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Lately I decided to use the opportunity of our light testing/ location scouting trips to have some of my outfit shots done at the same time. Why didn’t I think of this any earlier? No idea.

I’ve got this long dress for a while but never had a chance to wear it. So when we needed to test our new heavy duty light strobe and scout a location for the next client portrait session, I decided to wear it the first time and have some test shots in it.

One of the reasons I’ve never worn this dress to any occasion before is that I couldn’t find any suitable shoes to go with it. But it looks great without shoes in the wood!

Needless to say, chances of going to a party without shoes are slim in reality. So what do you think? What kind of shoes would go well with is dress at ankle length? Do you have any favorite shoe maker that you’d recommend?


Photos: Candidtown Photography

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That old pub has been abandoned for 30 years, since 1985. Rumors say it’s being sold and people are speculating what it’ll put to be.

Until it’s turned into a ugly construction site, it remains one of my favorite spots of portrait sessions for some of our clients. But we managed to take a few photos of me around it using a mixture of light sources for the first time a couple of days ago.

As usual, it wasn’t planned. I’d just spent the whole day catching up with my girlfriends – having an extra long lunch near Sydney Opera House; afternoon tea with the most delicious cakes at the Rocks; wandering and shopping around Sydney Pitt Street Shopping Mall. My plan was to chill at home in the evening, read a book or something. Instead, we picked up our gears and went out to shoot for fun after 7pm.

You see, I’m a queen of spontaneity, J has a name in the family of being “Mr Last Minute”. This kind of “last minute shoot” happens all the time. Luckily, I wasn’t not in pyjamas as usual so we were out of the door within 3 minutes. There were literally a few minutes of daylight left for the day but we had those speed lights and light stand with us. So lighting wasn’t a concern. My concern was, we attracted quite a few onlookers shooting with the lighting equipment. Some people stared, some people stopped and watched, some people came over to give me a hug.

As someone who’s always working behind the camera, I was feeling quite uncomfortable. The awkwardness might have been written all over my face, but I love the texture of those old walls as well those lush ivy leaves growing on the wall.


Photos: Candidtown Photography

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One of my favorite dresses of late is this black and white little number. It’s a white tank top and a black lace skirt combo cleverly made in one, nothing fancy but extremely versatile.

Simply add a black or hot pink leather bag to get a more serious or playful look. It is such a stylish time saver. What more can I ask for?


Photos: Candidtown Photography

Louis Vuitton shoes, Prada black leather bag, Marc Jacobs hot pink crossbody leather bag. 925 Silver jewelry from Europe.

All the images were taken by Jay Smolak Boudoir Photography Sydney.

Dolce & Gabbana Leather Bag

Once upon a time, I had this “business idea” to design handbags and get them manufactured. There’s something extraordinarily special about handbags in my opinion and I understand them.

The design part to me wasn’t a real problem as there were a few ideas in my mind and I could sketch a little. But to find the right manufacturer? No way.

Initially I set out to look for someone in Italy and Spain. It took 5 weeks to get a response from Spain to my inquiry. Patience is never my strong suit. An Italian company got back to me a littler quicker but they mainly tried to push their existing designs which are heavily “inspired” by big brand names (or shall I say copied?) to me. After a few back and force emails addressing the desire to have my own design manufactured, the communication stopped from the other end.

Then I decided to give Chinese manufacturers a chance though doubted it very much that it would work out in the first place. Long story short, large orders like 500+ pieces are normally required from the Chinese manufacturers. If you want to go with smaller manufacturers… oh well. The quality of samples was ok but they modified a few things from the original design without consent just to make it easier for them. Quality of the final products was disastrous. Those handbags all looked like handbags but don’t touch them. The handles would fall off and linings split shortly after. The leather must have been the cheapest they could find too. It was nothing like that sample leather.

Finally I realized, without  a huge budget and a life time dedication, there’s no chance to make it a viable business with my “Have fun and see how it goes” mindset. At that point of time, I wasn’t willing to devote all that effort to pursue it. So that was that.

Couldn’t be happier with the decision to stop right there, right then. That means I can enjoy handbags without all that stress! Nothing beats high quality designer leather handbags. There are a stack of designer leather bags that I’ve been using for years. Funny enough, they are either in tan or brown color, like this Miu Miu 2 way leather bag with long shoulder strap and this Dolce & Gabbana leather bag.

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I guess these neutral colors blend in with everything so easily. Quality leather bags age so well and they do last forever!

The term of “Old leather bags” doesn’t sound very glamorous or particularly inviting. But I love my old leather bags.


Photos: CandidTown Photography

2 layers cut out cotton dress, Dolce & Gabbana Leather bag, heels and silver jewelry from Europe.

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Have you read those popular articles about “highly successful people wear the same thing everyday”?  I don’t know about you… But after seeing those articles being shared over and over again, it’s kind of confirmed that the reason I’m not highly successful is because I’ve wasted too much time on shopping and deciding what to wear. Ok just kidding.

I’m not slightly feeling guilty about putting a little thoughts into what to wear. As a matter of fact, I think I’ve been quite sloppy about personal styling in the last few years. My wardrobe is full of “once and done” dresses, or plain tops with blue jeans. I’ve been way too lazy to coordinating 2+ pieces/layers with different accessories and shoes.

Sure, some people are not interested in play dressing up or down at all. But it could be so much fun to mix and match different pieces and try different styles. To me, the time spent on deciding what to wear is not wasted. It inspires me and makes me happy. So I’m going to keep a style diary here to document those moments.

By the way those white roses were ridiculously gorgeous. Just looking at them made me happy.

Do whatever makes you happy, no matter how insignificant it is to others.


Photos: Candidtown Photography
Linen top with cotton mash back,  skinny jeans with front zippers & grey suede leather boots,  Louis Vuitton Musette GM bag, Silver jewelries bought from trip to Europe.

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Being someone who tends to think black colored clothes are always related to some sort of uniform, lately I decided to have some fun with black outfits and embrace this timeless color.

This black Christian Dior bag has been sleeping in its dust bag for a long time so I took it out for a walk in the park the other day. The coated canvas has a slight sheen which goes well with my black, semi shinny, skinny jeans. I felt like bursting out of those jeans (that’s why I don’t wear them often) but managed to walk and sit quite comfortably in them as they are stretchy.

Glad I didn’t part with this vintage golden belt when someone offers to buy it from me a few years ago. It looked the part and matched with large golden D ring on the bag perfectly.

To my surprise, there were a large group of black swans when I walked past a lake. This part of color coordination was totally unintentional of course:).


Photos: Candidtown Photography

Black lace top, black skinny jeans, black suede ankle boots, Christian Dior coated canvas handbag &  vintage belt.

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Have you bought anything and never ever used it afterwards? I have this “bought and forgot” syndrome. The idea of getting something new and the possibility to use/wear it excites me but as soon as it’s been bought, I’ll loose interest.

“It’ll be good to buy this big screen 3D TV so that I can watch 3D movies at home.” As a matter of fact, those 3D glasses come with the TV have never seen the light out of their box. If you ask me where they are now,  I have no clue.

“Imaging all the dishes cooked with freshly pressed garlic after I buy this fancy garlic presser.” Well, the tag on the garlic presser is still firmly attached to it. And I’m still cooking with garlic mince in the jars from the supermarket.

“I’ll play piano in the living room in lovely afternoon sunlight. How sweet is that.” That piano is now sitting in the corner collecting dust.

Let’s not mention those clothes, shoes and handbags accumulated but not worn enough.

This denim skirt belongs to that pile of clothes. It was bought because it’s quite unique. It’s got this washed look with frills at the front and lace along the hemline. The thing is, in spring or summer, I just wear dresses or jumpsuit… anything one-and-done. I’m way to lazy to style skirts with tops.

So one day I decided to give it away among with many other pieces. Then mum said, “it’s a nice skirt, why don’t you wear it?”

I normally don’t listen to my mum but that time I stopped. Why don’t I give it a chance? It could be fun styling all the clothes and accessories I have!

As soon as I saw this little white top, I know it’s perfect to pair it up with that denim skirt. The shirt is made of cotton and silk with lovely embroidered flowers and leaves in different shades of blue. White and gladiator look is on trend this Spring, so it’s a good opportunity to finally break in my white leather sandals (this is as gladiator as I could go) bought a long time ago.

It was crazily windy by the wharf, but some fresh air and a nice walk were much needed in the late afternoon.

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Location: Sydney

White silk & cotton embroidered top, blue denim skirt, white leather shoes and Louis Vuitton shoulder bag. Silver necklace and rings from Europe.

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golden minutes

Photographers love golden hours when the sunlight is softer and warmer just before the sunset. But when it’s a rainy or cloudy, you just won’t see the sun at all.

That day was heavily overcast with some rain drops in the morning but we decided to go out for a drive in the late afternoon any way. Just as we driving past this path way, the sun magically made a brief appearance. So we quickly jumped out of the car to take a few photos while the whole pathway was shinning in the warm sun glow.

We had about 5 minutes soft sunlight and I was stiff like a stick. But among the photos we took, I managed to pick a few that are not so awkward to remember that beautiful moment on a Sunday afternoon.

Location: Sydney

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Haven’t been to Birkenhead Point Shopping Center for a while. This place’s just gotten better and better. It’s mid November but you can clearly tell that Christmas is on the way!

It used to be a pain to shop in Australia with very limited international designer stores available. It is still relatively more expensive to buy clothes in Australia in general but compared to 20 years ago, Sydney’s a shopping paradise now ;).

We are yet to test our new purchase, a  light strobe that is much more powerful than the camera speed light … on the beach. That led us to a trip to Birkenhead Point shopping center for a new swimming suit, my excuse any way.

This time, I was going for a high waisted bikini or a one piece swimmer. There are so many body hugging dresses and standard bikinis in my wardrobe but I’m shying away from those nowadays, for obvious reasons.

More of loose clothes, that’s what I need. Who wants all the hard work to stay in shape? You know that Chinese saying: There are no ugly women, only lazy ones. Yep, I’m definitely lazy.

To go with the loose theme, I went to the shopping center in this flowy dress. It’s quite unique in design, featuring the shape & pattern of a scarf. The material is super soft and it has a lace panel around the neck and upper back area.

Pairing it up with my quick and easy summer ensemble: a straw hat, Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, a pair of brown leather thongs bought from UK and my old brown leather Miu Miu bag, I was out of the door within two minutes. No makeup, no brushing hair. Here’s your winning formula that guarantees you to look fabulous in no time: A hat + sunglasses = best hair and makeup.

Birkenhead Point Shopping center went through some major renovations over the years and it just looked stunning in a hot summer day with gorgeous water views and a huge glass roof running over the top.

How did the shopping go?  You might want to know by now. Yes, the shopping trip was successful too –  I found not only a high waisted bikini that I liked but also a one piece swimming suit with a slight twist.

That doesn’t happen very often; usually I struggle to find anything good enough to take home. Maybe there are more choices available, maybe I’m just less picky now. In any case, I’m not complaining!

Location: Sydney

Photos: CandidTown Photography






I meant to get this post up earlier but sometimes life gets in the way:). There’s no one to blame but me – I should have done a better job managing my time.

With me finally jumped on the Instagram bandwagon (a bit too late as always), I’ve started to take even more photos than usual lately. So I thought it would be good blog series to summarize the week in photos.

These photos are for the week ended on the 15th of November.

Sydney had the wettest November in history with days and days of pouring rain. The first photo was taken while driving home on Anzac bridge, just before another storm hit Sydney.

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Home time, storm is coming. Driving on Sydney Anzac bridge.

I did take quite a few photos of Anzac bridge last week. This is another one when the sun made a brief appearance in between storms.

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Anzac bridge again and those jacaranda trees

Around sunset is my favorite time of the day to be around Sydney Fish Market, day dreaming. Love the tranquility – gone are the hustling crowds and cars. Even those rusty fishing boats looked ever so charming in the evening glow.

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Sydney Fish Market

More rain. And lots of driving in the rain. It was really nothing so pretty about it. Then one day we drove past this pub in Mosman. The round lanterns were just lit up and I could help but grab my camera to take a quick snap. As a result of low shutter speed, those round lanterns turned into those long things in the middle section of the picture. It’s rather abstract but I can live with that:)


Driving in the rain

On Sunday, 15th of November, we had the pleasure to shoot their annual event for our dear client Kumon Sydney team again. This time the venue is Sydney University Great Hall, which is located in one of my favorite old buildings in Sydney. It is a quite appropriate venue for those young, smart students.  As you can see from the picture, the Great Hall is quite grand indeed.

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Inside Sydney University the Great Hall

So that wraps up the week. I hope to continue with those blog series and find more beauties and inspirations from everyday life.

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Things didn’t go according the plan. For once I didn’t really mind it.

“Let’s go to the beach and shoot you in a swimming suit.” J suggested a couple of weeks ago. That, by no means is a suggestion of a fashion or beauty shoot to present me in an attractive way. J just wanted to shoot “something” – any human’s skin, to test out some lighting gears on the beach. There are so many photography gears we’ve accumulated and the collection is ever growing. Very often, I would be the Ginnie pig as a live object to shoot. Many times in order to be able to get out of the house in 2 minutes, I would just go to these “test shoots” in track pants with messy hair and zero makeup.

But wearing a swimming suit?  The prospect of seeing photos my muffin tops on our big Mac screen freaked me out a little. Thank God Sydney’s weather has been cloudy and rainy non stop in the last couple of weeks. That doesn’t mean that we are not going to do the test shots on the beach. It just means I didn’t have to wear a swimming suit and flash my unflattering tummy in front a HD camera. What a relief!

Those are of few test photos on the day. Some were shot with a beauty dish; some with a higher power strobe; the first one in pure natural light.

My mum once told me that the best way to deal with floppy “chicken wing” arms is to ALWAYS wearing long sleeve shirts. No matter how much I disliked the advice at the time, in a way, I’m still  truly my mother’s daughter. This blue elastic waist jumpsuit is perfect for comfort and hiding the places I’m not comfortable to show.


Location: Sydney

Photos by: CandidTown Photography

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I stood in front of a scale in the supermarket, trying to match the pictures with those fruits I just picked up to buy.  You need to get the labels for the fruits first before proceeding to the checkouts and I couldn’t read the names in French next to the pictures on the scale.

Just then, a hand merged from the side and within a few seconds all the buttons were pressed for me, labels done. Before I couldn’t say “thank you” in French, he quickly flashed a broad smile and walked on. That was just another friendly stranger in Pairs.

Have you heard about the saying that Parisians are “arrogant”? Well, don’t believe in rumors:). I had a Parisian lady kindly showing us directions without being asked and apologizing “My English is not so good.” at the same time. I haven’t met anyone politer than that. I guess there are different kinds of people everywhere in the world. When you are feeling happy, you notice things and people make you happy. Travel makes me happy.

Some people dream about changing the world. Some people dream about saving the planet. Some people dream about growing up being a doctor. I dreamed about seeing the world and dreaming all day. Paris is a sweet dream that you can touch and feel. Paris is a real beauty without any need for Photoshopping.

Merci Paris. You are always a good idea to many people, myself included.
Photos by CandidTown Photography.

Australia has a lot coastal yet sleepish towns. You wouldn’t call The Entrance in Central Coast NSW exactly that because it does attract quite a few visitors. Generally there’s not much happening there in my opinion. There’s the pelican feed but after watching it a couple of times, you’ll get over it quickly. There are beaches, but there are beaches everywhere around Sydney. So you get it, the Entrance is not on my “To Go” list.

Having said that, we went to The Entrance again the other week, unexpectedly. We planned to go to Long Jetty to watch sunset and take some awesome photos because there’s been so much hype about Long Jetty sunset and I always wanted to go and check it out.

We left Sydney a little early and thought there would be some nice place to go for a late lunch around Long Jetty area. Obviously it was a plan without research. There wasn’t any place to eat along the jetties. There was public BBQ facilities however – with a group people cooking sausage rolls. Feeling the hunger even more because of the smell of sausages, we decided to drive to The Entrance to have something to eat. After all, It was only a 10 minutes’ drive from the jetties to The Entrance town center.

Surprisingly, it was an extremely busy weekend at The Entrance. Looked like it was a vintage fair or some sort . There were plenty of market stalls, people dressed up in 50s costumes singing and dancing with a band. There were cute vintage cars floating around for people to admire (but not touch).

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See the pelicans in the background?

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Lunch was Grilled seafood pack for 2 from the biggest local fish and chips shop. The grilled fishes were not cooked, apparently they were not that experienced cooking grilled fish – almost everybody just ordered deep fired fish.

Never mind that, those fried chips gave us enough fuel to keep going.

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In the couple of hours before sunset, we even had time to drive over the bridge to explore the idyllic sand dunes on the other side of town with almost nobody around. Loved it!

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Had the Sand dunes all to myself.

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Location: The Entrance

Photos by CandidTown Photography

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Mosquitoes love me. The feeling is not mutual, at all.

I must have the sweetest blood & I’m known as the “mosquito repellent”. If you don’t like mosquitoes bites, stay next to me. You’ll be safe.

It was nice Spring day in Sydney with the highest temperature at 21 degrees. We decided to go to explore the Secret Garden in North Sydney after 5pm.

“Should I or shouldn’t I (take the repellent)?”

“It might still be too early for them to be alive.” I walked out of the door without bringing any repellent for protection.

Well, wrong decision. While we were there, I was ruthlessly attacked by groups of mosquitoes.

Regardless the pain, the garden was gorgeous! A hidden gem perfectly landscaped with an amazing views to the Sydney harbour and the Harbour Bridge.

Always bring repellent to a park or a garden in warmer weather. Unless, you are with me.
Photos by: CandidTown Photography

The whole state of New South Wales is blooming. Because of Jacaranda.

5 best Jacaranda Spots in NSW

Photo taken on 24 Oct 2015 in the University of Sydney.

During the months of October and November, Sydney and NSW is awash with the purple bloom of jacaranda season, signalling one of the most beautiful times of the year in the state.

There’s something especially romantic about Jacaranda that I can’t fully describe. But in an attempt to fall back in love with Sydney, I decided to go and look for all the beautiful things about Sydney again. My perfect spot for Jacaranda bloom is the University of Sydney. Why Sydney University? Because it’s old and beautiful. Quality older buildings are hard to come by in Sydney due to Australia’s short history, but the University of Sydney Great Hall is truly breath taking. I’ve been living in Sydney for 18 years, it was only last Saturday that I asked J to take a photo of me standing inside the University of Sydney like that. It’s kind of silly, and I felt like a tourist, not a resident of Sydney. But hey, who cares.

5 Best Jacaranda Spots In NSW

Pay tourist

Ok, here comes to that famous Sydney University Quadrangle jacaranda tree after being cloned:

5 Best Jacaranda Spots In NSW

5 Best Jacaranda Spots In NSW

5 Best Jacaranda Spots In NSW

Love love the architecture:

5 Best Jacaranda Spots In NSW

There are many other magnificent jacaranda trees in the University of Sydney, like the two in the first photo on top, next to another fabulous sandstone building inside the campus.

And this one, alongside the pond and palms trees.

5 Best Jacaranda Spots In NSW

You can see blooming Jacaranda trees almost everywhere in Sydney in October.