Summer Cover Up

Deep summer 

is when laziness

finds respectability.

Sam Keen



Not feeling too inclined to flaunt your curves in tiny outfits this summer? Long dresses always look elegant while feeling oh so comfortable to wear like pajamas. Molly England on Huffington Post shares size 14 model Ashley Graham’s sentiments on  the media’s prescribed standards for women’s bodies in her essay for Net-a-Porter’s online magazine, The Edit:

I think that you can be healthy at any size and my goal is to help and educate women on that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a size 2 or 22 as long as you’re taking care of your body, working out, and telling yourself, ‘I love you’ instead of taking in the negativity of beauty standards.

While Marilyn Monroe and Jennifer Lopez have worn their curves with confidence over the years, I share her sentiment that our young girls need to see more women on TV and in magazines who have healthy figures.

Surely, there must be more to gain engaging in topics of conversation other than weight loss. And if we do, what projects might we uncover to indulge our joy and curiosity?  How might we remember to choose to speak kindly to ourselves? How can we free our thinking to be more present for fun with the people we love?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what hat you might try on next? Have the best summer ever!








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

Woman, Like Water

Someone showed me a glass of water and asked,

“Is this glass half full or half empty?”

So I drank the water. No more problem.

Alexander Jodorowsky


A wet and happy photo session with the Goddess Katrina inspired this poem I dedicate to every woman:

Like water, she is buoyed by joy

tranquil in self knowing

flowing with the current of what is.

Often told she’s but a fragile raindrop

she knows she has the wisdom of the ocean.

Stronger than a raging wave, she gushes

 submerged passions and

creativity swelling from the depths of her soul.

She floats over adversity

Soaking in pain that wakes her to action.

No, no, no

her brave heart won’t sink into surrender.

Woman, like water and life itself,

seeps unstoppable through all creation.

Drink her up.

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Model: Katrina Amato
Makeup: Tomoko Miyamoto
Hair (pre-dunk) : Yulitzin Verenice Alvarez

Feathers of Freedom

The function of freedom is to free someone else.

Toni Morrison

“You have a bird?,” inquired the woman standing behind me at checkout.  I was holding a big birdcage so my answer could have gone a few different ways.

“No, I don’t,” I winked.   “It’s a reminder that my bird is free!”

She grinned.

This Thanksgiving, I celebrate our freedom to choose by sharing the true story of a woman who liberated herself in fine feathery style.  Kitty Cavalier reveals:

I wasn’t always the confident life of the party.  For most of my life, I was suicidally depressed with a severe eating disorder.  My world revolved around my body, my weight and what diet I was on or not.  I wore long sleeves and long pants even in the summertime.  I made up crazy excuses so friends wouldn’t take me to the beach.  Getting undressed became traumatic even for the simple routine of taking a shower in the privacy of my own home.

Underneath all this shame was a deep seated belief that if only I were pretty enough, thin enough, charismatic enough, successful enough, fill-in-the-blank enough, my life would be better.  My body became the battleground of my grief,  shame, fear, anxieties and I hated it for not cooperating with my wishes.  Then one evening, I went to see a burlesque show…  

Click here for more on Kitty’s story and her School of Charm and Cheek.

Which  freedom will you celebrate this Thanksgiving?

Kitty Cavalier Burlesque Ostrich Fans by Sharon Birke

© Sharon Birke

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

Age Like Wine

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world,

except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.

Oscar Wilde

Chianti is a region in the heart of Tuscany best known for red wine.  For a bottle to be labeled Chianti, it must contain wine made from 80-100% Sangiovese grapes.  Chianti Classico is the most popular label among seven varieties and almost all of its producers today belong to a consortium that ensures that high quality is preserved in this wine.  A black rooster on the neck of each Chianti Classico bottle signifies the peace between Florence and Siena—two Tuscan cities that were arch rivals for centuries.  Links to the region’s attractions are on

I am a water drinker so when it came time for wine tasting on a recent visit,  I snuck out to the vineyard to snack on fresh grapes instead.  A lovely vision appeared among the vines… Did I inhabit my body this comfortably when I was her age?   Who and what has taught me to make peace with my body today?

Tell  us how age has made your life sweeter and thank you for sharing this post with friends, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

@ Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

Hot In The Kitchen

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,

if one has not dined well.

Virginia Woolf

I envy people who love cooking, people who create magic in their kitchen with gourmet meals and  homemade desserts–sure magnets of warm conversation, laughter and conviviality.  When such a cook looks like the Goddess in this photo series, you can triple my envy.    I used to be torn between thoughts like ” I want a mother like that!” and “I want to be a mother like that!”  until I surrendered to the fact that my talents lie elsewhere–like eating the amazing food they make! 😉

When in the company of passionate gourmands, may we savor everything their table offers and skip talk of our latest diet.   Geneen Roth, author of  “Women, Food and God” and “Lost and Found” wrote in “When Food is Love:”

A diet is similar to an oppressive, authoritarian parent who tells you what to do and when to do it.  Diets perpetuate the child in each of us who was treated with mistrust and restrictions.  Diets keep us focused outside ourselves–on what we are allowed to eat, when we are allowed to eat it, and how much of it we are allowed to have at one sitting.  Diets keeps us dependent on a source outside ourselves for our sense of well-being and self-worth.  With a diet, the anger and humiliation stay forever self-directed, we spend our lives punishing ourselves for not being good enough.

In breaking free from diets and the ensuing self-punishment, we make a choice to stop being a victim.  It creates an awareness of how our culture encourages us to define our self-worth according to externals–what we look like, how much we weigh, how much money we make.  In paying attention to what our body wants instead of imposed rules, we learn that our body is our ally, our instincts are wise, we have many choices, and we can rely on our wisdom to live compassionately with ourselves.

Add what you think, share on Facebook, tweetie please!

© 2011 Sharon Birke

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

Pompadour’s Grace

Often laughing, visibly less calculating, liable to burst out with unpredictable enthusiasm, she was like a breath of fresh air.  

Susan Griffin on Madame de Pompadour

From her ebullience, generosity, humor, and courage, I am certain I would have been charmed by this woman famous for being Louis XV’s favorite.  Beyond the shallow gossip of her status as mistress, Susan Griffin’s describes the depth of a woman who inspired a monarchy and this series of photographs:

Madame de Pompadour was able to negotiate the transformation of herself from commoner to favorite with uncommon grace.  In bringing a more informal and open manner of expression to Versailles, she foreshadowed what was to be a transformation not only of the court but eventually all of society.  Her displays of emotion, her frankness, her loud “forthright” voice, her free laugh, and her familiar language were at odds with standard behavior at Versaiiles.  The ladies in court only giggled or smothered their laughter and everyone habitually hid or dampened their feelings, even when what was felt was joy.  No wonder there was so much intrigue.  The atmosphere of constant jockeying for position that surrounds monarchies and indeed every powerful leader was only made more acidic by by the fact that anger could not be expressed openly.  Hence snide remarks, subtle inferences, small praise, dismissive gestures, indeed every possible form of passive assault characterized the social life of the court.  No wonder that Pompadour’s manner appealed to the king.

The painter Francois Boucher captured her ebullience well.  The spirit that enlivens her rose-cheeked face spills out into the room.  Rendered with colors that are vibrant and soft at the same time, her dresses appear less to hang than to ripple, and the same vibrant energy seems to bless all that surrounds her.  There was a strong concordance between her way of being and his way of seeing.  Not only did they prefer the same bright pastel colors, they both liked flowers.  She was an avid gardener and he embellished canvasses, tapestries, and vases with flowery forms.

As frivolous as both the painter and the mistress may seem today, together they invented an ingenuous version of grace, one that allowed them to erase conflicts that otherwise might have erased them.

Leave a comment, rave, share this link on Facebook, tweets please!

© Sharon Birke

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

The Self Portrait

As in every endeavor in life, begin where you are.

In creating meaningful portraits, begin with what you know. 

 Sharon Birke

In planning a portrait session, take a blank piece of paper and block 15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time away from people and technology.  In the middle of the blank page, write “I LOVE…”   Fill the rest of the page with random words, phrases or sentences that pop up.   No judgment!

Who are you at home?  At work?  When no one is looking?

What do you really like to do?

What are your favorite things?

 What makes you smile, cry, angry?

What do you love about your body?

What do you love about your personality?

What do you like about yourself?

What do you dream of?  Desire?

Post this page where you can see it often.   Allow your ideas to simmer and write notes on images inspired by your random list. Think about how you can shoot these images in a variety of candid or posed shots.

Can you vary your placement in the frame and

distance from the camera?

What do you want the background to say about you?

How can you make a portrait

without including your body in the picture?

Do you want to include other people or objects in the image?

What do you want the viewer to know about you

from what you don’t include in your image?

Here are more of my self portraits  to give you

ideas for planning your portrait session:

© 2011 Sharon Birke

Photography for the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Powerful Goddess is a trademark of DoubleSmart LLC

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