Plastic Portrait


What makes a good portrait?


I really love this one, part of a series of self portraits I took when I was beginning a Self-as-canvas project, adding variously coloured streaks to my hair to represent the ages of womanhood.  It’s a pretty genuine, honest, authentic capture of me, I feel.  I have a strong gaze and comfortable pose.  The side lighting adds colour, drama, sculpting – it makes me look thinner than I am.   It is edited, selected from others that were less flattering, I increased the contrast and saturation very slightly to emphasize the sculpting.  I believe I smoothed my skin ever-so-slightly.  Still, you can see the fat in my arms, the slightly dimpled uneven skin, some wrinkles on my chest and neck, my dark under eyes…

I could go on….why am I bothering to tell you all this?  Well, because this is what we all do, we scrutinize our images, looking for faults, never good enough.  And now, as never before, we can ‘improve’ them, smooth away our flaws.  Messenger does it for us.  Apps abound to edit away all that is unwanted.  And, where my friends does that leave us?

If we struggle so much now with self acceptance, body love, aging, how will our children manage in the age of the Plastic Portrait?


As a photographer, I work with many women, and I have yet to meet one who dosn’t struggle with how she looks.  I see the same with men, but the rhetoric is different.  I am focusing here on my own experiences, and images captured as an extended self portrait process to explore this and hopefully reveal something both about myself, but also about all women, and even society and what the culture of the plastic portrait is ushering in.  My greatest desire, though, of course is to inspire change, to embolden women to take back their art, radicalize the selfie, create portrayals of beauty that go far beyond the merely slim, fit, youthful, firm, happy.  Now that each of us has the tools in our hands, will we wield them?  How will we choose to use our smart phones and cameras and editing apps and software?  What imagery will we broadcast to the world about women, beauty, youth, aging, diversity, inclusion, consumerism?


Compare the following three images!  They are all me, one taken by a loving partner with a pro Nikon, the other two selfies taken with an ipad.  My expressions in each are loving, sweet, feminine, even sexy.  I know that I am adored, that I am attractive, either by another, or by myself.  The first two are a couple of years earlier, and perhaps I look younger.

For all of you that are really loving the first of the three!  Really?  Shame on you!

It’s been edited out of reality.  Every blemish, mole, wrinkle, imperfection on my face has been removed, smoothed out.  My skin has never looked like this, not even when I was 5!  I don’t pluck my eyebrows and there are errant hairs there, as well as on my chin. ;) The colour and brightness of my eyes has been enhanced a lot, as well as my lip colour.  I don’t know how to alter the shape of my jaw, otherwise I would have made it less rounded and ‘chubby’!  Oh, did I mention I added the auburn streaks into my hair in post?

The second two images were both taken on ferry trips back home after glorious Summer adventures.  I am happy, sun baked.  In the first, I was clearly feeling sexy and wanting to share that, longing to reconnect with my lover at home, no doubt!  The setting sun fills in all my wrinkles, and gives me a glorious glow, accentuating my cleavage with my honey drop pendant!  I am sure I pumped the saturation a little and warmed up the image to bring out that gold and auburn.

The last image is by far my favourite.  It’s me, it’s really me.  I mean the other two are as well.  But this one is just me looking at me without much attempt to add or take away.  I remember exactly how I felt  and what I wanted to capture of that moment and myself in it – I felt loving towards myself, grateful for my life, deeply proud and honoring of that stage of my journey.  I think it shows.  I think the image is faded slightly, and there is a vignette on it.  But it shows my skin, my eyes as they are.

I am a 48-50 year-old woman!  Am I attractive?  Are you attracted to me? Are you curious abut my story?  My motivations?  My gifts?

Which image is more alluring to you?




And then there’s happiness!

We can’t possibly show the world we are sad, lost, unfulfilled, angry, broken.

I love these two!  One shows me blurred, arguing, which frankly is the way a lot of people see me.  The other is a selfie on a bad day, I’m frowning.  I shared this one on social media, and got critiques from my friends – who wants to see this, this is not who you are, how you usually are Belinda!  We only want yoru cheerful, dynamic, or sexy side.  Both images are edited for different effects, one black and white to emphasize the blur, the other made more green to bring out the gloom.




So, really what does all this say?  I’m not sure.  I haven’t included an image yet that I simply don’t like of myself, where I look kind of fat, or super asymmetrical, or cross-eyed like most of the images from my childhood.

Here’s one that is me happy, natural, laughing – but, I don’t like it!  Why?  I look too old, too fat….I smoothed out the wrinkles just a tad here, can you tell?


Join me in creating, capturing and spreading a more diverse imagery of beauty, or women, and of men.  Join me using the tools of technology, or iPhones, apps and editing to create a radical art of beauty, not just a false art of erasure, of plastic portraits.

How can we show age, show process, show ourselves as works of art that aren’t only a harking back to a bye-gone barbie wanna be?

These three reflecting on grey!  The first is a self-portrait session from the second phase of my self-as-canvas project, I added the grey streaks to the blond streaks, the crone to the innocent.  I donned some ceremonial dress!  The second image is perhaps the most intense edit I have ever done on a portrait, emphasizing the markings of my skin as much as possible, like an etching, and ode to experience, my gaze intense, my mouth dead serious!  The last, again, an iPad selfie on a day when I just needed to love myself, my greys, my wrinkles, my rough skin, the light in my eyes, and just really really soften into myself, my journey and my self love!



So, there it is, a little more about me, what drives me, what inspires me!

Come join me on Facebook at Apple Star Photo, check out my About Me page.  Contact me to tell me what you think, or to do a portrait session together, or to talk about beauty and aging in the era of the Plastic Portrait!


Gratitude to the many who inspired me,

~ my mother for always being radically bold and beautiful!

~Jade Baell, photographer and activist who pioneered The Beautiful Body Project

~Bonnie for her ground breaking site taht I saw first as a new mother before I had even heard of body positivity at

~Jess Baker, renowned writer, blogger and tireless advocate for body positivity at


#plasticportraits #applestarphoto #selfie #authenticportrait #honestportrait #selfportrait #thebeautifulbodyproject #abeautifulmamaproject #theshapeofamother #everybodyisbeautiful #radicalbeauty #bodypositivity #unfilterd #filters #plasticbeauty #selfascanvas #growingold #women #imagesofwomen


What if everything depended on you holding on?
What if everything depended on you letting go?



I am grateful for the wonderfully unique families I have the honour to photograph!

Happy Fall and Thanks Giving everyone.

#fallminiphotoplaysessions #applestarphoto #celebratefall #celebratefamily #gratitude #thanksGiving #vancouverphotographer #candidfamilyportraits #troutlake

Fall Mini Photo Play Sessions

Here’s a small taste of some of the gorgeous, cozy,

loving families I have photographed over the past week or so!

Lot’s more mini sessions happening.


Drop by for more information.


Enjoy these glorious Fall season everyone!

forage photography

I wandered down from my home near the ravine to Trout Lake,
criss-crossing through fields, alleys, bike-paths, the signs of Fall becoming.
I was on my way to a Photo Shoot,
but the journey between two points is so often my favorite place,
as I so love to wander, and see what gifts I encounter.
Here is wonderful Copley Community Orchard, an old spot where folks have likely gathered for ages to plant, to harvest, to picnic on the slight rise gazing over our glorious mountains. Old gnarled apple trees gift ‘imperfect’ sparkl
ingly delicious apples. A sole woman quietly offered, ‘There are apples in the basket if you are hungry.’
I pause, breath the air deeply and marvel at human’s interaction with nature, with the land, with her fruits. Grateful.
I wander, pause, breath, smell, listen, look. I pick an apple. I snap a photo.
I love my life so deeply at these moments.
And, I want to share them with you.
What wild or tended green spaces, growing spaces do you love?


is a way of using what you’ve got, it’s a kind of deep noticing, of gathering,
of gratitude for nature’s bounty.
I use my camera’s eye to gather signs, gifts, fruits and seeds, birds and bees,
mostly the wonderful, sometimes startling,
always deeply inspiring creative gestures of nature.
These images can stand alone, or they can document an adventure,
tell a story of place, or belonging, of food or medicine.
Even more so, though for me,
they can become an inner tracking.
After a photo forage wonder, I look carefully in my ‘basket of images’.
What treasures or signs are hidden there?
What song have I caught of the deep impulse of my wander?
Can I use the symbols in these images that speak to me to create
an intentional gesture of meaning and purpose?
Like reading the stars, listening to birds,
or tracking a wild creature,
my intuitive deeply creative impulse has a story for me.
What is it?

The seasons are shifting once again, Fall is here, Fall with her winds, her rains, her darkening skies and blazing sunsets.

She carries with her always memories of Summer, memories of Winter, of Spring.  For me she is the painter, the story-teller, the weaver, the song-catcher!  She teaches us the cycles, the Life~Death~Life cycles with the fiery blazing of yellow, orange, red leaves, their boldest right before their fall, with the flying, spinning, rolling, and rotting of seeds, that need to fall and crack open in order to germinate.

Fall beckons to us, doesn’t she?  Look at me, come hither, my bold brightness, my tussled locks flying, my stormy and bright moods racing across the evening sky.  Come pick my fruit, do not be afraid if my bark is ancient and gnarled.  Fear not the imperfect apple, uneven, speckled with brown spots, her tart sweetness will spark you awake!


Harvest, gathering, gratitude

So lovely to have this sole, quiet woman, resting alone offer me apples on my wander.  Would I have stopped to taste if she hadn’t been there, if she hadn’t said anything in her very quiet way?

Use what you’ve got, stumble upon meaning, chance encounters are often our best teachers.  The bees and wasps are very slow now, gathering their last morsels of sweetness, whiles spiders begin t weave.

What magic is here?


walk the wilds within
The images I gathered this day that stood out most distinctly for me
now that I ponder on them, and listen to my inner knowing,
are this one of the solitary woman, the brown-spotted apple,
the two crows ever present guardians, and the picked apple in my hands.
This quiet time is vital to me now, to hold space for my own deep nature connection,
I am the one who must tend to my inner wilds, and yet there are teachers on my path, friends and strangers alike, two-legged, two-winged and more…
The invitation is to notice, to practice focus and gratitude.
Also, this process of wandering, and gathering.  Out here, out here, the crows remind me.  They are the teachers of the skies, there blackness is etched in silhouette, like notes, letters, song tracks.  It is ancient and ever-present, like the voices of my ancestors.
I will follow their musical lines…
When I pause to accept the gift of the apple, I am not cast out of Eden, I am invited in.  When I bite into her deep bursting flesh, I am not poisoned, but rather blessed by the sweet knowledge Grand Mother Apple Tree, she knows she knows, she is rooted, she has seen it all, the spiders are weaving in her hair.
The message I receive is that I too am getting old, but I am planted here and thriving still, their are spiders starting to weave webs in my hair, but my gifts are many if I only I notice, take heed, express gratitude and follow my deep impulse to share them.
If you’d like to know more, go on a photo forage wander with me, or participate in Forage Photography Workshop, please contact me here at Apple Star Photo, or email at

wild woman of the lake

There are many reasons why a woman might want to walk the wilds within and discard layers of convention, expectations, self-concept, injury.

For some this process of entering a wilder state, and allowing nature’s embrace to hold her ~

the buoyant support or cleansing of the waters,

the ageless solid presence of rock,

the twisted sinews of root,

the secret cover of ferns, leaves seaweed, clay,

the rooting and falling of trees

For some this is a way to re write a story about her body and rekindle a spark of self-love.  For another, it may be a way to honour and embrace a transition, loss, realization. For yet another there may be some healing shifts around injuries embedded deep in our bodies.  And for others there may be a wilding ritual of female empowerment, a howl of rebirth, calling fourth a deep intuitive sense of belonging and purpose.

For all there is a journey towards and an encounter with a sometimes deeply buried wild self.  The results may be called a photographic relic, a trail of symbol to remind us, and call fourth that process of of inner tracking and how The Wild shows us the way, and offers many gifts, many songs and stories…..


#walkthewildswithin #awildwomanproject






#rewild #rewildphotography #forage #abeautifulbodyproject #bodylove #allbodisarebeautiful #wildwoman #howl #therapeuticphotography #healingart #noshame

Late Summer  Expectant Mama 

Glorious mama Kiera ready to welcome her little one Earth-side very soon. Thank you for trusting me to capture some beautiful images of this precious time on your parenting journey.

wild woman of the lake


I am honoured to photograph my brave friend!

She is a glorious wild woman holding space and honouring her edges. <3




a wild woman project ~ wild spa

“I feel like I washed away a lot of shame in that river.”

Beautiful wild women! It takes courage to walk into the river bare of all conventions, wild spa clay and forest greens help to honour our wild nature!


#wildspa #firemaker #elementalspa #awildwomenproject #wildwomanproject #wildmanproject #embodied #embodythewild #embodiedhealing #embodiedphotography #rewild #wildwomen #rewildphotography #therapeuticphotography #healingphotography #walkthewildswithin #deepnatureconnection #beautifulbodyproject #wildart #wildbody

Down to the River to Play

Beautiful Wild Woman Elizabeth at the Wild Spa at Firemaker this year! I have so much respect for you, Goddess, your vulnerability, strength, resilience and how you uphold your values and raise your son!!!!!


For most of us, it’s wonderful to decorate ourselves with mud, ferns, leaves, to walk, wildly decorated towards our own nakedness. For few of us, is it easy to stand naked and strong in the centre of the river. Elizabeth you are an inspiration.

#wildwomanproject #rewildphotography #wildspa #firemaker #goddess #bodypositivity #downtotherivertoplay #applestarphoto

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