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Summer Voices | Cathy Zielske | The Real Life Portrait Page Project


I'm on vacation this week and have invited some friends to share their voice here during my time away. Say hello to Cathy Zielske:

I'm going to tell you something today that I try to convey to just about anyone who'll listen: my house and my life are not perfect.

Don't get me wrong. I'm extremely grateful for the home in which I dwell and the life that I'm fortunate enough to lead, but you're not going to find perfection in either one.

This lack of perfection gave me an idea for a new way of taking portraits and it began with my 16-year-old daughter's perfectly trashed room. Her idea of cleaning is to take every item in her room and pile it up on her bed. Sounds like a great start, right? The problem is that many times the pile gets made and stays for days at a time, forcing her to carve out a tiny sliver of the bed on which to sleep while she procrastinates tackling the inevitable.

Because this is just so her, I was struck with the idea to prop her right in front of said bed, and shoot a portrait that truly captures an authentic slice of her real life.

And the results made me giddy.

I'm tired of the idea that a portrait should be perfection. Yes, I have some nice spots in my home in which to shoot, but this shot? This shot shows me a real slice of my daughter's life; something messy; something imperfect; something quintessentially her.

I want to challenge anyone out there to take up the Real Life Portrait Challenge. How can you photograph the people you love using a less than perfect background? I can only imagine the number of women out there with a perfectly trashed [insert the room here!] Have you ever thought how that just might be the ideal spot for a portrait?

What about in the room you've been trying to paint for the last year? Or the garden project that's hit a wall? Or the mismatched furniture in your family room that you keep thinking will look so much better once it's all replaced?

How can you look at your perfectly non-glamorous life for a slice of portrait perfection?

THE REAL LIFE PORTRAIT LAYOUT PROJECT


Today I have a digital package download for you to create your own page built around a perfectly imperfect portrait. Here is the project you'll be making:

The digital package includes everything you need to create a hybrid page as I've done, or a fully digital layout. Also included are a set of printable PDF instructions that will walk you through the steps using Photoshop Elements to create this scrapbook page.

Click on this link below to download the digital package:

Download the CZ Digital Package

Here's to seeing real life in creative and authentic ways. And heck, if it takes the pressure off of shooting for perfection, I say all the better.


ABOUT CATHY ZIELSKE | Cathy Zielske is a graphic designer, blogger, author, scrapbooker and online instructor who has recently become a big fan of reality. Just ask her therapist. You can find her online at cathyzielske.com or on Facebook or on Twitter. Author of the best selling Clean&Simple Scrapbooking and Clean&Simple Scrapbooking: the Sequel, one of her life’s missions is to take the crap out of scrapbooking, one awesome layout at a time.

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53 thoughts

  1. Alida says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks Cathy! Great page, and wonderful that she sat for the photo:)

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. telisj says…
    07/25/2012

    Love this idea!

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  3. Jane Taylor says…
    07/25/2012

    Have one very similar to you, but the bed is the only clear space!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Debbie says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks Cathy, I know where I will be taking my photo!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Kim S. (nerdgrl) says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks, Cathy. It's hard to believe how quickly your daughter's grown up! And, might I say, quite lovely too.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Mrs. V says…
    07/25/2012

    Thank you for the free digital package and the inspiration! It was fun to see your daughter's different expressions as well as hear the background of the story.

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  7. Lynn M says…
    07/25/2012

    Love this project! Ideas are running around in my head. Lots of choices. Thanks so much, Cathy Z.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Tammy Davis says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks so much, Cathy! I have avoided taking pictures in my scraproom. It is such a mess - thanks for giving me "permission" to record something that is definitely me!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. J3SS1C4 says…
    07/25/2012

    This is so something I need to do! I avoid taking photos of my less than perfect craft room because it's often messy and piled up... But to be honest, it's completely me too... Piles of started projects that keep getting shuffled around as I work on new things, and works of art and about a million and one supplies... I love being in there, so I should take more photos in there too! Thanks for the inspiration :-)

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  10. Celeste says…
    07/25/2012

    Thank you Cathy! and what an awesome idea!

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  11. Bec Kilgore says…
    07/25/2012

    You are the best, CZ!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Toni From says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks Cathy, I can't wait to do this. Your daughter is such a beauty, like her mama. My 8-year old has a messy room too, funny because we are all so different. I need to get a great photo of that this week. I have been meaning to, but this is the perfect motivation.

    thanks again!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Tara B says…
    07/25/2012

    Thank you so much for the idea and the digital package. I love it!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Kristine S says…
    07/25/2012

    AMEN!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. kelsey says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks for the inspiration. I too have a daughter whose room is a disaster. It drives me crazy because I'm a neat freak. I will be taking a picture of her in her room thanks to you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Debbi G. says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks so much Cathy! So generous fo you!

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  17. Julie C says…
    07/25/2012

    Thanks Cathy! Love it! My pictures are usually in front of my completely full and trashed computer cabinet or piled counters...but that's my life :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Krista says…
    07/25/2012

    I didn't even notice her treasures until I started reading the post - such pretty photos! I hope this "reality" catches on!

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  19. Cathy L. says…
    07/25/2012

    Love this! My daughter's room is a disaster too, don't think she'd pose for a portrait like this though!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Jamie R. says…
    07/25/2012

    great idea. thanks for the free download, Cathy.

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Jennifer says…
    07/25/2012

    I try to keep this idea in mind, especially when the most charming pictures of my daughter always seem to have the toilet in the background.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. ARC says…
      07/25/2012

      Hah, this is just like us. Our cluttered kitchen counter is *always* behind cute photos of my daughter painting, crafting, etc and it drives me nuts ;)

  22. Cynthia M. says…
    07/25/2012

    I'm not sure I could do it -- I want to make order and beauty in my layouts, not think about my clutter. On the other hand, I can totally see my family looking at albums in 20 years and thinking "I don't really remember it like this." Ha! I feel like a character from Orwell's dystopian novel "1984" -- wanting to make it just the way I've recorded it. You've certainly given me something to think about -- showing life "warts and all" in my scrapbooking!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Jess says…
    07/25/2012

    Thank you Cathy!! I love the inspiration and motivation that makes me run to my craft room and create a layout every time you post one you have done. Yay!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Linda says…
    07/25/2012

    Thank you, Cathy....for the layout and the words of wisdom! I am a recovering perfectionist, working on becoming a good enoughist!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Michelle McKean says…
    07/25/2012

    Love your inspiration Cathy. Thank you for the digital

    Reply 0 Replies

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