Field trip to the sake factory. It

Field trip to the sake factory. It’s like they KNOW me.

Remember that time I went to Japan as a guest of Olympus to not only see the sights, attend CP+, test out their newest camera (OM-D E-M5 Mark2), but also to visit Olympus headquarters, where I could listen to their plans for the future of imaging and go behind closed doors in their Research & Development department?

I can’t even type that without feeling like I am making the whole thing up.

It feels like a dream. And it was a dream that came true. And I do not mean just the trip to Japan, but the fortune of discovering Olympus cameras and then being able to work with the company so closely. And it was a dream that took me months to process. I don’t take these things lightly. I love photography with every fibre of my being. It is part of my soul and as cheesy and cliched as that may sound, it is the truth. Making photographs is a large part of what makes me, well, me. And in saying that, being able to see first hand how Olympus develops tools for photographers to use and take their work even further is priceless insight that deepens my confidence in their brand. I know as a professional photographer that I can count on their system to grow at pace or even ahead of the trends in the industry. And as a photo blogger who needs to take pictures daily, I am sure this is the gear I will have on me all the time. It is a joy to use a camera that produces the image I see in my head effortlessly. The controls all just feel natural in my hands and the rendering of colours and tone is perfect. What a pleasure to collaborate on projects to bring this art form and industry forward with the actual company that makes the tool essential to my work. Second to the stellar equipment, that involvement and ground work with consumers is what sets Olympus apart from every other camera brand for me.

Have a visual stroll back through my winter week in Japan…

Waking up in Tokyo.

Waking up in Tokyo.

Wandering the hotel neighbourhood.

Wandering the hotel neighbourhood and observing. Light, shadow and in between.

Headquarters and R&D

Appropriate footwear for headquarters and then for R&D.

I was LITERALLY at the mothership.

I was LITERALLY at the mothership.

No biggie, just having lunch at headquarters.

No biggie, just having lunch at headquarters.

And having a tour of ALL the cameras.

And then having a tour of ALL the cameras.

Plum blossoms. The (IMHO) underrated cousin of the cherry blossom extravaganza.

Plum blossoms. The (IMHO) underrated cousin of the cherry blossom extravaganza.

Fantastical food emporiums where you can catch your own fish or go back in time to ramen gypsies...

Fantastical food emporiums where you can catch your own fish or go back in time to eat ramen with fortune tellers. Japan has you covered.

Train trips and coffee in a can. HOT COFFEE IN A CAN. How is this not a thing on every street corner everywhere?

Train trips and coffee vending machines. HOT COFFEE IN A CAN. How is this not a thing on every street corner everywhere?

Circles and patterns and forgotten plants.

Circles and patterns and forgotten plants.

Forgotten window plants and a good luck mountain.

More forgotten window plants and one good luck mountain.

Observations and/or wishes...

Observations and/or wishes…

No try, just buy.

No try, just buy.

And take it all in. Pausing the moments any way we all can.

An indescribable opportunity to have a meal and a laugh with a collection of amazing people.

An indescribable opportunity to have a meal and a laugh with a collection of amazing people.

The old and the new. Then and Now and for always.

The old and the new. Then and now and for always.

Thank you to the team at Olympus from Sydney and Malaysia and of course right on up to the top in Japan. Thank you for not only the adventure, but for the commitment to this beautiful medium of visual storytelling for the last 95 years. I am honoured to be raising the next generation of photographers on your distinguished equipment.

There is no “sponsored by” mention at the top of this post because while the trip was as I said a gift from Olympus, the fact that I fell in love with their cameras and have not picked up any other brand for an entire year now is all me. I have tried many different cameras and I truly feel like these tick all the boxes for me and the work I am doing now. A camera brand could host all the fantastic adventures in the world, but if the gear is not up to the job, then that is not the gear I am going to pick up.

With gratitude,

Sesame

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Melbourne turned on the beautiful weather on Sunday for the 20th Melbourne Million Paws Walk. Gemma, Chilli and I left the rest of the family home in their jammies as we headed out early to do the 5km track around Albert Park Lake, grab some coffee and pick up a brand new harness for the pup!

million paws walk melbourne 2015

million paws walk melbourne 2015

million paws walk melbourne 2015

million paws walk melbourne 2015

Clover was still in her jammies when we got home so she spent the rest of the evening pretending to be our new puppy with some promotional ear headband thing we had in the gift bag. Such a great day.

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And this guy loves olives.

      

Do your kids love certain foods over all others? Kieran could live on capsicum, olives, feta, grapes and sunflower seeds. And chocolate… I mean, he is a kid.

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  • Kasandra - my son loved black olives also at this age … still loves them. one thanksgiving he was thankful for newman (the family dog) and black olives :) i think i have an “olive on the fingers” shot also. such a fun age :)ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - Takes after his dad then…..ReplyCancel

Nunny waits for Clover to come home from school.

Nunny waits for Clover to come home from school.

I had an appointment with the skin cancer clinic. Before anyone gets worried, I will let you know that I am fine. I feel a lot of relief saying that as I had been holding my worries in for a while. There were two spots on my back that had been bothering me for months as they just would not heal. They were pretty small, but located right in a large patch of freckles born over forty years of avoiding sunscreen. I had my kids take some photos for me with my phone so I could watch for changes over time as I continued to swallow my nerves and ignore the issue. I am a child of the 1970’s! I remember watching my teenage sister tan on a lounge chair in our back yard with a three sided foil covered board under her chin to increase the maximum sun damage coverage. We grew up thinking a tan showed health.

Moving to Australia meant I was finally getting the message about the dangers of the sun. We experienced it first hand, well Clover did, when we tried (and failed) to completely cover the twins’ baby skin in the early days. However while I made sure my kids were protected, I still made excuses for myself. I am quite aware that Kieran’s sensory processing disorder comes from me. I can’t stand any type of lotion on my skin and have only this year found one sunscreen that I can not only tolerate, but actually like. I have also started using organic coconut oil as my all over moisturiser and am thrilled with the feel and the results! It is a godsend for people like me who are very adverse to feeling even remotely greasy. I am a little bit obsessed with coconut water as well, but that is for another post. Anyway, I came home from my specialist appointment with the two spots analysed and taped up ready to just be checked again in the year. He found a few more moles to photograph and keep on record as well so that we can be on top of any changes. Sun damage, pre-cancer, see you at your next skin cancer check appointment… Things I thought were words just for old people. I had shoved my own version of a good luck charm into the bottom of my bag for the appointment. Normally this fabric remnant from my childhood just sits on my bed at home, but superstition kicked in and I felt compelled to take it with me. I promptly forgot it was in there until I dumped my bag out to search for my keys (again). Good luck HAD been with me. Grab your own good luck charm and make an appointment to get a skin check. It is essential, yet so often put in the “I’ll get to it later” basket on the desks of our busy lives.

Later after school something seemingly unrelated happened. Clover could not find her beloved threadbare Nunny. It is her little stuffed other half and a physical good luck comfort item just like my old blanket thing. It was the first time I had to put her to bed without it and after practically stripping her bed last night and searching every other corner of the house (three times) including going through the trash JUSTINCASE, I had to kiss her goodnight and watch her cry herself to sleep without it.* Texts went out to her teacher to see if Nunny had been spotted at school as Clover is known for her ability to misplace important objects there, but the answer was no. I thought it was some sort of universe payback for my over helping of good luck that day.

This morning I went in to wake her and there she sat on the top bunk with her Nunny in her hands. I asked her where she found it and she looks at me and says that she was cuddling her other bunny when Nunny just “appeared”. I swear that kid has a team of fairies swirling around her at all times and I don’t doubt that they made that dirty bunny appear out of thin air. I don’t know where the graces we were given yesterday came from, but I am publicly thanking them here.

*Before my internet troll puts down her nightly glass of red wine to type the criticism of Clover (or myself) being way too old to be finding comfort in transitional objects, I’d like to to tell her we are fine, thankyouverymuch. See also “nightly glass of red wine”. We all have our vices.
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  • Louise Fletcher via Facebook - We had a similar experience with Bunny last night. She is 7. Bunny works for her, and wine works for me. And, I must get 2 spots on my chest looked at. good reminder!ReplyCancel

  • Michaela - Awww. Bless. And I’m 25 and I still have my scruffy old dog teddy that I’ve had since I was born at the end of my bed every night. If it brings comfort, and obviously does not harm, j don’t see why it’s hurts for anyone to have a comfort item.ReplyCancel

Sesame Ellis HQ is what I have always jokingly called the front “room” of our house. Our home is two stories with the playroom, bedrooms and full bathrooms all upstairs and the ground floor is split into two distinct sections at the staircase. We only ever really use the back half of downstairs as that is the large open plan kitchen, living and dining area. It is also the main access to the back deck and garden. The front “room” deserves air quotes as it is really just an open plan space that we walk through from the front door and garage. It has become a large dumping ground for all bags and shoes as well as lately doubling as the cartwheel practice arena. It is what you don’t notice as you walk through to get to the powder room. A carpeted indoor area with giant south, west and north facing windows that gets OK light all day. A couple of epic fifth birthday parties have been hosted in there. It is also where I partitioned myself a tiny corner to call my home office with six feet tall book cases and piles of everyone else’s stuff for temporary walls. Just an uninspiring little cramped corner in what we think is supposed to be a formal dining room (one thing we will never need it to be) and yet it was where I wrote a lot of Beyond Snapshots and all of my other three books since. It is where I sit at a broken dining table repurposed as a desk and do my photo editing. I would even do photoshoots in the space, but set up and then breakdown and put away all my gear each time. I have worked out of the garage, I have typed many an article while sitting next to a pile of laundry in the living room trying to avert my eyes from the dirty dishes in the sink and I have even looked at the abandoned cubby house and thought about making it my mine. I have kept my eyes open for local studio to share. Once I even drove across the city to spend the day typing in a co-working space. Yet I never thought to make the front room really mine.

Late afternoon natural light headshots in my improved home studio.

Late afternoon natural light headshots in my improved home studio.

One day as I was particularly busy, I got a streak of inspired procrastination to move one of the book shelves which boxed off that tiny corner I thought was all I deserved. That effort turned into a real revelation. Sesame Ellis HQ wasn’t a joke. I have 20 years of photography business under my belt and now that included a decade of photo blogging as well. I don’t just share pictures of my kids online, but actually create content that helps others to photograph their own lives beautifully and encourage everyone from kids on up to share their visual stories with the world. I do this so others can discover the powers and joy of photography and to bolster the supportive worldwide community that often gets bullied into dispersing by the noisy naysayers online. This is my career and I was never letting myself feel like I deserved to claim the area in my house for my work. I realised that I was letting that same feeling of unworthiness seep into other areas of my work. I was struggling to find the time for photo editing that I could hire someone else to do faster. I never sent a newsletter because I didn’t know where to start, but I had someone who could help. It was many things like this that would bog me down because I never felt like I deserved to hire help in my business. I think this must be common in others who work from home and have their own business. Things like this don’t get talked about openly enough. Is it some sort of shame or embarrassment that prevents us from taking on even part time help? I mean, companies have employees…I just do this thing from home… Hiring help would mean I actually considered photography and blogging a business and who was I to think that about Sesame Ellis.

home photo studio blogging office

Great natural light for headshots! (The red lipstick was for an assignment…stand down internet.)

After seven years in this home, I was finally making that front room a purposeful space and all mine. Somewhere there are before photos (I couldn’t find them in time for this post) and there will soon be after ones, but I think it will take a while to get it just how I want it. I need to purge so much accumulated stuff before I even consider spending anything on fitting it out. Also, home office design does not come naturally for me. I’d love to consult with another blogger who is a specialist in that area, so stay tuned. BUT I did finally arrange things so I can start doing headshots in this space without having to set it up and break it down each time for now! The kids had their own shoot on the weekend and it was awesome to see a hive of creativity in Sesame Ellis HQ. I look forward to sharing the complete journey to a Pinterest worthy home studio here on the blog and I thank you all for making me realise that this is worth it. The best part is, when I am done with the front room, I want to open it up to a once a month creative commune for my Bayside blogging buddies. Lets get together in person and actually create in this space!

To be continued…

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  • Andrea Sissons via Facebook - Enjoy your new space… well deserved :)ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Sanabria via Facebook - You deserve a trove of assistants and a gigantic white box of a studio! XoxoxoReplyCancel

  • kali - That b/w image… if you cover her nose… its Gemma all the way!ReplyCancel

  • Mel Jeffcott - I totally get where you are coming from Rachel. Even though I am pretty new to this working at home/blogging gig, it wasn’t until I created a beautiful space of my own to work in (complete with old school vision board on the wall) that I truly owned what I am doing. P.S. Count me in for a creative commune day, that sounds like fun!ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Vision board! I am adding that to my list of “must haves”! Can’t wait to have you over for the commune day!ReplyCancel