Every year on the 8th of December the city of Lyon, France celebrates the Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières).

It began in the 17th century – during a particularly horrible plague the city council swore to pay tribute to Mary if their town was spared. The town lives, and so does the festival in Mary’s honor.

Citizens traditionally light candles in the windows of their homes, and in addition to the religious lighting displays, there are many professional, municipal installations.

It looks like every type of light can be found somewhere in the city. From fires to huge floodlights to lasers to digital projection onto the building facades.

Not surprisingly, the festival has become a huge tourist draw, they were expecting over 4 million people at the four day event this year.

All these photos are from this year’s festival. The variety of displays is amazing.

The city is beautiful all year long, but during the festival it literally shines.

I have never been, but every year I look at the photos and sigh…

Have a lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes


all images from the official Fête des Lumières website

Categories: photographs, Travel | 4 Comments »

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Delightful Windows

Nov 27, 2012

As the weather gets colder and fall draws to a close, I find these incredibly realistic dioramas by Patrick Jacobs a wistful reminder of warmer days.

Each diorama is set into the gallery wall and viewed through a glass window. Some of the scenes are super tiny (3 inches or less) some are slightly larger, but all of them are peaceful, idealized landscapes.

I love the feeling of peeking into another world.

The longer I live in a city, the more I feel like the outside world, nature, is under lock and key, and I feel lucky to catch a glimpse of it.

Have a beautiful Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes


all images from Patrick Jacobs’ website

via Booooooom

Categories: photographs | 2 Comments »

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Oct 30, 2012

Each year National Geographic Traveler Magazine holds a photography contest. This year there were entries from over 6,615 photographers and 152 countries. The winners are posted now, and they are amazing.


Second Place Winner - My Balloon by Vo Anh Kiet, shot in Moc Chau, Son La province, Vietnam.

Looking at these beautiful photos of far away places, makes my wandering foot itch. I love nothing more than the sense of excitement, that feeling that anything can happen, that you get when you land in a new place.

Merit Winner - The Village of Gásadalur by Ken Bower. The village of Gásadalur and the island of Mykines in the background.

Merit Winner - Looking into Another World Photo by Fred An, a shot of the great Japanese maple tree in the Portland Japanese Gardens.

Merit Winner -Underwater Surf by Lucia Griggi, this image was taken at an outer reef in Fiji.

Viewers' Choice Winner - Huset by Michelle Schantz , taken in Finnmark, Norway.

It is amazing how diverse and beautiful our world is. When we are stuck in our own private grinds we sometimes forget that. Traveling is a great way to remind us, even planning a trip can make the most mundane of days glow a little bit.

Merit Winner -Lost in Time - An Ancient Forest by Ken Thorne, taken in a sacred Baobab forest, near the city of Morondava, on the West coast of Madagascar

Wherever your road take you…

Happy Trails,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

all images from the National Geographic Traveler Magazine website

PS – Pamela over at Sweet Peach has been writing about her trip to Italy and Wow – I know Italy is a slam dunk pretty much any time, but her stories so make me want to be there.

Categories: photographs | 1 Comment »

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Sign language

Oct 23, 2012

Hello dear friends, it’s Naomi Bulger of Messages in Bottles here.

Recently I came across the blog of photographer Nirrimi Firebrace, and it has been haunting me ever since. There is something so incredibly touching, raw and intimate about her photography.

Nirrimi is so young. But by just 19 she had already found love, travelled the world, forged an international career, and given birth to a baby girl, Alba.

And I was struck by the contrast between her words and her images. Her words are every bit what you would expect of a young woman just beginning to find her path in the world.

But her images! Her eye is that of an old soul. I keep coming back to these photographs, again and again. Soft, natural light. Unexpected crops. Stolen moments.

This afternoon I sat with my father, also a photographer, and looked through image after image in one of Nirrimi’s posts, trying to figure out what it was that so spoke to my soul.

“The hands,” he said. “Look what the hands are doing. Here. And here. And here.”

He was right. In frame after frame, hands told a piece of a story. Sign language. Take a look here, and tell me what you think.

Categories: photographs | 3 Comments »

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I am so excited about this installation idea. Tasha Lewis made 400 butterflies with small, powerful magnets mounted on the underside. All summer she has been placing them on metal surfaces all over Indianapolis and photographing the resulting flock.

She used an antiquated photographic process called cyanotype, to create the vivid Prussian Blue of the paper butterflies.The magnets she uses are small enough that she can place her butterflies all over a sculpture and not damage it at all.

This is ephemeral street art. As much as I like her work juxtaposed with older, larger sculptures, my favorite photos are in random public spaces.

This one is in a grocery store.

I love the idea of running into a flock of butterflies in the market – or on a staircase railing.

Beautiful and so much fun too!

All images from Tasha Lewis’s blog Guerilla Sculpture she has lots more photos over there – go take a look.

have a lovely, fluttery Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

Categories: photographs | 2 Comments »

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Sep 25, 2012

The water is a friend of mine.

I love floating in the waves or under the still water. It makes me feel graceful.

All the cares of the world can literally float off my shoulders as the water envelopes me.

These beautiful photos are so clear and at the same time a little fuzzy in the best way. They conjure up the slow, silky feeling of falling into cool, welcoming water.

This beautiful series is a collaboration between South African fashion designer Joel Jansen vanVuuren, art director and model Elsa Bleda, photographer Ilse Moore, and makeup artist Liezl Zene Oberholzer.

The photographs capture the experience of floating and the gracefulness the water imparts so well. I can almost feel my hair swirling around me.


have a lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

all photos from Joel Janse van Vuuren’s website

via My Modern Met

Categories: photographs | 1 Comment »

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I thought I’d share with you some photographs today from my old home town of Enmore in Sydney, Australia. Street artists have made every corner and laneway an experience like walking through an ever-changing gallery.

What do you love about your neighbourhood?

Categories: photographs | 2 Comments »

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I just lost about an hour looking through the amazing fine art photography of Brooke Shaden.

Each of her photographs tells a little story.  In her artist bio she writes a little about her work, my favorite line is: “she attempts to place herself within worlds she wishes we could live in, where secrets float out in the open, where the impossible becomes possible.” I love that.

Much of her work is quite painterly. I love the sky in this one – like a Maxfield Parrish painting

She strives for a dreamy ethereal quality, a bit like making fairy tales come to life.

Brooke lives in LA and aside from her own work she teaches workshops all over.  You can also buy limited edition prints of any work on her website. I am so inspired and blown away by both the creativity and drive that she seems to have in abundance. You can read her thoughts about her work on her blog, where she also shares behind the scenes photos.


Have a Dreamy Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes

All images from Brooke Shaden’s Website

Categories: photographs | 3 Comments »

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To Catch A Thief

Jul 10, 2012

Grace Kelly’s grandson, Andrea Casiraghi, is engaged to his longtime girlfriend, the lovely Tatiana Santo Domingo.  The wedding news made me think of Grace Kelly and how happy she’d be for the young couple.

My favorite Grace Kelly film is To Catch A Thief (1955).   Have you seen it? It is a charming Hitchcock film, complete with breathtaking scenery, the handsome Cary Grant and, of course, Grace Kelly’s incredibly chic wardrobe.

I hope your week is off to a beautiful start.


Categories: photographs | Tags: | 3 Comments »

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Jun 26, 2012

Photographer Kirsty Mitchell started working on her Wonderland series in 2009. Her mother had recently passed away, and she used her art to create worlds that reminded her of the stories her mother read to her as a child.

Her work is beautiful and intricate. Wonderland is a series that tells a story with only visuals – no words.

At first blush these photos look like high fashion editorials, big budget spreads, but everything in her images was created by Kristy and a few friends. It is a labor of love.

Kirsty has recently received a lot of media attention. She had an interview with The Huntington Post, an article on the front page of The Mail Online, the front page of MSN ’now’, the BBC World Service , the BBC television news… And several of her photos were enlarged and featured in store windows on Regent Street as part of  the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

Her “overnight success” was four years in the making.

As artists, it is a great story to remember. When you are feeling that you might never be recognized, it is probably best to just put your head down and make good work. The critical acclaim will come with time. Or it won’t. But making great work means you can simply be proud of the work.

This is amazing work. I feel transported to another realm.

have a magical Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes


all images from Kirsty Mitchell’s website

Categories: photographs | 4 Comments »

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There is a foggy feeling when you wake up from a really real dream. The kind of dream that seems like it must have been true.

Sometimes you can still feel the heat on your face, or the wind in your hair.

Photographer Oleg Oprisco captures moments that seem hazy. Like a memory they show all the best pieces and leave behind reality.

His images have a sepia-toned palate, and slightly surreal settings. Things are only slightly off from reality.

They seem like they could maybe be real.

Like a dream you want to be true.

Like a memory gone soft around the edges.


Have a lovely Tuesday,

Sarah from Design Flourishes


all images from Oleg Oprisco’s Flickr account

Categories: photographs | 3 Comments »

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Telling tales

May 23, 2012

Sometimes the tale is so graphic that it needs no visual aids. Other times, pictures speak a thousand words. And sometimes, the picture is stunning and the story behind the picture is what takes it a step further.

Ormond Gigli’s Girls in the Windows is an example of this.

He  says this of his image:

“In 1960, while a construction crew dismantled a row of brownstones right across from my own brownstone studio on East 58th Street, I was inspired to, somehow immortalize those buildings. I had the vision of 43 women in formal dress adorning the windows of the skeletal facade.

We had to work quickly to secure City permissions, arrange for models which included celebrities, the demolition supervisior’s wife (third floor, third from left), my own wife (second floor, far right), and also secure the Rolls Royce to be parked on the sidewalk. Careful planning was a necessity as the photography had to be accomplished during the workers’ lunch time!

The photography came off as planned. What had seemed to some as too dangerous or difficult to accomplish, became my fantasy fulfilled, and my most memorable self – assigned photograph. It has been an international award winner ever since.

Most professional photographers dream of having one signature picture they are known for. GIRLS IN THE WINDOWS is mine.”
Of course, when I think of an image with a story behind it, my mind immediately goes to the Afghan Girl.
Alt Tag
Steve McCurry’s image haunted the universal psyche for seventeen years, from the time he took a picture of this girl during the period of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. “I didn’t think the photograph of the girl would be different from anything else I shot that day,” he recalls of that morning in 1984 spent documenting the ordeal of Afghanistan’s refugees. but different, it was, because for the next seventeen years, the world searched for the elusive Afghan girl with eyes that pierced like a beam; but no one even knew her name.
In 2002, a Nat Geo team brought McCurry to Pakistan to seek her out, and seek her out they did. Her name is Sharbat Gula and this is her story.
Afghan Girl
All images have a back story. Do you too love finding out what these stories are and telling them like tales? Which one, then, would be your favorite? I would love to know.

Categories: photographs | 2 Comments »

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Greetings! Today I thought I would share beautiful photographs with you here. I first saw Polidori’s exhibition in Berlin in 2006 and it was love at first sight. You might have seen his work in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Metropolitan Museum of Art. I am especially fond of his Havana and Versailles images–they make me want to visit both places. How different these two, yet how heartbreakingly beautiful. Have you been?

Hope you enjoyed these. Smiles, Marta.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7


Categories: Icons, illustrations, photographs | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

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May 04, 2012

Do you remember We heart it? It was there way before Pinterest. I used to browse beautiful images that others had uploaded and add them to my “hearted images”. Nowadays, you can find cooler pictures on Pinterest or Flickr but the pictures I had hearted still remain there so I thought I will share some with you. Have a nice weekend! Jenny

Picture credits here

Categories: photographs, Polaroids | 3 Comments »

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Happy Wednesday! It’s Marthe from The Freedom Experiment again, this week with another visually stimulating (and hopefully inspiring) post! As so many else, I’m hooked on Pinterest, and I’ve spent hours and hours pinning images of dream homes and beautiful cakes (who hasn’t?). However, Pinterest can be used in so many ways, and I thought I’d give you my favourite creative and alternative ways of using Pinterest:

1. Gather inspiring quotes and make it a habit to go on Pinterest and read them every time you need a pick-me-up.

Here’s a little secret for you: I’m struggling with a nasty mental disorder and Pinterest is actually on my emotional crisis safety plan. Yes, you hear it right. When faced with the question “how can you help yourself when you’re feeling emotionally stressed and overwhelmed?” I answered “Pinterest.” Because reading uplifting quotes really helps to lift my spirits. Maybe reading quotes can help you too?

2. Gather visual inspiration for a creative project (and share it with your tribe)

The photos above are from my Inspiring Photos board, and I’m using these images to design the new layout on my website. I find that having an online inspiration board makes it all a lot easier – you can share it with your tribe and ask for feedback, inspiration and thoughts. Also, if you’re working with a designer, being able to show him/her what you’re after and what kind of style you like is invaluable! Which brings us to the next tip;

3. Gather inspiration for a new haircolour (or tattoo maybe?) and show it to your hairdresser

I actually loaded this board on my iPad and brought it along for my appointment. I showed my hairdresser what kind of look I was after, and she totally nailed it! This approach is so much better than telling someone that you want a “brownish red, not too bright, not too orangy and not to signal red”…  So much easier, and so much more fun!

4. Pin the images from your website and promote yourself and your work

Pinterest can be used for promotion too, just do it with style and grace. For example, you can pin your own images (once) to your own board so that your followers can decide if they want to re-pin or not. It’s also a great resource if you want to get an overview of the visual image you have on your site! Seeing all the images together can show how your readers perceive your style. Do you like how the images go together, or do you need to change your direction?

5. Make a board and pin images that represent your dream

Speaking of changing directions… A great way of using pinterest is to make a board that represents your dream life, your values or who you want to grow into. Took at it often and feel the rush of energy! As you can see, my dream is to live in New York City. Every time I come upon a nice picture of NY that I like – I pin it. And then I use it as inspiration to make it happen! This summer, I’m going to make it my Freedom Experiment to live in NYC for 4-6 weeks. Will I see you there?

6. Pin some recipes that aren’t just visually stunning, but something that you’d actually make. Try one new recipe every week!

There are lots of tempting cakes and visually stunning food photographs out there, but instead of pinning what looks good – try to pin something that you could actually make! And do it! I’ve tried lots of reciped from Pinterest, but I find that the best looking pictures don’t always result it the best food. Make it a habit to look for food, not cakes. This way you’ll never run out of dinner ideas!

7. Make a wishlist and share the link to your board with friends and family

Wishlists are great, but the written ones are so boring to look at! I’m sure your friends and family will love having a visual list in good time before your  birthday comes up. Make a board and start adding too it right away! Whenever you buy or receive something – delete the pin or write a comment underneath with details.

8. Gather images of things you find comforting and soothing. Have a look at your board every now and then to make sure you remember what you need when harder times hit.

This is another approach I’ve been using together with my emotional crisis plan. I have identified that I can easier help myself through challenging times if I’m wearing warm socks, drinking tea and lighting candles. Anyone else feel the same way? Well, the thing is – I tend to forget all this when I’m in the middle of a difficult situation. I find visual reminders work better than a list telling me to” do this or do that”. Pinterest is the solution! Oh, and in case you wonder – I’m not an emotional mess all the time, I promise. 😉

How do you use Pinterest?

ps. if any of the images above strike your fancy, you can find me on Pinterest here.

Categories: photographs, tech geeks | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments »

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It’s Marthe from the Freedom Experiment, and I’m going to be sharing little bits and pieces from my life every Wednesday while Tina is working. I thought I’d start with a little introduction!

I’m 25 years old, and I’m a creative Norwegian soul. I live in Oslo and I’m officially a law student. However, I spend far more time writing and blogging than studying, so I guess it would be more suitable to call myself a writer! I’m passionately interested in personal development, dreams, poetry, photography, books, style and decoration. I also love to travel, and this summer I’m going to visit Amsterdam, Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco, Portland (OR) and New York. Maybe we can meet up? If you want to connect or read more from me, head over to The Freedom Experiment and I’ll be happy to welcome you there. However, as I said, I’m honoured to be guest posting on The English Muse every Wednesday from now on. Excited to meet you!

I thought I’d start with a few Instagrams from my daily life:

1. MT tape and my desk 2. My shadow 3. Relaxing in the sunshine 4. Carrot cake muffins with cream cheese and cherry jam 5. Carrot, spinach, beet and apple juice 6. The rooftops of Oslo 7. Having a boyfriend who’s taking a semester abroad (in Sydney) has it’s benefits! 8. A park in Oslo 9. Scented candle from Voluspa 10. Me reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig

Thank you Tina for having me! See you next week!

I’d love it if you would comment and say hello! Where in the world are you located?

Categories: Instagrams, photographs | Tags: , | 26 Comments »

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Hello fellow English Muse readers! I’m Jen Zahigian of That Wondrous Time and Roadside Photographs.  I am a photographer from sunny California with a love for roadside relics and independent bookstores. Tina is an inspiration, and I’m so happy to be a guest here today.
I’d like to share photographs from my first visit to Paris, in Spring 2005.  I was lucky enough to spend three weeks there with my Mother, experiencing the best Mother & Daughter adventure a girl could dream up.  We rented a cozy apartment on Rue Dauphine in the 6th Arr. near Pont Neuf.  We walked, rode trains, visited museums, shopped for shoes, prepared meals, and treated ourselves to many, many fresh baguettes and pastries. It was amazing to call Paris home for three weeks, and in that time life was beautiful. 
Thankfully, as Hemingway wrote, Paris stays with you.  The memories feel fresh, and I can hardly believe seven years have gone by.  In just two short months I’ll be traveling to Paris again (and Bavaria, and Switzerland!) with my husband, and of course, my camera.   I look forward to bringing home new photographs to share with you.
For now, I hope you’ll enjoy these photographs of Paris as I saw it…

Museum Girl

Blue Truck, Paris

Aux Mouches

Modern Reflection

Avenue de New York

Hand in Hand

Imaginations in Springtime

Finding My Way, Paris

Galerie Babylonia

The Gardenway Passage

The Checkered Path

May Day

Stop 'n Watch

Piano Street


Last night in Paris (The Violet Hour)

 “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

-Ernest Hemingway

P.S.  A photo of me & my Mom bundled up for a chilly boat ride along the Seine…

Categories: Paris, photographs, Travel | Tags: | 9 Comments »

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This is the reason why I can’t give up Tumblr:
It’s such a great place to find beautiful photos and amazing GIFs.
(New York City skyline by Bebo, GIF via kr4y.)

Categories: Featured, photographs | 5 Comments »

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I love these dreamy photos by London-based photographer Emma Hartvig. She says: “My work is based on my passion for film and cinematography. The storytelling and manipulation of vision you have in your hands as a filmmaker fascinates me.”





I’m trying to decide on a favorite. Maybe the girl with the mirror?

Categories: photographs | 8 Comments »

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Both have their drawbacks: You need an iPhone (at the moment) to use Instagram. And Polaroid film is expensive and difficult to find.

But if you had your choice, which one would you pick?

(Polaroids in the photo via Matt Dolphin.)

Categories: Instagrams, photographs, Polaroids | 15 Comments »

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Cool breezes and showers (captured on GIFS created by Jamie Beck.)

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Categories: photographs | Tags: | 13 Comments »

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