After a long year of staying home, this interview is the perfect escape. We take you to picturesque Bali as we speak with photographer, conscious creative and all around inspiring human Keira Mason about slowing down, finding your path and doing what you love.
We instantly fell in love with her dreamy images depicting island life but photography wasn’t always on the cards for Keira, it is something she discovered and nurtured after she and her husband decided to leave their stressful careers and life in Newcastle and take a leap of faith and make the move to Bali to live the quaint, slow island life.
Having saved enough money to live a modest life on the island for a year, they gave themselves the opportunity to completely start over. To truly discover what they were passionate about, slow down and appreciate the importance of self-care, re-develop their careers and begin something new and exciting!
We hope you feel as inspired by this interview as we have.
When did you make the move to Bali and what do you love most about island life?
My husband Jared and I were working up to 45 hours a week back in Australia. We were also required to travel anywhere from 2-6 hours a day on top of our work hours due to the location and requirement of our jobs. As you can imagine, we were exhausted and the thought of continuing with that routine for the next 30 years was really daunting. We were certainly looking for an out but we weren’t quite sure how that could happen for us.
We actually came to Bali for the first time on our belated honeymoon (about 6 months after we were married in 2017). We actually weren’t keen to go to Bali but the flights were cheap so we thought we would give it go! After being in Bali for three days we had completely fallen in love with the island and both decided (without any prior discussion about living overseas) that this was where we needed to be.
The best things about Bali are four-fold for me. The island is beautiful and the people are so kind and inspiring, the creative community is so nurturing and supportive (locals and expats), the food is incredible, and the living expenses are low!
We absolutely love your dreamy images, how and when did you discover photography?
Awe thank you so much! I started photography when we moved to Bali. It was our time to find our passion and it didn't take me long to realise that being behind the camera was my happy place. I knew pretty soon it’s what I wanted to do, so as I have always done, I dove straight in and learnt on the go, teaching myself, learning from other photographers I met here and that's how my business started! You can discover Keira’s beautiful imagery here.
What is the biggest inspiration for your imagery?
My biggest inspiration for imagery is the general concept of creativity. Photography is amazing because there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s just your own perception and interpretation of creativity, whatever that looks like to you! Once you put that out there, others who connect with your style will find you!
Do you have any tips to take the perfect shot?
There are of course some practical tips that can assist in capturing great snaps such as; understanding your light, image file types, and editing, which I cover in my iPhone Photography Guide blog which you can find here but ultimately it’s all about your style of photography and what speaks to you!
Does living in such a beautiful place like Bali help with your creativity and inspiration?
Absolutely! Bali is obviously visually beautiful but the culture, community and its people are the real beauty and inspiration for me. The support I have received from the creative community here has been essential to my progression as a photographer and as a creative in general. Plus, there is nothing more exciting than getting up at 3am to drive into the north or climb a mountain to capture the very first light of the day!
What are some of your favourite local spots?
The Food in Bali is incredible! It’s a hub for extremely talented chefs from all over the world, which makes the food on this island exceptional!
My favourite eats in Canggu are:
- Good Mantra - amazing plant-based cafe
- Quince - incredible fresh food with incredible flavours
- Baked - all kinds of baked goodness
- Ulekan - The most mind-blowing Indonesian food you will have in Bali. I take everyone who visits Bali here and it's never disappointed!
This list could go forever so I’m going to keep it short by suggesting the one place that I think everyone should explore while they’re in Bali; Sumberkima Hill. Sumberkima is in the north/west tip of Bali (about a four-hour drive from Canggu) and the only place in Bali that we visit over and over again. Mountains sit right on the edge of the ocean overlooking Java and it is stunning!
Sumberkima Hill is absolutely my pick for accommodation. Their beautifully designed villas are nestled right on top of the mountain overlooking the ocean. And through the day you can go diving/snorkelling to see their reef restoration project, visit the turtle hatchery or go dolphin watching! You will never have another experience like it!
When did your sustainability journey begin and what was that pivotal moment of change?
My sustainability journey began when I was about 23. During my late teens and early 20’s I felt such enormous pressure to always ‘look good’. I was forever purchasing new clothing in a bid to ‘keep up’ and really hated the idea of wearing pieces twice in front of the same people. I just remember one day thinking, I’m exhausted and broke. Something in me snapped and I decided very consciously that I did not want to be bullied by the idea that my value was based on what I wore.
So, I started buying less and wearing the pieces I loved more. During this process I dove deeper into understanding the sustainability and ethical side of my decision to consume less clothing and it was far greater than I realised. I learned about fabric fibres, production techniques, fair pay and other factors that contribute to the sustainability and ethical manufacturing standard of the clothing we wear. I was so shocked about the impact that my shopping habits had on the planet and the wellbeing of others that I thought, “What else do I need to change?” which is where my general sustainability journey started!
Has living in Bali also contributed to you leading a more conscious life?
Absolutely. Not just in a sustainability sense but in other ways too. The Balinese culture is all about slowing down, enjoying simplicity and practising gratitude, which has had a huge impact on me and my personal growth over the last couple of years.
How would you describe your style and ethos?
My style and ethos are very much influenced by connection. For my work, I spend meaningful time connecting with my clients and in order to capture their story in the most meaningful way. Depending on the client, I like to get to know their brand or family, how the business started, or how the couple met. It’s all about connecting and creating trust.
For my personal style it is very much the same. I want to know the heart of the brands I wear, who makes their clothing, where the fabric is spun, and what is the story of that garment. When you look for connection you start to become more conscious about where you shop and what you wear.
What are your favourite Cura Swim picks for summer?
Two backless full-piece swimmers and I have to say, they are both amazing! I chose these pieces because I love Cleonie and have built quite a beautiful connection with the brand over the last couple of years. Their dedication to sustainability is admirable and their pieces fit my body so well-which is something I have always struggled with when it comes to swimwear.
I chose the Cleonie Sorrento Maillot black crinkle piece because the crinkle fabric is so comfortable to wear and not at all restrictive on my curves, which just makes me feel so confident in them! I also love the high cut sides and the higher top because it’s super supportive in the water, plus I think the combination is the perfect level of sass for this piece!
The second piece I chose was the Cleonie Amalfi Maillot Seashell. I love this print because the ocean is 100% my second home so it always seemed fitting, I’m also a sucker for low back swimmers and this style has the perfect low back situation!
Do you have any routines or rituals to help set the tone for your day?
This year has been a huge shake up to any and all routines I have ever had. We have been stuck in other countries, moved houses three times and are in the end stages of renovating our villa here in Bali, so it’s been really hard to stick to routines this year.
Rituals on the other hand, have been my saviour amongst all of the chaos. Rituals like, cooking dinner, loading my diffuser with lavender every night and walking barefoot on the grass in the sunshine have been so important to me.
What are you listening to, reading or watching that is currently inspiring you?
- I am currently reading Utopia for Realists. It's an amazing book that I highly recommend especially after the year we’ve all had!
- I’m listening to Ideas Digest. It’s a podcast that’s all about greater understanding. It explores controversial topics, the people behind them and how they change us. It’s been a huge favourite of mine this year.
- A huge watch for this year as probably David Attenborough - A life on our planet. I am such a David fan and this documentary was truly heart-breaking, hopeful and incredible.
What are your tips to lead a more conscious life?
- Learn about our planet: how we can love it and how we are hurting it.
- Ask questions: start to ask who makes your clothing, where your rubbish ends up, what fabrics are made from. Knowledge is so powerful.
- Be inspired: find some people that inspire you to live more consciously and sustainably in a certain space; fashion, lifestyle, travel… I have learned so much from other people's journeys.
- Vote with your money: there are so many amazing conscious brands out there who are doing amazing things in the area of sustainability and ethics. When we support them with our purchases, we are saying that this is where the future is.
- Take it one step at a time: it's not about being perfect, it’s about making the changes you can, when you can.
How do you slow down or wind down after a long day?
As a small business owner, I sometimes find it hard to switch off. Cooking is actually my favourite activity to help separate my work day from my personal time. I absolutely love food and cooking soothes me so much, especially when it's with a glass of wine.
A special thank you to Keira Mason for taking the time to share her journey and inspiring us to pursue our passion. Make sure to follow Keria on Instagram for more dreamy imagery and inspiring moments.
Images courtesy of Keira Mason
Photography by Karen Gudmunds