Best Headshot Tips

I always wanted to be somebody,

but now I realize

I should have been more specific.

Lily Tomlin


While I enjoy creating artsy glamour portraits the most, I have fun working with those who need  headshots for their businesses and careers, too. Here’s what you need to make the most of what you’ve got for such a shoot:

Makeup  You want to be recognizable the way you present yourself at work but with tweaks in consideration of the lighting situation at your photo shoot. Choose good coverage oil-free liquid foundation that is evenly applied to match your neck and chest.  Apply setting powder more generously than you normally would and bring blotting paper and powder to touch up right before your shoot. Even if you want a natural look, go for heavier shades on the lips and especially on the eyes and eyebrows because (artificial) lighting tends to wash out features.  Use black mascara that does not clump or smear. If wearing false lashes, choose the kind that looks natural with uneven lengths. Wax eyebrows a day or two before and darken them for the photo shoot. It’s all about the eyes! And shall I say it? Avoid (fake) tans.

If makeup is not among your strong talents, invest in a professional artist that, ideally, you’ve tried and liked before.

Hair  Clean and styled your best.  A headshot photo shoot is NOT the occasion to experiment with a new cut or color. Retouch (roots) a day or two before and schedule a maintenance haircut or color a week prior. While matte is what you want for your face, shine is what you need for your hair. There’s a selection of hair shine sprays for women at your local  drugstore like Biosilk spray. For my own wash and wear hairstyle, I just rub my palms with less than a quarter size drop of oil and run them through my hair while damp.

Nails  Clean nails and if wearing polish, choose clear, french manicure or pale neutrals so they don’t distract from your beauty.

What to wear  Choose outfits in solid colors for a classic look. Regardless of your size, shape, and how you feel about your body, form fitting is the most flattering. Highlight your best features and cover what you’d rather not show. Avoid distracting patterns and too much cleavage. V necks and long sleeves are flattering in general. If you’re an artist who needs to be quirky, express yourself through  a single piece of bold jewelry. Skin tones in the olive, brown, to dark shades are better flattered by pale or bright shades of the colors you like. To be clear, dark outfits look better on pale skin. Picking from my client’s favorite wardrobe selections is one of my small pleasures.

Accessories  You want people to notice your face so keep jewelry simple and stick to one statement piece or none at all. Best to wear a piece that can be your “signature” to give your client/prospects something to distinguish you from your peers in your industry.

Take care of yourself in the week before your headshot:  Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol and smoking, and give your reflection in the mirror kind compliments daily.  All these habits help relax lines and wrinkles, undereye circles, and make you glow. Get extra sleep the night before your photo shoot so you’re energized and perky in the morning.

I like to keep lighting bright, soft, and even to fill shadows and smoothen wrinkles. Daylight by a window is most flattering for women and on gray rainy days or windowless rooms, continuous lights are kinder than flash. As I photograph, I ask for the woman’s “best side” and keep a conversation to draw out her personality. Have fun with yourself and enjoy the experience! Angling the head, posture, as well as getting a twinkle in her eyes all help in capturing a woman’s unique best.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your bright ideas to this list.







Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman







Not So Ordinary Women


from Huffington Post

Anita Sarkeesian, a TIME 100 honoree, blogger and founder of Feminist Frequency, launched her Ordinary Women video series this week. Frustrated by the way history books weigh heavily on male accomplishment, giving students the impression that only men have made all the strides worth hearing about. Anita took the initiative to engage us through stories of women who dared greatly, so that our young girls may find their own voice, value their female experiences and find more role models as they learn to see themselves as important in their own intrinsic humanity.

The Ordinary Women: Daring to Defy History series’ first feature on youtube is Russian political freedom fighter Emma Goldman who shares my sentiment: If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution. This series will feature four other women leaders and innovators from different cultures and fields of expertise who have been largely left out of history books. I’m looking forward to learning about Ching Shih, a fearsome 19th century pirate who commandeered a massive fleet. Yes, women excel even as villains!😉 May our girls and young women expand their possibilities beyond obsessing about beauty and  being supporting characters in the stories of men!

Click “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you find power in your own voice. Thank you, Anita, for the inspiration every girl needs!



from Google Images


Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Best Books for Couples


Women marry men

hoping they will change.

Men marry women hoping they will not.

Albert Einstein


Yes, there are plenty of fish out there!  Yet bliss can be found with one–or with one at a time.😉 Now, will someone please hand us some handy tools for navigating the dynamics of commitment?  In celebration of the end of this fabulous summer, some book recommendations for healthy relationships by Huffington Post’s Dr. Nikki Martinez:

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Things get lost in translation when we are not aware that people speak different languages in the ways we give and want to receive love. How do you and your partner differ?

Couple Skills by Matthew Mackay. How can you communicate with compassion while coping with differences and resolving conflict?

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum.  Should you stay or should you go?

The Relationship Cure by John Gottman. How do you strengthen relationships we tend to take for granted?

When The Past is Present by David Richo. How do you understand the different places where you and your spouse are coming from in navigating your relationship?

I Love You But I Don’t Trust You by Mira Kirshenbaum.  Be it daily dishonesties or a monumental betrayal, how can you heal and build trust again?

Love, Sex and Staying Warm by Neil Rosenthal.  How do you keep good old comfy relationships from going totally ho-hum?

47 Love Boosters for a Happy Marriage by Marko Petkovic. How do you connect and deepen your bond even when you’re both terribly busy?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your favorite(s) to this list. And may you be happy with however many fish you have–or don’t!







Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman


Hot As Mercury

I adore Chicago.

It is the pulse 

of America.

Sarah Bernhardt


Famous for it’s gigantic drop of liquid mercury, Chicago just won my vote for The Prettiest City in the U.S.!

You’ll love the river that snakes through dazzling skyscrapers, the helpful locals, and the ease of getting around and through the fabulous park set beautifully next to a lake. See the city in different ways:

Inside Chicago Tours Hillary is charming and funny as she takes you on small group walking tours of the city’s best building interiors and sssshhh! secrets.

Architecture River Cruise The Architecture Foundation’s First Lady Cruises will give you all the right facts. For more entertaining versions, try Shoreline and Jim Collins is one of the fun guides of Wendella boats. Choose the sunset cruise to see the lovely change of city lights.

Bobby’s Bike Hike Yes, you can stand on a Segway or sit in a cool limo. I like combining the distraction of interesting sights with a workout and a bike tour on a cool night is just perfect. Wednesday and Saturday evening tours end with spectacular fireworks on the lake.

Other evening entertainment:

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. Chicago is the home of improv comedy so skip Broadway for this town’s longest running show of 30 mini plays in one hour. Mostly funny, sometimes poignant, sad and real. Not 21+ though the material can be.

Upstairs at the Virgin Hotel. I’ll have to come back without a teen chaperone to check out the fun at this naughty venue.

Fun restaurants with the family or not:

Three Arts Cafe Whether it’s your first date or the 100th, you’ll enjoy this romantic courtyard with chandeliers, a fountain and glass ceiling, indulgent service with a rooftop, too.

The Palm Court at The Drake Hotel Old world elegance for glamorous high tea after a day exploring the Gold Coast neighborhood. You can combine your tea reservation with a tour of the hotel on weekdays.

Fulton Market Kitchen Feed your inner artist with this feast for the eyes.

The Terrace Regardless of your politics, the Trump Hotel has the best open air views facing the river and half the Chicago skyline.

And if the kids insist on the Skydeck, mom must stop by the breathtaking atrium of the pink building next door.

The neighborhood you stay in makes all the difference and I suspect I adore Chicago because I chose a central location (between Clark Street Bridge and Millennium Park) for easy access to the city’s attractions, shopping and innumerable dining options.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best Chicago travel tips here.







Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

My Grandmother’s Closet

My grandmother was a very tough woman.

She buried three husbands and

two of them were just napping. 

Rita Rudner


A quiet moment of thanks to commemorate the life of the woman who inspired the mission of Powerful Goddess Portraits: To celebrate every woman’s best by making the most of what she’s got.  My grandmother passed last week at 92 surrounded by everyone who loved and was loved by her.

Corazon (Spanish for “heart”) was my first arbiter of style. Her busy extended household was the home of my childhood. A prudish Catholic upbringing failed to  dampen her sense of humor, her love of retelling (saucy) jokes and collecting gag curios to make you blush. Her womb birthed 6 children, she raised many of 15 grandchildren and 13 more call her Great Grandmother today.  Thinking about her signature dishes continues to have a Pavlovian effect on my mouth.

As the inveterate night owl, she fascinated me on many late school nights with her ingenuity, her hunched figure diligently presiding over the formal dining table filled with accoutrements for her project de la nuit.  When my mom was crowned teen queen, she designed the very first quick change gown the town still talks about–no one had ever witnessed a gown transform into a completely different outfit in the blink of an eye!   When my daughter was 6 and ready for the hula dances I learned at her age, guess who sent us matching handmade grass skirts?   There was a time when Ikebana was the rage, bonsai plants took over the garage, her sewing machine a permanent fixture in the living room.   Her house was a revolving door not only of creative projects, but also of pets from goldfish, turtles, chickens, birds, several breeds of dogs, way before the grandchildren  joined the parade.

You didn’t have to leave her house to get a hair cut or perm because she could do that, too. “Let’s shape your eyebrows…” was my initiation to the wonders of makeup.  You can’t buy my favorite summer purse on 5th Avenue–it’s an antique of timeless design from her closet.  For my recent birthday, my kids were impressed by her sketch of animals kissing, elegant calligraphy lacing through the card decorated with her lipstick kiss marks–Who would guess that this artistic script in impeccable English is by someone who never made it to highschool nor to other countries much?  She rarely steps out of the house these days, but when she does, lipstick has got to match the dress.

It was s  sweet homecoming with the aunts, uncles, cousins I grew up with.  How I wish my kids could enjoy the pleasures of being imposed on, sleeping through chaos, being loved by and required to love noisy and nosey relatives of countless degrees!   I say personal space is overrated and Hillary is right about that village!

Laughter mixed with tears when we had to say “When might we see each other again?” goodbyes and I am forever grateful for a childhood around this doyen of talent and creativity.  I am forever blessed with the strength of my self-defined style, compassion, a keen eye for design among the very many talents I have been so lucky to inherit from this Powerful Goddess.  Daghang salamat, Ama Azon, for the treasures of your closet and the treasured memories and wisdom of a lifetime:

that happiness, like religion, has many faces and true faith means respecting each other’s choice for what best suits our needs

that marriage is not a reform institution.  To make any relationship work, there can only be gratitude and the question “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?”

that today is the day to enjoy what we’ve got and be present for the love and laughter of family and friends

I am grateful for all that I am because of you, Ama Azon!


You can swim the deepest ocean and never find a fish like this


These hands make countless memories and things out of nothing–

and yes, may you wear hip nails at 90, too!


My Birthday Card


Half a lifetime ago


And now a bit too big for Grandma’s lap



© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

My 7 Fave Books About Paris

America is my country


Paris is my hometown.

Gertrude Stein

“I don’t like reading!” must be the only chorus my two younger teens agree on. They usually bicker like cat and dog yet form a united front on the topic of books, stubbornly glueing their noses to the computer. If it’s any consolation for a mother, at least, their older brother in college actually values the occasional recommendation, discussing his insights and revelations when we talk on the phone. He says this may simply be a function of age and how the book resonates with his current life journey. I say one out of three kids is not a bad average, yes?

In honor of this blog’s favorite French fan’s birthday, here are  stories set in Paris you’ll want to chill with on or off the beach this summer:

The Flaneur by Edmund White. Because meandering strolls with no particular destination is so very Parisian, observing the everyday theater on the city streets.


Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik (2001): What would it be like to raise children in Paris? An American writer shares his adventures starting a new career and family abroad.


Almost French by Sarah Turnbull.  An Australian’s memoir of her giant leap, moving to Paris and marrying into a different culture.


The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain.  Would you marry a struggling writer much younger than you? Could you be friendly with your husband’s mistress? A story told from the point of view of Hemingway’s first wife.


My Life in France by Julia Child.  How did the student become the master? Julia tells of her move to Paris with her husband before she figured out what she wanted to do when she grows up.



The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. A bookseller helps heal wounded hearts by prescribing the perfect story for them to read, eventually mending his own.


Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott. shares her 20 style secrets learned while living in Paris.


Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what’s on your summer reading list.  Stay cool and tres chic!


Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

Like My Father Always Said

Be good


be careful.

Dominic, father of Michele


My favorites from Erin McHugh’s Like My Father Always Said, a collection of memorable quotes and gruff advice, sweet wisdom, and half-baked instructions on how to fix your life:

What other people think of you is none of your business.

You can have as much freedom as you can pay for.

The early bird gets the worm, but the second rat gets the cheese.

Perfect is the enemy of good.

The moment you think you want to change someone you love, dump ’em. You don’t like them for the right reasons and they won’t change anyway.

Never marry for money. Just hang out with a lot of rich people and fall in love.

Learn at least one new thing everyday.

Don’t let your mouth write a check your ass can’t cash.

The squeaky wheel gets replaced.

Before you speak ask yourself: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?

The only bad mistake is one you stick by.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite man’s memorable quip.







Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman


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