Meet Sydney Yoga Dance Teacher Panagiota (Penny) Cook who we have just produced a series of photographic images for her Bodytone Yoga website. Penny is the epitome of calm, caring, spirited, energetic and completely grounded.
Penny’s goal and photography brief was to convey a beautiful feeling rather than have people just focus on her body. She explained that if a posture encourages a heart opening, she wanted to convey that openness, warmth, joy and freedom or a feeling of strength, balance, focus and peace. Penny is extremely humble and emphasised “I’m not perfect with my yoga postures – this is a life journey – but I do everything with love, playfulness and creativity – combining my knowledge of yoga so far, as well as intuition. I help people heal and feel good from the inside-out and this is the message I want to capture.”
What Penny loves about her profession and what keeps her motivated:
“I love that my yoga path and therapy work involves every fibre of my being. I don’t need to separate body, mind and spirit with what I do. I can bring love, joy, creativity, understanding, care and my full presence into every single day. This is a lifelong calling and it keeps me motivated to know that I will always be a student of yoga and life. I am so blessed to work with such wonderful people! I love the role I play in people’s journeys. It’s very special being someone’s yoga therapist. I honour the trust I receive and delight in the transformations I witness with them. I really enjoy the variety and all the amazing people and groups I practice with – one to one, corporate groups, athletes, actors, dancers, school children, mums to be and mums with bubs…you name it. I also love the freedom in being able to cross over my artistic/performing arts side with Yogadance – an art-form I have been developing for the past seven years. I work with a small group of talented yogi-dancers as a vehicle for creative expression and inquiry into what it means to “be”. We have lots of fun!
Penny’s yoga teacher background:
“I have been a yoga teacher since 2005 and one of my favourite things is sharing my love for yoga, people and life every single day. Initially trained in Hatha and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga lineages, I have since been deepening my knowledge and experience in centering practices for feeling at home in your body, grounded and focused, core support for rehabilitation, optimum body alignment principles for therapy and body-mind efficiency, freedom of movement for a sense of ease in your daily life, strength and flexibility training for fitness and dance, as well as more specialised practices like prenatal and postnatal yoga, kids yoga, relaxation and meditation studies. The learning never stops!
I am also just about to graduate as a Yoga Therapist after a powerful year of training. So basically I love to know about you and how yoga can be personalised for You. My passion is ‘how we help you feel healthy, balanced and happy’. I have a great respect for the yoga tradition and all my teachers but I also like to be very honest about how I incorporate yoga into my daily life, so that it feels natural for me. I enjoy connecting to my body-mind-spirit in my individual way and inspiring others to do the same.”
The experience of being photographed:
“It felt Beautiful! Tania, you are such a joy to be around and I felt like I could simply shine without feeling nervous or self-conscious. I love that you are so thorough and patient and that we took our time to make sure we had plenty of photos to choose from. I’m looking forward to doing more work together in the future.”
Yoga photography conveying character:
“I love the images! They captured the sweet, joyous, down to earth feeling that characterises my nature and how I work with people. I think this will attract the right match of people for me. I’m looking forward to updating my website and having these professional images for all my marketing collateral. I believe they will help me present really well into the world as a Yoga teacher, therapist, creative, and nice human being. Thank you so much!”
What’s on the horizon for Penny:
“I am so excited about my upcoming trip to New York! I am treating myself to a month of dance training at one of my favourite dance schools, Broadway Dance Center. I have always wanted to immerse myself deeper into the creative arts and the yoga has helped me connect more and more with this, safely and happily. I also plan to enjoy Broadway shows and live jazz, take voice and singing lessons and just have fun! I do these things to nourish my spirit and top up my enthusiasm for life so I always have plenty to give to myself and others too.”
There are some very special people who share a heartfelt passion for the continued success of our little hometown of Waitara on the Taranaki coast of New Zealand’s North Island. I’ve been collaborating with two highly successful friends who also grew up in Waitara and share this heartfelt passion. They are Tony Kemp (former Kiwi Rugby League International/Warriors Coach and entrepreneur) and his best mate Bruce Sharrock (Director of ESPORTIF INTERNATIONAL Sports Management).
Here’s an insight into what we are up to and some background info as told by Tony Kemp:
“Growing up in Waitara as a kid was so bloody cool back in the day. The town was thriving and the economic wheels were well in motion with the likes of Borthwicks [Freezing Works], Subaru, Swandri, Methanex [Methanol Plants at Motunui and Waitara Valley] filling the pockets of the community.
As a kid life was full of adventure. Modern technology only existed at Sisarichs’ Pool Parlour. We survived on instinct and lived not such a PC life. We could climb trees, jump off the bridge into the Waitara River or stay at mates for days without a complaint. If you wanted to phone someone you had to head down to the post office with your six cents to call them, and hopefully the phone box was vacant when you got there. You would walk half way across town to visit a mate not knowing if he was home! In a nut shell we contributed to a healthy lifestyle because we had to. There was no other way but to get off your bottom and get on with it.Fast forward to 2013. How things have changed!!! Mobile phones, PlayStation, Xbox, social media and the internet have all replaced what was once a healthy lifestyle.
In 2001 after the suicide of my whangai brother Phil, a group of us came up with the idea of holding an Inspirational day at Manukorihi Intermediate School led by Tania Niwa and her whanau (family). We wanted to provide HOPE to as many kids as possible. We used local identities to demonstrate that if your desire was great enough to succeed then anything was possible. Jason Mathews (NZ Surf Champ), Tania Niwa (Internationally renowned photographer), Tui Katene (NZ Touch Rep), Jarrod Martin (Black Sox Softball World Champ Team Captain), Bevan Martin (Black Sox), Rangi Kipa (International Maori Artist) and Julie Paama-Pengally (Int Maori Artist) spoke of what it took to make it to the top. The day was a huge success!
In May 2013 we went back to Manukorihi to hold another Inspirational Day after hearing that our old school needed a little motivation. Our key motivation was to instil some inspiration into our young rangatahi (children) who filled the seats we once sat on. We spoke of goal setting, our journeys, and what sacrifices we made to get to the top of our chosen professions. It was well received and has further fuelled our ambition to support our local town with future events that will continue to build confidence in our community of Waitara.
It was an amazing experience interacting with the students and seeing the glow of excitement on their faces as Tony and Bruce inspired the students to dream big and choose pathways for success. For me, Manukorihi Intermediate School holds a big part of my childhood memories. With my dad as the school principal up until his retirement last year, we spent several years living in the school house, so the expansive fields, netball/basketball courts, bushland and gardens of Manukorihi was the best adventure playground for me and my siblings Nic and Jeff.
It was also very educational for me to see what initiatives Manukorihi Intermediate teachers have set for their students and the contribution my family have made to help children prosper. My sister Nic Niwa and my Mum Raewynne Niwa are both very respected teachers at the school. Both Mum and Dad were teachers when I was a student there. Now Mum and Nic are teaching my friends children!
This is a super sized (1.25 metre) canvas artwork I’ve just produced for a Sydney family featuring Owae Marae, Waitara and the majestic Mt Taranaki (also known as Maunga Taranaki or Mt Egmont). The traditional carved Maori Meeting House belongs to the Maori people of the Te Atiawa tribe, from which I descend as does the proud new owner of this artwork Erana Naughton (nee Moore). Waitara is situated on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Erana has kindly allowed me to share an insight into why it was very meaningful for her to purchase this artwork. She was just five years old when her parents parted and she moved from Taranaki to Sydney with her mum who is from the opposite side of the North Island (of Ngati Porou tribe). Erana said she didn’t see her dad again until she was 22 years old. One year later in 2007 she chose Owae Marae as the setting to be married to her husband Paul who has a mix of Australian, Lebanese and Irish heritage.
Erana’s dad Tai Moore is the oldest of 12 siblings. It was when Erana was visiting her uncle Peter in Perth that she first saw a framed photo of the Marae that I had produced back in the nineties. Erana, having just given birth to her third child, decided she would love a calming scene of her homeland as a central focus in their home. It now sits on a wall opposite their wedding photo. Imagine her Australian born children growing up seeing The Marae image every day and how this will stimulate conversation and education about their Maori culture and customs.
Officially named as Owae-whai-tara Marae (but affectionately referred to as Owae Marae for short), it is a central focus and source of pride for my small hometown of around 4000 people. It provides a sense of identity and a direct connection with our Maori ancestors. The Marae is strategically placed at one of the highest points in our town, overlooking the Waitara River, which the town was built on both sides of. In the early days before all the trees grew so big, there was a clear view of the river mouth and the Tasman Sea. The mountain is a central source of spirituality and is greatly treasured by all the tribes [of the province] of Taranaki.
I have fond and vivid memories of the morning this image was created back in 1992 when I was in my early twenties. I had a deal with my boss at the time Photographer John Crawford, that we would use his 500 mm telephoto lens on his Mamiya RZ67 film camera as my kit of lenses were just babies compared to his. You might not realise but it was taken before sunrise where the light was very gentle. After a week of false starts because the mountain would be hiding behind clouds, we arranged to take this image from an elevated point, which was at the neighbouring house from their garage (of the Morehu family). I had grand plans of photographing from here again last year, but the trees you see here have grown so much that it is no longer possible. I’m thinking a cherry picker might be worth a try one day.
The Three Sisters rock formations has always been a much loved scene growing up in New Zealand. The funny thing is, I don’t ever remember visiting this very spot and standing right here in all my 42 years, yet I have always been surrounded by artwork depicting them. In my 18 years living in Australia there have only been a handful of opportunities to catch a glimpse of this seascape when driving south from Auckland along the North Taranaki coast towards my childhood home of Waitara.
My cousin Erika Muna Lee (nee Niwa), together with her daughter Te Manu Lee and I were this time returning to Auckland from our weekend as guest artists in the ‘Call of Taranaki Exhibition’ at Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth and were on an incredible high with all the amazing experiences and opportunities that had unexpectedly presented themselves during our time in our home province.
We never imagined our day would be topped in any way. Earlier that morning Muna had taken me on a VERY SPECIAL educational and spiritual journey to Pukerangiora Pa, an ancient Maori settlement and stronghold where our Te Atiawa tribal ancestors once lived. For those who are gifted like Muna, they can feel and see the spirits of our tupuna (ancestors) here.
The pa sits high on a bluff about eight kilometres upstream from the Waitara River mouth, on a spur of land that looks out towards the ocean in the distance. It rises about 100 metres above the water on a sudden loop in the river. The scene is expansive and incredibly beautiful. There was no wind, the sun was shining and the birds were twittering, I almost felt like I was dreaming. I had been looking forward to this day for several months since reconnecting with Muna at our family reunion earlier in the year. I hadn’t explored this land since aged 11 yrs with my classmates on a school excursion with my dad who was also our teacher. Whilst at the Pa, Muna took Te Manu and I to a sacred ‘puna’ (spring) once used to heal the sick. The location which is known to only a few, is hidden in bushland on a hillside. I will share more about this experience and privilege in a future post.
Still buzzing from our morning session, we were about to pass through Tongaporutu about an hour north of Waitara and saw a huge sign ‘The Three Sisters’. At a whim I felt a desire to visit them, so immediately asked Muna who was driving, she was just as eager to explore. Normally with trips back and forth between Waitara and Auckland (where I fly back to Sydney from) there isn’t time for unplanned stops. On this occasion however as a result of something unexpected happening, my business meeting in Auckland was postponed so there was no longer a deadline to return. We detoured alongside the Tongaporutu river, which is lined with glorious old baches (small beach shacks) and followed the signs to a car park. Here we saw another sign advising ‘caution – low tide access only’ to The Three Sisters. Muna and I then of course, looked straight to the river (pictured above left) to discover… it was low tide! This was a high five moment to smile about and add to our memory bank.
As we walked along the river for about one kilometre towards the river mouth, I was fully prepared with a myriad of Canon camera gear. My brisk walk turned into an eager run along the sand. I was busting to see the view and the mountain which was out in all its glory. With Mount Taranaki it is like a game of hide and seek… you never know when she will appear from behind the clouds, and when she does, she casts the most magnificent magical spell upon you… you feel soooooo alive in her presence!!!!
This place holds special meaning for my family on my mum, Raewynne’s side. Mum’s grandparents were the very first family to build a bach along this river. She has lots of funny stories to tell about the mischief her sibblings would get up to and hours spent around the rocks while their grandparents fished. My Aunty Lyn has just told me she and Mum used to play around The Three Sisters, and when visiting at night would get to enjoy seeing glow worms in the rock formations. As a youngster I recall going with my Nanna, Sylvia to purchase a brilliant painting of ‘The Three Sisters’ and Mt Taranaki she commissioned her artist friend Ray van’t Hof to create. Although Nanna has since past, The Three Sisters is a trigger to remember her. My family get to see this artwork every time we visit Grandad, Mel who is now 94 years old and lives on a hill at Spotswood in New Plymouth (with another magnificent view of the mountain). I also have a daily reminder of this Tongaporutu scene at my home in Manly, with an artwork by renown Taranaki artist Peter Lambert titled Tongaporutu.
Looking at the scene, you might be wondering where the third sister is. Well, she doesn’t exist any more. She has eroded away. From this particular angle you might very well consider the peak of Mount Taranaki to be standing in as the third sister. Images from this day will be included in an online gallery of Taranaki Landscapes and fine art to be released in time for Christmas gift orders.
Muna, Te Manu and I felt like time stood still here… we soaked up the atmosphere for four hours until we heard the tide turn… we never even looked at our watches… Something else happened while we were there… again, we were astonished… this is the start of another story…… Light punching through the darkness. The awakening. Thanks Tony Kemp for naming my cave image above so aptly and using the image for one of your daily inspirations.
Meet well known motivational speaker and Kiwi Sporting personality Tony Kemp. Tony and I are developing two new ventures in New Zealand, one being the brand ‘Tony Kemp – Better People’. Tony is a great friend and a very popular figure in our home town of Waitara, Taranaki in New Zealand.
At the age of 19, Tony embarked on a professional career in Rugby League. He was contracted to both the NRL and Super League where he played for the Newcastle Knights and Leeds. He was also an international representative for New Zealand, having played 25 test matches. Upon retirement, Tony embarked on a coaching career with the New Zealand Warriors as an assistant before taking the head coach’s role.
Sporting aside, Tony also has a real head for business having been a director in companies such as Hawera Village Ltd (retirement village), Childzone Ltd (childcare centres), Playsmart Ltd (design company) and Te Ara Enterprises (consulting company).
For the last three years he has been responsible for supporting the delivery and re-aligning rugby league after it had received a very damning report by Sport New Zealand with respect to the negative state of the game. Tasks included the implementation and execution of a highly regarded strategic plan resulting in the code’s progression from a dark past, to being held in high regard for its vision, leadership and integrity.
With all the experience he has in business and in empowering others to succeed, together we have created a ‘Tony Kemp’ brand. A key part of his business will be to share his journey as a motivational speaker so that others can gain inspiration to achieve their dreams.
Tony has an incredible gift for helping people from all walks of life gain inspiration and motivation. He creates pathways for communities/people to understand how to unleash their potential. Tony has a rare talent for being able to communicate his message through visual teachings, often drawing pictures or creating very clear images in your mind to help his message resonate and be remembered.
Some of the students in our home town received the benefits of his skills when we held an ‘Inspiration Day’ at Manukorihi Intermediate School alongside his best mate Bruce Sharrock (director of Esportif sports management for elite athletes like All Blacks). The key focus of the day for all three of us was to help students ignite their passion to dream and show them how to set themselves a path to success. I’ll share more on that story once the news article comes out next week.
I’m currently in New Zealand and have just produced the imagery for the Tony Kemp website which is being built. In the meanwhile you can share in Tony Kemp’s inspiration on Facebook.
This weekend (Saturday 31st Aug – Sunday 1st Sept) I will be at Puke Ariki Museum as a guest artist for The Call of Taranaki Exhibition. If you are in New Plymouth please drop by and say hi. I’d love you to see how Taranaki has called twenty five Maori artists home…. You will also meet my cousin Erika Muna Lee Niwa who is the other guest artist. She is an incredible weaver. Erika designed the modern Maori garments worn by the Maori Performers at the Martin Luther King 50th Anniversary Celebrations in the USA just a few hrs ago.
Just a few days ago I was also back in my homeland for the opening night of the exhibition. My four artworks which are inspired by stories of my inspirational Maori ancestors are displayed right alongside my Mentor Darcy Nicholas’ carvings and paintings. Darcy curated this incredible exhibition. As well as cousin Erika Muna Lee Niwa we also have another cousin Simon Lardelli (extraordinary sculptor/carver) exhibiting too and this was the first time Erika and I had ever met Simon who lives on the East Coast of NZ’s North Island.
My dad John Niwa had an important role in the opening, representing Taranaki Maori tribes for the Museum as an elder. He spoke in Maori as part of the official Maori opening ceremony… It was a proud night for the Niwa extended whanau (family).
Darcy Nicholas (he’s like my second dad) has mentored me for the last six years. He and his art are always immensely enriching and educational (he tells stories of the ancestors he sees). I’m so grateful that he continually challenges and encourages me to reach new levels of excellence. He sees your potential and helps draw it out…. He is first to tell you when you have hit the mark and also offer guidance when you haven’t quite reached that level he knows you can reach!!!
Here is a link to the Puke Ariki website and more details about the exhibition.
Here is a snippet of our latest interior decoration photography assignment for the very cool Sophie Duffy who has a business called ‘The Dressed Nest‘ based in Mosman on Sydney’s North Shore. These photographs appear on Sophie’s new website which was timed to be launched prior to a feature article in House and Garden Magazine.
Sophie is pictured at her home in Mosman. Although you can’t see the photos, you will see a cluster of frames behind her in the hallway, these are Sophie’s family portraits I took last year with her hubby, three sons and two dogs, one called Lucky and the other one called Scruffy.
This area is right next to the dining room table and open kitchen area (see below). It is also the setting for where we photographed Sophie’s family. The kitchen area is calming and inviting. It is a relaxing place to hang out and perfectly offsets the vibrancy of the other side of the room with the aztec patterns.
This is a home Sophie has just completed at Castle Cove, on the North Shore of Sydney. Opposite the formal dining room is a formal lounge (below). The house was very badly damaged in a fire, so has come a long way!!!
In this same home in Castle Cove there is a very relaxing, open style entertainment area, which adjoins the formal dining room area.
If you would like to know more about how we can help with Interior Decoration Photography please contact Niwa Photography or call our Sydney photography studio on 02 9939 5553
We spent an afternoon doing architectural photography for MidCity Windows who are a leading manufacturer of contemporary architectural window and door systems. With their sights set on a submission to the Australian Windows Awards (for ‘best use of windows and doors award’) they commissioned us to photograph this luxurious architecturally designed and built home located on the Georges River at Kangaroo Point, near Sutherland.
Kevin Thomas , Director of MidCity Windows explained what he needed the photographs to convey, ”We always try and show people that with the smart use of our products you get the interaction from the exterior and interior. With this project the view from the home was massively important to the client. They can open up to enjoy the outside very easily.”Kevin also wanted to show the way his company’s range stands up to a harsh environment (intense heat and southerly rains with this home). He commented, “I really feel we got this with the pictures you took [Tania Niwa] . As stylish and expensive as the house was, it actually does look like a home and when we show these images to new clients regardless of what house they are building, they too can still get a piece of what we are showing”.“This job/site had a few challenges.. the main challenge being the sheer size of some of the glass, which was very hard to get to the site. During construction the driveway was only dirt and mud during winter, the only solution was to actually assemble once on the site and we had to have extra labour to physically get the glass sheets to where it was require. We also designed a new system to suit the aluminium cladding system the clients were using, so as challenging as all this was, the end result has been great. With all the rain and storms we have had over the last nine months it has stood up and performed as it should which is great. The client got what they were expecting and are very happy with what we have done.”A huge thanks to Kevin Thomas, for commissioning us for their photography needs. His company’s design expertise and quality craftsmanship was an absolute treat to capture! We are looking forward to working on future commercial and residential architectural photography projects. Thanks also to the generosity of the lovely home owners who gave us free range of their three level palace and let us do what ever we needed to get the best captures. This home was built by Alkira Homes.
Here are some more images from a family portrait series taken of best mates and siblings Chase and Ella. The duo have just turned 5 years of age. Here’s one set from a collection of portraits taken whilst on their wonderfully impressive giant playground. These images are currently being produced to form a set of three to be displayed together in one frame.
What an amusing experience we had when photographing a gorgeous family portrait at Freshwater Beach near Manly. The stars of the shoot were stunning Nina and her 2 year old pug dog named George. Nina who is nearly 11 years old, was given George for her 8th birthday. Nina’s dad David had a client with a pug that was pregnant. It was through this connection that they became the delighted owners of a new pug pup they named George. Nina’s mum Mitori said George is just like her son and is an integral part of their family. She laughed when reflecting on what she loves about George. She said each time they get home, George greets them with the utmost enthusiasm and excitement, as if he had been parted from his family for months!!! Nina and George have an unconditional love and wonderful adoration for each other so it was important to reflect this in their framed portrait series below.
Mitori said George doesn’t think he is the typical dog. George’s favourite television show is Dr Harry. Whenever George sees dogs on the show he runs up to the screen thinking he has some new friends to play with.
George had never been to the beach before. Below is the funniest expression. When he got a chance to run around on the sand, George was darting all over the place at full speed. It was a hilarious sight!!!
Mitori’s parents Kikuyo (above left) and Seuseumu (above right) are pictured above with Nina and George. Kikuyo is especially fond of George. Mitori said whenever the family is on Skype Kikuyo loves to try to talk to George. George gives a cute series of sounds acknowledging it is Kikuyo talking. George is also very popular at the pet hotel he goes to at Duffys Forest. The previous owners of Marendale Pet Hotel loved having him so much they decided to get a pug and named their dog George as well.