After passing through immigration, we secretly thanked ourselves for making it alive. (Sorry mother if you ever read this).

Cambodia is hectic, corrupt, flawed, and barren, but it’s the incredible spirit of the Khmer people, that will make you fall in love with the country. It’s a place where you can still see the rawness from decades of blood, war, violence, genocide and death, yet the people are so warm and kind. You will notice that the locals are always smiling and will always greet you with open arms. With limited resources, they have strong communities. Leaving their homes open, when one family has food, the whole community has food. They live by a genuine, ‘what’s yours, is mine’, mentality. That’s what I love about Cambodia.

The first place we headed to was Siem Reap: a town of tranquillity, green rice fields and almost everything made of bamboo.

Our tour guide PC took us to probably the most scenic restaurant I’ve ever been to in my life.

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Yep, that’s right. We had dinner here. It was so ridiculous that I couldn’t resist having a snap taken by it.

Not to sound like a weirdo, but check out the entrance to the toilet.

UnbeLEAFible.

I had sweet & sour chicken (no, not the Saturday night takeaway kind) and for dessert, I was given a star shaped goodie.

It was crunchy and sweet, and, tasted like sugar heaven. I have no idea what it’s called, but I liked it.

The next morning we headed to a local orphanage located in a small village.

I befriended a cow. I named him Angus.

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The children of Spean Cheav is a home for underprivileged children and are taught English to increase their prospects, which is so fundamental in a popular tourist country.

William, aged seven, kept picking up flowers for me, he could do with teaching a few men at home on how to charm the ladies.

Panni, aged nine (the girl waving a dollar), is adorable. We counted to 100 together in English. I was inspired; the founder looks after fifteen children to help them towards a better, brighter future.

The next day, we woke up at 5 am to make the sunrise (my friends know how I feel about waking up), but it was totally worth it. Just look at that view of Angkor Watt.

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The Buddhist monument was originally a Hindu temple. Built on water, mysterious and captivating — It’s the Khmer King’s legacy. His face sculptured on almost every wall, with his slaves bowing down to him.

This historical temple has survived invasions and wars yet is the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen.

I could happily have spent the rest of the day in the darkness, drinking in the history and gilded artworks, but there were more temples to check out.

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Temple hopping, we landed at Ta Phrom — the movie set of Tomb Raider. Pretending to be Lara Croft, we had way too much fun jumping through the maze and discovering treasured ancient rocks. I even got the gun fingers out… I can’t believe I just admitted that.

Ridiculously spoilt, another scenic restaurant came our way. It’s Batchum Khmer Kitchen Food; I thought the first one was my favourite, but this one became a good contender.

What I loved about this restaurant is that they had hammocks outside. IT’S LIKE THEY KNOW ME.

The next day we went quad biking to fuel our adrenaline thirst.

We then headed to the famous Pub Street for a delicious meal (I think you can see a trend here #foodie).

Before heading home, I spotted my very own cocktail bar!

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We hopped on a Tuk to catch our coach for our 7-hour journey to Phnom Penh.

Siem Reap, you were incredible.

Location: Cambodia – Siem Reap

Nivea Suncream | Clinique Moisturiser | MAC BB Cream | NARS EyeLiner | YSL Waterproof Mascara | NARS Blush in Orgasm | Carmex Lipbalm |

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There’s something to be said for a little salt water therapy. This was a beautiful day and one I won’t forget. The sun was fearless.

I escaped the sirens of Manhattan to swap it for the sound of the ocean and the scent of the salty sea breeze.

In preparation for this shoot, I gave my Waterproof Mascara a whizz and headed to Coney Island: New York.

Sometimes you just need to get away. This Aqua post is for you to escape to, whether during a shitty day at work, between uni’ exams on a Monday or just basically if you’re bored and uninspired. See you in Paradise amigos.


Location: Coney Island, New York
Philip Kingsley Swimcap | Nivea Suncream | Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser | Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder | Waterproof Mascara  | Palmers Lipbalm | Victoria Secret EAU DE PARFUM |

Credits:
Photographer: Laura Marie

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Growing up, I didn’t feel confident on camera. I wore an oversized backpack (that made me look like a tortoise), goggle-glasses and elephant shoes. I appeared and was, super nerdy.

At the work-legal age of sixteen, I applied for part-time waitressing & bar jobs at temp agencies. I also joined a film extras agency, and alongside TV work, they sent me to photo shoots, and I somehow became a commercial model.

With the help of photographers, makeup artists and stylists, I want to pass on my fashion photography learnings that I’ve gathered from the experts — to you. From building your confidence, finding the right location, knowing the best lighting and developing your creative eye for imagery — I’ll try and cover as much as I can.

How to improve your fashion photography the wong blog monica wongHow to improve your fashion photography the wong blog monica wongHow to improve your fashion photography the wong blog monica wong

Organisation and location is key

If photography is integral to your business, then pre-planning goes a long way. There are three primary considerations in choosing a location. 1. How long it takes to get there. 2. Accessibility for changing outfits 3. The variety of sites to shoot. I don’t always have an itinerary; sometimes random photo shoots can make the best shots. However, organising the overall objective of the shoot, the address of the location, estimated scheduled timings, planned outfits & makeup and having a backup plan helps with making the best out of the day. If you can, set a time when there aren’t lots of passersby. This probably seems a lot coming from a blogger, but the better the location and organisation, the better your photos will be.

Consider the light

Natural daylight is best for taking photos. For flat lays & product shots, experiment with table surfaces, wooden chopping boards and tile prints like marble. You’ll notice that you’ll take much better photos if you drag them by a window. For fashion shots, images taken at sunrise/sunset are much nicer. The photographers that I’ve worked with love playing around with images whereby the sun is behind the model.

Develop your creative eye

Believe it or not, high attention to detail and having a ‘creative eye’ in editorial imagery, requires development. This is why media publications hire creative directors with distinctive & artistic vision. It’s about being able to see what looks aesthetically appealing to your audience. The easiest way to learn how to improve your imagery is by analysis. Look at your imagery. Is it blurry or stained? How does it affect your mood? Do the people in the background change an image?

Be selective

No one wants to see the same image over and over again. Choose your best photos and publish only those. This isn’t the same as consistency. Your theme should be consistent, and ideally, you should be posting content regularly.

Boost your confidence within

I talk about being the best version of yourself and self-esteem a lot. Confidence in yourself is the foundation for appearing assertive on camera. Hop over to this link for my personal confidence story (if you haven’t read it, let me know what you think!). Once you feel good about yourself, it will show in your images, and your audience will notice. It’s about feeling good on camera regardless of how you look. As with everything, practice makes perfect.

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I hope this post has helped!

Bloggers, if you have any tips, please do share with myself and our blogging community.

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Location: Liverpool City Centre

Jimmy Choos | Vintage Burberry Macs

MAC Prep & Prime | NARS Foundation in Ceylan | Estee Lauder Pressed Powder in Medium | MAC Eyeshadow in Atlantic Blue | Shu Uemura False Eyelashes | GIORGIO ARMANI Mascara | Yves Saint Laurent Eyebrow Pencil in Ebony | NARS EyeLiner | NARS Blush in Orgasm | MAC Lip Pencil | Laura Mercier Lip Colour and then apply Bobbi Brown Shimmer Lipgloss in Citrus overcoat

Credits:

Stylists: Lou&Lou

Photographer: Robert Emmett

Make Up: Corinne Young

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Sneaky behind the scenes snaps…

 I have a love/hate relationship with my hair: same-day washed hair has too much volume, second-day hair is perfect and third-day hair becomes a greaseball beehive (sorry for the TMI folks). My hair meets the oily/greasy criteria, if you suffer from this, then this post is for you. To those bursting-for-volume and coloured hair types, I will cover those based on advice from friends who fit those types.

On a day-to-day basis, I use Aveda Shampoo & Conditioner to balance my scalp. It’s. So. Damn. Good. I used to make the mistake of using strong medical shampoos, oh, big mistake. It would dry out my hair temporarily but then extra produce sebum to lubricate the roots due to the lack of moisture. Aveda is pricey but it doesn’t contain the rubbish chemicals that you’ll find in supermarket products. I honestly think that shampoo is not a product that you should compromise on. I occasionally use Moroccanoil Shampoo & Conditioner, post here).

If you’re a dude and you by so happen to be reading my girly blog (awesome) — I’d recommend Aveda Hair Range to you too, depending on your hair type. For limp hair, I’ve had a nosey posey around on how to volumise and thicken hair. For a high street brand, the Pantene Pro V range is pretty good.

I’ve also discovered that Aussie Shampoo is great for pre-curling and has a yummy smell.

Back in my ginger-to-brown-to-purple hair days, I used to use Kerastase Riche Shampoo. It was great for keeping my rainbow locks healthy, whilst maintaining long term hair health. A message for Goldilocks, if you’re out there and reading this, let me know how the above products work for you, I have porridge.


Location: Andrew Whittaker Studios, Manchester City Centre, UK

Aveda Shampoo & Conditioner | Moroccanoil | Moroccanoil Shampoo & Conditioner | Pantene Pro V | Aussie Shampoo | Kerastase Riche Shampoo |

Credits:

Photographer: Andrew Whittaker

Make Up Artist: Jade Antonia

Hair Stylist Beth

 

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I’ve put together a colourful mood board of my favourite eye, lip, and cheek makeup favourites.

Why not test out a few for 2015 and see which ones become your staple this year?

Eyeshadow Palettes

1. NYX Cosmetics Palette // 2. Bobbi Brown Palette // 3. Urban Decay Palette // 4. MAC Palette // 5. Smashbox Palette // 6. Coastal Scents Palette

1. NYX Cosmetics Palette: The NYX Palette costs around £9 – £10 which is fantastic value for what you get. Highly pigmented, goes well with primer and an excellent travel product. A balanced amount of neutral and dark colours. The 07 palette is great for everyday wear.

2. Bobbi Brown Palette: This is one of the pricier palettes, but you’re paying for the Bobbi Brown quality. It’s a safe choice as it’s long-lasting and you can be as creative as you like. It can be mixed and matched with a range of sweet-to-sultry eye looks. It comes with a mirror — which is always handy.

3. Urban Decay Palette: I’m a massive fan of Urban Decay because it’s great for everyday wear and it contains all of your natural colours. You can even use the colours as a bronzer too. They’re not as pigmented as NARS, MAC or Bobbi Brown but buy this one for the range and ease.

4. MAC Palette: Every Makeup Artist’s treasure chest reveals MAC signature eyeshadows. To house the beauties, get frisky with personalising your shade palette or there’s Warm Neutral and Cool Neutral, which contains the best picks.

5. Smashbox Palette: Smashbox is fresh in the market, but the makeup range is yummy. Popular eye openers, the chocolate palette, is great if you want a mix of natural and night colours. The eyeshadows are on the small side but is the only palette that comes with a luxurious mascara.

6. Coastal Scents Palette: Suits those who are daring and love their bright eyeshadows. Even though you have to build up the colour, the pigment is decent. There’s an enormous range of colours. The lid did break on mine, but the eyeshadows are still alive and kicking. (Just keep the lid closed).

Single Eyeshadow

1. DIOR Eyeshadow // 2. NARS Eyeshadow // 3. Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow // 4. MUA Eyeshadow // 5. Illamasqua Eyeshadow // 6. Rimmel Eyeshadow // 7. MAC Eyeshadow

1. DIOR Eyeshadow: Apparently this palette can be used wet or dry. When I learnt this, the first thing I thought was, what does that mean? Can you wear them while swimming? The idea is that you can wear them dry for a natural pop of colour but you can dampen an applicator and use them wet to build up the colour and increase the pigment.

2. NARS Eyeshadow: Long lasting, heavily pigmented and always the best in the market. I don’t need to talk much about NARS; it’s my favourite eyeshadow without a doubt and the beauty junkie favourite.

3. Bobbi Brown: These are great because they don’t crease on oily lids and fading is minimal. Milled formula. Amazing for day to night make up.

4. MUA Eyeshadow: A bargain brand that made it’s way to the UK (yay). Guess where you can buy it? Superdrug! The packaging isn’t long-lasting, but, if you are more bothered about eyeshadow texture and variety, that let’s face it, are the most important attributes of a good eyeshadow, and then this one is for you.

5. Illamasqua Eyeshadow: Ever since Illamasqua invited me to their workshop event, I was delighted to be their mannequin for the day and I fell in love with the brand. The range contains the most pigmented and dramatic of all eyeshadows.

6. Rimmel Eyeshadow: For a drugstore product, I’ll try not to be too critical. It’s very sheer; the applicator isn’t great and the shadows break off which end up flying everywhere. However, it’s great for everyday makeup. They have decent lasting power.

7. MAC Eyeshadow: Ridiculously amazing colours, MAC has the best range of colour. You, folks, know how MAC eyeshadows are: long-lasting, high in pigmentation and they stay put. Easy to blend and you can play with different textures.

Eyebrow Pencils

1. CK Brow Pencil // 2. Benefit Brow Kit // 3. Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil // 4. MAC Brow Set // 5. Clinique Brows // 6. Shavata Eyebrow Pencil // 7. Laura Mercier Brow Powder // 8. Smashbox Brow Trio

1. CK Brow Pencil – Best for: Beautiful Blendability

2. Benefit Brow Kit – Best for: To dress the exposed parts of a stripped-down arch.

3. Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil – Best for: For Creating Teeny-Tiny Hairs

4. MAC Brow Set – Best for: Setting your brow shape, adding just the tiniest hint of hue, or managing longer, unruly arches

5. Clinique Brows – Best for: Just the Right Amount of Sheen

6. Shavata Eyebrow Pencil – Best for: Creating the perfect shape

7. Laura Mercier Brow Powder – Best for: Adding heft to brows that already have a nice shape

8.  Smashbox Brow Trio – Best for: Extremely Long Wear

Blushes

1. YSL Blush // 2. Estee Lauder Blush // 3. NARS Blush // 4. NARS Multiple  // 5. Dolce & Gabbana Blush // 6. Chanel Blush // 7. Bobbi Brown Blush // 8. Benefit Blush // 9. Rimmel Blush // 10. MAC Blush

1. YSL Blush: This is a fun blusher palette which you can experiment with, for blusher virgins, swirl this clever quad together and apply with a good blusher brush for a subtle glow.

2. Estee Lauder Blush: The perfect winter blushe, it’s a warm pink that extends that faading tan just a little bit extra.

3. NARS Blush: Known for their blush expertise, Mata Hari is no exception. Bold and beautiful, this blusher is strong, so tap your brush before applying in an upwards sweep. It will definitely show up in images.

4. NARS Multiple: I. Love. This. Stick. I use this religiously on most of my shoots. It shows up in images as a healthy glow.

5. Dolce & Gabbana Blush: The splurge favourite, smooth application, looks flawless, totally matte. Great for huge pores and oily skin and lasts all day. The best thing is that the brush is superb in this one!

6. Chanel Blush:  The best thing about Chanel’s makeup is the packaging, look how polished it is! My favourite blush shape, a 3D half moon that looks like a mineral marble. Texture, wear and blush are all A+.

7. Bobbi Brown Blush: One of the favourites and another image ready blush. It works well for yellow based skintones and as it develops through the day and it looks more and more like it’s part of your skin. I love the colours too.

8. Benefit Blush: An excellent travel product as it’s an all in one blush, lip gloss and highlighter in shimmery pink, a coral, and an orange. Does need reapplication as it’s a liquidly stick.

9. Rimmel Blush: Cheerful, very pretty sheen and a peachy fresh light glow to your cheeks.

10. MAC Blush: We tend to shy away from the Essex look, but this rose blusher has just the right amount of orange undertone to perk up your skin with a healthy glow without looking like a piece of crayola.

Lipsticks

1. Lancome Lipstick // 2. MAC Lipstick // 3. Bobbi Brown Lipstick // 4. Dolce & Gabbana Lipstick 5. Topshop Lipstick // 6. Shiseido Lacquer // 7. Aveda Lipstick // 8. Max Factor Lipstick // 9. NARS Lipstick // 10. Burberry Lipstick

1. Lancome Lipstick: Look at that 150 dark red, it’s so bright that you may have to reapply a few times to avoid creases. But it’s super full and super moisturising.

2. MAC Lipstick: The favourite. With MAC’s endless range of beautiful sheer and matte shades: my favourite is probably Dubonette, a heavy red Great Gatsby looking colour. The lighter shade I like is called ‘Modesty’.

3. Bobbi Brown Lipstick: Great full coverage lipstick, rich colour, smooth, creamy and tasteless if you’re a lipstick muncher. Faves are Party Alice and Sandwash pink.

4. Dolce & Gabbana Lipstick: The great thing about this lipstick is that it doesn’t bleed. It does have a scent and weird taste but look at that packaging, wide range of beautiful shades, good coverage and decent staying power.

5. Topshop Lipstick: Not a huge variety, but then again, who wants to spend an hour trying 20 different shades of red? Excellent value for money and spot on in my book. They have great pigmentation (nothing worse than no colour pay off). Doesn’t leave your lips chapped beyond repair.

6. Shiseido Lacquer: Best suited to those with yellow undertones, they suit brown eyes, my favourites are RD203 – Portrait, RD305 – Nymph and RD607 – Nocturne. I find lacquer lipsticks easier to use for when you’re in a rush and there’s no need to ‘top up’.

7. Aveda Lipstick: Some of the colours from the range are great! Not badly priced and great coverage. The Nourish-Mint lipstick in Star Grape is my favourite.

8. Max Factor Lipstick: The best high street lipstick. These lipsticks are fantastic quality. Very pigmented, creamy texture, long lasting and luxurious packaging.

9. NARS Lipstick: Super moisturising and an incredible range of colours, NARS is well known for their campaign imagery featuring their latest lip apparel. NARS Lipstick = pigmentation of the gods.

10. Burberry Lipstick: How beautiful is the criss-cross detail on this lipstick?! I would whip this bad boy out just to show it off. On a practical note, this piece of luxury is a soft satin lipstick which has combining oils and light waxes and even contains anti-aging ceramides which are essential for the sensitive skin on that area.

Love & Lipstick, Monica x

Location: Brick Lane, London

1. NYX Cosmetics Palette // 2. Bobbi Brown Palette // 3. Urban Decay Palette // 4. MAC Palette // 5. Smashbox Palette // 6. Coastal Scents Palette 1. DIOR Eyeshadow // 2. NARS Eyeshadow // 3. Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow // 4. MUA Eyeshadow // 5. Illamasqua Eyeshadow // 6. Rimmel Eyeshadow // 7. MAC Eyeshadow1. CK Brow Pencil // 2. Benefit Brow Kit // 3. Rimmel Eyebrow Pencil // 4. MAC Brow Set // 5. Clinique Brows // 6. Shavata Eyebrow Pencil // 7. Laura Mercier Brow Powder // 8. Smashbox Brow Trio 1. YSL Blush // 2. Estee Lauder Blush // 3. NARS Blush // 4. NARS Multiple  // 5. Dolce & Gabbana Blush // 6. Chanel Blush // 7. Bobbi Brown Blush // 8. Benefit Blush // 9. Rimmel Blush // 10. MAC Blush 1. Lancome Lipstick // 2. MAC Lipstick // 3. Bobbi Brown Lipstick // 4. Dolce & Gabbana Lipstick 5. Topshop Lipstick // 6. Shiseido Lacquer // 7. Aveda Lipstick // 8. Max Factor Lipstick // 9. NARS Lipstick // 10. Burberry Lipstick

 Credits:

Photographer: Tanvi Madkiller
Make Up Artists: Donika

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