Hether Miles Blog

Everyone has a beautiful angle and a good photographer will find it!

How Color Affects Our Mood

Jul 132015


It you think of the way we describe certain emotions (seeing red, feeling blue, green with envy), there’s no denying that color and mood are inextricably linked. Slip on a tailored LBD and you instantly feel chic and sexy or pop open a sunny yellow umbrella on a gloomy day and some of that sunniness will undoubtedly rub off on you.

There are several reasons why colors are able to influence how we feel. "We react on multiple levels of association with colors -- there are social or culture levels as well as personal relationships with particular colors," explains Leslie Harrington, executive director of The Color Association of The United States, which forecasts color trends. "You also have an innate reaction to color. For example, when you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color. This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm."

You also have learned certain associations with color, such as red making your heart race since it’s linked with fire trucks and ambulances (in other words, alarm) or yellow having positive association simply because it was the color of your beloved grandmother’s kitchen. "As you get older, you become much more conscious of those learned reactions than the innate ones," adds Harrington.

Jeannie Mai, who hosts "How Do I Look?" on the Style Network and who recently paired up with Yoplait Light to encourage women to make simple swaps (from giving your clothes a boost of color to swapping out unhealthy eating habits), is a firm believer in the ability of clothes to boost your mood. She calls it "wearapy." "Therapists treat people with mood disorders," she says. "I use clothing and texture to enhance people’s moods and their lives.

On a bleak day it would be so easy to throw on a pair of jeans and a slouchy sweater, but I throw on something from spring -- a green mini skirt, fun fringe booties and a sweater with evening jewelry. That makes an impression on everyone around me, but it also makes me feel cute. And when you feel cute, you feel better. You can channel the different moods you want with different colors.”

Feel like changing your frame of mind for the better? Play around with these colors when picking out your clothes, makeup and accessories:

Seeing Red
Red is the hot, crazy girl of colors, evoking powerful emotions such as fear, anger and passion. "Red would be one of the most complicated colors," says Harrington. Unlike, say, yellow, which is sunny whether it’s a pale or bright version of the shade, the mood red conveys changes dramatically when you lighten it (sweet and innocent pink) or darken it (sophisticated burgundy).

Although research shows that the best way for a single gal to attract a guy’s attention is to wear red, you may be garnering attention you don’t necessarily want. "There’s a reason they call it the red light district," notes Harrington. Adds Andrew Elliot, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Rochester: "We link red to passion because red is the color we exhibit on our skin when sexually interested -- a red flush or blush."

Rather than having your outfit scream "sex kitten" (unless that’s what you’re going for), the best way to rock this passion-producing color and get into a sexier frame of mind is by carrying a red clutch, donning a bright red polish on your nails (try Essie Well Red) or lining your lips in the right red. "Red lips can be your best accessory, especially if you’re wearing all black," says Harrington. "You have to be confident to do it and have the right shade of red for your skintone."

A Calming Case of the Blues
Need to chill out after a stressful day? Slip on something blue. "Psychologically, blue is the opposite of red -- it lowers blood pressure," says Harrington. "Red picks you up and blue takes you down, but not down to depression level." That may be because if you look to nature, such as the sky and the ocean, blue conveys tranquility. That’s also what you project when wearing the shade. "I encourage women to wear blue when they want to create a calming essence," says Mai. "Wear it on a first date -- something turquoise or a light aqua sweater with a soft texture like cashmere. It makes a great a first impression and creates relaxation."

Another beneficial time to make blue your go-to hue? If you’re going for a job interview or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. "Blue is associated with trustworthiness, strength and dependability -- hence, the blue power suit because it projects that image of dependability and trustworthiness," says Harrington.

It’s Easy Being Green
From grass to leaves to other verdant vegetation, the color green is closely linked to the environment, which can put you in a relaxed or refreshed mood. "There is some tentative evidence emerging in the literature showing that green is relaxing because it is associated with growth and nature," says Elliot. Green also looks good on every skin type and has a wide range of shades that allow you to modify your mood -- from serious and sophisticated to fresh and bright.

"Green ranges from old traditional English libraries in a dark hunter green where you can sit down, concentrate and read to a spring-like yellow-based green, which symbolizes new birth or new growth -- the beginning of something," explains Harrington.

Anything-But-Mellow Yellow
Yellow carries both positive and negative connotations -- from sunshine, which conveys a joyous, happy mood to jaundice and sickliness, according to Harrington. In Mai’s experience, wearing the bright, fun color helped her stand out and put people at ease. "Wearing yellow creates a very open atmosphere with people," she says. "When I was a reporter on Extra, if I was going to meet a celebrity who was a bit standoffish I found that wearing yellow would bring a smile to their demeanor right away. It’s an inviting color."

That said, going overkill on yellow can leave you looking like a walking banana so Harrington recommends investing in yellow accessories instead to give you that same uplifting boost, such as a bright yellow clutch, scarf or even a pale yellow blouse under a sweater or suit. But keep in mind that not everyone can pull off this bright shade. “Skin with yellow undertones have a hard time with the color,” says Harrington, “and blue undertones can only wear certain shades of yellow so it’s hard to find the shade that looks good on, compared to navy, which anyone can wear.”

Orange You Glad You Wore It
This highly popular color marries the sunniness of yellow with red’s depth. In fact, orange is the perfect substitute if you’re not comfortable seeing red. But the color is by no means ho-hum -- orange evokes action. "Orange is much more of a casual, active color—it’s big in active wear—whereas red is much more sophisticated," explains Harrington. The perky shade is your best bet when you want to rev yourself up so you can hit the gym or channel creativity for a work project. "Orange is said to stimulate enthusiasm and creativity," says Mai. "It symbolizes vitality and endurance."

It’s also the color to choose when you want to stand out without taking a big risk. That’s because orange is considered a little edgy without be too "out there." "If you’re going to buy a pocketbook and it comes in red, orange and yellow, yellow will be the biggest statement while almost everyone has a red bag," says Harrington. "Orange is in the middle. It says, ‘have a little more fun and be a little different but not too different. Because of that, you see a lot more orange colors showing up in cosmetics."

The rich color is associated with royalty and luxury, according to Mai. "Anytime you need to feel confident and regal, such as for a job interview, wear purple," she says. If you have a young-looking face and want to appear more sophisticated, make purple your go-to color to help you look more mature, suggests Mai.

Back in Black
Having a “fat day”? Slipping into something black makes you look five pounds slimmer -- instantly improving your mood. "We all know what happens when you put on black jeans versus white jeans -- it’s slimming," says Harrington. But the darkest shade of all can affect how you feel in two other distinctly different ways: Wearing black can be a downer (think funerals) or make you feel trés chic (think Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). Although in old movies, the villain always wore black, over the years the color has become more associated with high class -- black limousines, patent leather shoes and elegant black tie affairs, according to Harrington.

Black is clearly the go-to color when you want to look more regal and formal. "It can be very elegant"” says Mai. “Every woman needs an LBD. It plays everything else down so you stand out. It lets you shine.”

5 Personal Things This Photographer Learned From Being Photographed

Jul 132015


I found myself on the “wrong” end of the camera lens this past week. Not the photographer end, but the photographed end.

And suddenly, a lot of things made sense.

I found myself doing some of the very things that have always bewildered me about clients.

I found myself realizing that some of those things have a good reason behind them, and some do not.

We should talk about that.
But first, a story:

Back when I worked in neuroscience labs, I participated in creating and executing brain imaging research. One head researcher had a specific rule that had to be met before you could start running participants through your study.

The rule was simple: If you’re going to stick someone in an MRI machine (which is basically a narrow tube with jackhammer-like noises thumping all around), you’d better know how it feels yourself. You have to do a full MRI test run and actually participate in your own study.

Because pushing buttons with your hands strapped to boxes at your sides feels different than hitting buttons at your desk. Because words on your office computer screen look very different than words projected through a mirror. And because everything, in general, is weird and different when you’re lying in a tube.

All of those differences can affect your data, so you’d better put yourself through your own protocol to know how your participants feel.

You might be asking them to do something that’s hard or scary, but you wouldn’t know until you were lying down in their place.

This past week, Spencer Lum (of 5 West Studios and the industry blog Ground Glass) and I traded portrait shoots. This was just for fun, more playdate than project. I did need some images (because photographers are always the last ones to get their photo taken!), and he was gracious enough to agree to a swap. I didn’t anticipate how much I’d learn about my own clients in the process.
Having your own photos taken is the equivalent of a full MRI test run.

Being behind the camera is completely different than being in front of the camera. And being in front of the camera for two seconds at your friend’s birthday party is completely different than being the subject of a 90 minute photoshoot.

Here are five unexpected (yet predictable!) things that happened when I was photographed:

1) Upon scheduling the session, I was seized with the ridiculous urge to lose ten pounds.

Which was inconvenient, because the shoot was less than two weeks away.

And here was the surprise – it wasn’t garden-variety insecurity. It wasn’t even about being “fat.” It was far simpler than that. I realized that my physical shape was going to be transfixed in images forever, and I wanted to look my best. Mostly, though, I wanted to reduce the number of potentially unflattering angles. To not have to constantly worry about my chin or stomach throughout the shoot. That’s it.
And it occurred to me: Me worrying about weight was me trying to do the photographer’s job for him.

In a normal point-and-shoot situation, it’s every man for himself. You’ve got to pose yourself, so when your cousin hits the shutter, you’re happy with the result. It’s YOUR job to look the way you want to be photographed, otherwise you might get caught off guard in a bad way.

But it’s not like this when you hire a photographer.

It’s the photographer’s job to find flattering angles. It’s the photographer’s job to redirect if you’re in an awkward pose. It’s the photographer’s job to not publicly post a shot where you are not looking your best.

(This is tempting for photographers, sometimes we get shots with a killer composition but the subject looks slightly off. We fall in love with the image overall and kinda forget that the whole thing is about the subject. It’s the photographer’s job not to put their ego above the subject’s feelings).

The photographer, not you, is responsible for how you look. This is entirely new territory.
Frantically trying to lose weight (or cut your hair or whatever) is really about not wanting to relinquish control over how you look to someone else.

It’s about trying to manage everything you possibly can because you’re not so sure the other person will catch you when you leap. Because in past experience, when you relinquished control to unpracticed hands, you disliked the results. Frantic obsession with appearance is, at least in part, your “insurance” that even if this person sucks at their job, you still come out okay.

I didn’t want to get caught up in this.
Instead, I took a deep breath and decided to trust Spencer.

I didn’t change anything about my eating or exercise habits. I trusted. It doesn’t mean I’m immune from cultural conditioning or the pernicious idealized beauty standards that warp how women see themselves (after all, shouldn’t “looking your best” mean looking content, not looking 10 pounds thinner? Yes, but that wasn’t my culturally-ingrained first instinct before a photoshoot, unfortunately). I just decided to leap and let Spencer do his job.

In the past, I’ve told particularly frantic clients “It’s my job to think about how everything looks. It’s your job to have fun.” I recommitted to communicating that message.
2) Then, I felt like I didn’t have anything to wear.

It used to drive me crazy when someone would schedule a shoot, then immediately say “I don’t have anything to wear.”

I always thought, “Um, so you’ve been walking around naked?”

The lesson from last week: Yes, I own clothes that I like. But I wanted to dress up a little for my photos, without being too formal. And in that particular niche – dressier than casual, but not quite cocktail wear – I really don’t own much. What I do own was kind of worn out, or I already had photos of myself in because I’d worn it on previous photographable occasions.

So actually, in that target range – nice without being overly dressy that wasn’t worn out or already present in photographs? That’s the golden snitch of photo-wear. And I hadn’t caught it yet.

I guess I’ll stop thinking clients are overly fussy now. Sometimes, you really don’t have what you want. 😉

3) I was late to the shoot.

GASP. Guys – I was LATE to the SHOOT. I was THAT person!

I told him I thought my makeup would be done around 4:45 and I’d head over after that. My makeup wasn’t done until about 5:10. And then I had to make it from Manhattan to Brooklyn and change my clothes.

Spencer was completely unfazed. Bless him.

But I realized something else: I truly hadn’t meant to be late. In fact, I’d scheduled my appointments that day to leave plenty of buffer room. But I’m not an expert here – I never have my makeup done. And even though I’d researched online for estimates, I still didn’t have an accurate concept of how long it could take. So my lateness wasn’t lazy or intentional, it was merely uneducated.

All the more reason to keep a two-hundred dollar attitude around with our clients. They usually aren’t purposely trying to screw up.

I typically tell people they have to be at the location 15-30 minutes before they actually do, and I’ll keep doing it. Because they’re used to hurrying, but they’re not used to rushing out the door while simultaneously checking their hair, makeup, and kids’ hair and shirts and making sure they have the right lip gloss in their bag. No amount of warning from me can truly prepare them for that. So I’ll just give myself some slack time and keep a sweet smile.

4) On the shoot, I didn’t know what to do with my hands.

I basically became Jack Donaghy in that GE Product Integration video. “It’s weird, what do I do with my arms? I’ve never thought about that before.”

My clients are always asking me what to do with their hands. I always thought it was an oddly specific question – you don’t hear people asking “what do I do with my knees?” for example. But it’s true – in real life, your hands usually have a task. But when your task is to stand there, it’s hard to know what to do that won’t look weird.

Happily, Spencer gave me a lot of direction. Note to self: follow suit.
5) I carried my purse when it wasn’t needed for the images.

It’s usually a hassle when clients bring bags and purses along for the photoshoot when they’re not needed for the photos. You constantly have to pick it up and take it with you, you set it down and realize it’s in your images and have to run move it – it’s more hassle than it’s worth.

And then. I did it too.

I used a couple props during our shoot, which is my excuse for bringing a purse, but I would have been tempted either way. It felt like a security blanket – if my lip color suddenly wore off, if a huge gust of wind messed up my hair, the purse meant I would have something nearby to fix it. I think ultimately this goes along with realization #1 – I wanted to have control over how I looked, and it felt unnatural to relinquish that to chance or to the photographer.

I may not be able to part people with their security blankets, but I can perhaps explain better why they don’t need them. Or at least empathize when someone brings one.
Take-home message: Want to feel less annoyed with clients? Participate in your own “study.”

I became the very hand-wringing, late-to-the-session, wardrobe-less, purse-carrying client that I’m always scratching my head at. Well, I’m scratching my head no more. I’m already rethinking how to prep clients for sessions based on what I learned.

What makes no sense on your side of the camera might make total sense on the client’s end. But you have to put yourself there.

Try it. Let me know how it goes!

The Emotions of Black and White Photography

Jul 132015


Black and white photography has had a long, illustrious history. Of course, the first photographs had to be black and white, but it continues to be a great way to make evocative images, even though color photographs have become so realistic. Black and white images seem somehow more moody, as if the starkness of the black contrasting with the white highlights the importance of the image. Of course, the subject of the photograph has an immense impact on the emotional feel of the image.

Black and white photography is ideal for portraits; the shadows and highlights make the textures of people’s skin – the pores, the lines, the imperfections – tell their own stories. You can almost read a person’s life in their face. They can look hardworking and wise, their self-conscious coolness can be palpable or they can seem all the more awkward and naïve during their teenage years.

A moment in time

Because the oldest photographs are in black and white, we have come to associate black and white photographs with the sense of a moment in time captured and given a timeless quality. This moment will last as long as the paper does, being both the past and eternity. The legitimately old images look just as timeless and antique as newer photographs. The images below are no more than three years old, but they all look like they could have been taken decades ago. They still have all the sense of history and the passage of time that older photographs have.


As alluded to in the section on portraits, the contrast of the shadows and highlights in black and white photography makes the details of an image pop off the paper. Despite the dynamism of the contrast, black and white photographs of details have a quiet, intimate feel. The viewer has their attention called to the minute things they normally overlook, and they are invited to take the time to really examine those details. This allows the viewer the chance to really get to know the subject, which can lend significance to mundane things.

Moments of wonder and mystery

Black and white photography can also capture the awesomeness and glory of this world in a way that color photography often cannot. The majesty of rays of sunshine bursting from behind a large cloud seems all the more impressive in black and white – not least because the cloud looks a bit menacing. Waves crashing on the shore look dramatic and tumultuous, whilst the sea mist gives the image an eerie quality. A wood-paneled room draped with nets looks haunted. The nets take the shape of cobwebs or ghosts, and the viewer can almost hear the walls groan. The empty chair only emphasizes the lonely morbidity of the image.

These emotions and associations just don’t seem to be called up by color photography. In color, an empty room might look like a shabby chic cabin, and rays of sunshine will leap from behind a big, friendly cloud. As we’ve shown, that’s not the case with black and white photography. It leaves a lot more to the imagination, which allows us to inject a lot more emotion and meaning to the image.

How Boudoir Photography Can Help with Self-Confidence

Jun 292015


Have you ever wanted to do something but let nervousness or fear of the unknown stop you? We all have experiences like that. Some we give up on, some we push through with perseverance, determined to finish no matter what. How empowered do you feel when you push forward?

You want to trumpet to the world: “I did it, I did it, I overcame my fear!”

Women want to be sexy and beautiful. The media inundates us with unrealistic expectations of body size and shape. Nobody has the ideal body, flawless skin or perfect face.

Repeat. No one is perfect, not even supermodels.

In our Boudoir Photography sessions, we achieve beautiful images of women using flattering lighting, props, clothing and lingerie; posing to accent the positive and diminish the negative. We talk you through the session so you feel comfortable and relaxed. You will leave your session exhilarated and excited to see your images.

Post-session, your images will show how sexy and beautiful you are. Your self-confidence will grow exponentially and the love-of-your-life will be blown away. We photograph multiple boudoir sessions with the same women and through the years, each has expressed the positive feeling and high of overcoming their fears.

Each accomplishment is a growth in who we are and gives us self-confidence and a sense of self-worth.

Cheaper than a psychologist? Absolutely!


What the Colour of Your Tie Says About You

Jun 162015


When Joshua Blue, a vice principal at the Kennedy School in Hong Kong, hosts an assembly for his students, he wears a light violet-coloured pastel tie to give him an edge.

The bluish-purple tie is “colourful yet muted”, he said, which Blue believes keeps students from being as bored when listening. On the other hand, he avoids brighter purples and pinks when standing up in front of students.

“You don’t want so many bright colours that the kids will get distracted,” said Blue, 35.

It might sound a bit like hocus pocus, but experts say that no matter the audience — clients, staff or even children — picking the right tie colour can help get your message across.

“Colours give off very specific signals,” said David Zyla, New York-based author of Color Your Style. “The same suit can be transformed with different tie colours, each with a very different impact and message.”

Wondering what colour tie to wear to your next meeting? Here’s how to choose the perfect tie colour for every occasion:

All powerful reds

It’s not a coincidence that many politicians wear red-coloured ties with light shirts and darker suits.

“Red is the power tie,” said Mark Woodman, a trend analyst who studies colour in Laurel, Maryland, in the US. “There’s something about red that always comes back to strength and passion.”

But the tone of your reds matters, too. Darker reds, such as a burgundy, can help build trust, while lighter red and pink ties can be more of a statement about your personal style and be associated with creativity. In the last decade, a pink tie can sometimes signal “solidarity with women,” added Woodman.

When you are taking the lead on a project or want to convey a sense of ambition, consider a bold shiny red. A matte or printed red tie can be a more subtle way to convey power.

Royal purples

Ross Znavor, an executive in financial services in New York, wears purple ties rather than red to business meetings because the colour shows a bit of self-confidence and helps him create lasting first impressions.

Wearing a tie in a hue that’s less traditional shows clients, he is “comfortable in my own skin and someone with whom you want to build a relationship”, he said.

Lindsay said purple, traditionally a sign of royalty and wealth, is becoming more acceptable in the workplace.

“Men are wearing shades of lighter purple shirts and darker purple ties,” she said. Wear one of these shades if you want to stand out from the crowd with a slightly bolder look that’s not distracting.

Black affair

While you might not wear them to executive meetings on a regular basis, wearing black ties to a cocktail party or even an upscale dinner gives off a sophisticated vibe, said Zyla.

But beware: the formal black colour can feel arrogant or overdressed in many situations. “Avoid it if being one of the ‘boys’ at work is necessary as you climb up the ladder,” Zyla said.

It’s often smarter to stick to grey shades, added Woodman. A grey tie can help give you a more sophisticated look without seeming pretentious, said Woodman.

“Grey is kind of edgy and it can look very modern,” he said. To pull it off, pair it with a lighter, pastel-coluored shirt. Look for lighter grey shades and shiny finish for a more polished look.

Shades of the garden

Green can signal several things, from rebirth to the colour of money in some countries. But, surprisingly, it can be too loud for the workplace.

“Do you want to be remembered for the tie or who you are as an individual?,” Woodman asked. Choosing the right green can be tough. A bright green is often too distracting, and it can also be difficult to find matching suits or shirts, he added. Still, a light green tie with a subtle print can pair well with a neutral-coloured shirt.

Yellow is a traditional tie colour in countries, including England, which can signal assuredness, along with radiance and vitality, he said.

Yellow ties can make you more approachable to colleagues because it’s a vibrant colour that’s symbolic of the sun. For many, wearing a yellow tie, “can show optimism and a positive outlook on life,” added Eve Roth Lindsay, an image consultant in Hong Kong.

Be careful of committing cultural faux pas when it comes to colour. For example, a yellow tie in India can signal that someone is a merchant, said Zyla. Wearing a white tie in China signals a period of mourning.

Fifty shades of… blue

Afraid of sending the wrong message with your tie colour? Consider blue as the all-purpose tie hue.

Blue ties are a good investment because the colour reminds people of the sky and ocean, which has a calming effect, said Lindsay.

“Blue is the safest colour to wear,” she said.

Patterned blue ties tend to give off a classic professional feel and can be worn in a global business environment without sending the wrong message. A subtle blue can be “soft and introspective” while a cobalt or royal blue can help you stand out just the right amount, she said. “Dark blues are often reminiscent of well-respected pilot uniforms. Navy blue is a trusted colour and gives us confidence,” Lindsay said.

Be one with nature

“A more relaxed wardrobe of friendlier colours such as tan, brown, earthy colours, salmon and yellow works for people dealing with other people such as sales, teachers and the service industry,” said Lindsay.

Make sure the brown tie does not look too plain, because it can signal a dull personality. A beige tie can sometimes come across as too relaxed, she said. Avoid pairing earth tone hues with similarly coloured shirts. And if you are eager for a promotion and want to stand out in the workplace, skip these colours altogether.


Photography is Seasonal

May 192015


Photography, as a career, is Seasonal and climate controlled!

Six months on July-December and six months off- January through June.

Better save during the good times to get you through the slow times. It takes willpower!

No one wants to shoot photos in January/February: too cold, I don’t have a tan, still hibernating from a tough winter.

Families love the beautiful Fall colors as a backdrop. The photos can then be sent out for Christmas gifts and cards.

Unfortunately, seniors, corporate and friends all want this season too…so does the rain! Rain brings Busy hectic times with all the rescheduling

If you have an assistant, who works on contract, they suffer through the seasonal photography cycle too! No work equals no pay.

Spring is beautiful with all the new flowers and trees but most people still are not quite inspired to get out in chilly temperatures and winds and rain.

Summer gets quite hot! Nothing like sweating profusely while your standing there being documented. Better have a studio or other indoor location to fall back on…or lock your dog away so that your client can roam your house freely.

The best time for photographers? Holidays! Holidays! Holidays! (Oct. – Dec.) I love them… when I can look up long enough from the workload to appreciate all the beauty that is going on around me in my personal life. Oops, clients are excitedly calling for their orders! Okay, answer that call, talk myself off the ledge and continue to decorate my tree….