Category Archives: Inspiring Lives

Inspiring Lives – Felicity Menadue + Venice

“You desire to embrace it, to caress it, to possess it; and finally a soft sense of possession grows up and your visit becomes a perpetual love affair.” Henry James

I met the gorgeous Felicity Menadue by chance. Her name came out of the hat for a portrait competition I held in Paris and I had the chance to meet a wonderful women living her dream in one of the world’s most romantic cities, Venice. Even I who had lived 5 years in Florence was hanging on her every word.

Felicity is a generous soul and is sharing her inspiring life and her move from Melbourne Australia to Venice. 

What inspired you to move to Venice? 

I have always loved Italy and have travelled back and forth since I was quite young. I could never really get enough of the place and whenever I returned to Australia it was always with a sense of melancholy. When I was in my late thirties I suddenly thought that maybe it was time to settle, to put some roots down in Australia. I really put my heart into creating a life there and was beginning to think that I had gotten Italy out of my system. I was so wrong. My heart sang when a dear friend invited me to be maid of honour at her wedding…in Venice…at Locanda Cipriani on the beautiful island of Torcello. The fire I had tried to extinguish was reignited in an instant. Venice was it.

Describe where you live in Venice and what you love about your area? 

I live on Giudecca, which is a long narrow island that faces onto the Madonna della Salute Church and St Marks Square. I love it here because, while it is very much a part of Venice, and is home to many Venetian families, it is more peaceful and spacious with many less tourists. I really feel like I’m living in a little village here, which I love.

What do you have more of living in Venice than in Melbourne? 

I am surrounded by so much beauty here in Venice – ancient, crumbling beauty that really nourishes the soul. It’s another world here and I often feel like I am living in an enchanted dream. Apart from the aesthetics, there are the stories – the colourful history that seeps from every corner of the place. I find it fascinating learning about this ancient civilization and how it has both flourished and survived over the centuries.

How has your move changed your lifestyle? 

I slip very easily into the Italian lifestyle. I love the fact that meal times are important, life is celebrated and pretty much everything is flexible. Nothing is black and white and rules are not always adhered to. Whilst there is no doubt this can be a little frustrating at times, in general I feel more relaxed in this kind of environment.

 Tell us 3 cool things about Venice that we don’t know? 

1. Venice consists of 118 small islands and is secured by millions of wooden piles that are deeply submerged into the muddy seabed. 

2. On the whole, Venetians are big drinkers, and they get started early in the day. It is quite common to see people drinking Spritz (the local aperitif) well before midday. 

3. The word ciao is derived from the Venetian phrase s-ciào vostro or s-ciào su literally meaning “I am your slave”. It was a greeting among     friends which implied a willingness to help if ever they were in need.

How do you feel waking up in Venice every day? (Sounds amazing when you live in a big city)

It’s amazing living in a city with no cars. Waking up to the sound of boats or children walking to school is a very pleasant way to begin the day. As I leave my apartment each morning I know the view will be uplifitng, regardless of the weather. 

What would you say to your friends thinking of taking the leap and moving countries? Should they do it?

I would encourage everyone to follow their heart and believe in the power of their dreams. We owe it to ourselves to explore the things and the places we love. Packing up and moving countries certainly takes some courage and you will invariably have to face many challenges, but if you stay true to yourself and quietly persevere, miraculous things can happen.

How was your Italian before you arrived? 

I spoke a little Italian when I first arrived here and it has slowly improved with time but, I must say, I still have a long way to go. I still make so many mistakes! Thankfully, Italians are very forgiving and easy going

One ‘get me out of here’ moment? 

When I moved to Venice I had to learn once again the art of flat sharing, as rent and living costs are high. Thankfully I have been blessed with some wonderful flatmates, but on one occasion I did find myself in a less than ideal living arrangement. It was actually my good friend, an Italian angel named Mara, who said to me, “We’ve got to get you out of here!” She organised the boat (that’s how one moves in Venice) and I was out of there in no time. 

One ‘thank-god I live in Italy’ moment? 

I have these moments all the time! I just feel so blessed to be here and remind myself everyday as I cross the Accademia Bridge and take in the breathtaking view before me.

What influences your style and has Venice had an effect of it? 

I have always loved simple elegance, with just a hint of glamour.

Venice knows all about glamour, and sex appeal and sensuality are highly valued at any age in Italy (just ask Sofia Loren). I think living here has allowed me to really enjoy being a woman and dressing up. 

Style Icon?

Yasmina Rossi, a beautiful, creative and inspirational soul.

Has Venice been good for your creativity? 

Absolutely! I am constantly inspired here and my soul is really alive in the presence of such beauty. I love all aspects of creativity. I love to write, paint and take photographs and I am fueled with an endless supply of stimulus here in Venice. 

Is there something you miss about your former life? 

I do miss our family get-togethers and catching up with my friends back home. I’ve missed a couple of special celebrations in Australia lately and this pulls at the heartstrings. I feel a little sad at times that I am far away from some of the most loved, precious and supportive people in my life, but I still feel very strongly connected to them and perhaps appreciate them even more. I carry them around with me in my heart and I hope they feel that.

What’s on the menu today?

A simple meal at home: steak with crispy rosemary potatoes and salad, with a glass of Greco di Tufo white wine. 

What has your reward been for your courage to switch lives so dramatically? 

I feel so much richer and stronger for having this experience. I now truly believe in the power of dreams, I have faith in the universe and I live more in the moment. I never plan too far ahead. I now truly believe that life is a gift and that we are responsible for creating our own joy.

 All Photos Copyright Felicity Menadue

The Local’s Hotlist 

Café: Caffè Florian, Piazza San Marco

Eat: Osteria Santa Marina

Swim: Lido Beach

Aperitivo: il Refolo, via Garibaldi 1580, Castello

Stay: Hotel Flora

Shop: Chiarstella Cattana  for beautiful hand-made Italian linens and stylish YALI Murano glass tableware 

Sunset drink: Rooftop bar at the Hilton Hotel, Giudecca

Indulge in: a massage at the Bauer Palladio Hotel, Giudecca

Don’t leave without visiting: The Doges Palace 

Merci, grazie and a big thank-you to the divine Felicity Menadue…

“The mere use of one’s eyes in Venice is happiness enough, and generous observers find it hard to keep an account of their profits in this line”. Henry James




Please feel free to share if you know of someone dreams of living overseas.

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Your Personal Photographic Vision

Natalia Vodianova by Paolo Roversi

Photography is a personal vision. It is an individual way of looking at the world and capturing a photo that tells a story. Your particular taste and vision will set you apart from other photographers and this is your precious gift. So have faith in your style!

A photographer’s vision can be seen repeated in their photos over and over again, like a brand. Fashion photographer Ellen Von Unwerth produces splendid images of sexy girls having lots of fun in wild colours and high contrast black and whites.

Photo Copyright Ellen Von Unwerth

Paolo Roversi creates soft focused dreams with his large format Polaroid camera and Richard Avedon was renowned for his simplicity, elegance and his famous white background. Ansel Adams searched for silence, perfection and majesty in his landscapes and Helmut Newton’s black and whites have come to symbolise strong sexy women.

Paolo Roversi’s  said this about his style “When I look at my pictures from 20 years ago, even when the  technique  of  the  light  is  very  different,  I  see  a  kind  of unity, and this surprises me. Even in my book, Nudi, the photos look like they were taken in the same place, in the same light, on the same day. But they were taken over the course of 10 to 12 years, in New York, London, Paris”

Photo Copyright Paolo Roversi

One thing that all these photographers have in common is that you can easily recognise their work without seeing their ‘byline’ (byline is a photographers or a journalists name printed alongside of their story in a magazine).  Their work is their byline.

They all have their own vision, their own style of lighting, emotions they wish to portray, their own presentation of their photos, mood of their work, personality and their own special way that they communicate with their sitter and this shows in the photos. 

So don’t ask yourself why you take the photos you do just take the photos you love! And try not to be influenced by everyone around. Believe in yourself.

“Be yourself, the world worships the original.” Jean Cocteau

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Inspiring Lives – Photographer Will Davidson


All photographs copyright Will Davidson

I am a huge fan (ok certified stalker) of Australian fashion photographer Will Davidson and soooo excited to feature an interview with Will here today (add camera shake here from excitement).

Will photographs some of the biggest stars and models on the planet, his photos are full of emotion and often stop me in my tracks they are so breathtaking. So it’s an honour to present this interview today.

Will has generously given us an insight into his life as a photographer, his path, his take on creativity and I adore his humbleness..

Will Davidson Photographer

Will Davidson

Life motto? 

Work as hard as you can, then work some more to be inspired

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer or was there a catalyst moment?

I always knew I loved photography, it wasn’t until high school that a realized I wanted it to be a career choice.


I read you worked as an assistant with London photographer David Bailey, this must have been incredible. What is one amazing philosophy or thing you took away from this experience?

Work work work, Shoot something everyday, even if its an instagram selfie

How did you make the transition from assistant to photographer?

I just decided after working with a Master like Bailey I didn’t need to work for anyone else.


What has photography brought you?

So much enjoyment and so much pain!! Its so enjoyable while shooting and then there is the inevitable moments when you realize you could have done it better.

Person dead or alive that you would like to photograph?

Annie Leibovitz

Will davidson Rose byrne

Helmut Newton said that he prepared a lot of notes before a shoot  and Mario Testino tries to create an ambiance of music and fun on his shoot. What is your secret to a great shoot which produces wonderful images?

The best images for me are those that touch you emotionally, I just try to connect with the subject as much as possible as you’re a team building something together on the day. I also know what I want to create.

You have shot many celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman and Rose Byrne. Was the first time you shot a celebrity a nerve wracking experience? Any tricks to overcoming nerves?

No I don’t really get nervous so much. I just try and turn any moments like that into positive energy on the set. Nerves can be very powerful if used correctly.

Will DAvidson

Describe the lifestyle photography allows you to live?

Its not at all glamorous, it does allow you to travel a lot but its hard work to say the least.

Was there a key moment when you knew you’d “made it”?

I’ve not made it yet! Will Davidson

Was there a ‘before’ photography?

Acting was my other passion

One piece of advice for photographers starting out?

Don’t stop shooting, ever.


Favourite piece of camera gear?

Linhof 5×4 Master Technika

Style Icon?

Rick Deckard from Blade runner


You lived first in London and then New York what inspired you to move to New York?

I had had enough with the bad weather in the UK so I decided to leave.

What do you love most about living in New York?

The weather and the films

Was it a smooth transition from London to NYC?

Yes I just packed a suit case and went one day. Then I was shooting in London heaps by coincidence.

What lessons, if any, have you learned from living abroad?

I guess just being totally self sufficient.

Will Davidson Nicole kidman

All Photographs Copyright Will Davidson

Tell us 1 cool thing about New York that we don’t know?

More than 250 feature films are shot on location per year in New York

Has New York been good for your creativity?

Yes amazing because of the great art house cinemas.

Is there something you miss about living in Australia?

The Beach

3 NY hangouts?

I don’t go out much

What has your reward been for following your dream?

I’m happy.

A huge thank-you to Will for taking time to share his thoughts on photography and life. It’s such a great insight to see how other photographers work, think and got started. If you would like to see more of Will Davidson’s stunning work click here.

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” Beverley Sills




PS If you know any photographers starting out who might like Will’s inspiration please feel free to share.. Cx

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Inspiring Lives – Claire Lloyd My Greek Island Home

This summer I was lucky to meet the gorgeous Claire Lloyd (above) and her partner Matthew in Sydney. Over dinner with mutual friends on a little balcony overlooking Tamarama I tortured poor Claire about living on a Greek Island.

You see I have been in love with her life for years now ever since my publisher told me about a book she commissioned years earlier and I joked ‘that was the book I wanted to write and the life I want to live’!

Well gorgeous Claire did it and so beautifully and since I opened my copy of My Greek Island Home I haven’t stop dreaming of blue seas, fresh air and white painted floors.

Not only did she write My Greek Island Home but she photographed it too.

Who doesn’t dream of living on a Greek Island?

I certainly do in the midst of a cold winter, yearning for sunshine, the sea and a little garden. Claire has been kind enough to share her thoughts on her life, creativity, cats and living on a Greek Island and some of her favourite addresses on Lesvos.

What inspired you to move to Lesvos?

I definitely had a deep need somewhere inside me for a simpler life and a need to reconnect with my creativity. For many years I had been living a very full and hectic life in London, Art Directing and designing for brands, magazines and advertising agencies and I felt tired. It was a trip to my homeopath, Vicki, in London that encouraged me to change my direction. On that particular day I said to her I had lost my personal creativity and felt disconnected. Vicki held up her mobile phone with a photograph on it of, a basic stone house, in the middle of a field with a walnut tree. The house stood alone, solidly, under piercing blue skies. This visual image made an immediate impact on me. Vicki said, “perhaps this is your remedy, I have just bought a house in Lesvos, maybe you should go there and take a look.” I am impulsive, and so was there within a week.

How has your move enhanced your lifestyle? 

My lifestyle is much gentler and I have regained my personal creativity, I also have more time to observe and enjoy my surroundings.

I have many amusing anecdotes from my daily life to share.

What do you have more of living on an Island than living in a big city?

Cats and dogs………..I’ve never had a dog before and now we have as little as 2 or as many as 4 at one time. We try to re home strays. We always have lots of kitties to feed too.

You see more stars because there is little streetlight, in the village, and the skies are vast.

Being on an island the Aegean sea surrounds you and is nearly always in your sight.

We have more seasonal fruit and vegetables and, more time to speak to people and reflect on life.

How has photography allowed you to communicate with the locals? 

Photography has opened up communications big time. The Greeks are very social and generous people and they have welcomed my partner Matthew and I with open arms and with great warmth.

My camera has added another layer, it has given me more confidence to approach people and it has also given me something I can give back in my appreciation. Most people love getting an image of themselves and it’s also a lovely documentation of a village life. Last summer I hung up 250, A5 images that I printed out at home, on a bamboo fence outside one of the village café neas, the people loved it and they could take their photo away at the end of the evening.

It was Matthew who encouraged me to start taking photographs by buying me my first Cannon camera. It was a gift; a gift I never imagined would change my life so much.

What influences your style and how have you adapted this to creating your Greek Island home?

Light, simplicity and space influence me as well as an enormous amount of bright white paint.

These have always been my staples.

I had no difficultly adapting any of these elements to ‘My Greek Island Home’ as they are all part and parcel of Greece.

Style Icon? 

Georgia O’Keeffe, she was an original. Pure style in everything she did, her paintings, her living spaces and the way she dressed and looked. I admire her art, love of nature and her focus.

How do you feel waking up on a Greek Island every day? (Sounds amazing when you live in a big city)

I feel privileged, and really happy to be alive. 

What would you say to your friends thinking of swapping their lives in a big city for an island? Should we do it?

I am a great believer in change and I think any change is positive. I also believe people have dreams and life is short. So I think whatever your dream you owe it to yourself to explore it. I understand it’s easier for some of us to make changes and that circumstances can make it difficult. But I also believe any change small or large is worthwhile giving a go. So I’d say ‘go for it’.

Has Island life been good for your creativity?

Yes it has been amazing. It has given me so much. I feel I have just scratched the surface of my creativity and here I have found a place where it can evolve and develop. It’s great not knowing where it will take me.

Is there something you miss about your former life? 

I loved my former life and still get to dip in and out of both Sydney and London. I am lucky because I can visit the cinemas, my favorite restaurants and galleries when I’m there. I also love catching up with friends.

I miss my creative friends but they come and visit and there is the telephone and skype.

And it makes it even more special when I do get spend time with them.

Tell us 3 cool things about Lesvos that we don’t know?

Lesvos is the 3rd largest Greek Island and extremely close to Turkey, at one point there is only 5 kilometers of sea separating them.

The topography changes dramatically from one side of the island to the other. You can travel through deep green pine forests or be in the middle of a vast, arid, volcanic, and lunar like landscape.

This week we were told, by, the President of The Chamber of Commerce that Lesvos has been given a UNESCO listing.

I love that you look after all the local animals, how did this happen? 

I think we must have an invisible sign on the front gate that only animals can see. They all seem to know where to come instinctively. It started with Sweetie my special girl.

I was eating outside at a local taverna and this tiny kitten, way too young to be eating scraps appeared. She was begging. When she saw me she immediately, and with no encouragement, jumped on my knee and refused to get down. She was so pathetic looking and her eyes were gummy. It was suggested by the locals to take her home, so after my meal we headed off up the hill to the top of the village. She buried her head in the crookof my arm and shook. She must have known instinctively she was doing the right thing. Now she is big and has a gloriously, luxurious fur coat, better than any you would find in Fendi. Sweetie rules and yes, we love her big time.

What’s on the menu today?

Fish baked in the oven with lemon and a simple green salad, all bought from vans that pass through the village daily, selling fresh produce. In the summer I grow a small amount of salad in pots outside my kitchen door.

What has your reward been for your courage to switch lives so dramatically? 

My rewards have been many, warm friendships, serenity, creativity, unconditional love from animals, incredible beauty in the landscape that surrounds me and of course the opportunity to photograph, write and design my latest book “My Greek Island Home”. I am no doubt a very lucky girl! (woman) I have also been extremely lucky having Matthew to share it with.

The Local’s Hotlist 


Travel north to Sikaminias. There is a small harbor port Skala Sikaminias, which has some great little restaurants. You can watch the local fishing boats arrive with their daily catch. Above the port is the main village, Sikaminias and in its small square there are a couple of café’s that are really worth sitting in and soaking up the local life. It’s a beautiful village so take a wander.


Fish cooked by Yiannis at Cavo Di Oro in Sigri.

Yiannis loves the Beatle’s and if you are lucky enough he will play you some of his favorite tracks.


Find a way to the beach from the dirt coast road between Sigri and Eressos. The water is crystal clear and there is no one to be seen.

Taverna / restaurant

The Octapus in Molyvos  is right on the waters edge at the harbor, and you can see Molyvos Castle crowning the top of the town in the background.


Birds Bay This is a very quiet and beautiful spot, a place to forget the world and be at one with nature. It has superb sea views and a fabulous view of Molyvos at night, sparkling in the distance.


Shop at the Women’s co-op on the main road into Molyvos.

They make traditional and delicious home made preserves and biscuits.

My favorite thing, without a doubt, are the chocolate tarts. A tip, you must order them

Sunset drink

My terrace!!!!!!! 

Indulge in..

Just being there.

Don’t leave without

Visiting the monastery at Ipsilos. There are still monks living there, although you will only see one who sits in the little museum. It’s a fascinating little museum, with all sorts of religious items. The views from the monastery are superb.

All Photos Copyright Claire Lloyd

A huge thanks to the lovely Claire Lloyd for sharing a little of her inspiring life and for those of you who can’t get to a Greek Island soon I suggest you buy My Greek Island Home ,a beautiful book of  dreams and this is for anyone who has ever dreamt of changing their life and doing what they love.

You may also enjoy a look inside the Guesthouse created by Claire and partner Matthew’s beautiful artist studio in the heart of town. For more Greek island Inspiration go to this page.

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.” Ella Fitzgerald


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Maximizing Your Creativity + John Cleese

Have your ever asked yourself where your creativity comes from? Or why some people appear to be more creative than others? Or why some of the most creative people in the world don’t make it? And is everyone creative?

This is subject I could truly harp on for hours about but I will spare you the drone and cut to the chase.

So much of what I have learnt about creativity on this journey from business woman to photographer has been by road testing it on myself and boy has my bumper bar got some dints! And this chat is coming from a girl who thought she never had a creative bone in her body.

Creativity is for everyone, we are all born creative. But often our creativity develops depending on the environment we grow up in and the influences we are exposed to.

I have worked with many creative people including artists, journalists, writers, photographers and illustrators and I have seen a pattern over and over again that allow these creative people to be successful at what they do.

I believe it’s the concept that the very funny John Cleese explains in this attached video. Which according to Mr. Cleese is the ability of a creative person to be able to switch from the ‘open’ mode to the ‘closed’ mode. Now you are probably wondering what the hell I am talking about but John Cleese explains it with hilarious punch lines so please watch the video at the end of this post.

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson Italian Joy

Basically the concept is: in the ‘open’ mode you give yourself an allotted time, shut out the world and allow yourself to be totally creative, let your mind wander down any path it wants, try out ideas  and be free without interruptions or structure.

When your allotted time is over you then need to switch into the ‘closed’ mode which is when you put your creative ideas into practice and get things done one after the other like a super efficient secretary powering through a ‘to-do-list’ with a trail of fire blazing from her stilettos. In the ‘closed’ mode you aren’t scratching for ideas as you already created them in the ‘open’ mode you are putting them into practice.

But the party trick is that you need to be able to switch between these two modes to be successful and maximize your creativity.

The incredible talented people that I have met, worked with and observed along the way that didn’t follow their dream or make it happen, never seemed to be able to switch into the ‘closed’ mode. Likewise if you are always in the ‘closed’ mode you are not allowing yourself time to be creative.

I adore John Cleese’s concept and video because this simple concept is the way I have always worked   and it is has allowed me to be creative yet produce an incredible amount of work. Bravo John for putting it into words.

If you watch the video I would love to hear your thoughts on his concept.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”. Pablo Picasso



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