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88 Stars

It’s been a while since I last did portraits. I arrive at the hotel at 9.45am. It’s too early and I need to wait for my subjects to get out of the lecture. There are 88 of them. I have been hired to photograph an astrophysicist convention in a well known Blue Mountains resort. These are probably the most intelligent portrait subjects I’ll ever get to photograph. It’s a good thing there’s a whole constellation of them. I talk to my contact. She suggests we do the shoot outside, in front of some greenery in the back of the hotel. All I need is a decent background, and the sun facing me. “We don’t want people squinting in the sun,” I tell her. It’s almost time. I’ve checked my camera settings. My flash works. It’s a beautiful day in the Mountains and I’ve been in Australia for almost ten years. When I arrived I had nothing, I think to myself. Now I’m photographing scientists. And then they start coming. The first person steps inside the …

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Know Your Customer

Have you noticed that when you buy something from an online bookshop you’ll soon receive their suggestions on what to buy next? There is a huge push in the consumer contact industry to collect metrics, preferences and tracking data to capture buying trends. Merging and cross-referencing data across various platforms helps companies build their individualised customer profiles. The purpose is to provide customers personalised marketing—but it can sure feel like you’re being spied on! “Knowing and understanding your customer is an integral part of running a profitable business,” says business mentor Rob Drage from Thexton Armstrong Drage in Faulconbridge. “But, on the other hand, it is possible to ‘know’ too much about your customer, to the point of second-guessing them, and neglecting to find out the truth.” So, how can we learn about our customers’ wishes without invading their privacy? “It does not take very much effort, through a conversation with your customer, to find out, for instance, what they do, how old they are, where they shop, what car they drive, whether they own …

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Basics of Essential Oils Part 2: Topical

In the last issue of Modewest, we explored the healing properties of essential oils on the body and mind from the simple act of smelling them—the aromatic benefits of essential oils. In this issue, we’ll look at how essential oils can soothe muscle aches and pains, reduce skin irritations and sores and provide other healing benefits through topical application. What are essential oils? Essential oils are aromatic chemical compounds that are extracted from different parts of plants and trees, from the flowers, leaves, stems, barks, seeds and roots. Essential oils are chemicals, yes. But it’s important to understand that everything in nature is made of chemicals. There are good and bad chemicals. Some chemicals harm us, impede growth, destroy cells and ruin our health, such as Sodium Laurel Sulphates (SLSs), often found in cheap cleaning products, soaps and shampoos. And then there are good chemicals, such as essential oils. They do not cause us harm when used in the correct way, and they can even heal us. Most essential oils are extracted by steam distillation …

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The Zero Inbox

A couple of decades ago written communication was slow, but ‘snail’ mail and fax allowed us to think about our response—and we could get things done while waiting for a reply. From the 90s onward email has taken their place. With the constant barrage of spam and marketing emails, as well as our personal and business correspondence, managing our inboxes has become a stressful task, however. “Instead of looking forward to emails,” points out business consultant Angeline Zaghloul from Peer Business Consulting in Sydney, “we’re now craving that elusive concept: the ‘zero inbox’—the state of nirvana when our inboxes are empty—and stay that way!” But is the zero inbox achievable? And how do we get there? Despite the approximately four billion email accounts that exist worldwide today, and the average 200 emails people receive daily, email management can be achieved—and sustained—if you apply some basic and practical principles. If your inbox is a complete mess you might have to spend some time doing an initial tidy. As you get things under control, it’s then going to …

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The New Residents

When I arrived to photograph the house in Leura, the new residents were sipping champagne in the upstairs kitchen with the architect and the ever-jovial building company boss, my employer on this job. Everything in the house was new. It had no curtains, no personal belongings. The owners had just been handed the keys and may not have felt the house belonged to them yet. That would come later, when the hustle and bustle had died down and they would have time to breathe and take it all in. But for now, by contrast to the empty rooms, there were people and action everywhere. The downstairs garage floor was strewn with power tools, paint buckets, ladders. The radio was blasting 90s hits and sports commentary. The workers were busy packing up and making sure everything was in order before it was time to go and not come back anymore. Later on, the friends of the new residents came in groups, walked from room to room, stopped to look at the empty walls, the uncovered floor, …