The Unusual Selfie


The best advice I’ve received is

”No one else knows

what they’re doing either.”

Ricky Gervais


All our friends, family and Facebook’s facial recognition software already know what we look like so how about we give them something more interesting to see than just another selfie?

Here’s how I made these Unusual Selfies without needing a selfie stick:

Get a Folio Case for your smartphone. has a fun selection in leather to hold your cash/cards as well as protect your phone’s glass surface. More importantly, it serves as a stand to angle and prop up your phone so you can use its timer (and AF lock) to compose the shot before you jump into the frame.

Google knows everything.  In researching my travel itinerary, I stumbled upon another mom’s blog which mentioned that Dubrovnik is a film site of HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones (GoT). My sons are great fans of this show so I thought it would be funny to impress them and sign myself up for a GoT themed city tour there.

Prep the prop. As inspiration for this GoT tour, I decided go as one of the show’s main characters, Daenerys, aka “The Mother of Dragons” who wears the best costumes among its lead cast.  I packed a fantastic 3D print replica of her Mother of Dragons necklace as well as three custom painted dragon eggs from

Dubrovnik is King’s Landing in GoT, the capital of the story’s 7 Kingdoms. It has imposing medieval fort walls flooded with tourists. You’ll have a better chance of enjoying the place all to yourself if you visit in winter. Finding a quiet spot can be impossible so keep an eye out for locations  with relatively few passersby.  Be patient and wait for a lull in the crowd to get a clear background.  From the pier, for example, I walked along the base of the fort until I found an outcropping of rocks facing the sea that also happened to have an angle of the castle known as the Red Keep in the show.  I took time positioning the dragon eggs and iPhone until I got the shots I wanted to tell my story—an especially poignant one for a mother of three (dragons) who have all flown the nest. Rain clouds were perfect for the mood and a scarf billowing in the wind added the effect of dragon wings.

If someone offers to take your picture, all the better!  At the Iron Throne (GoT souvenir shop at Boshkoviceva 7 in the old town), my GoT tour guide impressed me with the filters on his Samsung even as he envied how my iPhone takes creamier pictures in daylight.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your best selfie trick without a stick.





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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman



Faking It at the Met

“The camera never lies” is

photography’s supreme fiction.

Faking It Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

A conspiratorial grin came over me reading the quote above from the intro to Faking It:  Manipulated Photography before Photoshop, a current exhibit at the Met.   I prefer a natural look in my portraits so Photoshop is not a big love.  Even then, between styling and lighting choices, how I coach posing, and the angles from which I photograph, the camera becomes a tool for telling my version of a truth.  So, yes, Edward Steichen may be right is saying “Every photo is a fake from start to finish” considering how each of us chooses what truth we want to believe in to cope, flourish or dominate.

You’re not likely to catch me cutting and pasting multiple negatives to get a woman to sit in a champagne glass, superimpose a figure on a lamp, or create a fantastic cat woman’s face.  I’d sooner use a fan to simulate the vision of gusty winds though I’m not beneath tying strings to pull the seams of a kimono.  Yet who knows?  One day, my curiosity may lead me to investigate how Avedon created his simple Audrey Hepburn collage.

We all enjoy a creative trick that enthralls and keeps us guessing, be it a tall tale or a political statement using humorous juxtapositions, tweaked photojournalism or clever photomontages.  When we choose the wrinkle free and less pudgy images of ourselves, what does this say about our love affair with denial?   Having to endure  the harsh critic in our mirror everyday, a portrait of ourselves in our best light can be a treasured reprieve, if not a siren call from our true greatness.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how fantasy has opened doors of possibility for you. xoxox

Sharon Birke

Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Photos on this page are selections from Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop, exhibit on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through Jan. 27, 2013.


Angels Among Us

I feel that there is an angel inside me

whom I am constantly shocking.

Jean Cocteau


“What if I don’t like any of my pictures?,” this Goddess asked when she hired me.   She had never liked any photo taken of her in her entire life and was happily surprised–paying me the highest compliment 😉 –when she just had to bring home so many of my photos from her shoot.  She swears every woman should give this experience to herself!

This Goddess dedicates her photo shoot to her favorite angels–her beloved mother and sister.  She holds them close to her heart and not a day goes by that she doesn’t wish they weren’t an ocean away.

She tells me her mom is the most elegant woman who takes great pleasure in dressing up.  On one of their shopping adventures years ago, they found a vision in white silk they couldn’t resist.  This dress sat in the back of her closet patiently waiting to see the light until this moment!   And what a perfect complement to the pearl necklace her mom had given her on her wedding day.  Almost two decades later, these pearls are as timeless and ageless as the angel they adorn here…

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to honor those who bless your life greatly…

© Sharon Birke

Let’s celebrate the angels in your life today!

201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother


The Guru Within

Cultures are different as can be,

but in their souls, women want the same things:

 dignity, respect, love, freedom.

Jodi Cobb

No other country can claim to be both mecca and inspiration for the proliferation of gurus as India.  Whether the expertise be yoga, business, finances, self-improvement, romance, beauty, etc…, being a devotee to someone who is supposed to know better helps us rise above challenges with the aspiration that “If (s)he can do it, so can I.”  Then there is also the convenience of having  someone else to blame when things go awry. 😉

Author Meryl Davis Landau (Downward Dog, Upward Fog) writes in Huffington Post about gurus who admit they are only human, too: How Three Top Yoga Masters Find Balance, Both On and Off the Mat.

Seane Corn, cofounder of nonprofit activist group Off the Mat, Into the World:  I used to feel envious of people I felt were living their lives fully in ease and integrity. Now I recognize that no matter how I might perceive them, everyone is dealing with issues that I can’t begin to understand. If a shadow of judgment towards others comes up, I’ll immediately come back to me:  What’s coming up for me, what does it remind me of, how can I heal it in myself?

John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga:  After getting over the feelings of betrayal and violateion when my bookkeeper embezzled all my money, I applied the ‘three As’ from Anusara yoga. Attitude, in terms of first opening myself to the pain without denying what I was feeling, but then being optimistic that I had the capacity to get everything back. Alignment, by, instead of putting all the blame on her, taking responsibility that I had put myself in that situation by turning my finances over to another person.  This calms the mind because by taking back control I knew I was reducing the likelihood it could happen again. And action, by creating a plan to get money in the bank to pay the bills.

Ana T. Forrest, creator of Forrest Yoga and author of Fierce Medicine:     Never waste a good trigger. Triggers — something someone says that gets you white-hot angry or terrified out of proportion — are horribly uncomfortable, yet they can teach you so much. My own childhood abuse led to two key triggers: my quickness to anger and my tendency to plummet instantaneously into an emotional abyss.  A messy room left by my ex triggered my ‘unable to deal’ avoidance feelings and heart stress. He left in March 2008, but I was retriggered by this again just the other day.   I intend to clear any and all emotional trash that I find connected to this. I am okay with being a work in progress. My philosophy encompasses growing, making mistakes and learning from them as a lifelong process.

How do you pay attention to your Inner Guru?

© Sharon Birke

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

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