Makeover madness

Cheek detail, originally uploaded by Zardoz67.

Something a little different today before I drag you all kicking and screaming back to the landscapes. First, it’s a picture with an actual real-life person in it (my daughter) and second, it’s a picture that was not taken with the wide-angle lens (which has proved especially hard to put down since it cost so much). Many moons ago in my post ‘Nifty fifty’ which appeared somewhere right at the start of the blog I eulogised about the cheap Canon 50mm prime lens and how wonderful it was for portraits and getting great depth of field. Since then I have used it quite a lot for pictures of the family but I haven’t blogged a picture taken with this lens for some time.

So here it is. On Saturday my daughter went to her friend’s ‘makeover and pampering party’ and it appears to me that the life of your average 7-year-old girl is a never-ending whirl of parties and social engagements. On picking her up I was surprised to find that my daughter had been replaced with a seemingly older child with nail varnish, hair extensions and a rather interesting facial disfiguration. It’s also fair to say that she had gone for one of the more ‘subtle’ looks on offer. Of course, knowing full well that it would have to to be washed off come bath time, she asked me to photograph her new look for posterity.

It is said by many, and to a certain extent I agree, that children, especially girls, grow up to early nowadays. Certainly, in our celebrity-obsessed culture they seem to be under increasing pressure to be slim, beautiful and able to sing and dance at a moments notice. You are expected to know about High School Musical, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Camp Rock (featuting that strange phenomenon known as The Jonas Brothers) or face being ostracised from your peer group. Thankfully, my daughter seems to be quite level-headed and sensible and has realised quite quickly that feigning interest can be just as acceptable (don’t tell anyone but she doesn’t actually like Miley Cyrus that much). She seems to have a huge group of friends and works hard to ensure that circle is maintained through choir, dance classes, musical instruments, gift and card giving, friendship bracelets, etc, etc.

My son on the other hand has fewer friends but it appears that his friendships are closer. Not being any good at football has had an impact, but thankfully there are many kindred spirits who are as au fait with the world of X-Box, Doctor Who and trench warfare as he is. Maybe this is a basic difference between girls and boys and I have wasted many hours trying to figure out a certain dichotomy that exists in that my daughter, the social butterfly with a wide circle of friends, finds it a lot more difficult to interact with people she doesn’t know than my son who doesn’t think twice about walking up to an unfamiliar child and striking up a conversation/friendship. If, as a family, we’re on a beach my son will make a friend within minutes and be off playing cricket with some another family’s children, whilst my daughter will take hours to build up the confidence to join in. Of course the answer is that it’s just human nature; we are all at the mercy of our own genetic make ups and maybe first-born children have that period on their own when they have to strike-up friendships? Second-born children always have the lead of their elder sibling to follow, which can perhaps result in a lack of confidence.

Of course the wearing of a mask or disguise can do wonders for your confidence and the little girl who came home from the party with a painted face & nails and purple hair extensions was a supremely confident individual. Unfortunately, it all washed off in the bath.

As for the image, I like the shallow depth of field with the eye and design in sharp focus and the hair and ear (and, thankfully, the purple hair extensions) becoming blurred in the background. I really must do more with this lens as I have been focussed more on wide open spaces (as the rest of this week will no doubt show) than intimate close ups. Comments are always welcome on any of my ramblings…


About Mark

I am a 43-year-old amateur photographer from Chester, Cheshire UK. I took up digital photograpy a couple of years ago after hitting 40. See it as my mid-life crisis. Unfortunately, unlike, say, forming a band, having a tattoo or buying a motorcycle I have come to realise that the particular hobby I have chosen as a means to escape the drudgery of the day job is probably one of the most expensive. On May 12th 2009 I spent a marvellous informative day with professional photographer Stewart Randall. This has prompted me to take my photography more seriously and, although I don't expect it to lead to a career change, maybe sell or license some of my images so that I can fund my hobby. I hope you like the images I post and please feel free to comment. All constructive criticism is welcomed. This blog will document my attempts to get to grips with the digital medium and see if I can get some wider recognition for my images. View all posts by Mark

41 responses to “Makeover madness

  • iloveseoul

    She looks like a flower elf.

  • avnjl

    Greetings from Singapore,
    Good entry! Loved the part about your children’ growing up experience. 🙂 Stunning picture to introduce your girl.
    Good Job!

    Amanda Val

  • growin up « Beautiful Life

    […] Confessions of an amateur photographer  – Makeover Madness […]

  • alex wyler

    Wow! Nice shot man! Good flowers, I really like it!

  • Zoey

    Beautiful ! love that catch light in her eye – enjoyed your post, love the look of your blog I’m a very amateur photographer who owns digital point and shoots and often (yikes) use my cell too for shots cause it’s so darn convenient. I love when the sharp image and background blurred shots work so magically Keep up the good work

  • jenn

    love the details, the contrast of “out of focus” and vivid sharp foreground! adore the colours and of course, your daughter’s cute little face-:) keep it up. I have a dream, a dream to take up photography too…but maybe not now, just yet.

  • Mark

    I am touched by all your comments. Many thanks. I have been plugging away at this blog for nearly a year now and was delighted to get 90 views a day earlier this year. For some reason this post has appealed to people and now I find it’s on the front page of wordpress… Gobsmacked. Alex, to answer your question it was taken close-up with a 50mm prime lens, no wide angle involved. Thanks again…

  • 1dental

    Beautiful picture! Saw it on the wordpress homepage. Thanks for posting 🙂

  • Isaac

    Wow, very neat photo, great job!

  • man1c

    First blog & reply for me today!!!!

    Interesting point about following the older sibling, good ol Big Sis was always there to do the present wrapping, remembering the birthdays etc and as you say was always there to hide behind, should the situation arise. Guess now i’m 43 I should be remembering birthdays etc, lucky for me my wife seems to remember them better than I do (maybe its a gender thing? 😉 ) Nice portrait and dof, good subtle lighting.


  • alice-in-wonder

    Stopped over on from the WP home page.. stunning pic, this.

  • Nicholas Snelling

    Wait until she gets a little older – than all the worries start. It is great to have a daughter but, my goodness, what a worry!!!

  • Andrew Fox

    I remember that little girl’s violin recital! Great picture.

  • purelycarrie

    Shall try and copy this Beautiful Face Art on my Girls.

    Believe in Yourself and your Artist will Shine Through.

    Looking Forward to Connecting on Twitter – @purelycarrie

  • Mark

    Wow. And wow again! This post has now had 1700 hits in one day. Thank you all and I hope at least some of you will come back! The fact that so many of you like my picture means a great deal to me. Cheers!

  • Patrick Pyatochkin

    love the details, the contrast of out of focus and vivid sharp foreground! adore the colours and of course, your daughters cute little face-:) keep it up. I have a dream, a dream to take up photography toobut maybe not now, just yet.

  • euloghia


  • Melissa

    What an extraordinary photo. (Congrats on making the “front page” of WordPress.) I love the depth of field. I don’t use my 50mm as much as I should. I shoot gardens and landscapes primarily but on the rare occasion I grab a great shot of one of my sons, I’m thrilled – as you must be with this photo.

    • Mark

      Thanks Melissa. I am thrilled and I have no idea why I made front page. I don’t use the 50mm as much as I should either but after today I might have to

    • Mark

      Thanks Melissa. I am thrilled and I have no idea why I made front page. I don’t use the 50mm as much as I should either but after today I might have to.

  • vividity

    Hi Mark! Firstly, nice shot. Love the close-up and short depth of field. Secondly, enjoyed your musings on growing up and growing friendships. Thanks for sharing. And Thirdly, congrats on making front page of wordpress (that’s how I found you.) Enjoy the increased patronage of your blog! I’ll be sure to come back and check out your landscapes. It’s nice when people take the time to leave comments, isn’t it?!

    • Mark

      Thanks so much. Today has been a bit mad. I’ve been writing the blog for almost a year now and the excitement was at a crescendo when I got 100 views at one point last year. I have no idea why WordPress chose my blog to go on the front page; it’s a complete mystery to me. When I started writing the blog it became obvious that I was going to paint myself into corner if I focused solely on photography (and expose myself as a clueless idiot) which is why I tend to go off topic. Yes it is lovely when people take time to leave comments. Not sure about increased patronage but if only 1% of people come back I’ll have increased my readership. Thanks again. I am overwhelmed

  • ishabelle

    awww…. how cute… the tattoo is cute too… 🙂 great angle! 🙂

  • Lakia

    I really like your pic 🙂

  • ugogo

    the pictures awesome.

    -the end.

  • Maryanne

    I think you captured this very well and it’s understandable why you made the Home page of WP. This photograph says a lot without there actually being too much. Congrats!

  • KallyLyn

    She reminds me of my little sister! 🙂 In our culture little girls are made/allowed to grow up too fast… But the sparkles do make for a neat photo. 🙂

    Congrats on making the main page, from a fellow photographer!

  • softballgirl78

    Good post. That is a wonderful picture of your little girl. You have skills as a photographer! 🙂

  • lubna

    its nice to know that instead of stopping ur baby girl stopping from doing all the crazy stuff , u understood in a very cute way and shared it wid us. i enjoyed reading ur article

  • martinemussies

    Beautiful picture! I love your work and your blog, keep it up! Best wishes from the Netherlands, xMM

  • Grapefruit

    Love the photo! Beautiful 🙂

  • Renée

    I like this entry. You seem to have a very balanced approach to how your daughter is navigating her way through this complicated, harried culture. It’s not easy, I know. I have teenagers myself and if it’s not already hard enough finding my own way, it’s sure another story when we have to guide our kids through it.

    I think the interesting thing about the “confidence” that comes with the wild hair and makeup, etc. is that it’s really like playing, like having a medium for amplifying aspects of ourselves. I believe that we humans have an innate need for theatre, expression, drama, entertainment…all sorts of things like that. It’s innocent and childlike and beautiful. What a shame that it gets exploited by those who just want to make money. But true artistry…ah, that’s something else altogether.

    I think that your photography—and your writing—is true artistry. Glad to have found your blog. 😀

    • Mark

      That is very sweet of you! I’m not about having a balanced approach but I’m taking it a step at a time (I only have brothers so I’m not really that au fait with the world of little girls). She is keeping a diary, which I’m not allowed to read, an nor would I, but my wife is. Apparently her New Year’s resolution is to ‘be less shy’ yet she is surrounded by friends. You are so right about the confidence… when she is ‘acting’ or ‘playing’ she is fine – it’s real life that she has trouble with. Thank you for the kind words about my blog although I wouldn’t go as far as ‘artistry’. Hope you come back

  • Maria

    LOVE!!!! I’m getting some for my daughter..and sister..and for myself too :))

  • Ilze Oosthuizen

    Enjoyed your blog ! Your pics dont look like you are an amateur photographer though… decided this week to take up photography again…so I know what exactly “amateur” means! Good work.

  • Angela

    Hi I like your blog a lot and will come back more often. Your pics are really nice

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