How to pack light and travel in style.

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For the past ten days I’ve been working on planes, car trips, hotel rooms in five different towns and cities, every single day and night all the while sick with a virus that I caught off my husband and trying not to divorce my parents at the same time (whom I’m currently travelling with during my Vietnam leg). The wheel on my newly minted Rimowa also snapped off yesterday so my last night in Vietnam couldn’t have come soon enough.

For a few hours last night though, I was finally able to switch off work for the first time during this holiday, having caught up on nearly all of my deadlines and projects. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have the laptop shut and not have it glare at me from across the room.

Sometimes when I have a few hours spare, though, I go a bit crazy because the notion of ‘spare time’ really is non-existent in my life these days. It’s like I have no idea what to do with myself (I don’t even know what it’s like to sit on a couch and relax anymore) so I swing between polar opposites. Case in point: after a leisurely dinner last night at L’usine, I painted my nails a dodgy Rouge Noir-dupe and took a pair of questionable hairdressing scissors that my husband packed to chop two inches off my hair in my equally questionable hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City. The bathroom is a hot mess but my hair seemed to survive the trauma of being hacked into.

So what has this got to do with how to pack light and travel in style? Not much, probably, but with a flight to catch at 8am and my husband tossing and turning next to me as I (not so silently) type away, all I can manage is one schizophrenic post today.

Which brings me to my latest post for Vogue. I’m doing a series of packing posts in light of my travels – and you can read the first of them here.

A few of you have asked what exactly I’ve packed for a two month holiday so I’m planning to try and write a follow-up on the plane today (told you I don’t know what rest means anymore…) which I hope to share on this blog over the coming days. I’ll also be posting my Vietnam travel journal for @olympus_au this weekend but for now, you can follow my real-time updates on Instagram to see where I’m off to next. Hint: it’s my favourite city in the entire world. Not even exaggerating.

Mornings are for oversleeping.

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CULTIVER Lila Nightshirt | French flax linen flat sheet in dusk | French flax linen sheet set with pillowcases in charcoal grey

Linen bed sheets are like a crisp pair of 501s.

The best ones are perfectly worn-in, soften beautifully with age, and bear creases in all the right places. They remind me of comforts I often miss about home; the stack of books on my bedside, an Earl Grey before bed, sunlight that envelopes the curtains at exactly the same time and same place every morning. Comfort is the ultimate luxury.

These French-flax linen sheets and their new sleepwear by Sydney-based luxury brand Cultiver (the French word for ‘cultivate’) are truly a thing of beauty. After being commissioned to style and photograph them in my own home recently, it’s easy – and quite frankly addictive – to cultivate luxury in your daily life with just the addition of linen sheets to your bedroom repertoire.

And, if nothing else, spending the morning wrapped in crinkled linen sheets and captivated in a book whilst it’s pouring with rain outside must be one of the most glorious things in the world.

Topshop: An essay on style.

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Wearing Topshop pale blue raw edge cropped shirt

My catholic high school uniform consisted of a white shirt and striped tie, and a grey pleated skirt no higher than 12cm above the knee. We weren’t allowed to tie our college sweaters around our waist, and our hair had to always be tied back with a teal scrunchie.

Even when I was 14, being indistinguishable from everyone else bored me. So I’d change out the buttons on my shirt cuffs. I wore black Clarks oxfords with a heel a little higher than everyone else. I’d find novel ways to plait my hair each morning.

Style must have come to me early but looking back, it was ironic, given that for most of my childhood, I craved to have the same colour hair and the same contents in my lunchbox as everyone else.

I find ‘style’ difficult to define. I always knew it was an intangible quality – something money can never buy and something you either have or you don’t But it wasn’t until I had a conversation with Tiffany from Perth’s Topshop Personal Shopping (a free service that’s available to anyone) that I realised style – of the sartorial kind – is merely an unapologetic interpretation of what you wear and an expression of our personality.

As Topshop Perth’s Style Ambassador for 2015, that’s precisely the message I hope to convey through these monthly ‘style essays’.

That maybe it’s okay to buy a plain Jane blue shirt in favour of the fuchsia spray-on dress that’s hanging in the shopfront window just because it’s what you think you should wear (and not because it’s something you actually want to wear). They say you should never wear two voluminous things together. That flat shoes should never be worn with hemlines longer than the knee. That you should never leave the house without brushing your hair.

But rules were meant to be broken – and having a sense of personal style is just a matter of knowing which ones to break.

Photographs by Jamie Lau.

F*** it, let’s go to New York.

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I’ve been averaging roughly two hours’ sleep for the past few nights (last night it was down to an all-time low: 0 hours – fun!) but there’s still a fire inside me as I begin this post by sharing one of my most exciting pinch-me moments to date.

I could not be more excited to announce that I’m partnering with Olympus Australia as I travel around the world for the next two months with their flagship OM-D E-M1 camera in hand. My Olympus journey will take me through 10-12 cities in total (yes, including New York!) with my wanderlust documented through the lens of my E-M1 every step of the way.

I’m leaving this morning and I’ll be using my camera to share my journey with you on the blog each week (along with my usual travel tips + tricks!). And starting this morning, I’ll be posting unique content on my Instagram via #seetheworldwithOlympus and #olympusinspired, so do follow along for real-time snapshots!

Bloom where you are planted.

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Just a general question – what do you think of photography these days? In particular, photographing for OTHERS rather than for yourself. I have an instagram and often find myself photographing a certain way or certain things because I know it will generate more likes, and I tend to deviate away from things such as nerdy stuff (haha) because it won’t fit my ‘image’. We are becoming SO concerned documenting everything and curating our life to be this image of perfection that we have lost sight of the things that really matter. I’m not sure if you’ve read this brilliant post by Assembled Hazardly but do give it a read and please let me know what you think. By no means do I mean to criticise what you do (the blues and pink tones of your work seriously make me swoon so much), but…ugh do you sort of know where I’m coming from? Sorry for the rambling. 

Peonies, bicycles, cortados, and macarons.  Chemexes, Diptyque, flower runs, overly-saturated sunsets, and Aesop e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

I couldn’t agree more that so many of us on Instagram aspire to that illustrious 10K following or, at the very least, the creation of a linen-apron life lived in a Kinfolk cookbook.

I read this quote recently and it perfectly summed up the intent behind your question: “We’re too concerned about taking photos to look good for social media, instead of taking photos to create memories.”

Here’s the thing: I don’t really know how to answer your question.  As a strategic marketer, I’ve spent the past ten years paying my bills by making people want to buy into brands, products, a lifestyle. I’m still paying off a degree that essentially taught me how to create a need as opposed to just fulfilling it. I also photograph Aesop a lot. This is still my bread and butter. And I’m deeply passionate about it. At the same time, when I wrote this post, what I actually wanted to say was that it was going to be my last post for the year. And the year after that. It was supposed to be the last time you’d hear from me on here.

Because you’re right – this stuff we’re creating and ‘curating’ for a damn 640×640 square, whilst there are greater things to fight for and aspire to…. all the blogging and the instagramming just suddenly seems pointless and meaningless. It’s tiring, it’s exhausting, and 99% of it revolves around pretending to be someone we’re not.

So why do we do it? Whilst validation is only natural, online voyeurism by way of blogs and Instagram is very real and whilst I’m guilty as charged sometimes, I can also tell many others are guilty of it too as I scroll down my feed. So what do I think of it? Well, I’m probably not in a position to criticise or patronise, but I do admit #thestruggleisreal.

P.S. I’m not sure if I answered your question but thank you for such a thoughtful thing to ask and for linking to the brilliant and thoughtful article – the comments that ensued were also so insightful, as was this razor sharp book review on Amazon that said comments led me to.

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Don’t quit your daydream.

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What’s it like blogging for Vogue?

In short, hard work but such an amazing (and challenging) experience!

As a style blogger for Vogue.com.au, it’s my job to find a unique point of view and use my own personal voice and style to report on and shape the latest trends, from fashion and beauty to travel and lifestyle each fortnight.

The Spy Style bloggers are given such an enormous amount of creative control in what we blog about – which is fantastic – so it’s up to us (with guidance from the Vogue team if we require it) to come up with a topic or idea that will engage most with our readers. Unlike my blog posts here on A Minute Away From Snowing, every single post I write for Vogue is not so much about me as it is for my reader. What will they get out of this? What will make them click on the post?

From time to time, we’re given the opportunity to work on advertorial posts with local and international brands in addition to our regular, fortnightly columns. My favourites to date have been working with Cartier in Paris and my Myer digital campaigns. It’s an enormous privilege, and the pressure is definitely real, but it’s one that has undeniably opened so many doors for me. It can be challenging to come up with thought-provoking and new, creative ideas all the time, but it’s so rewarding and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity.

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Flowers and simplicity.

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What camera do you use? I’m thinking of upgrading mine but my lazy self dreads lugging around a full frame 6D (though the pictures look so, so, so rewarding).

I use my iPhone 6 (for Instagram) or my mirrorless four-thirds camera Olympus OM-D E-M5, both of which are much less cumbersome to lug around than my husband’s full-frame Nikon D600!

The correct lens for your subject matter and shooting situations also make such a difference – though probably an imperceptible one to most people. I use my 17mm f1.8 lens on my E-M5 almost all the time – it’s an incredible lens for day to day shooting and I love the bokeh it renders when I’m shooting still-life.

I’ve also just started shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the 12-40mm lens. Although I’m quite used to my E-M5 now, I find the E-M1 incredibly easy to handle and very responsive (that could be due to the lens too, of course). I’m looking forward to using the E-M1 exclusively on my upcoming travels, especially with the very handy in-built wifi capability. I haven’t attempted it as yet, but the E-M1 Pro Kit is also known to be adept in low-light situations.

Overall, I would definitely recommend mirrorless cameras, particularly if you’re after a relatively light and compact non-full frame camera that still delivers. Although my husband is an avid Olympus user, he also has his eye on the Sony a7R (a mirrorless and full-frame camera) though is hesitant to invest in one until more lenses are available on the market.

Camera aside though, what’s more important is practice, an eye for composition, practice, technical know-how, practice, an ability to use and manipulate light, and practice. And more practice. The rewarding part about it all is not about acquiring a good camera to take good pictures. It’s about acquiring the innate ability and skill to take good photos. A 6D (or any other full-frame) will not automatically grant you photos that will blow your mind. It’s kind of like asking René Redzepi what oven he uses, no?

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