Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 Santa Barbara Writers Conference

For well over a decade, the Santa Barbara Writers Conference (owned and directed by dear friends Monte Schulz and Nicole Starczak) has come to punctuate my year in a most wonderful way. It's a place where I can wear two hats….that of a writer and that of a photographer.

I have made lifelong friends from around the country through the conference, have found writing mentors who continue to inspire me, and built up a community of fellow writers with whom I can exchange inspiration and critiques throughout the year. 

Over the years my relationship with the conference has grown into becoming one of their main event photographers as well as running the Annual Talent Show with my co-host Margaux Hession and long-time friend and Mentor Matt Pallamary. The Talent Show continues to be a great way of just relaxing and celebrating a very long and exhausting week.

It's a month's worth of celebration, inspiration, interaction with mentors, fellow writers, editors, agents, and internationally renowned novelists and non-fiction authors.

Simply put: It's an incredible, magical, and mind-expanding week. Writers come for encouragement and feedback but end up coming again and again largely b/c of the "family" feel of the conference and for the friendships that we all make.

Big thanks to Grace Rachow, our heroic Director of Volunteers, and all of my hard-working fellow volunteers who have spent many years putting their love, sweat, and tears into helping Nicole & Monte run the conference so smoothly! Between us all, we have a wonderful team and SBWC "family!"

And now I'll put on my "photographer's hat" and let the photos speak for themselves. Looks fun, doesn't it?! ;-)

Enjoy the slideshow! Slideshow below may take a minute to load…but it's worth it! ;-) Once it's loaded, click on grey arrow in middle of window. If music doesn't come on within a second or two, just refresh your browser window and click on the "play" arrow button again. 

To watch with a full size screen, just click on the rectangular icon in lower right hand corner of screen. 

Feel free to leave "like" this post above, leave your comments below, and share this link with your friends. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Santa Barbara's Association For Women In Communication Annual "Women Of Achievement" Awards Luncheon

Enjoy the slideshow at the bottom of this post. Feel free to share this link and leave your comments about this super fun day of celebrating Santa Barbara women achievers!

This is always an inspiring event for me to both attend and to photograph. It has been an honor being a part of this incredible organization--The Association For Women In Communication--and it's no surprise with our incredible population of heavy hitting women in SB--that we have the fastest growing chapter in the nation!

This year's Women of Achievement Awards Luncheon honored two very deserving women who have both had quite an influence on the media coverage in SB as well as our academic community. Bravo to both of you, Marianne and Nancy! Kate Carter is also an amazing woman honored with the "Lois Philips Founders Award." 

It was a special treat for me as well seeing the Marianne and the staff at The Independent being honored. When I first moved to SB almost 15 years ago, I interned and then wrote for them as a freelancer. I will always have a special place in my heart for The Independent "Family!"

And AWC-SB has had a special "home" at Antioch for almost two years now and I've had many close friends attend this excellent school. 

Congratulations to the three of you and thank you for all that you have done for our community!

Enjoy the slideshow below. Click on the "play" arrow button in the middle of the box. If the sound doesn't come on at first, then refresh your browser window and click on "play" button again. Enjoy! Feel free to share this link with others. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Sloane Reali, YOU ROCK.

* Feel free to leave your comments and love for Sloane at the end of this post~

Working with Sloane Reali, on any level, is a total blast. I first met her many years ago when we were neighbors and have never forgotten her…she is a fantastic ball of energy and unfailingly positive and radiant. It was a total delight to see her in her element, working as both a vocal coach both privately and to groups (at The Santa Barbara Guitar Bar) as well as the intrepid leader of a group of vocal students at The Rock Shop Academy. Full of positive feedback and support for her students, I honestly can't imagine anyone else being in the position she's in. 

You can see how much her students (from young kids to older adults) really warm up to Sloane and feel comfortable and equally inspired by her presence. It's truly a beautiful thing to witness! And as a long-time vocalist and musician, I can truly appreciate her ability to nurture men and women's talents from such young ages no matter what level they may be starting at. I can only imagine how far along I would be musically if I had had a teacher like Sloane when I was younger. It's impressive as well how many resources there are for young kids when they are musically inclined….both The Santa Barbara Guitar Bar and The Rock Shop are fantastic local businesses supporting both amateur and professional musicians of all ages. 

Sloane, you're a total delight and I can't wait to see you and your students performing one of these days! Please give the young ones my best! They were an inspiration to me as a fellow vocalist myself.

Check out more of what Sloane does here:

These are just a few of my favorite photos from our multiple shoots together…ENJOY!

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.