Oh I wish you a Merry Christmas

Thats the thing about Christmas – whether you celebrate it for religious reasons, family reasons or because it gives you an excuse to splash out on people you care about at the end of the year, there is something special about this day we call “Christmas”.

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For me personally it has always been about sharing it with my family and having a beautiful morning together where we exchange presents, laughs and morning cups of coffee. I have always loved this day because no matter what we were going through as a family, this day would always bring us close again.

For the second year in a row I am miles away from my family – on very different continents in fact. Christmas eve is also my Dad’s big birthday which unfortunately I had to miss.

I truly hope that wherever you go and wherever you are, there are people who will take you in and who will help to make this day a really special one, knowing that your family is not around. These people are your friends and even though the good ones are hard to find, once you do, they are a true gift on a Christmas day and every day.

This year I am very grateful to have my beautiful family in my life, although miles away, my heart is always with them. I am also grateful for my new family and for my husband who I adore and love infinitely. But this year I am especially grateful to our friends who have helped to make us feel loved and special on a Christmas day for the last two years.

I wish you and all your loved ones, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! If you don’t celebrate Christmas then I hope whether it is now or at a different time in the year, you have some special days planned with your loved ones and make sure they always know you love them.

Love is the most important gift of life, so keep on giving today and every day after,

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Happy Holidays!

Always Yours,

Maria Flash Photography

My “Pretty Woman” moment…

Ever since I saw Julia Roberts in that famous brown polka dot dress in Pretty Woman I have been dreaming about one day going to the races or a Polo match. There is something particularly unattainable about these sports that attract beautiful, rich and famous people – maybe it’s the thrill of the bet for those who live in excess or maybe it is one of the very few occasions in our day and age where people still make a considerable amount of effort to look their best. Men put on their best suits and ladies spend endless days and nights in pursuit of their perfect designer outfit.

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Growing up in Kazakhstan – a former Soviet Union republic I could never dream of ever experiencing something like that, if only having an idea of what those experiences would be like through movies and TV. Not only has it not crossed my mind but the very idea of one day living in a place where this is a weekend routine for some was not only highly unlikely but impossible in my world. Well here I am 15 years later and attending my very first racing event.

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It started off as a regular rush around morning, unlike many people who attend these types of events I don’t have a personal stylist or a hair dresser to make me look fabulous – I rely on my own skills to go from 0 to a hero in as little time as possible.

Then the drive. Of course having a personal helicopter would help but my little Suzuki swift will have to do the trick for now. I am completely paranoid about the parking situation, I will admit parallel street parking is not my forte and walking a few km to the race in 4” inch heels is not my idea of fun. I am not a club member and there are no dedicated parking spots for me but luck is on my side and somehow I manage to squeeze into the first empty parking space I see. Confidently I stroll along the parking lot into the main gates of Rosehill Gardens race track.

I am overwhelmed. Wow and I mean WOW – I have never seen so many good looking and stylish people packed into a venue before. The whole thing looks like a huge wedding function. There are pretty women everywhere I look, drinking champagne and giving glimpses of those pearly white smiles. Men are certainly looking sharp in their suits, crispy white shirts and colourful ties.

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Champagne glasses and laughter accompany me everywhere I go, people are chilling and having a great time. We are so lucky with the weather, it is a cool and overcast day and it’s just pleasant outside.

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I feel pretty, I feel good (I am the one in white). I meet my friends, they all look stunning, we hang out together in a queue for a complimentary glass of bubble. We chat, we laugh and have a great time together.

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We watch beautiful horses being paraded around the track, watch the races, post some fun pics on Facebook, we eat some Mexican food and we go up to the stalls for the last two races and then I see it…

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I see it on the big screen, I see how six men are trying to drag a horse that is about to race into a gate, they pull it by the ear and drag it in with sheer force. My heart stops and I realise what really happens behind the scenes, behind the glamour and champagne bubbles, there is a lot of pain and suffering that these animals are subjected to on day to day basis. And suddenly none of this seems “Pretty” to me anymore.

Yes while it is true that human athletes also go far and beyond to achieve impressive results and many medals are gained through tears, pain and blood but there is one crucial difference between being a human athlete and a race horse. A human always has a choice to subject himself or herself through pain to become a well renowned athlete, while a horse is forced into submission…

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While I certainly enjoyed catching up with my friends and looking all glammed for the day, this sport is not something I will be supporting in the future.

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P.S at the time of completing this blog post, a well known horse by the name of Red Cadeaux has been injured in the most famous race of the Season – the Melbourne Cup 2015. And while ‘many’ are waiting patiently for news if the horse recovers, very few will step in to attempt to prevent these incidents from happening in the future. Last year, during the same race, two horses died from injuries.

As it turns out, I have reconsidered my “Pretty Woman” moment and in the future, I will need to find “Pretty” elsewhere..

Here are some links to some interesting articles on the real side of racing:

“The Ugly Truth About Racing” 

“Death of Your Horse Reveals the Dark Side of Racing”

“The Ugly side of the race that stops the nation”

Thanks for tuning in and reading,

Always Yours,

Maria Flash Photography

“Just Do It”

I love Nike’s slogan “Just Do It”. It is simple, it is powerful, it is directive. According to Wikipedia, this slogan was introduced in 1988 and has since helped to make Nike more profitable. It is described as both “universal and intensely personal” in the article by Jeremy Peters. What makes it so special is that It doesn’t specify that “Doing It” should only happen when it is right, when you are good, when there is a full moon, when you are rich, etc. The power lies in its simplicity and let’s be realistic here, how many of us leave our excuses at home and focus our efforts on “Just Doing It”? How many of us don’t wait for the perfect moment to do something but rather do it when it is not. When you ask someone what they would rather be doing right now, the answer that comes back most of the time is – “Oh I want to buy a house but I have to wait until I am older, until I am more financially independent or I want to be a marketing director but I can’t apply for the job until I am more experienced or I can’t write a blog until I am more popular, etc”.

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Don’t get me wrong a healthy mix of perfection and timing can certainly help to achieve a desired result and you certainly won’t become a CEO overnight (unless you have millions of $ in your bank account) however, more often than not we get caught up in excuses why we can’t or shouldn’t “Just Do” something rather than why we can or why we should.

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I fell in love with photography completely, deeply, a couple of years ago. Photography became the second love of my life, my husband of course will always be the first but what started off as a simple exercise to help out my husband’s dragon boating team to photograph a training session, turned into a passionate love affair. See my earlier photos below.

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The minute I held that Canon DSLR camera in my hands I realised It was love at first sight. What I didn’t realise is that it would take over me and consume me to the point of no return. Since that day, this love affair kept developing and growing until I have realised that it does not have to be an affair at all but rather it can turn into a legit relationship, a business idea I can develop over time and commit to.

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I love photographing people and events. Initially I got so inspired and excited – the idea of being there and photographing special moments in people’s lives made me grin from ear to ear. The idea of producing images that could withstand decades made my heart glow.

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I pictured client meetings, photo albums, photo editing sessions with a cup of coffee next to me, I pictured Facebook page and a blog site full of comments and ideas but most importantly I pictured couples, families and people who would be letting me capture their special moments and allow me to be there to see all the love, the joy and happiness that binds them in that special moment, forever frozen in time on a photograph. 

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This has given me something to aspire to something to look forward to but then suddenly the seeds of doubt started to set in, polluting my mind with thousands of “what if statements”. Usually “if statements” are great when it comes to Excel in my line of work but when it comes to mind, it’s just noise that clouds the vision and stops one from seeing things clearly. Things like “what if I can’t do it”, “what if I am not good enough”, “what if there are hundreds of more experienced and skilled photographers than me”, “what if I don’t get any clients”, “what if..what if.. what if” started creeping in more and more into my mind. Around that time I have mentioned my idea to a colleague who used to be a wedding photographer in Canada and recently moved to Sydney. She said to me that it is very difficult to make it here in Sydney as a photographer, the market is saturated, the competition is high, it is not worth the effort.

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I pondered on that statement for a long time and for a while my dream of becoming a wedding photographer has stayed put in the shadows of my doubts. I thought what is the point of trying when she is right, it is not worth it.. Until one day I woke and realised that it was.

Why you may ask? What has changed your mind? Well I have realised that for the first time in my life I feel truly passionate about something, I feel like I have a purpose, I have all these stories to tell and I have been wanting to tell them all my life, I just didn’t know how. Photography offers me a medium through which I can share my stories, my view points, the beauty that I get to see and experience. 

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I knew then what I needed to do and I just needed to do it. No more excuses, no more what “if statements” unless they are strictly applied to my day job. I don’t need to wait until I am more skilled, until I have a perfect website or a perfect logo, these will come and will develop over time. I should just get on with it and “Just Do It”. It is a start, it is line on a blank page, it is a dream and I am planning to turn it into something real but it won’t happen by osmosis, it won’t happen on it is own, it won’t happen while I wait for the perfect time but through hard work, passion and true commitment I am confident that it will happen if I “Just Do It”.

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So go on, “Just Do It” whatever it is you want to do, whether it is to become an award-winning writer or an entrepreneur or whatever you want to be don’t wait until that one perfect day because there will not be a more perfect day than today, there will never be any guarantees along the way, only a true determination to succeed. 

Why wait when you can “Just Do It”?

Always yours 

Maria Flash Photography