It all started the night I ran out of Burt's Bees cleansing wipes and I had no idea how I would remove my makeup. I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the Coconut Oil. Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Fair Trade Organic brand is my Coconut Oil of choice. I had heard it did wonders for the skin but since mine happens to be incredibly sensitive and bitchy I reserved my C. Oil for cooking my eggs in and dabbing on the fly aways in my hair when it looks dry and crispy. I had eye shadow on this day and tons of eye liner so I knew water wasn't going to cut it. I dabbed a clean paper towel in some warm water, put some coconut oil on the damp cloth and WOW, my eye makeup was off instantly with no constant rubbing like with the wipes. Then I noticed I was out of my night time serum. Ok, 'TO DO' List starting in my head. I washed my face used my toner and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning my skin look remarkably different, hydrated, calm. I had fears of breaking out from the oil but my skin looked bright and clear. No, not like a magazine add, I still have annoying skin but it was much, much better. Ok then, this seems to work so that morning I washed my face then dabbed a little on my skin to see how it would make look under my makeup. I looked dewy and more fresh faced. I ditched my expensive skin care products and I've now been using Coconut Oil to take off my makeup, under my makeup and before bed for about a week and so far I am really loving the results. Since I appear to be turning slightly Crunchy and Granola I thought, " What the heck may as well go to Tahoe and hang out in the Wilderness too." And so that happened...
If you start to feel like the movie Groundhog day, like every day is so, so similar bleeding into the next, repetition, patterns, doing the same thing over & over whether it be with your job or your personal activities then listen up. Put on your shoes, walk out the door and just GO. Anywhere. Now. Right NOW. Why are you still reading this? Why haven't you left yet? Ok well read this quickly then get put on your chap stick, one coat of mascara, some sunscreen, grab your favorite sunglasses and LEAVE. By the way, a wise man once told me always leave the house presentable because you never know who you could meet that day. Perhaps the President? Your favorite movie star? Or in my case Viggo Mortenson. Well today Viggo eluded me once again but I did come face to face with a nude man sunning himself on the beach twig & berries and all so that didn't work out so good But I digress.... Here are the rules. You cannot go to any of your usual haunts. No nail salon, no cute eatery, no coffee shop, no boutique, get out and see nature. Smell the Eucalyptus. Feel the sunshine or freaky hail if you are in Socal but whatever the case just make it different then your norm. My mind needs ADVENTURE, yours does too and today I packed up my new camo survival backpack (don't judge) with some organic walnuts and turkey jerky grabbed my Blue Bird's hand and we headed over the Golden Gate bridge with no real plan. I LIVE for this randomness! He wanted to head out to hike in Muir Woods, the place he proposed but I wanted to venture somewhere we hadn't been before. Instead we headed to Muir Beach where we found this beautiful cove. Rocks & tide pools galore! While he patiently tried to snap my backpack in the front I impatiently said I wanted to explore NOW and see if we can find some sea creatures. "You are like a child" He said shaking his head half smiling. "Yeah and your point?" A dog adopted us for the afternoon which was awesome. He earned some organic turkey jerky for being so.damn.awesome. We ended up at Stinson beach for some light sea food before heading back over the bridge feeling like the cycle had been broken. Success.
Those glittery sensual just a tiny hint sexy without being in your face images that pop up on your news feed as you are taking a sip of your morning coffee, yeah, your welcome. As a leading Boudoir Photographer in the U.S. I've taken the once little known niche' market and turned it into a powerful life changer. This isn't a Kanye loves Kanye Ego statement by the way...I can say this with confidence because I have poured my absolute soul into what I create for my clients and I could not continue to evolve in my craft without them. I am inspired by YOU. What makes you happy, what makes you sad what colors you like, the parts of your body making you insecure and all of the little in-betweens. I listen. I observe. I ask.
I've been at this for a LONG time. Photography 15 years, Boudoir about 10 years.
With my Art I stay true to my aesthetic while pivoting and listening to whispers of changing trends and needs. I do not want to break the mold on Boudoir photography rather I would like to sit on a tree branch above with a brass spy glass. (I really have one of these by the way-I think everyone living in a city does) Molds are for clinical, pedestrian and recreating the wheel. I am not the man in the garage shooting females with poor lighting and a cracked iPhone asking you to crawl towards the camera while calling myself a professional. What I am is the girl with a ballet bun in my hair, yoga pants a cup of tea, playing beautiful music while you have a bucket list moment in your life wearing high end lingerie, diamonds & Valentino shoes. When you are beaming as you walk out of my studio I know I have done my job. When you see your photos and cannot believe it's you looking back I know what my purpose is in life and I feel damn good about that. I create an environment I would dream of being in. A cozy safe luxurious fun environment where you are the center of that universe. I care most about two things when we meet, listening to whatever you feel like talking about and seeing past your inevitable hardships in life (we all have them) and bringing out the most beautiful magical version of YOU. You will also learn a few fun things during your time with me. Little tid bits about good lingerie. You will likely always be the star now in every photo you take with your friends with my posing tutorial. It is OK to love yourself and believe yourself to be beautiful. This is HEALTHY.
Why do women do Boudoir photos? The reasons are endless. Gifts for your love, yourself, wanting to feel whole again after a break up, wanting to feel sexy after having a baby, preserving photos of your breasts before a double mastectomy due to cancer, or losing your hair to chemo, documenting your changing looks every year or simply to have an amazing day because you are worth it.
One of my favorite clients who I now count as my friend shares what her Boudoir photo shoot did for her: "This boudoir photo shoot was hands down one of the best things I have ever done. Although it was a gift to my husband, It was also an incredible experience for me. It boosted my confidence, helped me embrace my curves after having two children, and made me feel sexy and beautiful! I have worked with photographers in the past and Rhiannon is simply the best. Not only is she super sweet, she's a professional yet down to earth making you feel at ease, offers simple direction for the most flattering poses and angles, and is a master at capturing you in amazing light. It was important to me that the images were classy, tasteful and timeless. When you view her work on the Alloria Winter Photography website you will see the quality of her work and her aesthetic which is unparalleled. When I received my images to review, I couldn't believe how many stunning magazine worthy photos she got and was shocked that they hadn't even been retouched. She helped me select the best images for the Asuka album which is a work of art that my husband and I will treasure forever. I can't wait to work with Rhiannon again in the future!" Lacey
Lacey I cannot wait to work with you :O)
Sea Turtles are a lot like Santa Clause, they know if you've been bad or good so if you are a relatively good person with a functioning moral compass, chances are while snorkeling you may cross ocean paths with a sea turtle. If you are a saint, never inhaled and save puppies from burning buildings, a sea turtle may even swim with you an invite a pet or two even though you aren't supposed to. I've pet a few, don't tell anyone. Now if your moral compass needs batteries and you are married with kids and have a second wife and family in Chicago and wife A in Burbank California doesn't know about your hidden second family and double life, you may as well just Google some videos of sea turtles because there is no chance in hell one will ever swim with you let alone anywhere near you. They are the Unicorns of the sea but I'm sure some jelly fish will enjoy your company.
I've been to Maui many times and snorkeled black rock last year, swam with a sea turtle & when I went way out into the ocean I met two large sting rays head on. I was traumatized! This trip was my fiance's first time in Hawaii. Even though I was to scared to go way out into the ocean with him, I told him to snorkel all the way around black rock for the experience. After a while he came back to our towels so excited, "Come with me" he said, extending his hand out pulling me up. "I swam with a sea turtle most of the time I was in the water!" I put my fins on and out we went and sure enough his new friend came right up to us. It was heaven.
American Apparel Body Suit
I leave my Diva at home while in Hawaii. No need for a five course five star meal. I'll settle for a taco shack on the side of the road as long as Yelp says it's awesome. I've eaten at many places around the world and a few meals are memorable.
Chicken Parmesan at age 13 in Little Italy New York City with my late Greek Grandpa well before NY turned into the Starbucks on every corner town it is today. (I am originally from NY, Long Island to be specific) The Italian joint was narrow, dimply lit, a faint smell of a red fish sauce in the air and some mafia types at the back table. Next, a simple piping hot vegetable broth based soup on the beach in Santorini Greece that I ate every morning for breakfast. Whatever olive oil they used to cook the soup was buttery and Divine. The Jidori Hen egg a la truffle at Michael Mina's RN74 in San Francisco and the dish I am about to describe. While driving the road to Hana in the middle of Jurassic Park I mean the rain forest there is a woman on the right side of the road on a small muddy hill. Her children are playing on scooters in the middle of the road and she is grilling up wild boar and local chickens I'm pretty sure she caught herself as they roam freely everywhere. She serves the grilled meat on a banana leaf with grilled veggies I couldn't clearly identify, part potato part zucchini, all sourced from the forest. There are no plates, no napkins, no forks or knives. It's just her, a grill and skills. If you want chopsticks she takes a piece of bamboo and slices it with her machete. Don't be the milky white guy with a fanny pack pulling up in a rented Burgundy Thunderbird asking for a plastic bag and packets of ketchup to go. If she doesn't slap you I will. Pay her double the little amount she charges you, be polite and sit at her table and eat your food and compliment her when you are finished. The food is straight F'ing amazing!
Swim in the ocean not the hotel pool. The salt is good for your skin and you didn't come all that way for chlorine & concrete.
Rent a Jeep, leave the resort get out and explore!
Drive down neighborhood streets to get a feel for local culture.
Don't buy into bar tenders flirting with you. Yes you are pretty but they flirt with EVERYONE. Hate to burst your bubble but it's true. They either want a fat tip or they want to sleep with you, probably both!
Eat some damn pineapple and chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Who cares if five nuts have 8 billion calories and 72 trillion grams of fat. It doesn't count when you are on vaca!
If my New Year resolutions are staring me in the face publicity then I have to follow through? Right? Well here goes:
1.) Live in the moment
Live in the moment, not in the future. While it's responsible to plan, I tend to live in the future without enjoying fully the day at hand. I worry, I fret, I think of every worst possible outcome of every bit of my life: personal & business. ALL.AT.ONCE. I know this is my survival mechanism and I know it keeps me steps ahead however I need to learn to savor each day as a blessing. I am reminding myself every time my mind wanders into, "but, but, but what if my hands are crippled and I can't press the shutter on my camera, what if we have an earthquake and what if the banking system collapses, should I stuff a few grand under the mattress, what if I'm robbed, will they look under the mattress and what if I am stuck in the middle of the 5 Freeway for three months, will 90 energy bars and 18 Fiji waters be enough to survive? Will the heat melt plastic on my Fiji water and poison me?" Yeah...this is my brain.
2.) Brand Expansion
This has already begun and I am SO excited to share what I have been working on. Alloria Winter is not just thoughtful, Ethereal photography, it is an experience, a life style, a way of life, a way of thought and dreams & tangible fairy tales. Though I am a service providing photography I have been itching to translate some of my aesthetic into the garment world, something that can live beyond the needs of my two hands (that are not crippled, YAY) Stay tuned! My Ladies, you are going to love this!
3.) My Personal Health
I am not an unhealthy person per say. I mean I eat my royal jelly, consume my bee pollen, take a bucket of supplements most days & drink my veggies BUT I function on less sleep then is acceptable for a human, sit for hours editing and eat late at night. It (mostly) stops TODAY. There are some nights I cannot avoid an all nighter BUT I will teach myself how to nap to make up for the loss of sleep and I am looking into a standing desk. It's wonderful to have passion for your career and put 200% into it but what is a career if you are not alive to do it?
4.) Learn to meditate
I feel my mind & my soul run on a different frequency which is wonderful but it also never seems to quiet down. The only time I can enter into complete relaxation & drift into the depths of my subconscious is during deep sleep full of beautiful & dark lucid dreams or during Acupuncture. I am no expert in holistic approaches to well being but I do know this-when I started acupuncture over a year ago some significant changes manifested. My work became more creative and I became more "aware". Have you seen the movie Lucy with Scarlett Johansson? Well picture the beginning stages of her becoming overly aware of everything but dial it back 8 notches, cut that in half then take the top off and water it down. That is how I feel at times, more in tune. I can hear more see more feel more. So, I HIGHLY recommend Acupuncture. It's relaxing and can heal so many ailments and improve so, so much.
What are your New Year Resolutions? Are you making them public like me? Do you want to one up me and Sky Write them? I dare you! :O)
Tis the season for being cozy! Comfy knits, leg warmers & my favorite little snuggle bear put me in the Holidays spirit. I've listed some of my favorite products right now for Winter that I use everyday.
The Voluspa Branche Vermeil Candle. OHHH MMMM GGGG. I have three of these candles burning always. It smells like a magic Christmas Tree! The official description from the website: BRANCHE VERMEIL WITH NOTES OF AN ICICLE CRUSTED BRANCH OF WINTER SPRUCE SNAPPED WITH HINTS OF CITRON, BALSAM AND SUGAR. I have no clue what Balsam is but sign me up! You will love this candle. Trust. It makes me want to jump down a chimney while drinking a cup of hot chocolate from Angelina's in Paris wearing an obscene amount of Red.
I am OBSESSED with Savannah Bee Royal Jelly Body Butter. I found this silky jar-o-heaven in a little boutique in San Francisco. Royal Jelly is such a powerful ingrediant with numerous health benefits. Never tested on animals and all natural ingredients and well the packaging is just adorable! It leaves my skin hydrated and soft.
Fresh Sugar Lemon eau de parfum is my everyday scent. In the summer months I use Hersperides Grapefruit but in the Winter I prefer to smell like a mild iced lemon sugar cookie. Who doesn't adore cookies? Regular perfumes can give me a little headache but these familiar scents always please my scenses and this is the only brand I love and wear.
Famed makeup artist and head of Social Media & Public Relations for theBalm cosmetics, Keira Rowland visits the Alloria Winter studio to demonstrate the top 3 makeup looks for a Boudoir photo shoot. Side note, I adore this force of a woman! She's smart as a whip, talented and one of the most stunningly beautiful dames I've ever seen. The first time we met a few years ago I approached her and no joke I said, "You look like an exotic animal, you are stunning and I must photograph you!" In her own words, Keira takes us through the makeup she created for me and on her own beautiful face. My roots are soooo dark. Sigh.....
1. The Bombshell
"This look is by far, one of my favorite looks...everything is kept soft, but still impactful. Keeping to soft browns and pinks really let's a woman's natural features take center stage. The overall effect is ultra-feminine, but at the same time effortless." Keira
Eyes: Laura Mercier caviar stick in "Sandglow" / Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette, shades "Salted Caramel" and "Hazelnut"
2. The Vixen
"For those of you looking to make more of a statement, nothing says "1950's Hollywood Glamazon" like a bold red lip, winged eyeliner, and creamy skin. Here, I used matte tones of ivory and beige to give subtle definition to the eyes, while keeping the focus on the crisp eyeliner and bold cocktail of color she created on my lips." Keira
Eyes: MAC Eyeshadows "Brule" and "Soft Brown" / theBalm "Schwing" liquid liner
Cheeks: NARS blush in "Madly"
Lips: NARS "Jungle Red" lip liner, theBalm BalmGirls lipstick in "Mia Moore"
3. The Minimalist
"Who says you need a full face of makeup on a Boudoir shoot? If you don't wear makeup on a regular basis, a full face can feel out of character, so go with what feels comfortable. Here I stuck to clean, glowing skin, a few coats of mascara, and a fun, bright color on her lips to mix things up. "Switching up your lip color is the easiest way to transform your look, all the while still feeling like yourself. If red or dark intimidates you, try a berry, or deep pink. It keeps the look modern." Keira
Cheeks: NARS multiple in "South Beach"
Today I look like a shiny peach sitting on a bed of ethereal moss. Mixing patterns, colors & textures can be exquisite. I believe you can match by not matching. It's an art. I try to stay away from colors I cannot find in nature and patterns with sharp angels. Neon yellow does not exist in my closet. These rich green velvet pants from Anthropologie are perfect for Autumn while my J Crew sequence top is the color of my fruit topping on my Greek yogurt last night. Jeweled, mauve, satin Badgley Mischka heels compliment both the green and the peach while giving that Cinderella feel minus the chores. The red lips tie it all together. A neutral Chanel bag is the icing on this vintage colored cake. A CC can do that :) Please note, I personally believe there are only a few scenarios in which sequence is acceptable: Vegas, Halloween, New Years, Holiday Parties & this outfit.
Lip Color Panoramic by Hourglass
Do not Starve
While I encourage you to eat clean, perhaps try a light juice cleanse and ditch alcohol and cigarettes a good week or two prior to your photo shoot, I strongly urge you to NOT starve yourself. I cannot tell you how many clients have showed up to my studio on an empty stomach deliriously looking at me like I was a double cheeseburger with avocado and bacon. I am not a cheeseburger. I have green eyes and enjoy long walks on the beach. One time I came back from the rest room only to find the sheets stripped from the bed with my client climbing down the side of the building. When she made it to street level she could be seen running full speed towards Pizza Hut in her undies. Well maybe that didn't happen but it will at some point. Just eat clean ditch the vices and have a light nutritious non bloating meal two hours before you arrive.
Listen to Beyonce instead of sappy love songs
Delete all of your sad love songs from your daily play list if you have any. You need to be up beat and confident. We need you to believe you are Beyonce. Therefore I suggest replacing all of your music the days prior to your photo shoot to Beyonce only. I will even call you Sasha Fierce or Bae if you prefer. It will be great.
Someone told me I should write an article on how to look sexy in photos. I love this idea since I teach this to my Boudoir photography clients but I wanted to apply sexy to real life. Whether you are single, in a serious relationship or dating, hopefully something you read here will apply to you. First off, I am NOT an expert. If you want to send me to the “those that can’t, teach” corner that’s just fine. I’ll sit in the corner in my Louboutin's applying my lip-gloss slowly.
I will list five ways to be sexy and if you would like to hear more, comment, give me feedback and let me know and I will add more. I would also LOVE to hear your top ways to be sexy too!
Ok, and away we go….
1. Be a Unicorn
Yes, you read that right. Be.A.UNICORN. Discover what makes you unique and rare & graciously self promote the hell out of it without being obnoxious. OWN what makes you unique. For myself, I have always loved ethereal things and I have let this trickle into my entire way of life. When others wore flannels back in the day (yes I know this is back in style now) I wore baby pink and lace. My pastel wardrobe has always looked like the Easter bunny vomited all over my closet but that’s just ME. You wore black I wore vintage yellow. You collected nose rings I collected fairy statues. You wanted to watch The Notebook I wanted to watch Lord of the Rings. You got a tattoo on your lower back of a butterfly I wore a necklace over my head like the Childlike Empress in the Never Ending Story. You wanted to get drunk at a bar I wanted to look for lizards under rocks. Wear what makes you different on your sleeve like a badge of honor aka your social media and any other visible trails to who you are as a person. Being a Unicorn means you are not like every other girl trying to copy every other girl. You don’t follow trends you INVENTED the word trend because you are…THE MOST INTERESTING GIRL IN THE WORLD!!
2. Smile with your eyes
Smiling with your mouth is easy but try smiling with your eyes only. Smiling with your eyes takes digging in to your soul for some real warm emotion, enough to make you slightly squint until you get that little sparkle. It’s a real thing. I promise. I do it, I see it and it is possible to learn and teachable. Practice it in the mirror. Think of something that makes you so completely happy and imagine it warming your entire body in delightful comfort. This is what is actually physically feels like while you are doing it: your eyeballs are slightly pushing forward, (not in a creepy way) eyes are closing just a little, an upside down C curve on your bottom lids and then boom…sparkles in your iris, like opening presents on your favorite Holiday or opening the oven & smelling your perfectly soft milk chocolate chip cookies. If someone interested in you catches a glimpse of you smiling this way, they will never forget it. You will permanently be etched into their memory bank of the happy girl that smiled with pure uninhibited joy. Then your eyes are no longer a cliché’. They really are the windows to that beautiful soul. A smile goes a long, long way. I once had a guy tell me he dated a girl simply because her smile was similar to mine, that her face lit up but it didn’t work out because in the end she was a jerk and hello…I’m awesome. Moving on…
3. Tell an embarrassing story about yourself
Nothing gross, come on now use your head here, you don’t want to turn anyone off. But something like-“when I was 16 and already grounded my friends showed up outside of my window in a stolen golf cart and I climbed out of my window hopped on the cart and painted the town red going 10 miles per hour until we turned the corner face to face with a cop car and we all bolted. I climbed the gate to what I thought was my friend’s backyard and ran through a stranger’s house and hid in the closet with a Smurf blanket over my head. The police officer found me took the blanket off my head, which left my hair sticking straight up from static electricity, cuffed me and took me home and I offered him low fat milk in hopes he would let me go. It did not work. Milk is not a good bargaining chip. My parents grounded me, again. I am still grounded to this day and writing this from my childhood bedroom.
4. Be yourself, don’t be a clone
Clones aren’t even legal in the U.S. anyway. Have your own identity. Keep your own identity. Have your own interests and never try to adopt the interests of the object of your desire. That isn’t to say you cannot partake in their interests but a girl with her own passions, own style, own hobbies is an attractive self-assured desirable creature.
5. Let out your inner Nerdy Goofball
If you think your man won’t like you singing Usher’s love song "Climax" at the top of your lungs while driving to lunch, flailing hand gestures included, well you are soooo wrong. He will proudly look at all of the other drivers making fun of you, pointing, and say to himself, “ yep, that girl with the worst voice ever imitating an R&B singer is mine all mine”.
A few little teasers from a behind the scenes video in Hidden Valley of me doing what I do, shooting breathtaking photos with beautiful souls.
Picture a barn, oak trees, the sound of crickets and a TIRE SWING! I climbed, I fell and I did not conquer the tire swing. Besides the mosquito bites I'm sure to discover tomorrow, I had such a nice time stomping in my boots chasing that magic witching hour of the sunset with two beautiful clients. I cannot wait to edit these photos!
My softbaby blue flannel is made by Rails and this dreamy lace off the shoulder number is The Ethereal Senorita top made by Jen's Pirate Booty for Free People. Photos, the video and client wardrobe available in the very near future but for now, enjoy!
This Chanel necklace is meant to be worn on my head, clearly. With all of the lovely jewels and beautiful French Designed Va Et Vient dress, I chose to be barefoot on wet grass and tree stumps. I felt like I was five years old again.
The two beautiful cuff bracelets I picked up in San Francisco for around $5 each but you wouldn't know it if you saw them. They pair perfectly with the much pricier Chanel.
My stunning regal ring is from Armenta, a jewelry designer I drool over. The link doesn't do it justice but it is a beautiful sea green and my favorite piece of jewelry at the moment. It is my power ring.
I believe every woman has that good luck power piece within their closet. If I forget to wear it or misplace it, it is a bad, bad day for anyone within a five block radius.