What does a Grryo Christmas look like? We asked each member of the Grryo Lead team to share their heartfelt experiences…
For me, so much about the Christmas season is about the sacredness of time. As soon as December arrives, I am hit with an avalanche of farewell dinners, end-of-year concerts and school functions, all while manically trying to buy gifts for family and friends. Time speeds up, it would seem, and I often feel breathless from the sheer momentum of it all.
As I say goodbye to colleagues, watch my children graduate to a new school year and write cards to loved ones, I subconsciously whisper my thanks and farewell to the year that’s passed and to everything that has been.
And then, finally, time slows down again, as the rush draws to a close. I savour the gifts of cooking, chatting and laughing with family and friends before I turn my eyes to the time that lays ahead: a brand new beginning brimming with possibility.
I cherish all the light that Christmas brings to the darkest of the months.
When days are short and nights are long, we fill December with stars and candles. And then darkness no longer feels like an enemy.
Christmas means time spent with the family. We sleep longer, close our laptops and phones, bake gingerbread cookies, play board games and relish traditional Christmas food. My kids, especially the younger one, are looking forward to meeting Father Christmas again on the 24th, Christmas Eve. Father Christmas lives in Northern Finland, in Lapland, in a place called Korvatunturi (Ear Fell in English), where he has his secret toy and gift workshop.
In December my world is dark with city lights and rain. Christmas means too much office coffee and the sound of the city’s traffic on wet streets. It’s the time of the year when I am all caught up in my job while days are short and daylight is sparse. It produces a feeling of abstraction, like being a detached island in a sea of hectic gift buying, baking, cooking, traveling and doing all things Christmassy. I enjoy watching the circus and love to dip a toe in when I join the merry masses at Christmas markets and dinners with friends and colleagues.
When daylight is the city lights, and tires on wet concrete is the soundtrack. @tonivisual
Out there we fight the darkness with lights and sugar. The cities wear their Christmas markets like a scratchy, favorite winter garment. Renditions of jingle bells fill the air and the smell of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), anise, roasted almonds and melted chocolate lingers wherever you go.
It even seeps down into the catacombs of the subway stations where commuters are joined by herds of shoppers and people dragging their live Christmas trees up the escalators.
On Christmas eve, I leave my island and join my family for cooking goose, the big Christmas tree with real wax candles and cozy nights with board games by the fire.
“lone man in the subway station” – the feeling when the season’s circus is all around but you’re not in it yet. @tonivisual
Every Christmas is different. Family changes. People grow older. Children grow up. A wedding takes place as two lives become one. A grandson will experience his first Christmas. My fourth Christmas with Grryo will be my last.
Every Christmas is the same. Family gathers. Friends share the joys of the past year while at the same time we always find something new to celebrate. We all experience some childlike wonder even though our hair starts to gray. And the richness of story, which is the core of Grryo’s purpose, stays with us always.
Around the Christmas table, I try to remember what have I lost and what have I gained during the past year. I tend to get extremely bored in family dinners and given the melancholy of the days I’m usually the one searching for excuses in order not to attend -the excuses always fail and I eventually attend the dinner. I avoid shooting photos with a camera or a smartphone and I only take instant photos with a Fuji Instax. The prints find their way straight into a box and I check them again after weeks or even months. There is a certain weight in religious celebrations that I am always unwilling to carry. The only fun thing is setting some goals for the coming year. There is usually an overload of goals and usually around February they vanish into thin air. I can’t give you any good advice regarding setting goals, but if I had to, I’d just say set a single goal for 2018 and try to achieve half of it; this seems already enough.
Try to spend some quality time with your beloved ones. Even in the most boring dinners, there might be a sentence that will change you a bit. Use it as a chance to remember a day that for some reason everybody seems to appreciate. And remember your last year’s dinner and compare who was around and who might be absent. I am usually more happy about past year’s dinners than the coming ones. I remember the faces, the family table, the food. Last year it was the last Christmas dinner with the grandma; she won’t attend any of the future ones. Drink some wine, appreciate the presence of people and their presents too. And get slightly bored: this seems to me as the last shelter of creativity.
The word ‘Christmas’ fills our minds with snow, winter, Christmas decorations, joyful carols and various savored baked goodies. As it isn’t very Christmassy spirit on my side of the world, I choose to count my blessings as the festive season approaches and the year ends. Every year brings its challenges but we make the choice of whether we want to complain or appreciate our moments. Gratitude allows us to live in the present moment and continue to see the light by moving forward.
It has been a good year for us at Grryo. We have started to grow slowly but surely with beautiful stories that keep us amazed at the huge talent that exists. As we share our Christmas stories at Grryo, where all of us live in various parts of the world, we celebrate it by making use of the digital world. It is remarkable what technology can do when used productively.
The connections and relationships we have weaved together at Grryo, have made us feel like a family even if we have never met one another. I truly appreciate and value each one of them. It has been a great pleasure building friendships with all of them. Let us cheer for the jolly season and be hopeful for the blessings in the coming year ahead!
The Grryo team would like to sincerely thank you for making 2017 a great year of stories shared! Whether you wrote stories or read them – or both! – a very big thank you for your continuous, amazing support. We wish you safe and happy holidays. Looking forward to more of your wonderful stories in 2018!
When taking photos, there are times we feel the images we captured aren’t good or maybe we lost our touch. Thus, we spend time looking for inspiration and motivation in photography by looking at people’s feeds on Instagram or other photography platforms. It isn’t because we failed; rather, our willingness to learn and keep growing gives us the thirst to be better. Seeing others’ feeds brings a new feeling and often a new perspective to moments.
Suddenly Sherbet by Jay McCullough
It is hard with the advancements and, of course, competition in photography these days. But we must not forget why we started taking photos in the first place. Yes, getting commercial has become important to some. Yet, for many of us who started photography as a passion, we shouldn’t lose our way. Through my journey in photography, I feel if we forget that first moment we started capturing and don’t continuously relive that feeling, then, however professional we get, at one point the taste and enjoyment of it will fade. Many photographers in the past kept clicking and stayed humble to their passion, which is why we always feel inspired through their work. Compromises may have been made, yet their brilliance remained true.
Light by Victoria
Coming across the feeds of Aki Sato (_akisato_), Victoria (vi.or) and Jay Mccullough (jmcullough) was one of those moments for me. Their feeds and photos bring a fresh feeling. The first time I saw their images, I was amazed at their captures, clarity and perspective. Each of them have different styles, unique in their own way. The idea and motive to keep it original has lost its way for many, but when seeing their feeds, I was convinced that there are some who want to stay original and be themselves.
Here are a few words Aki and Jay share about how it all started for them :
I live in Tokyo, Japan, and I’m an instagrammer taking photos with the iPhone 6s.
Photography has always meant something to me. But I’ve got a different point of view of my city and my photos after a Copenhagen trip in 2015.
Before I went to Copenhagen and Stockholm, I had no impression about my city because I’d been so busy at work. Tokyo was just a place to work for me. As you know, Tokyo is one of the busiest cities in the world. I had no time even to look up to the sky. In Copenhagen and Stockholm, I met lots of happy people. They were proud of their city and enjoyed their life even though they worked so hard like us. I really loved them. After the trip, the scenery of Tokyo was totally different from before. Everything looked very fresh, even if it was a flower on the street. The trip opened my eyes and it was so inspiring.
Also, I really love a simple interior and monotone fashion, even in my everyday life. ~ Aki Sato
I’ve loved photography since I held my first camera in grade school. This interest carried through high school and college, influenced by everything from Ansel Adams to Rolling Stone magazine. I’ve enjoyed photography throughout my adult life, but it became a regular and serious hobby for me a couple of years ago around the time I started using IG. Since then, my love and interest for photography has grown exponentially. From minimalism to mood to light to magical moments with my children… I could not be more in love with capturing beauty and artistic expression through photography. ~ Jay McCullough
Victoria’s words can be seen here.
Simple and minimalist are not easy to approach in photography. Some people have a sense for it and are able to capture the essence. Aki, Victoria and Jay have done a fine job in showing how simple things can stand out stunningly. Their photos speak of various moments. Every photo is telling you a new story. Aki’s photos form an intertwining story of their own and make you see Tokyo from a new angle. Victoria captures minimalism in street photography through her creative eye. Jay magically captures various moments in daily life filled with colours.
Let’s create the story through their photos below :
Architecture by Aki Sato
She stood there on the stairs, whilst time stood still. She wondered and waited in silence for that one moment when her friend would say, “Hey, I am done, let’s go.” Once she saw the picture she was in awe of how beautifully her friend framed her in this simplistic setting.
Midsummer Night Dream by Jay McCullough
He walked through the fields during sunset. The impressive lines from the power lines striking through the skies formed a lovely, simplistic structure. Intrigued by the colours of midsummer, a thought crossed his mind. “Should I enjoy this moment and let it pass or should I take my camera and hit the shutter?”
Paint the Silence by Jay McCullough
Melodiously, the voice of the trumpet resonates around the house, creating a classic and soothing rhythm. Everyone starts to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere whilst continuing their household chores. Jay, feeling inspired, pictures a colourful moment in his mind and instantly clicks.
*On the street
Street by Aki Sato
He walks whilst looking at his mobile after work. Checking his messages and missed calls on a quiet empty street. Oblivious and in his own world, from a distance, a photographer, triggered by the patterns on the floor, instantly captured this moment and, voila, he is frozen in it.
Green by Victoria
Her prominent red hair stood out against the teal background. As she passed by through the light and shadows, thinking of her next appointment, the photographer felt it was the perfect moment to capture. After playing with some angles, she finally clicked.
Red by Victoria
Lost in trance, the music flowed through him, bringing him to a new place and atmosphere. He felt carefree and refreshed embracing the moment. Victoria, forming the shot in her mind with the stark red background and the man rapt in his world, hit the shutter.
Stairs by Aki Sato
Standing at the center of the stage looking at the audience applauding his marvelous production, humbles him. He is proud of his first-ever successful moment. He thinks, “Wow, one day, it shall come true.” Looking up at the stairs spiraling through eternity inspires her to create a moment that stands still in times to come.
Stairs by Aki Sato
Running through the stairs of eternity, she looks through the crisp blue skies joyfully and blissfully. From behind, she hears a murmur, “Hmm, the steps look great. I wish she would climb faster so I can frame the shot and capture it.”
Stairs by Aki Sato
Wandering back into her past, and exploring her present, she sits contemplating how time has passed. Having no regrets and continuously moving forward in faith she smiles. Aki, her friend, through the flowing patterns and stairs clicks a vivid snapshot, then calls out, “Hey, look here, let’s go!”
*Chasing the shadows
Blue by Victoria
In anticipation she stands peacefully whilst looking at the shadows and colourful background weave through the reflections of the sun. The subtlety of the moment injects her to create this lovely masterpiece.
Dream Awake by Jay McCullough
Shyly, she practices ballet near the window thinking no one’s looking. Gracefully, she enjoys herself in the movements. Her father, quietly smiling, sees the opportunity of a beautiful moment to capture. Picturing the sunlight rays forming a shadow and lovely silhouette of his daughter, he snaps his shutter.
Through their photos and our personal photography journeys, we can see how we can influence one another. Changing vistas, new angles, patterns and structures bring with it a fresh outlook on photography. Let us continue to find our sparks in each other whilst growing to build our passion!
See more of their feeds on Instagram Aki | Victoria | Jay
Thank you, Aki, Victoria and Jay, for allowing me to express through your beautiful photos.
What does Christmas mean to you? Do you look forward to this season earnestly or is it a mere family ritual and gathering that you do every year?… Here at Grryo, all of us in the team, come from different countries across the globe with distinct backgrounds. In this post, we will all share what Christmas means to us and how some of us Celebrate it.
Christmas for me is deeply rooted in my faith in Jesus Christ. This holiday is to be a reflection of everything he is and I find it summed up in the word giving. I’m talking about giving without any expectation of a return. This year I have found a couple of actions that demonstrate the type of giving I mean.
John and his wife Shayla started helping a couple of weeks ago at Soul Food Cafe, a local food ministry to the hungry. John’s heart was touched by the need he found all around him. Putting his photography talent to use he had the idea of doing free portraits for anyone who wanted one. On the particular day I visited John there, he took over 50 portraits in front of this tree as Shayla, with infant son “Cotton” in tow, gathered information. This week they are taking photos with Santa. In the meantime he made a video on Facebook about what was happening that generated 1500 views and gained help from several local photography clubs.
This past weekend I helped a group of teens that joined with several hundred other local Arkansans to fill food packs to send to hungry children in Haiti. A local restaurant, Tacos 4 Life, gives enough from their profits to feed one child for every meal they serve. They do this by teaming with Feed My Starving Children® which is a non-profit organization committed to feeding hungry children. They organize volunteers to hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and then ship these meals to distribution partners. These kids gave a couple of hours of their time on a Saturday to pack 492 boxes of food packs. That’s enough to feed 291 kids each day for a year.
Christmas has always been a favorite holiday for me. Despite living in Indonesia with the largest Muslim population, this festive season has always brought me a feeling of joy, warmth and excitement. For many Indonesians, Eid/Idul Fitri is the main holiday season celebrated extensively. The Christmas decorations and carols around Jakarta are mainly found in every mall or churches across the city. The roads and streets are not lit up with lights or decor as it is regarded as a normal public holiday. It is being recognized and celebrated more now by people in Indonesia. For me, during this festive end of the year season, it is more of winding down and enjoying the break from a well-spent hectic year.
Pictures of Christmas decorations in various places I found, that captured my attention.
Colourful Christmas ball ornaments on a huge Christmas tree at a nearby mall. The popping colours and lights was a lovely sight to capture.
A beautiful framed setting done by TWG Tea at a nearby mall. As i was walking past, I noticed a girl sitting next to the teddy bear and her friend taking a picture of her. The colours and moment itself intrigued me to capture it as it is.
Although, Christmas doesn’t hold a special meaning to me, someday, I would love to experience this festive season in countries that celebrate it. So, I can also experience the spirit of joy and bliss.
A huge part of Christmas for me is being thankful for, and spending quality time with, my family and friends – particularly my husband and our two boys. Our lives are pretty hectic; we’re always rushing from one thing to the next, Monday – Sunday. It’s all good and enjoyable, but hectic. So the few days we have over the Christmas period, where deadlines and school runs are thrown out of the window, are very special.
Playing board games and watching films together. Catching up with friends. Having late night adventures in the woods with our boys and their torches. Watching my kids playing and running free, without a care in the world. Like children should. Watching the adults behaving like kids again too. Enjoying the magic of school nativities and music concerts. Eating mince pies that we don’t even like. Wearing silly jumpers and daft Christmas accessories.
Enjoying long walks in the cold.
Not setting the alarm clock.
Decorating the tree together.
Remembering dear loved ones.
Enjoying the little things.
Because I work for a non-denominational church a lot of my time revolves around special events around the church. My wife and I have to get creative with our time to enjoy the holiday with our kids. We have our usual family traditions like decorating our house and listening to Christmas songs by Louis Armstrong. We also drive to neighborhoods and marketplaces adorned with a lot of Christmas lights and if when we can afford it, we will go to Disneyland to enjoy fake snow and watch people play at the skating rink.
The weather folks say that it snows in my region along the coast of Southern California only once for every hundred years, so unless we drive 2 hours up to the local mountains, any expression of “White Christmas” is man-made.
My family wanted to focus more of our attention on people in need this year. Our kids participated in Operation Shoe Box and filled a shoe box with gifts and a note to be given to a child on the other side of our world. Locally, I went with our church group to deliver groceries we put together to families nearby, so they could have a Christmas dinner.
It’s a special time of year for us. We could go insane trying to keep up with all of the traditions that go along with this season. Plus, it is too exhausting to get swept up in the shopping frenzy that happens from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. At my home, we try to simplify how we the celebrate birth of our Savior Jesus Christ by helping folks in need and getting together with family and friends.
December, the darkest of the months. I feel the lack of shadows, I feel in me the lack of light.
Yet Christmas gives me hope. It brings light, all sorts of lights: tiny little ones, bright ones, yellow, red and green, the white paper stars we set up on our window sills early in December. Christmas celebrates light and reminds me that nothing lasts forever, not even the darkest days. That light remains. That I’ll have the shadows back soon again.
I’ve always loved Christmas, how it changes us, the magic of it, and I spend the Christmas days together with my loved ones.
Hope you enjoyed our little contributions from the Grryo Family to spread the joy and spirit with you all.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your participation and contributions throughout the year. We deeply appreciate it.
We would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2017!
Enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones and we look forward to another exciting new year with you!
Sometime in March, thanks to my fellow Grryo team members, I had the chance to do a short course on Skillshare by Kevin Russ titled “Photo Storytelling : On the Road with Kevin Russ”. From time to time we tend to feel unmotivated in photography. We always need some motivation through people, courses, or even by looking through various talents. This short course by Kevin Russ was very interesting. He refined my perspective on taking pictures. Many times we are in a place or moment; we think or see, then decide if we want to capture it, or let the moment be. Kevin showed us through his on the road experience that the “just go shoot” spontaneous method can be a very useful tool. It reminds us of the moment we actually started shooting in the first place by just hitting the capture button and seeing results.
Working on a Rainy Day
Coffee Shop Views
After the course, I tried to keep the concept in mind by simply looking at a moment and following my heart to capture it. The results were a series of colourful moments telling their own story. We do have a tendency to click and then edit based on how we would like to portray the moment, but spontaneity is a really good way of reliving the moment. That is when I personally feel the saying ” A picture is worth a thousand words” expresses how we felt when we shot it.
Street plus Colorful Window views of Singapore
Welcome to Delhi – View of Palace
Bridge from Window
Kevin’s course went through the process of each detail moment he was experiencing; how he captured it, and later on, how he combines it all into a story. He tells us to just go for it. Even when we upload it on social media we shouldn’t put too much thought about likes, followers, but instead, just do what we feel like. That is how we showcase our work and those who are able to see our work will definitely enjoy our feed.
Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex
The Zig Zag
The images shared here are a series of my experience and journey after doing the course. The images vary from different places like Jakarta to Singapore to New Delhi, India and back in Jakarta itself. All of them have been captured from various aspects from a driving car window, to walks, or at shops, or simply at a cafe. During my travels I was able to implement this simple concept and to date I try my best to stick to it. Using mostly Hipstamatic and sometimes using the native camera, I have edited some of them simply to portray the moments accordingly.
A cup of Coffee
Everyday we see, click and work through a variety of images trying our best to illustrate our work and keep the passion alive. Yet, we tend to stumble and lose focus. But, it shouldn’t stop us from continuously creating and making better images. Sometimes, taking a pause and just looking around, feeling the moments around us, helps to regain and regroup our minds. Photography is an art and is truly capturing with the eyes of the heart.
Andre Kertesz has beautifully defined what Photography meant to him :
“I am an amateur and intend to remain one my whole life long. I attribute to photography the task of recording the real nature of things, their interior, their life. The photographer’s art is a continuous discovery which requires patience and time. A photograph draws its beauty from the truth with which it’s marked. As soon as I find a subject which interests me, I leave it to the lens to record it truthfully. Look at the reporters and at the amateur photographer! They both have only one goal; to record a memory or a document. And that is pure photography.”
Let us shoot for the pleasure it brings to us and define those moments purely by being an amateur, yet always improving the quality of our work. Just go out there, grab your camera and take a shot!
Every city has its own flair and specialty. We often don’t observe and see things that are right in front of us. When it comes to exploring our city, we tend to get carried away with our life and daily routine. Many times we travel the world and express how great a city or a country is, forgetting that the grass may be greenest in our own garden. Being born and raised in Jakarta, there have been times in the past that I have complained about the city. Jakarta’s traffic can be crazy, the unending line of malls everywhere can be dull, and the pollution is bad too. Nonetheless, I have learned to look at my city with a new pair of eyes.
There are many ways to explore a city; alone or with friends. I have managed to discover my city with a group of explorers by visiting different parts of the city. Little did I know that despite the traffic and modernization, our city is still rich in history and culture. There are many places I didn’t know about and the experience has broadened my horizons completely. I shall highlight some of the places I enjoyed exploring and learning about. Capturing moments through these trips was an interesting experience. It helped by enhancing my knowledge in photography and practicing to shoot in manual mode. Even while capturing on the iPhone I was able to learn more in terms of exposure, contrast and finding the right balance when shooting.
In Jakarta we have various aspects of culture and history spread in different parts of the city such as museums, historical sites, markets, or even the harbor. As much as I love going to museums, I’d like to highlight the places that made me appreciate my city more.
Glodok is considered our “Chinatown” although it is completely different from the Chinatown in other cities around the world. The history of this area dates back to the Dutch era, where they were brought to Indonesia as slaves from China. They resided in this area and many of them have remained in the area till date. Although, currently the local chinese community have moved to different areas in Jakarta, Glodok still remains the main hub for their supplies of food, vegetables, and medicines. The tour around this place was thoroughly fun. In Jakarta, we are used to traveling around in cars, unlike other cities where you can enjoy the pleasure of walking and taking the local transportation. Thus, walking around Glodok and the markets was a new experience for me. We learned about the cultural heritage and historical treasures. The narrow alleys, the muddy streets and the rundown buildings were part of our adventure. We were able to see a few Buddhist Temples that still exist, and had a good walk around the markets to understand more about the traditional foods among the Chinese community. Taking pictures of the surroundings made one feel like part of their daily routine.
Kota Tua means Old Town, which is the original downtown area of Jakarta. It is also known as Old Batavia. It’s called Old Town because it is the older part of Jakarta which was built during the Dutch colonial rule. There are a few museums around Kota Tua, namely the Wayang Museum (Puppet Museum), the Historical Museum, and the Fine Art & Ceramic Museum. Whilst touring this area, I didn’t feel I was in Jakarta. The architecture and the layout transports you to another place. There is much hope to restore this area to rejuvenate Old Jakarta’s legacy. Some of the buildings are run down but still have some heritage. On the inside of one of the buildings we found stained glass windows, which date back to older times. This was a very rare find and a fascinating one too.
Mosque and Church
The Masjid Istiqlal (Independence Mosque) is known to be one of the largest mosques in Southeast Asia. The national mosque was built to commemorate Indonesian Independence. When entering the Mosque, as any other religious holy place, you feel peaceful and calm. It was a fulfilling experience to explore the architecture of the mosque and feel the atmosphere inside it. It is a massive building and can accommodate up to more than 120,000 people. The building near the Mosque, the Jakarta Cathedral (Roman Catholic Cathedral), also has a very fine and intricate architecture. This building reminded me of the churches we see in European countries. The way it’s built, the feeling inside the church and the complete structure of it is beautiful. It was irresistible not to take a snap or two to capture the details of these buildings.
Sunda Kelapa Harbor
Lastly, our famous Sunda Kelapa harbor, located north of Jakarta, is the old port of our city. Although it is now only a minor port, Jakarta had its origins in Sunda Kelapa and it played a significant role in the city’s development. While walking around the area, there were some interesting spots like the Watch Tower and Maritime Museum. Some of the buildings and the Museum in this area have a lot of history and make one feel nostalgic. The way the ships were lined up, as well as the people and the scenes from the harbor, make you want to capture the moments.
There are still many more interesting sites to see in my wonderful city. It is filled with various colors and exploring it like a tourist, has made me value it even more. I look forward to many more moments of discovering the wonders of Jakarta. I hope you enjoyed walking with me through my pictures and short story. Jakarta may not have a perfect description but it is a part of Indonesia, a country which is diverse, yet united.
Simran is a passionate photographer. She writes for INK361 and with this article we welcome her to the GRRYO team.