Playboy Celebrates It’s 60th

In honor of Playboy celebrating it’s 60th anniversary (hard to believe), supermodel Kate Moss will grace it’s cover and have a full pictorial inside.  I wonder if the magazine will go a different direction with Moss and do more of a high fashion spin or continue on it’s traditional path of low lit, creamy haze photos.  Will have to wait and see when the mag hits newsstands in January 2014.

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Photos courtesy of Playboy


This & That

If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s work (“The Royal Tennenbaums,” “Moonrise Kingdom”) like I am, you’ll definitely have to check out his new book.  It’s on my Christmas list.

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Just scored this oversized clutch from Toss designs -$40 (and the store offers monogramming in gold on the bag which makes it extra special).  Also comes in navy and black but like Steel Magnolias,  “orange is my signature color!””

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Love these Hunter Wellies in Dark Olive.  Perfect for rainy winter days and pretending you’re in the English countryside.

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Pretty cable turtleneck sweater from J.Crew that comes in every color.  Perfect with jeans, Hunter Wellies and an orange clutch!
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If you’re looking for an exciting, can’t put-it-down thriller, check out “Alex” by Pierre LeMaitre.  Story takes place in Paris.
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Angelo Merendino documented every stage of his wife’s breast cancer.  His portraits capture the emotional battle of this senseless disease.
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I like this stencil initial cuff from C. Wonder ($48).  Would make a great holiday gift.
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 These black bow pumps from Tory Burch are perfect for upcoming holiday parties.  Would look great with a sleek cocktail dress or cropped pants.
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Go inside the Chateau Marmont for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Runway show 
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I think the Teavaro bib from Bauble Bar ($36) is so pretty.
Any plans for the weekend? Saturday is usually P’s “adventure” day, where we take him somewhere top secret.  When I was growing up, my dad would take me and my brother out for “adventures” and we’d wind up at a park, at the beach, out for club sandwiches and ice cream.  The anticipation of not knowing where we were going always made it fun and we went all over the Bay Area.   Tonight we’re making Halloween cookies and watching Charlie Brown.   Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy this beautiful fall weather!C

(photos courtesy of sites mentioned above)

Terry Richardson’s Diary

Recently got sucked into shock photographer “Terry Richardson’s Diary” on Tumblr.  I love portraits, and I love portraits of famous people doing silly things.  I wonder if Miley Cyrus’ mom was in the room when she was shooting in Terry’s studio.  Probably not.   New York Magazine did an interesting piece on Terry and did a not so flattering one.  Whatever you think, it’s his simplicity of the shot that makes the image appealing.



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Terry in Paris

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Linda Evangelista

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Amanda Lepore, Daphne Guiness, Lady Gaga and Terry

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Miley and Terry on the “Wrecking Ball” video set

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Lady Gaga and her mom backstage

(All photos courtesy of Terry Richardson’s Diary)

Monday, Monday

How are you? How was the weekend? Ours was good.  P and I went to the gym, to a birthday party and then we hung around and relaxed all day yesterday and I did a Target run (exciting, I know! But Target is Mecca and I almost do a happy dance in the parking lot).  I’m in the planning stages of P’s 4th birthday and last night he asked Straw for a pet cobra for his gift.  Straw said, “but it can kill you” and P said, “no, it would be behind glass in my room.”  I think he thinks we can have a collection of animals over here like at the aquarium.  It’s going to start looking like Noah’s Ark if we have a dog, a rabbit, and now a snake.  Well….we’d have to have two of everything (no thanks! I’m not cleaning any more animal crap out of cages. I’m a mom, not a zoo keeper).   I’m also starting lots of fun photo shoots, trying to lose 15 pounds and convinced I’m going through menopause (hello? Night sweats anyone? Probably doesn’t help that I’m under a down comforter when it’s been 75+ degrees out).

A few things for your Monday:

Anyone see Ray Donovan last night? Holy smokes! I could barely watch it it was so disturbing but the show is soo good!

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Sarah Jessica Parker is teaming up to do a capsule collection with Manolo Blahnik exclusively for Nordstrom in the $250 to $450 range

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My new favorite Pinterest boards to peruse are Lauren Conrad’s

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Digging this bold dress from the GAP

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Beautiful & affordable coats are back in at Zara (“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”)

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Putting “The Writers Room” on my list of must watch TV.  They do a round table discussion of how the writers behind our favorite shows (“Breaking Bad,” “Dexter”) come up with ideas and character plots.

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The portrait blog, “Humans of New York.” by photographer Brandon Stanton is pretty cool.

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San Francisco socialite and  Creative Director of Swanson Vineyards, Alexis Traina, has a pretty sweet Instagram

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Wouldn’t you love a rustic retreat south of Paris like designer Isabel Marant?

We’re off to our first t-ball this afternoon at the park.  Have a good one! C

(photos courtesy of, Harper’s Bazaar, Google, Flickr, GAP, Brandon Stanton, Zara, Lauren Conrad,

Remembering 9/11 Through Moving Photographs

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I was in New York a month after the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. The city seemed more quiet than I remember. Somber.

As I walked around SoHo, I came to a storefront that was serving as a temporary gallery. There were unframed photographs hanging throughout the space, all taken on that tragic day.  The photos had been submitted by amateur and professional photographers and those images, taken from every point of view, became a powerful collective known as “Here is New York” exhibit.   September 11th was one of the most photographed events in our country’s history and these images convey such a sense of destruction, loss, confusion, emotion and fear.

I always come back to the quote from George W. Bush’s speech he gave on September 20th:

“Our nation, this generation, will lift the dark threat of violence from our people and our future.  We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage.  We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.”

Thinking of those today who lost their lives in that tragic event.  And for the families and friends  who were left to grieve a tremendous loss.  May their peace and faith continue to get them through dark times.

We will never forget.


A Sneak Peek with Jeff Bridges

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(photos courtesy of Jeff Bridges)

Who knew actor Jeff Bridges was an undercover photographer? He often takes his Widelux camera on set with him and snaps photos in between takes (like on the set of his western, “True Grit.”).  The images give us a rare glimpse into the world of movie making behind-the-scenes.  He’s recently published Pictures, a collection of his photographs and was nominated for an Infinity award for his photography.

How to Take a Better Photo

I’ve always been interested in photography.  When I was a kid, I had a wall size cork board covered in pictures pulled out of magazines.  I got my first taste of photography when I studied abroad in college and traveled throughout Europe for a month with my film camera – capturing unique doorways and photos of bicycles along the way.

It’s no wonder that after years of working in the corporate world, my passion drew me back to school at the Academy of Art for 2 1/2 years before becoming pregnant with the P man.  I had started photographing children around that time and I find that environmental portraiture is my favorite.    I’ve been lucky to grow a business photographing families and kids as well as freelance work doing what I love.

I wanted to share a few tips on how to take better photos – especially since it’s summer and most people are traveling or spending a lot of time outside with the kids.

Time of Day. To avoid your subjects squinting in your photos, I recommend not taking pictures during the day when the sun is at it’s highest point.   People have a hard time opening their eyes and you also get strange, harsh shadows on skin.  Shooting in the early to late evening, or “the golden hour” gives you a warmth from the sun that looks great on skin and gives your image a terrific feel.Image

You best pictures sometimes turn up in unexpected places.  When I look at people or things, I see how they could look in a 4×6 photo. Some of my best photos have been flukes, like this one.  My husband was cleaning out his truck after a weekend of hunting, and everything kind of fell into place.  The dog, the boots, the bag.  I whipped out my camera and got a great shot.  Sometimes photos like these come together in a matter of a minute or two. With my photographs, the first image I take is sometimes the best.  If I spend too much time trying to stage something, it doesn’t always work out.   If you see something cool, shoot it.  And shoot a lot.  You never know where or when an opportunity will arise.


Don’t say “Smile!”  When photographing small children, I never tell them to smile because sometimes you get that forced lock jaw look where kids can look like they’re grinding their teeth.  It’s better to get them to laugh.  This photo was taken at P’s party and it was nice to have our goofy friend Steve standing behind me getting the kids to crack up.  It gives the photo a great feeling of atmosphere and you can sense their energy in the pic.   This photo fell into place at the last minute as well.  The kids were all kind of sitting together and I whipped out the camera. This is one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken.

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Watch Your Background.  I’ve had a lot of clients request photo shoots in places like public parks and beaches.  Basically places where you run the risk of a lot of people in your background.  This is all well and good if you want to see legs around your subject, dogs running through photos or people having a picnic in your background.  I’ve had to ask people to move out of a shot and you feel kind of rookie-ish doing it.  I like to pick places to shoot that are quiet, peaceful and you don’t run the risk of bodies in your background.  If you are in a busy place and want to take a photo of someone, check out the whole area.  See if there’s a quieter, less crazy place to shoot your photo.

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Keep shooting.  I saw these ladies sitting on a bench in the Marais district of Paris and knew it would make a terrific photo.  I stood pretty far back (thank God for that long lens!) and pretended I was shooting a building behind them and then I’d photograph them.  I knew they would never give me permission to photograph them so I tried to play it cool.  I’d shoot around, then them.  As a photographer, you’re supposed to get model releases from all of your subjects, but I know that would never fly.  I just kept shooting.  By the time they noticed me and tried to shoo me away,  I had my photograph.

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You can never go wrong with window light.  Putting a subject near a window is a great way to shoot.  With one of my favorite photos of P, I stuck him on the floor next to our windows in the afternoon and started shooting.  It’s a beautiful, diffused, even light that falls softly on skin and your subject.   You’ll start to notice how many shots in catalogs are shot near windows.  It can be subtle or completely dramatic.


Rule of Thirds. “The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.”  In other words, to create visual interest in your photos, don’t always center your subject.  I like to put my subjects to my far left (maybe because I’m left handed).  It makes for an interesting photograph and can create depth based on what is in the foreground and background.

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Figure out what you like to photograph and go for it.  Like I said, for me, it’s environmental portraiture.  One of my favorite photographers, Robert Yager, is an LA based photographer who embedded himself with the gangs of LA and photographed what life was like for them.  His pictures are very powerful and I love how photography gives us a window into a world that we normally wouldn’t be privy to witness.   If you like travel photography, take your camera everywhere.  If you like photographing kids, take pictures of them running through sprinklers or eating breakfast.  You’ll be surprised what you come up with.

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(All images above copyright 2012-2013 Christina Straw Photography)

If you’re interested in classes in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out Rayko Photo Center
Want to rent a different camera or lenses, take a look at
Download a free trial of Adobe Lightroom (intuitive photo editing software)

For more information on me and my work, visit