Stockholm In Love

Traveling is like flirting with life.

It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you,

but I have to go… this is my station.’

Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

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I’m back from another European jaunt where I met a city I’d move to in a heartbeat–or at least when it’s summer!  😉

Stockholm is vibrant, cosmopolitan, surrounded by a crisscross of waterways, verdant parks, buildings both old and new, and a crowd of charming elegance.  I found that I quite enjoy being around people and public transportation that show up exactly when they say they will.  The taxi fare situation is another matter…

While I make an effort to bring a camera, I find myself reaching for the stealth of the iPhone for street and travel photography.  Add the ease of instagram for filters and web sharing et voila!  How much more fun can you have? Plenty more when you’re traveling with family and friends as tag-along models.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your favorite travel and fun photography tips.


In the photo above: Add a foreground element to make a unique cityscape. While I tried to position the sculpture of the man with an eagle “cape,” these lovers showed up adding an even more dynamic layer.

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When telling a story with pictures, set the stage with a wide opening shot (caught a pun there!)  This is the ferry I took from Helsinki to get a break from running to/from airports.  I framed the ship and waited for the next cargo truck to hit some sunlight.  The bright yellow panel is an excellent focal point and the red gates act as a leading line to direct the viewer’s eye.  On Instagram, I usually pop contrast (the icon that looks like the sun above the filter choices) before deciding if the photograph looks better with one of the filters.  Many times, popping contrast is all you need. In this case, the ship’s hull was not that shiny–the reflection you see on it is of the skyline behind me on the glass walkway where I was standing.  But, hey, would you have guessed that?

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As a committed night owl, I have to bribe myself to catch a sunrise.  While the ship sailed through the Swedish archipelago, everyone photographed the same view from the railing.  I stepped back to include my fellow early birds for a unique sunrise photograph no one else has.  Including people in your pictures helps give a reference for scale and literally adds life.  I framed for the green lamp post and waited for the man in the matching jacket to walk (movement is always interesting) a certain distance from it to balance the composition.  Notice the diagonal from the lamp to the man on the far left that eventually leads your eye to the horizon.  And how lucky the folks in the background knew to stand with spaces between them so they’re not one dark blob?

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The tiny island of Skeppsholmen may not figure much on most travel guides.  But if you want to get the best views of the city, this is where you want to be!  Walk past the Grand Hotel and the National Museum over a short bridge with a crown in the middle (see second to last photo below).  You’ll find the Asian and Modern Art Museums there.  I brought glorious weather with me, so I preferred tracing the perimeter of the island.  Local friends give you the best insider tips–Thank you, Lars and Wiveca!

The light over the cityscape looked perfect during my stroll. Whenever you find great light, remember to turn around and see what could be interesting behind you.  I found this car that drove straight off a comic book!  The shadows of the bikes/chains intersect with and lead attention towards it. On Instagram, I popped contrast and chose a filter that pleased me.  One of the pleasures of creation is:  Choose what makes you happy.

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A good rule for portraits?  Run to where there’s laughter!  Here, a tourist takes a turn with the high tech equipment of a bubble artist in Gamla Stan.  I love how the onlookers as well as the statue behind them are all rapt with attention on the girl.  Are they mesmerized by the action or her thigh highs?

Gamla Stan is the old city of Stockholm where only pedestrians are allowed.  It has two of my favorite restaurants:  (1.) Mr. French Brasserie for fabulous waterside views, excellent service, and their finger licking red shrimp appetizer. (2.) Le Rouge is very sexy red velvet for dining with someone you can cozy with.

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The diagonal of the vine covered wall against the rhythm of the windows of the yellow building caught my eye first. This couple taking their “selfie” and the sun flare were wonderful bonuses.  I also loved how the statue above them appears to be taking her own selfie or checking her cellphone.  Give your viewer a layer of elements to discover.

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I adore men in suits with red socks!  There’s a sign of someone with a sense of humor if not brave fashion style.  This man walked too fast for my iPhone to catch a good shot of his socks, but his simple dark form is a perfect anchor for the diagonals of the cars and the stripe of the bike lane that lead the viewer’s eye to the background. I love how the passing cars replicate the rhythm of the windows on the buildings’ facade.  The black and white filter creates a classic look.

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God(dess) is in the details. This red chair is a signature Scandic design so it’s good to include in the narrative.  What I was really photographing was the pair of red socks that sat still for a proper photo this time.

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Keep an eye out for shadows and patterns, use diagonals or curves with foreground and background elements. The title of this piece is “I Leave My Crown in Stockholm”…

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…As well as my heart!  Use reflective surfaces like (shop) windows that also serve as a framing device for your next selfie.


Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

A Certain Peace

A poem for wives and lovers by Nikki Giovanni

featuring Powerful Goddess Gina Bonati

it was very pleasant
not having you around
this afternoon
not that i don’t love you
and want you and need you
and love loving and wanting and needing you

but there was a certain peace
when you walked out the door
and i knew you would do something
you wanted to do
and i could run
a tub full of water

and not worry about answering the phone
for your call
and soak in bubbles
and not worry whether you would want something
special for dinner
and rub lotion all over me
for as long as i wanted
and not worry if you had a good idea
or wanted to use the bathroom

and there was a certain excitement
when after midnight you came home
and we had coffee

and i had a day of mine
that made me as happy
as yours did you

© Sharon Birke

Text 201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Hope Springs in Maine

Never waste any amount of time doing anything important

when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under! 

C. Joy Bell C.

Hubby and I watched the movie “Hope Springs” after our family drive to Maine–no, not for Dr. Bernie’s couch. 😉  My mom will certainly need a big box of tissues watching Meryl Streep struggle to assert herself after years of submission to a self-absorbed and stubborn husband.  Who doesn’t want to be treated like a queen and spared counting pennies?  Who doesn’t want a husband who looks deeply into your eyes and listens with the heart when he holds you in his arms?  Who hasn’t had to learn that we may or may not want to make things work out after we sail off with Prince Charming into the sunset?

Among the inspiring women I met in Maine are Kim and Denise, proud new owners of the most beautiful epicurean haven ( in Boothbay Harbor, ME.  Their faith in the vision they nurtured for so long helped them move past the fears of “What if?” and keep moving one foot in front of the other towards making their dream come true.  While holding down full time jobs elsewhere, they painted and set up the entire store themselves in happy bright green and maroon–colors that make you grin as you sample their international selection of extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  Kim’s mom, Mimi, is a Powerful Goddess extraordinaire with her cheerful smile and curls, tirelessly helping around the store when she’s not doing the laundry for a nearby inn.   These women are vital and active in defining their own success, radiating joy where they have to be.  They are divine role models who show me the power of hope and living with purpose, that we can create our own happy ever after at any age.

Here are photos from our vacation.  I would have loved to share rafting photos, too, but my hands were busy rowing and hanging on for dear life through Level 3/4 whitewater on the Kennebec River–a “must do” family adventure!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add you favorite family destinations around Maine and the East Coast.

Denise, Mimi and Kim at Eventide Epicurean Specialties in Boothbay Harbor, ME

Even the monarchs whisper, “Follow your bliss!”

“A Buck A Shuck” Oysters on Saturday nights at

Boothbay Lobster Wharf in Boothbay Harbor, ME

I’m alive and well after eating 4 dozen in 3 days–in a month without an “r.”

After whitewater on the Kennebec River, a relatively tame day on kayaks.

“Monkey C Monkey Do” in Wiscasset, ME for family adventure trapeze obstacle course and ziplines

The view of golf greens, yachts, sky and ocean from the pool at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, ME

Sunsets that take your breath away and inspire…

… to be the light where you are!

Hurray  for summer!

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


Herb Ritts at the Getty

The secret to creativity is

knowing how to hide your sources.

Albert Einstein

The Getty Museum ranks among the 20 Best Museums in the world, sitting very pretty atop a hill with panoramic views of the City of Angels.  Catching the Herb Ritts: L.A. Style exhibit there was a definite highlight of my recent trip.    I love a man who knows how to mix fun and play in drawing out the beauty in people.  He and I share a love for spontaneity working with simple equipment and natural light, tasteful sensuality in strong forms, classical lines, and a woman’s back.  With their graphic simplicity, Herb’s images can be read and felt instantaneously, many of them challenging conventional notions of gender or race. His iconic photographs of noted individuals in film, fashion, music, politics and society capture both social history and fantasy.  As artists, our work documents time and place.

In planning a photo shoot, one of the fun things I do with my client is to create an idea board (using magazines pages, cellphone photos or Pinterest) to understand what’s beautiful and exciting to her.  With her selections and themes in mind, I show her photos, paintings, sculptures, ads, etc., I find inspiring.  Here are elements of Herb’s photos that I love:

I love sculpted hair, a dramatic pose, and elegant composition.

I love the sheen on skin, power form and movement, and

the clever use of high noon sun.

I love wind blown sheer fabrics.

I love abstract shapes and form.

I love creative shadow play.

I love the whimsy and humor of props.  Herb used tumbleweed as tree branches…

….and a live octopus as dreadlocks.

The Herb Ritts exhibit at the Getty runs until September 2, 2012.  Click on “Leave A Comment” (above left) to add your favorite sights, destinations, things to do in the City of Angels.

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