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SUNDAY STORIES by Lisa Haukom 11.13.22

Updated: Dec 25, 2022

Studio happenings, photography, mood boards, and weekend reading. Here's your dose of Sunday Stories to feed your head and inspire your heart. This week: Self Portraits, A Daily Rothko, & the joy of creating.

“And now that you don't have to be perfect, you can be good” -John Steinbeck, East of Eden

This week I shared a recent creative project with you here, documenting the sheer joy I felt to be creating with my hands and getting messy again. It's been ages since I've picked up a brush to paint something that wasn't a wall. I'd forgotten how therapeutic it can be to create art solely for the fun of it.

I'd originally intended to purchase a large, completed piece of art for the dining room, but when I found a perfectly-sized (neon green!) painting at the thrift store, I decided to give it a whirl myself. Armed with acrylics from the paint store and a few inspiration images from Daily Rothko, I froze. My plan suddenly felt too ambitious. What if I don't meet my own expectations?

And there it was. The real problem. What if I couldn't meet my own impossible standard of perfection? This is where many stop, drop the brushes, camera, big idea — and walk away. It's not failure if you try. It's only failure if you don't.

I managed to get out of my own head, started painting and loved the freedom of creating for joy, not outcome. Abandoning my need to be perfect gave me a new perspective, allowing me to discover something I might have missed. I shared the results on my personal account and your feedback was tremendous. Like me, you've also missed the slow transformation of creation, many of you realizing how unbalanced your creation to consumption ratio truly is. Same, friend. That's why this week in the Studio we are focused of feeling free to create for the sheer joy of it without worrying about perfection. In the Virtual Studio, we've been shooting drop-dead gorgeous editorial and portrait photography for women who run defined personal brands — virtually, using iPhone cameras. Yup, you heard that right. It's not always about the camera, friends, it's about nurturing your point of view and developing your eye. More on this in our Q's section below. Speaking of goodies below, this week we are focused on storytelling, and editorial imagery for brands. Plus, you'll get the first peek of our editorial session with Desha Peacock for her brand Sweet Spot Style. Scroll down to view her gallery and read her candid insight about the virtual photoshoot experience.




We are in week two of our 8-week Self Portrait Challenge in the Studio and I am blown away by the levels of curiosity and thought that members are bringing to their images. I create a new set of challenge prompts for each round, tailored to the collective goals and challenges for each group. Thus far, they have completed minimal portraits and masculine-edge portraits where they were encouraged to take up space in the frame. To open themselves up to the camera, emotionally and physically. Keep in mind they cannot see themselves while shooting — we have a strict no selfies allowed policy in the studio.


Music is my creative muse. Here's what I'm listening to in the studio this month. Want the drop earlier? Subscribe.


Selfies and self-portraits are not one and the same.

Trust me, there is a difference. Selfies are by nature spontaneous, fleeting captures of how you look in that moment, often with the goal of being flattering. They are also by definition taken with the front facing camera. Ultimately, flattery is rarely the goal of a self portrait — it turns out a glamor shot just isn’t that interesting to look at. I prefer the realism of a self portrait and enjoy the process and intention behind them.


Weekly visual inspiration and moodboards.

Misanthropic artist Mark Rothko is said to have hoarded his works, numbering 798 paintings, as well as many sketches and drawings during his lifetime. One of the preeminent artists of his generation, Rothko is closely identified with the New York school, a circle of painters that emerged during the 1940s as a new collective voice in American art. During a career that spanned five decades, he created a new and impassioned form of abstract painting known as color-field painting, describing large-scale canvases dominated by flat expanses of color and having a minimum of surface detail. Rothko has said, “It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted.” Looking for more Rothko? You love this.

“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted.”

Photographers Choice.

We love Moment's Mobile Creator Gift Guide — perfect for the reader that asked this question last week (scroll to bottom).

Feel Free. Don't mind if I do, Leanne.

Swiss Miss & Glossier bringing you the ultimate balm dotcom stocking stuffer.

Not in my budget, but a girl can dream.

Love it or hate it red marble is trending thanks to Athena Calderone.

Plenty of juicy visual inspiration in this Colorful Punta Mita Estate

Entertaining this holiday season? We love Emily Nunn's Bagna Cauda for the win. If you are team Gwyneth, watch her version here (2:33).

We prefer local Airbnbs to hotels when we travel. Happy to see them finally embrace price transparency at checkout.

Your Q's.

Q. Any suggestions for keeping a consistent look and feel in my Instagram feed? I like to share photos but since they are taken in different locations with different lighting and subjects, it can look pretty messy.

A. Good question! I often run into this with my own feed since I share client images as well as my own self portraits. If consistency is important to you, it helps to be thoughtful, even ruthless in selecting images to share. If you are a photographer, only share the work that best represents the work you want. For example, If you don't want to be a family photographer, don't post photos of families. Make sense? By posting your best work, you'll begin to see a consistent style and point of view.

If you are a personal brand, you'll already have certain tones (warm/cool) that best represent your brand. Keeping all images the same tone with a preset or filter will give your overall feed visual consistency, even with a wide variety of photos.



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