Tag: photography

Photoshop my face

Posted on October 27th, by Birdie in Bonne Vie Birdie. 3 comments

I was just curious, you guys. How many of you retouch/Photoshop your photos before you post them online? I’ll admit, sometimes I play with the color sliders (because my blacks are faded, or the light was weird) and I’ve been known to desaturate blemishes if it’s REALLY noticeable – but this morning I was kinda wondering how much we actually look like the representations of us online.

I mean, I look like me, for the most part, though sometimes the exposure lies and my face looks not-quite-so-ruddy (ahh the complexion of a ginger!).  Is that me?  Well sure… kinda.  I wonder which parts of me are being suppressed or emphasized untruthfully.  Because after an edited photo, sometimes I look in the mirror and my eyes are more of a blue-gray and my freckles stand out a little more… and I wonder if that person online is really me.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what I look like…

I don’t do it, necessarily, to fulfill a preconceived beauty standard.  I do it because I enjoy the little tweaks I can make that brighten colors or subtly even out surfaces.  I like seeing a photo that’s beautiful to me.  I wonder if the way I use color in Photoshop is at all paralleled in the way I apply makeup to my *real* face.  I wonder if those little tricks – both makeup and photoshop – are giving in to preconceived notions of how a woman should look, but I also think of it as my choice to portray a me that I see fit to portray.

But then it just so happens that at some point, I will take a pretty photo of someone, take the time to tweak it ever-so-slightly, and they will come to me and say “no, take that down – I look disgusting.”  It makes me doubt the beauty of my photos – the good stuff that my artistic inner eye sees, though I never doubted the beauty of that person.  It makes me doubt the “beautifying” power of Photoshop.

It still sort of stings when someone looks at a beautiful picture I’ve taken of them and says, “no, that’s AWFUL.”  My camera doesn’t lie, so who’s the one lying about the beauty in a picture? The criticisms we often tell ourselves about our own beauty are often not even close to the truth.  So how true is de-saturating a blemish?  How true is bringing out the blue in someone’s eyes?  How true is the photo itself?

And, at Definatalie, I stumbled across a post talking about this same idea…  what are your thoughts?


Babes in Backstock

Posted on October 26th, by Birdie in Awesome, Birdie's Adventures, Fashion and Style. 2 comments

Recently, I had a chance to dig through some of the old Deco Modiste back-stock from the last couple Spring/Summer collections. I took some of these cute little pieces over to the Sustalux studio where Jess and I spent an afternoon playing dress-up. There’s something about goofing off in amazing vintage pieces and new, wearable items that sparked my creativity, and I got some great shots of Jess…

jess estrada, deco modiste ss10 silk dress

Jess in Deco Modiste S/S10, Tulip skirt

The lighting was a little dodgy – we had one light and my flash.

And then we started mixing-and-matching… a little DM here, a little Sustalux there (you’ve already seen this photo and I’m reposting because I love it so much…).

Jess in Deco Modiste Orchid peplum top + Sustalux trapper hat

And then we just ended up playing around in all the vintage goodies…

jess estrada, girl in furs, sustalux

I know I should be like “OMG FUR?!?! NOOOOOO!”  Except that didn’t happen at all.  It’s all vintage and we couldn’t have prevented the animals from dying/becoming wearable, so we decided to make photographic use of fur that’s been around since long before we were even a twinkle in our mamas’ eyes…  Truly, buying fake fur is bad for the environment, right?  Buying new fur is unethical.  But recycling vintage fur (by donating for like Coats for Cubs/Wildlife Rehabilitation) seems a little… oh… Soylent-Green-creepy to me – moreso than me parading around in it for a photo or two.   Quelle conundrum, eh?  But I’m rambling…

All in all, a hilariously fun day where I came home with a cute vintage dress (more on that soon) and a CF card full of photos.  Till next time!


Inspiration: Fall

Wow. It seems like this summer has passed so quickly – and today I’m channelling the cusp between two seasons (more on that later).  But today is all about the up-and-coming – the looks for fall that fill my brain.

Walter Steiger wedges

The camel Walter Steiger wedges c/o Clutch 22

moon lamps

Moon Lamps

Keiko Lynn on Lookbook

Bright + Black – Keiko Lynn on Lookbook

mile high socks

Mile-high tan socks…

Steven Meisel for Vogue US September 2009

Steven Meisel for Vogue US September 2009

autumn leaves

Elin J on Lookbook



black and white interiors

black and white interiors


I want red-orange/oxblood/cinnamon and black.  I want black or white tights.  I want oxfords, shoes with laces, patent, wedges.  I’ll wear tights and toe-baring heels, little skirts, swing coats, gold or copper buttons.  I want vests and tailoring.  I want gentlemanly trousers and bow ties.   I want Audrey Hepburn’s Wait Until Dark cut…

Audrey Hepburn Wait Until Dark

Audrey Hepburn Wait Until Dark

… with turtlenecks and patterned jackets.  I want long hair with structured bouffants, headbands and high, loose buns.  I want long cashmere gloves under 60′s style swing coats.  I want tall, polished riding boots, with floppy berets.  I want structured hats and flowing sleeves.   I want leather satchels, tartan and horse blankets.  I want prep.  I want bohemian prep.  I want urban cityscapes.

I want rain and bruised skies, amber and gold leaves.  I want a light breeze and 60 degrees.  I want red that flutters by, I want pumpkins and spooks.  I want the smell of the air, as it changes.  I want fall…


Outfit: Sunday Tea

I went to a “Ladies’ Tea” recently that definitely called for a little dressin’ up! To celebrate the warmer weather, some girls and I gathered at the house of a friend for tea, crumpets, petitfours and champagne. Needless to say, nobody drank tea!

I snapped a couple pictures before I left the house.  I bought this dress at a STREET FAIR of all places!

It’s from a place called “Silk Dragons” or something and is my go-to party dress.  It’s a fantastic deep blue – though it looks brighter here with the lighting.  Don’t mind the ugly comforter under the sofa…..

I wore it with a little light-blue vintage hat, white gloves, and these crazy gold platforms from Hale Bob – which, I have to say, I’m disappointed in!  Over the course of only a few hours, the finish on the wedges had started to come off around the bottom exposing the white wedge material beneath.

I also tried a new and super-easy method of pincurling, where you use a small barrel (1″) curling iron and set the curls in place, then pin them to your head until you’ve done your entire set.  When you pull the pins out and softly brush through it it creates this curly, wavy look that I achieved.  I didn’t use setting lotion, only this crazy “Big Sexy” root-boost-mousse that I bought at the grocery store, and a little hairspray and I had curls 3 DAYS LATER!

The jewels you see here are vintage.  Krystal of Smashing Divas fame found me the most incredible deal – her great aunt was getting rid of excess and she invited me over to take a look.  I’m wearing a demi-parure I found that’s TOTALLY Trifari.  It’s fantastic.  the pearl bracelet is from the same vintage set.  Notice the incredible “hot magenta” manicure – I felt a little springy and went all out with an insane electric-Barbie color.  Totally eye-catching!

Outfit: Smoke and Mirrors

Posted on April 7th, by Birdie in Awesome, Bonne Vie Birdie, Fashion and Style. 2 comments

I love the way this outfit came together with the amazing Amenaza Maxi Skirt from EtceteraPeru.

The skirt is an interesting gray, with draping in the front and a backseam (it used to only go halfway up the back of the skirt, but I fixed it so it a) fit me and b) didn’t look like a buttcrack ).

The full silhouette is very slim and I added a break in the heavy almost Deco-style patterned top with a waist-belt.   The top is a Deco Modiste original!

The rest of my accessories needed to incorporate well with the pattern, but I also felt like I needed a little color.  These green resin earrings came from Banana Republic, and I tossed on some simple silver bangles for fun.   This outfit is worn with my Where CARA brogues.  It’s warm enough for spring in Seattle without feeling overdressed.

I, personally, love the tailored maxi skirt look.  I feel like it’s not done nearly enough though!  The tailoring on this skirt gives it a sort of Steampunk/gawth feel, but is very versatile.  What’s your feeling on the maxi skirt?  Love it?  Hate it!?  Tell me about it!

Weekend Work: Photo Shoots and My Thoughts

Posted on January 25th, by Birdie in Birdie's Adventures, Fashion and Style. 4 comments

This weekend was BUS-AY!  After a week and a half of solid, non-stop preparation, I met up with Kimberlee at the Deco Modiste showroom to capture some of our spring and summer looks.

I like to look at opportunities like this as a learning experience; this weekend I learned a little bit about professionalism and what it takes to make a successful photo shoot.   It’s difficult work, trying to coordinate props and equipment, designers, models, hair and makeup – especially when you don’t have a set studio of your own, or models you know and regularly work with.

Of our three girls, we had two no-call/no-shows (*insert angry fist shake here*).  One model promised me on Thursday that she would be there, but then dropped off the face of the earth.   The second model called an hour after our call time to let me know she’d love to come, even though she wasn’t feeling 100%.  An hour later she said she was on her way, and an hour after that when I called to make sure she was okay (did she get lost? was she in an accident?), she’d turned her phone off.  We had a long delay while hair and makeup waited for these two girls that never turned up.  We didn’t have the time and capacity to shoot the full line.

This really emphasizes the importance of professionalism as a model; it’s like any other work, and it takes a lot of coordination to make editorial magic.    Portfolio looks aren’t an excuse to act unprofessionally – the poor work ethic a model exhibits has a resounding effect on their success.  There are designers and photographers, assistants, hair and makeup artists, editors and graphic artists whose jobs all depend on whether or not that girl is on set and prepared.  Those people know other people in the industry and the impact of that word of mouth is huge.  Like any other job, if you consider yourself a professional, you act like one.  Unfortunately, on large sites like Model Mayhem, it’s hard to tell who is professional and who is not – for both models and photographers.

(Kimberlee, prepping our model Pepper)

I needed a quick way to distinguish the professionals from the amateurs (who are usually the type to no-show) – however, you can’t really do that based on their photos alone.  A portfolio can only tell you so much, and it generally doesn’t reflect their work ethic.  In that light, it’s a good idea to ask models to come in for a fitting and test-shoot before the actual photo shoot, to get a feel for whether or not you need to have a backup on-call.  Most amateur models can be weeded out at this step.  There are a number of cues to study in test shoots – including range of emotion and pose, ability to take cues, what their “resting face” looks like, and how prepared they are.

The models we did have were fantastic!  Our original model, Pepper, arrived early with stockings, her own makeup kit and an array of shoes.  She looked amazing in pincurls, finger waves, and vintage-style dresses.  She was cute and coy one minute, glamourous and vampy the next.

(Kimberlee making a few more adjustments)

Our second model actually came down to hang out and assist as needed.  And you’ll never guess who it was…..  The lovely Laura from Birdie Royale!

I actually met Laura at Nadine’s Jersey Shore party a couple weeks ago.  She came out to my Birthday Bash and we’ve been trying to connect since then.  She mentioned she’d love to hang out behind-the-scenes and when our models didn’t show, we realized Laura would look PERFECT in Deco Modiste.  Note to self: Always bring a back-up plan!

Since we plan on doing many more of these little shoots, I need to make a list of things to bring (tripod, extra flash batteries, reflector) and a prep-sheet for the shoot.  Do we have a hair stylist?  Do we have extra bobby pins?  Is my makeup brush set clean?  Do we need some Sally Hansen spray on color for tattoos or bruises?  Do I have all the models phone numbers, measurements and shoe sizes?  Do we have a planned series of outfits?  At what point does the hair and makeup need to be retouched? Do I have a lighting plan?  Is our seamless clean?  There are a lot of variables to consider!

Doing this shoot gave me a lot to think about in how to prepare for the next shoot.  For example,  it would help to start picking models sooner than later.  Having an inspiration prompt for models really helped them prepare; to evoke a certain feeling in their poses and range of emotion.  I think the key is to build a rapport with models before the shoot – and though you may end up using the same girl twice, you have someone who’s versatile and knows what you’re looking for in your own shoot.

On that note, I know we’ve got hair and makeup nailed for the next shoot and I can’t wait to start putting that event together.  In the meantime, I’m going to be a busy bird, editing all these photos!

Edit: The gallery for finished photos is here.  Enjoy!

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Outfit: January Blues

Posted on January 15th, by Birdie in Bonne Vie Birdie, Fashion and Style. 1 Comment

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut in the rainy northwest winters.  It’s too easy to throw on jeans and an oversize sweater to head to work, and it’s work – what kind of fun is that?!

My bustin’-out-of-the-blues fix involves a light swingy skirt, and a gorgeous blue tissue tee from Banana Republic.

You can tell it’s winter-y out, because this picture is so damn dark!  Or my living room has strange light.  That’s probably part of it.  Also, I made the pillowcases in the background (all by myself!) and that’s some of Mister’s really cool Math Art hanging up in the background.

Is this any better?  I’m standing in front of my bedroom wall, which is covered in like 2-3 sets of round hanging mirrors.  I loaded up on accessories here, because I was wearing this funky belt, and a disc necklace (that I also made, all by my self), and happened to receive a little package from a giveaway at Girl and City that contained (among other things) this giant flower of a ring!

Little did I know at the time that my fingernails matched my top, which also matched the lush fuzzy blanket on my bed.  MMM details.

Also, I had to show you this crazy-awesome blazer that Kimberlee found while she was out thrifting.  Helloooo shoulders!

It’s great.  I’ve been wearing it everywhere.  I love that it has no collar, and little pockets, and that it’s grey tweed.

What was your favorite outfit this week?

Winter Inspirations

Posted on January 5th, by Birdie in Awesome, Beauty Blogs, Fashion and Style. No Comments

Today is all about visual inspiration… I was flipping through Tumblr feeds this morning and found a host of gorgeous photos.  Sometimes we don’t need all the words and the thought – it shines through in well-presented images.  Lately my inner brain is covered in images, no words.  It looks something like this:

Natalie Portman for Elle UK, Jan 2010 – soft but graphic, black and white.


Lily Cole, photographed by Terry Richardson – vintage redhead look, pale skin.

Dita for GQ China, Nov 09 – bold, daring, dramatic.

Mila Kunis for Black Book, Dec 09 – Bold, dark, sleek, svelte, sultry.

Photo by Garance Doré (found via Alix Rose, and I had to add it when I saw it, because it’s parfait!) – soft and lacy, dark and transformative, layers, layers, layers, kimono wrap coverup, bold gold.

I’m not sure where this photo came from… only that I have it and love it (if you know where it came from, please tell me!) – soft and vintage, clean but ornate.

From Nylon Dec 09-Jan10 – again, bold and dramatic, jeweled, ornate and graphic.

From Cami Will Know’s Tumblr – Pink and gold hued bubbles, delicious, effervescent.

Inspiration – especially style inspiration – is best taken from photos, and the words that flow forth from your interpretation and reaction.

What’s your winter inspiration?  Do you have photo links?  An inspiration board?

More Beautiful Than Fiction

OMG!  *GASP!*  It’s published!

Mark Laubenheimer More Beautiful Than Fiction

Mark Laubenheimer More Beautiful Than Fiction


Click that image to read….

It started a couple months back, when I got an email from  Mark Laubenheimer.  Mark, a local (Seattle) photographer, takes gorgeous photos of normal people – untouched, unadulterated, using natural light and simple settings.  Mark needed a foreword for his newest project, and after stumbling across Bonne Vie, he seemed to think I was the perfect author for that task.   His last book, Seriously Happy, was a success – garnering loads of praise:

“I LOVE your work; It brings out so much natural beauty.  I get lost in the faces of your subjects, not the clothes, makeup, or trick lighting.”

The beauty of Mark’s work is in its simplicity.  In an age of overly retouched photos, it seems like we’ve forgotten the simple idea that we can be beautiful without complicated lighting, rigorous photoshopping and altering the way we truly look.

So take a peek.  These snapshots tell true stories, and one of those stories could be yours.  You are beautiful – more beautiful than fiction.


Behind the Scenes: the 1930′s Hollywood Shoot

Posted on July 17th, by Birdie in Awesome, Birdie's Adventures, Fashion and Style. 7 comments

It’s been a busy week for photos, and I’ve had a TON of fun learning and expanding my horizons.  Today’s post is brought to you by THIS GUY:

(Photo courtesy of Kerry Thalmann, who maintains a great webpage for large format fans)

It’s a large format camera; the film cells are generally 4″ x 5″ or larger.  This week, I learned the process behind using one of these cameras, and the detail in lighting that goes into taking 1930′s Hollywood -style portraits.  Think Clara Bow:

Taking this style photo is a complex process – since black and white is all about values, there are certain tricks to lighting these portraits so as not to have “hot spots” (see that blown out white on top of her head?), and that are lit well enough to show the detail and depth of each photo.  Using this photo as our model, I sat for a good 15-20 minutes, in approximately this pose, while Kirk and I tried to guess the best light position.

Kirk took a bunch of test shots with the Nikon to try to figure out lighting and position, and then it was time to shoot with the big camera.  The process takes ages, but it’s a lot of fun.  You open the shutter and focus the lens using knobs underneath the body.  This can be tricky, since when you’re looking at the image, it appears both backwards and upside-down on the screen.   We used a magnifier to focus in on the subject’s eye, then hit the trigger to close the lens.  The film cells come in large cartridges that are loaded into the back of the camera body while the shutter is closed.  There’s a screen in front of the film that keeps the film from exposing – this gets pulled out and the shutter is snapped to make an impression on the film.  The screen is pushed back into the cartridge and the cartridge slides back out – the image imprinted onto the film inside.

The model needs to stay very still for this methodical process – which seems to take forever under the hot lights.  During the sitting Kirk mentioned that when you see these portraits, the models are often leaning against something or seated – holding the same pose for so long can be pretty tiring.

Our results looked like this:

(Kirk says: “4×5 Shanghai iso 100 shot at 200, developed in Diafine.”)

The image is amazing with impressive detail – you can see the outline of my irises on even this small image.

Kirk had two cameras we played with – one mounted large format, and one hand-held large format camera, so I tried my hand at using the hand-held version, only to realize they weigh, like, 10 lbs.  My skinny little arms wouldn’t be able to hold it up long enough for the proper exposure (without shaking) so we set it on a tripod and I took this photo:

(Kirk’s Street Glide)

It’s a little over-exposed up at the top, but it’s one of my first big film shots.  Whaddaya think?