to take, what to leave behind.
15 YEARS.
Now, all of a sudden, there’s nowhere to go. No aeroplane to catch. No backpacks and luggage to pack. No ships to sail off.  I have to stay put.  I have to embrace the stillness.

Processed with VSCO with ka1 preset

As I connected the dots, and I looked back, I understood me. I realised how much adaptation I needed, and we all need to cope with this stillness that was forced on us, to keep us safe.
It is a geographical stillness however.  On a spiritual level there is a massive motion all across our beautiful World, and we are probably more connected to each other than ever.

The current situation requires from all of us an incredible amount of adaptation both mentally and physically. And we are doing it. Which means we are growing! Little by little we are succeeding every day, and this keeps our boat moving, even without a full wind.
Yes, geographically we are still, but very much in MOTION 🕊

Once there was a Spring …

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetSpring. My favourite season of all. It is the celebration of the re-birth of nature, after the cold and grey winter months.
I don’t just want to see it and observe it as an outsider. I want to live it. I want to be part of it. I want to be an element of the whole beautiful, organic and colourful mess.

Isolation makes me understand myself more in depth.
I’ve always known, how madly in love, I was with flowers, but I realised that my connection to them goes way beyond that.
Flowers are the main source of my inspiration, and they are the core elements of my photography.

Processed with VSCO with q4 preset

When I have some cut flowers in my vase and they start to wilt , I wait … I do not have the heart to throw them away. For me, they do not loose their preciousness, just because they are fading away.  I let them dry out … I want to see their journey in whole … their metamorphosis from being lush and full of life to becoming transparent, showing their finest details under their ‘skin’, as they transform.

Flowers not only symbolise beauty for me, but somehow they are part of me… I’m connected to them in a way that I cannot explain. I miss them. Every day. No words to explain how much I’m longing to sit in a garden surrounded by millions of them. Even as a tiny toddler, all I wanted, is to be near them … According to my Mom, I would sit in my buggy, and as I was being pushed around, I would reach towards them, trying to touch them, and to embrace them to the fullest … Flower was amongst the first words that I said … I miss everything about them …

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Isolation is the time, to be resourceful. We cannot crush. Cannot run away. We have to accept what we cannot have. What we can do, is to figure out, how to work with the hollow that this difficult time creates in us.
As for me,
I’m unable to be in nature, and it creates a struggle in me, but I realised that I have many never published photographs of embracing Mother Nature in her fullest, and looking through those images makes me happy.
They give me hope that one day things will be all right …

I made a decision to use, what I have, to balance the constant longing for what I cannot access right now. I feel blessed that I have an amazing supermarket near my apartment, where I can get some fresh flowers once a week.
My bedroom has become an organic chaos, and it smells just like a flower garden.

Processed with VSCO with kp2 presetOkakura Kakuzo, Japanese scholar said it wisely: “In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”