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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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Latest Shoot

Model - Paula S.

A recent test shoot I did with Paula, and make up by Emer Hawkins.

It has been a while since I did some new takes on beauty photography. This is first of a few tests I have done, in terms of experimenting on lighting, and ideas. I have always liked the traditional painting kind of portraits of women, and the sensitivity in their expressions. So this is still here, as have seen in my previous work.

As I have liked very much the last season's D&G runway look, I have decided to use their runway look for my beauty test, and a more modern - eccentric look, playing with the wet hair styling.

Model: Paula Idalia Szenejko
MUA & Hair: Emer Hawkins
All Rights Reserved 2015 - Berna V Photography

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Xmas Message

Just would like to drop a quick message for the special season, of friends and families.

It has been another great year, thanks to everyone who has been part of my life, there's a lot of things couldn't happened without you, and so blessed to feel I never lack of support from families and friends. It's xmas time again, and I'd like to use this opportunity to thank everyone, my past and current clients, collaborators, and friends. You all made my life wonderful, for everyone I met, worked with, I am always remembering you with all my heart full of thanks. 

Wherever you are, may your xmas fills with laughter, joy and love.


Friday, December 12, 2014

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Retouching an image of a Plus-size woman

I suppose many people from the retouching world (or not) woke up to this piece of article on your news thread this morning, about this lady (Marie Southard - an associate fashion & beauty editor | and asking 21 retouchers from around the world to make her look beautiful.

Right away, it feels the retouching aspect of things are put to questions again. Giving in recent years more and more people questioning about the ridiculous aspects of how much they photoshop people, which always makes a good piece of arguing subject.

Here's usually what you see people comment over about the 'over-retouching' issue:

- "OMG! I almost cannot recognise who she/he is!!"

- "That's how the glossy magazines make us real woman ashame of ourselves."

- "How can we comply to the society's standard of beauty when we are force-fed this is the image of a beautiful woman? When the woman on the front cover is not even 100% real!?"

- "Big girl is beautiful, we don't need to be retouched!"

So there has been quite a bit of negative view towards the retouching industry. I guess what people feel is that they are being lied to, when it's commonly known a picture can worth a thousand words, but what they see is not real. In daily occurrences being sold to an image that does not exist in real life. Now putting it that way into words, it does sound like a scam. So, is it?

I suppose is a bit of yes and no. But before we go any further, let's have a look (a few) what the retouchers whom Ms. Southard has contacted have sent her.


So what are we seeing here?? What is beautiful?

We can see the retouchers have retouched the image according to what their culture deem "beautiful", and it's a very subjective thing. Most of the retouchers also notably altered Ms Southard's facial structure, to make her looking rather a different ethnic, (so I wonder if they were under particular instructions, such as what is pretty in their culture specifically).

For me, the only one that really did the justice is the Australia one. The retoucher's only big change is the composition of the image, where the retoucher decided to give it a new crop. Besides that, the retoucher didn't make any drastic change, because indeed Ms Southard is already very pretty. She got good skin, nice shape of lips, eyes and nose. Her face is very symmetrical, no wonky bits or awkward features at all. So there's no need to change any of that.

Although I'm a bit surprised how many did not go out to fix the wrinkly  background, which makes me question if these retouchers are professional at all. Frankly, I am not all convinced they are "Photoshop Experts" as the title suggested! But hey! What's the fun if they are all highly regarded professionals, and did make Ms Southard very beautiful but not altered her shape or facial structures at all!?!

Now let's go back to the original picture of Ms Southard. In all fairness, it's more like a test for the retouchers' overall ability, and in taste too. Since we cannot see most of her body, so we cannot ridicule how plus-side woman are being photoshopped to comform the world's standard of beauty. And i think, clearly it's not the focus of the experiment. (Even though we were pushed into that direction with the said title: "How 21 Photoshop Experts "Fixed" a Plus-Size Woman". )

Back to the retouching business, it is a skilled professional job. And for those who does it as a professional for a living, there are levels of experiences. Some are naturally better because they are more experienced. The urging questions that many people have as to why people (mostly celebrities to be honest) being photoshopped so much!?

I think the answer is pretty simple, the retoucher were being paid and directed as to how the images should come out as a result. If you compare how many celebrities being over-airbrush (on their face and body), and how many fashion models' faces or body being photoshopped. The result has significantly shown the celebrities has a much higher tendency being crazily photoshopped.

And here's some well known examples:

I think it's not fair that retouchers are always being blamed for the over-the-top retouching, when the truth is the retouchers are just one of the people on a payroll, being paid and being told what to do.

So if people has to blame the unrealistic photoshop images, "making women feels bad about themselves"; the right people to blame are the involved celebrities, the magazine's chef editor, the fashion designer (or artistic director) or the photographer who directed the retoucher. These are the people who directed the retouchers, as they care about how their images (or work) being seen, and how they could not be "faulted". Oftenly with that kind of issue, the realistic bits can becoming vanished.

So I hope no one is too serious about the over retouching issue again. If you are the one who pay the retoucher, you have the right to tell them what you want to see, even if you wanted six legs and four hands! That's where the retouchers coming in for, to make the impossible happen!

Lastly, although I'm not a professional retoucher, I had a little play and spent 10 minutes on MS Southard image. Since I don't have her hi-res image, I didn't go on very detailed retouching.

Same as the Australian retoucher, I agreed the image needed a new crop, and just to minor adjust lighting, and the only drastic thing I had to do, was her unruling out-of-bed hair. In addition, giving her a bit healthy colour on cheeks and lips, and as you would do with your make up, covering up a bit the black bags under the eyes.

Here's my take on the image:



If you are interested to see what would you do to the image, you can get the image from the original article of Ms Southard.


Friday, November 21, 2014

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A Day At Portebello Market

Back in September I had the pleasure to work with the fashion blogger - Elle Lee (, a very bubbly lady and one of the top fashion blogger based in Hong Kong.

During her stay for the London Fashion Week, we set out to do a few small series of her strolling around London with her amazing outfits, as part of her blog and for her audience.

Here's part one, just two girls and a camera, enjoying ourselves strolling around Portebello Market, one of the most famous market in the world. And probably, the most colourful too!

For the full story of Elle's journey at the Portebello Market, you can now read it here:

To my experience, Elle is very different to a lot of fashion blogger I followed, and definitely one of the more poetic one, with lovely flare in her writing, if you are not following her yet, I highly recommend it ;)

Here's a selection of our day.

Friday, November 7, 2014

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Supermodel Coco Rocha Strikes 1,000 Poses In 360 Degrees

To me, supermodel Coco Rocha has always been a very inspirational figure, not just because she's a supermodel, her work ethnic, but also her daring nature and often stand up to address important issues which made her a rather important role models to a lot of women.

So when I hear about her latest adventure with photographer Steven Sebring, publishing a 2,000-page tome from HarperCollins called The Study of Pose, I got very excited indeed!!!

Rocha has always been known in the circle as the 'Queen of the Pose', and in this e-book, featuring Rocha in a simple leotard, under a single light source, audience gets to see Rocha contorts herself into 1000 different poses in 360 degree!! I'm sure this will not only be an importance reference source for any new models, but also invaluable to photographers who want to get references to relate to their ideas and concepts. From seeing some samples of the book, I think a lot of traditional figure artists will also love it to bits!!

"One of the things that Rocha is most proud of about the book, however, is its radical, unedited honesty. Since the forthcoming e-book allows readers to rotate the image, there are countless angles from which Rocha looks graceless—the opposite of a model. When Rocha does traditional modeling, there’s often a team of people using smoke and mirrors—or more literally, clamps and a wind machine—to make sure the image they’re projecting to the single camera looks perfect. In Sebring’s all-seeing dome, “there were no clamps, no wind machine,” she says.
“It was just full-on Coco,” says Sebring."

For a complete interview with Rocha and Sebring and samples, you can read it here:


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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[NEWS]: Important Changes to Facebook Page

A few days ago, Facebook has forced my personal page (reserved for photography businesses & contacts) into a public business page. So a lot of people on my contact list is now forced to change to as a "follower" on my new business page on facebook (Here:

Unfortunately, because a business page doesn't work the same as a personal page, i.e. I cannot initiate a private message; therefore I have no choice but to open up a new personal page that is solely for business use only. As a freelance photographer, we rely a lot on personal contacts, to maintain a relationship with anyone who has a potential to work together on a project. And Facebook's decision on forcing my personal page into a new business page has taken that away completely.

So if you were wondering why you were being invited to be friend with me again, please don't be alarm, it is not a fake account.

My new personal account is:

I'd be very honoured to have you on my friend list again.

Before this happened, I already have an existing business page, therefore I'd be closing the old one up shortly. If you are a follower on the old one but not the new one, you can follow me on my new page here:

The old business page that is going to be deleted shortly is this one:

Thank you.

Monday, August 18, 2014

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Actor Portfolio Shoot

It has been a while since I last shooting for actor's book. This time round I'm so happy that I went back to the basics, and shot this set of pictures for Brandon. Photography style
is very raw, it's all about the character.  It all came through very nicely and strongly, and I am very happy with the result.

Last but not least, very glad to have the opportunity to shoot with Brandon, who normally works and lives in Japan.

Brandon Francis 

Copyrights: Berna V Photography