Empowering Editorial Portraiture: Finally, The Result of Our Photo Shoot

Right before Covid hit, I shared the countdown to my photo shoot.  Lucky for me, I was able to get in the photo shoot and the photo selection before the shutdown.  So why have I waited so long to share the outcome?  Like so many of you, I was in shock, hibernation, and then adaptation mode for the past few months.  I just wasn’t ready to present myself too much.  But now I am.  

Who cares, it’s just a bunch of pics, right?  But for me, this was an emotionally complex process.  I’ve always felt uncomfortable getting my pictures taken.  I am a ham in front of a video camera, but when it comes to still photos, I freeze up and always look unhappy, uncomfortable, and unlike me.  And let’s face it, we are a visual culture now.  We speak in pictures.  They matter.  As a woman who writes about beauty, and relies on it somewhat — for better or worse, I really wanted my pictures to capture me at my best.  More than that, I wanted them to capture who I am and my personality.  I wanted them to express my growth as a woman, professional, and human being.

I held off for YEARS getting my next round of shots.  I was afraid to commit the time and resources to photos that could end up horrible.  But when I saw a post by a former advertising colleague, Rebecca Rehder, about her portrait studio, June4thstudio, I was intrigued.  Upon meeting and chatting about the shoot, I immediately knew she was the ONE.  She truly tried to understand my expectations, my goals, and how to showcase my best assets.  She recognized that I was on a new journey professionally, and how I wanted to “show up” as a mix of thought leader, creative and fun.  In a nutshell, she creates Empowering Editorial Portraiture.  So I went for it.  

Rebecca uniquely combines her background as an advertising strategist and her photography talent to create magic.  She tries to capture a person’s essence, her power, and her many layers of beauty.  To hear more about her special technique watch our chat below.    

For a selection of our shots, see gallery below:

Beauty Convos with Gad #3: What Are We Going to Take Forward After The Crisis?

I had the privilege of catching up with my good friend and beauty stylist to the stars, Gad Cohen.  I totally scrapped my intended “look” for the chat (a groovy headscarf) and played up the moment.  A few hours prior to our chat, I decided to wash my hair and then ran into a meeting that lasted much longer than anticipated.  I was left with only a few minutes to prep.  So I leaned into it.  I didn’t blow dry my hair but, instead, worked with the au natural waviness and fullness.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because it became the theme of our discussion: embracing the NOW.

Gad and I kicked off our chat discussing the New York Times article: What Is Beauty Now by Mara Altman.  Altman shares a number of different opinions around our responses to the beauty constraints during this crisis, and what’s going to happen when it’s all over.  She describes the sheer panic people are experiencing over their gray hairs and how they are jumping out of their seats in anticipation of salons opening up.  While others, she writes, are embracing their new-found liberation from beauty maintenance.  When it comes to the moment we can go back to normal living, the article shares the concern that beauty brands will shame us into trying to get plucked, primped and preened by pointing out how we’ve all gone to pot. But the article raises the opinions of others — like that of Gad — that we will be a lot more empathetic and embracing of others’  appearances.  And that we will all come out better from this experience.

I tend towards the “glass half full side of things” and agree with the last sentiment.  Given that Gad is part of the beauty industry that Altman refers to, I asked him if he agrees that people will be convinced that they will be crappy about themselves and succumb to the beauty industry’s call for transformation.  He said absolutely no.  First, he believes people will reject that type of marketing and even rebel against it.  Second, he, himself, looks forward to playing with the changes that we are all experiencing — the gray strands, the longer hair, the grown out eyebrows.  The opposite of using shame, he will greet people’s evolving beauty with love, excitement and creativity. 

This discussion led us to anticipate what’s going to change for HIM when people start coming back to his atelier.  Will he be doing anything differently given what he’s learned from this crisis? Of course he will continue to do what he’s always been doing, that is, truly understand his clients — their personalities, lifestyles, aspirations and dreams — in order to create the best styles for them.  But he believes that we will all be much more focused on the NOW, i.e., how we are feeling at that moment.  In the past, we may have asked our stylists for looks that will work in different future scenarios.  We would think about what will grow out well in the long run or what has versatility.  But our sense of the future is so unsure now.  Who would have expected to be stuck working from home for months on end?  Who would have thought travel was off limits?  Who would have thought we wouldn’t be socializing or that our major source of connection would be a small screen?  We are not saying that we won’t be planning for days ahead but we will have a greater appreciation for the NOW — what we need, feel, want, expect in this moment.

Boy, am I looking forward to that NOW moment

Beauty Convo with Gad Cohen: How is Beauty Going to Change When This is All Over?

As I mentioned in our last post, beauty maven and celebrity stylist, Gad Cohen, and I are going live to express our changing views of beauty during this Covid era.  In our second IG Live chat, we dove deep into the discussion around how this moment will change our views, habits and beliefs around beauty in the future.  So how is our attitude going to shift when this is all over? In the words of Gad: “It will take time to rebalance but we will experience a huge paradigm shift.”

1.No question, we are going to come out of this re-birthed.  We’ve been cooped up, confined and restricted.  We are going to be escaping our cocoons, like brand new butterflies.  We will have the time to reflect, to try different things, and just to let our hair grow out!  

2. Whether we’ve liked it or not, we’ve had to reveal our vulnerabilities — whether that’s our gray hairs, our kids yelling in the background or our stress.  But we are learning to use our vulnerabilities as strengths and our flaws as assets.  Pre-Covid, I got my bushy eyebrows threaded and carefully styled.  Now they look like a forest sprung up over my eyes.  But, Gad has convinced me that they are beautiful, even youthful and fresh.  Of course I don’t let them grow wild.  But I’ve learned to love them.  As Gad said, when we embrace our vulnerabilities or our seeming flaws, we get “more power, more strength to be who we are…And when we love ourselves we can love others that much more.”  How great is that!?

3. Our response to each others’ beauty will be that much stronger.  Because of this crisis, we are recognizing how valuable we all are to one another.  We will look at one another with a lot more love, empathy, and compassion.  “We’re going to be looking at people differently,  more deeply because of all of the love we are now having.”

4. We will want to express our glamour, or as Gad put it, we will have a “thirst” for it after being cooped up for so long. He goes on to say:”people are going to go all out and it will translate to the sidewalk!”  Yes, yes, yes.  I want some now!

5. Finally,  we will be more conscious as consumers and wearers of beauty.  Over the decades, we’ve become a disposable culture.  Because so many of us are at home, we’re holding off on buying the new thing — new bag, new blouse or new blush. Instead of shopping, shopping, shopping, let’s use the time to understand what our sense of fashion really is, how we want to show up instead of just following fads.  Let us all be a rainbow now of different styles, colors and points of view.  Let’s create our own trends and be authentic.  Then when this is all over, the job of folks like Gad, the stylists, will be “to take women and men, their unique qualities, and pull them out.  Beauty is where you find it.”

For the full fun discussion, watch this.

Convo with Beauty Maven, Gad Cohen: Why Beauty Matters More Than Ever

It’s been awhile since my last confession…ooops, I mean Beautyskew post.  Like so many of you, the Covid situation hit me like a ton of bricks.  By March 2nd, my middle son had to be quarantined. His school was the first to be shut down in the country due to kids being exposed to one of the first known carriers of the virus in New York.  WFH became my reality early on. In addition to having five of us in the house, including my son home early from his year abroad, work has been the busiest it’s ever been.  So thinking about beauty took a back seat as I tried to adjust.  I barely had time to go to the bathroom let alone wash my hair, lol.  

But as I have begun to settle into a new rhythm, my need for beauty has resurfaced — big time.  I’ve been watching shows and reading more articles than I probably have time for around beauty topics. Making the Cut with Heidi Klum had me salivating.  I’ve been trying to figure out how I can express my love of fashion through a small screen — color, color, color.  And, as I run in and out of the only social space I venture into — the supermarket — fully covered (from sunglasses to mask to gloves), I’ve been challenged by how I can still maintain some sense of femininity. Sure, I spend 95% of my brain power focused on business strategy or my kids’ food needs, but there’s still that 5% that craves beauty — expressing it, seeing it, and talking about it.

So my good friend and celebrity-beauty-stylist, Gad Cohen, and I decided to begin discussing it — live — online.  For our first IG Live chat, Gad and I delved into why beauty matters NOW more than ever.  Beauty inspires us, fuels our sense of creativity, and enlivens us — all things we need during this crazy time.  Beauty reminds us that we are creative and imaginative enough to change our circumstances.  Maybe as individuals we can’t develop a vaccine overnight.  But we should have faith in the brilliant scientists who can.  And, even as individuals, we can change our situations to some degree.  It’s often constraints like the ones we’re facing that force us to come up with new solutions and amazing new ideas — from new ways to light our faces “just so” on camera all the way to new career ideas.  In fact, when I speak about creativity to large audiences during “normal times,” I challenge audiences to seek constraints to make them MORE creative. Gad, for example, can’t work right now.  He cuts and styles hair for a living.  That just ain’t happening now, as much as it pains us! But he isn’t sitting on his butt all day long. Instead, he’s focusing his creative energies on finally learning how to develop online videos and chats. The result? After Covid is over, he will have his own mini production studio.  In fact, he and I want to video tape our chats as he cuts and styles my hair in real time!

We may be inclined to ignore our need for beauty — after all, people around us are truly suffering.  I’m appealing to you all NOT to do that.  We should seek out beauty.  It nourishes us emotionally and fuels us creatively.

Our discussions have evolved over the course of the few we’ve done.  I’ll be sharing the key insights and videos from those chats in the coming posts.  Stay tuned!

The Countdown to the Photoshoot Begins! Day 1: Land an Awesome Photographer

Day one of the 2 week count down to my photoshoot.

It’s time. I’m FINALLY getting my new headshots.  I’ve hemmed, hawed and avoided this project for years. And then I spent another few years looking for the perfect photographer: someone who will make me feel comfortable, understand what I’m trying to convey, and will make me look awesome! Note to self: I really despise the way I look in photos so it was super important that I gelled with my photographer. 

I found that person: Rebecca Rehder, founder of June 4th Studio. And the good news is I used to work with her years ago in the advertising biz! So not only do I feel comfortable with her, but she adds a strategic lens from her Ad Strategy background to her talent as an artist.  She really GETS me.  She put a ton of effort in to thinking through the my “brand,” the various looks I wanted to achieve. In all honesty, we started the process of thinking through this shoot a few weeks ago but I’m introducing her now as the first step to the photo shoot of a lifetime!  

Hope you follow me during this two-week countdown 🙂