27 Sep

Ask a Fashion Photographer: How to Photograph Flawlessly

Martine Pinnel is from a small town in Luxembourg, but she followed her dreams to San Francisco at the age of 19. She is a rising star in a competitive industry, with more publications picking up her work all the time. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about beauty, modeling, and tips on making regular girls look extra-hot in photos…

Q: What is your favorite type of shoot to do? What sets your great models apart?

A: I definitely enjoy doing fashion editorials the most. When I can execute my own idea, have the perfect team working with me on this vision, come up with a storyline, find the perfect location, the right models, the right wardrobe and when I can see it all come together perfectly. I really enjoy shooting outdoors, in unique locations, that tell a story.

As for the models, I really like when they have very unique features, a beauty that cannot be found everywhere. I prefer their personalities to stand out and they know how to not only take a pretty picture, but they know how to tell a story and make the shoot their own.

Not every model fits every concept I have. I choose the models depending on what shoot I’m doing and if they turn out to be exactly who I’ve been looking for, they can take a photo to a whole other level.

Q: Any tips for girls having their photo taken casually? Poses and clothing that photograph well? Lighting to steer away from?

A: Lifting up your chin is probably my number one tip. It stretches the neck, avoids unflattering chins, and weird/harsh lighting that can create deep shadows on the face, especially the eyes. Eyes are beautiful, so everyone should make sure to show them and not squint too much.

There’s a few tips for posture everyone can follow as well. Standing up straight is always a big plus, as it makes the body always seem longer. Don’t take the photo from above, as it makes your body look shorter. And turning your body ¾ can make it look more flattering as well.

But the most important thing to remember is, to try to feel comfortable in front of the camera!

Q: Any further last-minute beauty tips that you use on a shoot? What do you look for in a perfect portrait shot?

A: I think the only beauty tip I have on shoots right now is: Less is more. Lately I’ve been concentrating on showing the model’s natural beauty, without cakey make-up or overdone brows and lips. Clean skin is always a must and natural beauty is wonderful.

In a perfect portrait shot as far as beauty goes, I once again look for a unique face, angelic beauty, clean skin, an interesting expression on the model’s face, her personality and an interesting look in her eyes.

Photography wise, I make choices of lighting, the lens I use, the depth of field I choose, the angle I shoot the portrait from and the directions I give the model.

So there you have it. Be yourself, even when having your picture taken, and stand up straight like your mother taught you. To see more of Martine’s photography, check out her website.

What do you do to look your best in photos?  Have you used any of Martine’s tips?  (Isn’t her work gorgeous?)  Share your thoughts in the comments!

18 Sep

Summer Forever

Put away your bikinis and pull out those hankies, ladies, because summer is over. Whether you’re back in school or just packing away your weekend sundresses, saying goodbye to beaches and barbecues is always hard. So why say goodbye?

You can enjoy the summer sun year round if you know where to go. The southern hemisphere’s summer months are December through February! This means that with the right map and a lot of frequent flyer miles, it can be summer forever.

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SEPTEMBER: Start here in San Francisco! We usually get a nice late summer period that is incredibly balmy and surprising. It’s like the summery eye of a Bay Area storm made up of wind and fog.

When the sun goes behind the clouds, head south to Palm Springs. The desert is always a little bit hotter and the pools are always open. In the 50’s the movie stars would all escape to Palm Spring’s oasis-like setting and the spas are still the best around. Once you’ve worked on your tan and mellowed out it’s time to move on to…

OCTOBER: Vegas, baby.  Las Vegas is going strong even in slower months, and there is always a way to see and be seen. Just don’t gamble all of your money away because next you’re heading to…

NOVEMBER: Fiji! There’s nothing more summery than a fruity drink with an umbrella in it as you sit with your toes in the sand. Palm tree forests and white sand beaches will make you feel like you’re in a sunscreen commercial. The weather is moderate to mild year-round here.  Just make sure to leave your girlfriends in Las Vegas— this destination is for romance.

DECEMBER: Head to Australia! These friendly upside-down people experience the most heat when we’re bundling up for Christmas. Leave your traditions behind for a new adventure of Australian beer, culture, and Hugh Jackman stalking.

JANUARY & FEBRUARY: Stop in Miami. It’s still in the 70’s here, and you might need to cool off from the scorching Aussie heat! It actually rains later in the summer here so go ahead and wear something skimpy to the clubs— you won’t get a cold!

MARCH: Head to Greece. Southern Europe is starting to thaw and you can enjoy some beach time while looking up at the last of the snow! Try Santorini, where the black volcanic islands are packed with other summer-seekers. Or try Crete or Corfu. (And bring me with you!)

APRIL: City girls delight! It’s time to head to Hong Kong. By now you’re a world traveler and according to Go Hong Kong, April is a mild and warm month, one of the best to visit this bustling city. Peer down from Victoria Peek, soak in a mile-high infinity pool, and enjoy your early taste of summer.

MAY: Africa gets sweltering hot in the summer months so May is a great time to visit. Morocco’s weather doesn’t get below 60 and you can pretend you’re in Casablanca the whole time.

JUNE, JULY, & AUGUST: We’re back to summer here in the states. You have your pick of where to travel in these months. Try Alaska, Hawaii, or wherever else is on your dream list.

It is possible to follow the sun around the planet if you want to! Time to become an international stewardess…

Which of these locations would you most like to visit?  Are you sad to see the last of summer or are you looking forward to the change of seasons?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

4 Sep

Would You Couch Surf?

Are you the adventurous type?  Hotels can be pricy and don’t always give the best local flavor.  If you’re traveling for long stretches (or if you just want to try something new!) you might be interested in Couchsurfing.org.

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Seeing the world through a local’s eyes and from their couch, floor, or guest bedroom makes the world seem a little smaller, and couch surfing encourages both travel and new friendships.

I recently talked to a few women who have both hosted these notoriously easygoing travelers, all of whom had tried out couch surfing themselves. One was just back from surfing in Japan and loved her experience. “It’s not just about finding a couch to crash on,” said a multiple-time guest and host, “but sharing interests, ideas and learning about a place from a local’s perspective as well.”

Of course I asked them if traveling this way was safe for a lone woman. “Be aware of the necessary precautions and do research before going,” one warned me, and another two women stressed the importance of browsing the possibilities to find the right host (or hostess) for you. However, one traveler made a great point: that being with a host is often safer than going it alone!

Each traveler I talked to urged me to try couch surfing.  It definitely seems like a great alternative to booking a boring hotel and never straying past the overly-touristy spots.  Maybe it’s time to surf a couch!

Have you ever been a couch surfer or hosted one? What was your experience like? Would you try it out? Let us know!

20 Aug

Adorable Organization

Summer’s almost over which means we’ll all be spending more time indoors. But you can look forward to cozying up inside when your house feels super organized.  With the right tools and tricks you can decorate and make more room at the same time!

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1. A warm welcome home. If your entryway is cluttered with everything from keys to phone chargers to spare change, create one spot where all of your things can collect in peace. Ikea has a great catch-all with a chalkboard (Kim and Travis have one in their foyer!) for thoughts of the day. This approach is great because you can keep organized with a list-ready spot make sense of it all too.

2. Pet smarts. Do you live in a Dog House? HGTV suggests that your “pet zone” be in the laundry room. However, my dog’s food has a cabinet above the sink.  Storing toys in one spot may seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t plan ahead, leashes and bones can take over your place!  By keeping all of your pet stuff in a designated space you can keep track of what you have, what disappears the fastest, and enable you to rotate out certain toys so your pup always has something new and interesting.  Keep your eyes open for double-duty organizers: some feeding stations even have hidden storage inside of them.

3) Reconsider your containers. Drawers and silverware caddies can double as jewelry storage. Earrings hooked into framed screens keep accessories from piling on tabletops.  If your home is small, invest in floating shelves or nail a few milk crates to the wall to keep items from cluttering that valuable floor space.

How do you organize your home?  Got any good tips?  Planning to re-organize any rooms in your house?  Let us know!

7 Aug

What to Wear in Paris

Whether you’re about to jetset halfway around the world, or just playing Amélie and eating macarons, all girls need a bit of Paris every now and then. The City of Light is a popular destination for fans of pastries and romance. High fashion is as common there as pigeons and art galleries. What dream outfit would you pack for this dream vacation?

Here’s my list for maximum Parisian style:

“Shrunken” Peach Blazer from TopShop

Buckled Boots from J. Crew

A-Like Khaki Dress from Modcloth

Shimmer Bralette from Free People

The neutral color scheme is trés chic, don’t you think?

Have you ever been up on the Eiffel Towe?  Dying to get there?  Share your Francophile stories in the comments and discuss this European-inspired fashion!

P.S.- What to wear in Rio and to a backyard wedding