The Music to Life Series

October 21, 2013 Modern Girl – Conceptual Portrait by Jimmy Bui Posted In: Sleater Kinney

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Music to Life Song of the Week: Modern Girl by Sleater Kinney

I was first introduced to Sleater Kinney at a Pearl Jam concert where they were the opening act. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention to them as I was socializing and having a beer by the beer stand. A few years later, I started watching a comedy show called Portlandia, and it took a couple seasons before I realized that the lead actress on the show, Carrie Brownstein, was a member of Sleater Kinney. So, after that discovery, I started to really listen to the band, and one of the songs that I really like is Modern Girl. The song starts off positive enough and then gradually leads into a darker tone. It’s like you’re about to have a good day, but then you spill you’re coffee, you become late for work, and you’re boss yells at you. So for the picture, I wanted to show a subtle version of that by showing a girl who looks relatively happy, but you know that eventually her balloons will pop and her attitude will change.

My baby left me, I’m so angry
Anger makes me a modern girl
Took my money, I couldn’t buy nothin’
I’m sick of this brave new world

My whole life
Is like a picture of a sunny day

girl standing in the middle of night forest with balloons conceptual portrait

Conceptual Portrait Shoot Details

This is another composite image with  four different elements. The forest, the boulder, the balloons, and the model, Elisa, were all shot separately. You might be asking yourself, “why not just shoot her actually standing on the boulder and holding the balloons?” Well, at the time of shooting Elisa, I wasn’t  exactly sure what I wanted to do for this song. I planned a few other concepts, but for this song I was just improvising. We shot her in studio and lit her with one strobe and an octabox.

Play “Modern Girl”

If you’re interested in purchasing a print, visit my online store today. Also, check out my previous image, “The Thing About Love” in this post.If you’re interested in shooting a Music to Life series image, message me at and don’t forget to visit my website and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you so much! 


Modern Girl by Sleater Kinney

Elisa Rios

Canon 5D Mark III

Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art

1 500ws strobe with octabox


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Jimmy Bui

I am a wedding and conceptual portrait photographer based in Southern California. When I'm not shooting weddings, or planning my next weekly photo for my Music to Life series, you may find me at Disneyland or the zoo spending time with my beautiful wife and daughter.
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