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. Coach.com 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 Etsy.com.

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.

Xoxox

 

 

xoxox

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

Glam of Thrones

 

Women should look good. Work on yourselves.

Education? I spit on education.

No man is ever going to put his hand

up your dress looking for a library card.

Joan Rivers

 

Now that Game of Thrones has run its course, I’ll have to find something else to keep a conversation going with my sons who live away from home. Gore and incest aside, what I enjoyed best in this series was the craftsmanship of the artisans behind the props and costumes and the strength of the women who held their own in a cast often outnumbered by men. Looking back on the countless costumes of the lead characters, nobody outdressed the most fashionable Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, after she is resurrected from her husband’s funeral pyre wearing nothing but three baby dragons.

In Qarth, she wears the prettiest gowns among its creepy, albeit stylish, citizens.

This dress was a way to tell the smitten Jorah that she had slept with Daario.  The cutouts fit effortlessly, yet can you imagine the precision required for its tailoring?

She rules over a very dusty region wearing queenly white, cream, and dove gray dresses in the cross-neck halter style.

In another season, her style evolves to V-neck gowns fastened at the top–very revealing until the last minute that it decides it’s not. She is attractive and appealing while remaining in control.

Her white striped fur coat was both romantic and practical for riding dragons. There’s elegant detail in its cuts with even more remarkable drama on its back.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite fantasy costume.

All photos on this page from Google Images.

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

PowerfulGoddess@me.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Legendary Karl Lagerfeld

 

You can be the chicest thing

in a T-shirt and jeans —

it’s up to you.

Karl Lagerfeld

 

A quiet moment to commemorate the passing of a genius in the fashion world. Karl Lagerfeld, the most prolific designer whose work touched the lives of many women, defined modern luxury fashion with a career that spanned far more than most of his contemporaries. Despite the fickle nature of hemlines and style trends, he firmly maintained the height of Chanel’s brand power to the 21st century as its Creative Director since 1983. He was also the visionary behind Fendi since 1965, in addition to overseeing his own line. How many designers can claim the ability to speak as many languages as they do with fashion branding?

“More than anyone I know, he represents the soul of fashion: restless, forward-looking and voraciously attentive to our changing culture,” Anna Wintour, editor of American Vogue, aptly describes Mr. Lagerfeld. Even in his 80s, he was still designing an average of 14 new collections a year, ranging from couture to the high street, plus collaborations and special projects. “Ideas come to you when you work,” he said backstage before a Fendi show at age 83. I can only hope to grow up to have half his energy.

Season after season, Karl Lagerfeld wowed audiences of Chanel’s runway shows by taking over the Temple of Dendur at the Met Museum in New York and by transforming the Grand Palais in Paris to match his unique vision. Audiences at the Grand Palais have been transported to magical worlds, including a full scale rocket ship that took off as grand finale, a giant lion, a waterfall and a beach complete with splashing waves and lifeguard to look out for the models walking barefoot on the sand.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what magical vision you’d love to come true for you. Thank you for lighting up our world with your ever chic inspiration, Mr. Lagerfeld!

xoxox

All images on this page from Google/Getty.

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

Family As Strangers

 

If you think you’re enlightened,

go spend a week

with your family.

Ram Das

 

Growing up among cousins is a gift I wish I could give my own brood. While I have fond memories of this in my childhood, I look back as an adult and wonder, “How did my aunts, uncles, and grandparents navigate the politics of living together?” This Powerful Goddess is so blessed by her constant charm, beauty, and a super tight-knit extended family.  I tell my young adults:  That’s the kind of family you want to marry!

What is their magic?

We put our best face forward, stretch patience an inch farther, and find that extra ounce of consideration to bite our tongue around strangers. Yet after a work day wearing the mask of diplomacy around colleagues and clients, some come home to snap at whoever greets them at the door, forgetting that this person has had a long day, too.

When we are around our supposed loved ones, we feel way too comfortable to be ourselves and toss compassion to the wind. Our lives are so intertwined with theirs that we sometimes confuse their choices as personal affront. Who left this cup in the sink I just emptied again?!!!  It is scary knowing that they see all of who we are, they’ve seen us at our worst, and they know the precise combination of buttons to push us over the edge. Then there’s our human tendency to slack off and stop trying even as we expect these same people to hang around us in tough times.

Venting, while convenient in the moment, will naturally corrode any relationship over time. Pressing the pause button instead of exploding? There’s a gift we all can use more of!  If nobody is in the mood to see the situation from a different perspective, take a deep breath, go for a walk in the woods, and do what you need to distract and reboot.  Later, when everyone’s in a more receptive mood, preferably well-fed and rested, explain to the person how you feel when they act a certain way and what you prefer they say/do next time instead.

While who we are and whom we live with may already be baked in personalities, I hold on to the hope that each time I take a deeper breath and bite my tongue a bit shorter, the next generation might be watching and learning how to make a habit of compassion and assume the best of intentions in the closest of their relationships. Self-compassion and empathy are essential ingredients in this magic brew.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you stay cool and collected when it’s dark and stormy indoors or out.

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people!

 

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

 

When Santa Gets Naughty

 

Santa has the right idea:

Visit people

once a year.

Victor Borge

 

 

Imagine if every Santa said “No, thanks!” to doing all the things people take for granted, can’t be bothered to do, or simply deride: planning gatherings, putting up holiday decor, shopping and wrapping presents, sending holiday cards, cooking, hosting, and cleaning up after parties, stroking egos, playing diplomat between factions and generations, being the invisible glue that binds family and friends together?

Just sayin’.

Happiest of Holidays with enormous gratitude to every Santa out there! For a convenient holiday planning guide, see Real Simple’s Ultimate Christmas Countdown Checklist.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how much more interesting the year might get if a Santa this hot promises to (teach you how to) whip naughty into nice?

Keep doing the all the good you do and the warmest of divine holiday blessings to you and your beloveds. Ho-Ho-Ho!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

 

Pleasure and Pain

 

If I’m lazy and I can’t come up with a costume,

I would just wear a slip

and write ‘Freudian’ on it.

Julia Stiles

Of all the holidays in the year, I can definitely live happily without Halloween. At a Halloween party I attended last year, it dawned on me that there is simply no good reason for ugly people to dress any scarier! But since I love fantasy,  pretty costumes, and aspire to be wholly human, I concede that it is necessary to embrace the  scary and dark parts of ourselves along with the beautiful, the fleeting moments with the enduring, death with life, pain with pleasure.

From one of the books on personal power I recommended in my previous blog post, Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart:

People have no respect for impermanence. We take no delight in it; in fact, we despair of it. We regard it as pain. We try to resist it by making things that will last–forever, we say–things that we don’t have to ssh, things that we don’t have to iron. Somehow, in the process of trying to deny that things are always changing, we lose our sense of the sacredness of life. We tend to forget that we are part of the natural scheme of things.

Impermanence is a principle of harmony. When we don’t struggle against it, we are in harmony with reality. Many cultures celebrate this connectedness. There are ceremonies marking all the transitions of life from birth to death, as well as meetings and partings, going into battle, losing the battle, and winning the battle. We too could acknowledge, respect, and celebrate impermanence.

But what about suffering? Why would we celebrate suffering? Doesn’t that sound masochistic? Our suffering is based so much on our fear of impermanence. Our pain is so rooted in our one-sided, lopsided view of reality. Who ever got the idea that we could have pleasure without pain? It’s promoted rather widely in this world, and we buy it. But pain and pleasure go together; they are inseparable. They can be celebrated. They are ordinary. Birth is painful and delightful. Death  is painful and delightful. Everything that ends is also the beginning of something. Pain is not a punishment, pleasure is not a reward.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite fantasy. Trick or treat!

xoxox

 

 

 

 

xoxox

 

Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

 

The Femme Fatale

To a smart girl

men are not the problem,

they’re the answer.

Zsa Zsa Gabor

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A bit of noir for Halloween?  This series is a tribute to the femme fatale, French for “deadly woman,” that mythical figure in film and literature of the irresistible woman who lures men to their downfall with seemingly supernatural powers. On my recent cruise down the Rhine river, she’s Loreley whom careless sailors blamed for their sunken ships. In Biblical history, she’s the one Adam pointed a finger at, whining, “She made me eat it!” She’s famously associated with noir films: glamorous, sexy, strong, duplicitous, sometimes lethal. She uses her charms on a male protagonist, usually a lonely man grateful for her attention and is willingly manipulated into unscrupulous acts.

Now that contemporary women are bent on professional success, women may bristle at the thought that they can only get what they want through entrapment, artifice, and seduction rather than through meritocratic achievement. We want to downplay, if not deny, the power of our sexuality as a tool to employ in navigating our place in the world.

Not the femme fatale.

She is at ease with her femininity and hold men in her thrall. She brings out their chivalry, the hero, the protector they want to be. She may want them to commit irrational acts yet they’ll be eager to please.  The femme fatale may be a man’s nightmare, but she is also his fantasy: a woman in charge of her own sexuality who’d take charge of his as well.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your favorite femme fatale. Happy Trick or Treat!

xoxox

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xoxox

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

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

The Art of Arousal

I don’t know the question,

but sex is definitely

the answer.

Woody Allen

Inspiration for my work comes from a variety of art, friends, fans of this blog, as well as the women I photograph who share their enthusiasms. A surprise gift that warmed my winter is this  delightful book that celebrates sex as a powerful creative force. Dr. Ruth Wertheimer’s The Art of Arousal is a collaboration between a serious art historian and a woman who was converted to the religion of art late in life, proving to herself that there is no deadline for pursuing new directions.

Among the features in the book is a favorite painting, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ Odalisque with Slave. Of all Odalisques, I love this for her relaxed and carefree abandon.

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Like me, 18th century French painter Jean Honore Fragonard sought to indulge his client’s whims and fantasies. When the baron de Saint Julien commissioned him for a painting of his mistress: “I should like to have you paint Madame on a swing. You will place me in such a way that I would see the legs of this lovely girl.” Fragonard responded, “Ah! Monsieur, it is necessary to add to the essential idea of your picture by making Madame’s shoes fly into the air.”

The mere sight of a décolletage, the nape of a neck, the curve of a woman’s back can give intense and satisfying pleasure. In Admiration, Degas lends humor to the ridiculous positions a voyeur doesn’t mind being in for a glimpse of his goddess of the moment.

Edgar-Degas-Admiration-painting-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits

Robert Colescott, a contemporary American artist, portrays himself as the great Henri Matisse painting The Dance. Colescott asks the viewer “What if Matisse were a black American and if Matisse’s models were thick of waist, long of leg and with shocking bleached blonde hair, would we consider them beautiful?”

Colescott-painting-Beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder

William Wegman is a contemporary artist who dresses up his family of Weimaraners to photograph them in humorous situations, challenging our stereotypes of human behavior. This photo is named after Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Posed as a slinky studio nude, with one leg coyly lifted to suggest s sultry modesty, she bares not one breast but eight. She knows, as does her master, that eroticism is largely in the mind of the beholder.

Wegman-Lolita-dog-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits

If my photography isn’t obvious yet, seduction and flirtation are my favorite pets: Longing fueled by chivalrous courtship and restraint. Imagination and playfulness used to stoke desire.  Thoughtful creativity and surprise employed in the pursuit of one’s beloved. Today’s teens would do well to learn the art of conversation in creating an engaging intimate space amidst a crowd. But before you think I’m a prude…

Octave Lassaert’s lithograph Don’t Be Cruel! shows how intimacy provides a safe space for exploring fantasy–or as an exercise in empathy? Here, the woman makes an advance lifting his skirt while he implores her to take it easy.

Cross-dressing-fantasy-Octave-Lassaert-Dont-Be-Cruel-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits

Above all, I am a romantic so the business of kissing is my favorite subject, next to gazing into the partner’s eyes and tender touching– with clothes on!  The Stolen Kiss painted by Margaret Gerard (Fragonard’s sister in law) tells the urgency of a moment when someone can walk into a situation that should not be.

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Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share your Valentine gift inspiration.

xoxox

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

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

China at the Met

Be not afraid of growing slowly.

Be afraid only 

of standing still.

Chinese proverb

Anna-May-Wong-China-Hollywood-Metropolitan-Museum-NYC

Couture inspired by Anna May Wong’s costumes in her Hollywood classics. Among my favorite pieces is this very easy to wear hot number with seductive tassels as shoulder straps and as a dramatic train sweeping the floor.

If you’re near Manhattan this weekend, get to the Metropolitan Museum early (or very late to avoid the crowds) and catch the end of their hit exhibit China: Through The Looking Glass.  Attracting more foot traffic that the Alexander McQueen exhibit a couple of years ago and even more than their King Tut exhibit in 1979, this latest feature of the Anna Wintour Costume Institute is a collection of haute couture influences flowing East to West and vice versa.

China as a collective fantasy began when it was still beyond the reach of most Western travelers. Chinoiserie by the best artisans, creatives and film makers have since perpetuated the myth of this land as one of wealth. elegance, mystery and romance. Sample the best of the best at the Met on its last weekend of display.  Museum hours extend until midnight this Friday and Saturday (September 4 and 5, 2015) and this exhibit closes on Monday, September 7th.

Dragon dress inspired by an imperial robe, John Galliano for the House of Dior

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Intricate embroidery and silk are among my favorite things!

Silk-Shawl-Metropolitan-Museum-NYC-Powerful-Goddess-Portraits

In the China Pavilion, a collection of John Galliano pieces for the House of Dior

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Haute couture in a forest reminiscent of the bamboo scene of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

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A lotus flower ballgown by a Chinese designer

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Mao and Chinese calligraphy as design elements

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The Weight of the Millennium artwork made of porcelain shards by Li Xiaofeng 2015

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Glamour couture inspired by designs on Manchu robes

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Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share what country captivates you best.

xoxox

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

201 697 1947

Sharon@PowerfulGoddess.com

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

The Mermaid

I must be a mermaid.

I have no fear of depths and

a great fear of shallow living.

Anais Nin

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As we schemed on concepts for her portraits, Powerful Goddess Cora Poage said, “My husband loves to play on the beach.”  Visions of her fair skin on blue captured my imagination, her body graceful as she “swims” while I keep my camera dry.  For what man can resist a mermaid who beckons like this?!

I asked if she could stay out of the sun until her portrait session–quite a challenge through the summer, no?  Marvel of marvels, she did!

Cora walked onto the set I created with the biggest smile, thrilled to find her favorite shade of blue as the fabric of our pretend ocean.   Having heard she loves her chest and shoulders, I draped the fabric on her to reveal these favorite features while accentuating her delicious curves.  Giant conch shells must double as nautical telephones where cellular service can’t reach.   And when she confessed that “The Little Mermaid” was her favorite story as a young girl, I had to hand her a mirror and give her hair that Disney swirl, too.

Gee, Mom, your “Little Mermaid” is all woman now!

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share your siren’s call.

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© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Email me

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Carnival of Animals at Bergdorf

Money, if it does not bring you happiness,

will at least help you be miserable in comfort.

Helen Gurley Brown

More than the Rockefeller Christmas tree (which is looking extra fabulous this year,) the spectacle I look forward to seeing when the holidays roll around are the windows of Bergdorf Goodman.

This year’s Carnival of Animals by David Hoey‘s team is a mind blowing flight of fancy with brass birds, animals made of intricately hand cut/folded paper, needlework and carved wood, fish made of gemstones and glass mosaics,  gowns with fur, fine beadwork, feathers, leather scales and diamond mesh by Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta, Pringle of Scotland, Valentino and Celine.   With five windows overflowing with animals created by artists such as Sergio Bustamante and Brett Windham, my eyes did not know where to start and stop looking.   Here are a few details to whet your appetite.  Catch a glimpse of this fantastic vision before January 3rd.

Thanks to the countless artisans and artists who contributed to this monument of creativity and wealth–reminding us of other realities, an oasis from the obsession of “this economy.”

What riches (that money can’t buy) embellish the fabric of your life already?

© Sharon Birke

www.PowerfulGoddess.com

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

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