Monday, April 14, 2014

Alpha's Annual "Circle Of Life" Luncheon With Dennis Miller

I've lost track of how many years I've been photographing the Alpha Resource Center's Annual "Circle Of Life" Luncheon but I'm no less moved today by their events than I was many years ago when I first started shooting for them.

The work that they do in our community--providing support to families with children of all ages who have developmental disabilities- is impactful and deeply moving. I am inspired by both the staff and the participants at Alpha who all seem to have a zest for life and a passion about what they are doing.

From testimonials by Alpha participants and family members to witty remarks from long-time Alpha supporter Dennis Miller to music performances by participants….I always come out of any Alpha Event buoyed, humbled, and uplifted by the beauty of the human spirit!

Enjoy the slideshow below!

Please feel free to leave your comments below and share this link with your Alpha friends and supporters~

Enjoy the Slideshow!

Please click on the arrow in middle of photo to begin the slideshow. If the music doesn't come on initially, then refresh your screen/browser and click "play" (arrow) again.

You can enjoy full screen mode by clicking on the square icon in the lower right hand corner of slideshow. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Ever Talented and Indomitable Karen Custer Thurston

"We ought to dance with rapture that we might be alive... and part of the living, incarnate cosmos."  ~D.H. Lawrence

My mother--the indomitable and multi-talented--Karen Custer Thurston continues to be one of my very favorite people to photograph. Over the years she has hired me to capture various aspects of her long-time career as a fitness trainer, instructor, Turkish-Egyptian Dance Instructor, Choreographer, Performer, and Bollywood choreographer and teacher. 

It has become a tradition that we do every couple of years….and each time I photograph her it's a unique and magical experience. As we are mothers and daughters, there's always lots of hem and hawing over what we each think her make-up and outfits will look like but we've developed a fantastic symbiosis and over the years she has ultimately learned to trust my artistic vision and judgment. 

I think these photos speak for themselves. My mother is one of the most beautiful people I know both inside and out. Her spirit and strength are radiant and she has a magnetism that the camera always seems to love. She has also taken incredible care of her health and her body…many people have seen photos of her over the years and think that I have somehow photoshopped a little extra, making her slimmer and giving her bigger muscles. 

But make no mistake, my friends. This is all very REAL and the muscles and incredible definition she has are all her own. Thanks to being a daughter of farmers and then a very, very hard working fitness trainer and dancer her whole life she has become a role model of men and women of all ages to be in the best possible health and shape that they can. 

I am so incredibly grateful to be on this journey with her and have no doubt that it's only a part of a much longer and wonderful journey we have together. 

Mama, you have been and will always continue to be an infinite source of inspiration to me and I am so honored to be on this journey with You

xoxo Raquelita
Hija De La Chihuahua

Enjoy both of the slideshows! I had so many wonderful photos from two parts of our shoot together (fitness and then dance) that I decided to do two separate slideshows and celebrate these two aspects of her career. 

If the music doesn't come on when you first click on the "play" (triangle/arrow) then refresh your browser and click play again.

You can obtain full screen mode by clicking on square icon in lower right hand corner of slideshow screen. 

Monday, February 03, 2014

Beth and Forrest's Engagement Photos

  ♥••*´¨`*•.☆• Beth and Forrest's Engagement Photos •☆.•*´¨`*••♥

*Make sure to check out the slideshow at the end of this blog entry. Click on the "arrow" to play it.

Love has no desire but to fulfill itself.  To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.  To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.  ~Kahlil Gibran

Kind. Thoughtful. Down to earth. Funny. Loving. Compassionate. These are just a few of the qualities that come to mind when I think of either Forrest or Beth…both of whom are extraordinarily good people! It's wonderful to know them both and even more magical to see them together as a couple.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to photograph them for their engagement. We had so much fun that the sunset came all too soon….

I am so happy to know you both and even happier to see two really good people find each other and create a life together.

Wishing you the greatest happiness as you build your life togethere! You both deserve it!

With Love and Blessings~

*Make sure to check out the slideshow below! If the music doesn't come on when you click on the arrow "play" button then refresh your browser window and try again. You can also leave comments below. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Carolyn and David's Family Portrait

Carolyn and David's Family Portrait Session
Santa Barbara, CA

"When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses."  ~Joyce Brothers

I first met Carolyn over the holidays at our AWC Annual Holiday Party and was delighted to meet a fellow Midwesterner who has recently relocated to Santa Barbara. I have a special place in my heart for Midwesterners and have many close friends here in SB who hail from the flatlands of the U.S. like me. There's a common heritage that we share that's unique and familiar and, from my experience, Midwesterners tend to be pretty down to earth, kind-hearted and authentic people.

I was delighted when she and her husband wanted to put together a photo shoot for their family's reunion out here in their beautiful new home.

Life is truly short and it seems to be speeding up for me every year. I have lived 1,000s of miles from much of my family now for over two decades so I cherish every moment I have with them.

It was a delight being there to celebrate Carolyn and David's time with their family who were visiting from around the country. It's a precious thing to spend time with the people we love no matter how many zip codes exist between our homes.

Sending you and your family my love and blessings this year! I hope we can make this an annual tradition. 


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Photo Shoot With Children's Book And Fiction Author JZ Bingham

*Please make sure to check out the slideshow below!

I first met JZ earlier this year at the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference and was quickly drawn to her warmth and candor. I've made some really wonderful friends with fellow writers over the last ten years of my involvement with the conference and it has been a special treat getting to know Jasmine (as her friends call her). Besides being a talented author of a hot-off-the-press series of The Salty Splashes Collection of Children's Books, she's a stunning, radiant woman on the inside and out.

Before our shoot she kept warning me that she's traditionally been uncomfortable in front of the camera and doesn't consider herself photogenic. As soon as I started shooting her, it was immediately apparent that she's quite the opposite. She's stunning in person and a total natural in front of the camera. 

This was so much fun to do with her. She wanted to show some other more candid shots of herself as the multi-dimensional author that she is. 

I'm blown away by how her radiance comes through in these photos…the light was sublime. It was a magical shoot and I can't wait to photograph her again!

You can check out her websites here….and her books, of course, make wonderful holiday presents as well!

Let's do this again, Jasmine!

JZ Bingham Author Website
Salty Splashes Collection of Children's Books

*Enjoy the slideshow below! If the music doesn't come on at first, then refresh your page and click "play" again.
To make the slideshow full screen, simply click on the lower left hand icon (rectangle) and Voila! ;-)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

AWC-SB's Annual Holiday And Awards Party At Municipal Winemaker

*If you enjoyed this slideshow please "like" and share it with your friends both in and outside of AWC-SB

Big congratulations to AWC-SB Member Of The Year Winner Lisa Angle of "Ninety Degrees Media"  and Nonprofit Of The Year "Storyteller Children's Center."

Happy Holidays to you all!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The American Riviera Woman Entrepreneur Of The Years Awards 2013

*Enjoy the slideshow at the end of this post!  The Arwey Awards were founded by Executive Director Tia Walker here in Santa Barbara, California. This year's awards were held on Saturday, November 16th 2013 at The Bacara Resort and Spa

I learned a few years ago that basically anything that Tia Walker touches usually turns to gold and sparkles with magical and powerful intention in the world! Being in the room and sharing an afternoon with such incredibly motivated and inspiring women was a powerful experience for all of us. She miraculously brought together a diverse group of heavy-hitting women from around the country in order to both celebrate each of their achievements and to inspire all of us towards more intentional living in this world.

There is an indelible strength that comes from supporting each other in moving towards our dreams and giving back to the world. 

From listening to the work that the panelists are doing in the world to being treated to some fantastic music including a humorous "Tiara Song" by Penelope and then a surprise performance by Rickie Byars Beckwith of the Agape Spiritual Center it was difficult to not feel spiritually uplifted by the end of the afternoon. 

We can't merely walk our own paths with purpose, we must support our sisters in walking their own as well. And this is where we will get our fuel to continue on and our inspiration to always aim higher. 

I couldn't have put it better than Sister Janet (another award recipient) put it, "No one has it all together but together we have it all." 

Amen, Sister! 

Enjoy the slideshow that I put together from this beautiful event! Please feel free to share the link with all of your friends and anyone else who was involved with this beautiful day. A big thanks to Tia Walker and all of her hard-working volunteers who helped make this day happen. 

May you all continue to walk the walk. 

With Love And Blessings,
 Rachel ☆⋰⋱★⋰⋱☆⋰⋱★۰̮̑●̮̑۰

A Message From Tia….

The Bigger ARWEY Vision ~ by Founder Tia Walker

Thanks to the brilliant photographic talents of Rachel S. Thurston (of r.s.thurston photography), there is a slideshow of the event that will delight your heart and you'll receive a joy blast :) just by watching.

Your support of the ARWEY Awards extends beyond the borders of Santa Barbara and reaches remote areas of Tanzania and Ghana. Together with our sister city of Monaco, we are building a bridge to help women through the sometimes harsh reality of oppression and lack of access to capital through micro loans, training and mentoring. Our intention is to partner with existing organizations and support their efforts both locally and globally.  We feel no need to start something "new" as there are many organizations that are established to meet the needs, we simply support those efforts.

As we gather with our families and friends this Thanksgiving and holiday season I ask that as a community we take a moment to support the very life changing gift of economic development through entrepreneurship. These micro businesses, feed families, bring women out of oppressed situations and change communities. Imagine a world where everyone on this planet is fed and has fresh drinking water and a means to sustain themselves. That is a very real possibility as we shift our focus to a global connected community and assist those with less access to capital.

You may help by making a donation or bidding on the beautiful Shona art piece "Reach for your dreams" by Zimbabwe artist Marion Nyanhongo which supports the micro loan programs and local organizations who are taking the charge with community changing work. For auction visit:

For individual donations contact us at ARWEY:

Thank you! Sending you warm holiday wishes and welcome to the ARWEY Circle of Light community.


*Enjoy the slideshow below! Be patient and wait for the grey box to show a circle with an arrow in the middle appear. Once it appears click on it to "play." If it doesn't load, try refreshing your browser and waiting a few moments. 

~If the music doesn't come on at first, try refreshing your browser and clicking "play" again. 

~You can make the slideshow full screen by clicking on the rectangular box in the lower right hand screen of slideshow. Voila!

~Feel free to leave your comments below and share the link with your friends~ ;-)

1) If you would like to order any of these prints please visit this gallery here:

2) If you would like to order any digital downloads of these photos please visit this gallery here: