Monday, July 20, 2015

In Celebration Of The 2015 Santa Barbara Writers Conference

In Celebration Of The 2015 Santa Barbara Writers Conference
Owner: Monte Schulz
Co-Directors: Nicole Starczack and Erin Dougherty Munsch
Director Of Volunteers: Grace Rachow

I've lost track of how many years I've been involved with the amazing Santa Barbara Writers Conference as both a writer and as a photographer....has it been 12? 13 or 14 years now that I dedicate a full week to immersing myself in the microverse that magically appears in the heart of Santa Barbara every June. It's a week that is packed with inspiration from fellow writers, publishing experts, literary agents, editors, publishers, and award-winning novelists, poets, and non-fiction writers. 

In short, it's a week to remind each of us that--as writers in what can be a very solitary pursuit--we are not alone and that we are stronger and become better when we surround ourselves with excellence and a community of our peers who are also striving for excellence. 

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, Erin and 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. 

PLEASE NOTE: As I wasn't on official photography duty this year, all of the following photos below were taken with my point and shoot Lumix and a few were taken with my iPhone.

Monday, June 22, 2015

AWC-SB'S "Women Of Achievement" Annual Awards Luncheon 2015

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

The Association For Women In Communication's Santa Barbara Chapter
Annual "Women Of Achievement" Luncheon
2015 Location: The Santa Barbara Women's Club
Wednesday June 3rd, 2015

AWC-SB's Annual "Women Of Achievement" luncheon has always been an inspiring event for me to both attend and to photograph every year. It has been an honor being a part of this incredible organization and it's no surprise--with our incredible population of heavy hitting women in Santa Barbara--that we have the fastest growing chapter in this nation! 

This year's luncheon honored two very deserving women who have both had quite an influence both nationally and internationally:  local environmental activist and community leader Sigrid Wright of the Community Environmental Council and author and public speaker Marilyn Tam of The Happiness Choice. Also honored was AWC-SB Poet and "Member Of The Year" Perie Longo who wrote some pretty fabulous and witty poetic tributes for both of our honorees. 

Preceding two inspiring talks by Wright and Tam, SB Mayor Helene Schneider and Jan Ingram (long-time friend of Tam) gave some wonderful introductions to the honorees that were both humorous and thoughtful. And Sloane Reali, public speaker, vocalist, and vocal teacher, rocked the house with her always fun emcee skills. 

I always come out from this annual luncheon feeling inspired, proud to a woman in this incredible community, and motivated to think bigger with all of my dreams!

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

Enjoy the slideshow below and feel free to "like" this page and share it on FB as well. 

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. 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Alpha's "Circle Of Life" Luncheon 2015

One of the highlights of my photographic year is having the opportunity to capture the magic and beautiful moments of Alpha Resource Center's "Circle of Life" Fundraising Luncheon hosted by long-time Alpha Fan and comedian Dennis Miller.

Committed to empowering individuals, supporting families, and building a community that values the contribution of all people, Alpha is an incredibly invaluable, SB-based nonprofit. Featuring music performances by Alpha participants, stories by family members whose lives have been touched by Alpha, and testimonials from local business owners who are employing Alpha participants, there's usually not a dry eye in the house by the end of the lunch. 

It's truly a joy to have been a photographer for Alpha over the past 5+ years! 

Please make sure to check out the slideshow I've put together below. If you enjoy this post and the slideshow, please "like" it and share it on Facebook as well! Thanks so much!

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

 Enjoy the slideshow! ;-) 

To view the slideshow below, click on the arrow "play" button. 
If the music doesn't come on at first, please refresh your browser and try again.
To view in full screen mode, click on the rectangle in lower right of gallery screen and voila! ;-)

If you'd like to view all of the photos in the whole gallery or purchase any prints from the day, visit here:

Monday, March 02, 2015

Erika Lilley & Jeff Walker's Gorgeous Sunset Wedding

This could just as easily have been named "The Many Expressions of Erika Lilley Walker!" as I've never seen a more boisterous bride with a wider range of expressions than Erika. However, the moment when Erika won my complete and bemused respect was when she got down in the middle of the dance floor during the reception and started doing push-ups in her wedding gown. You gotta love it! As best friends in love and life (she's a fitness trainer and he's a coach) Erika and Jeff have boundless energy and enthusiasm for sports and all things athletic...which always makes for a fun celebration!  

I have to give thanks to friend and longtime client, Kathleen Barry, for having connected me with Erika and Jeff (who were planning their Santa Barbara winter holiday wedding at The Rincon Beach Club, a gorgeous and intimate venue in the seaside community of Carpinteria). It was only because of her that I know them both and was there to photograph their wedding. Big thanks to you, Kathleen!  

As you'll see from the photos and slideshows, Erika and Jeff are surrounded by a beautiful group of friends and family who delighted in watching this very much in love couple celebrate their nuptials.

I'm very much looking forward to helping them celebrate the next many years of co-creating your lives together! It was truly a pleasure photographing you both on a very special day! 

To look at the full gallery of all of the photos or to purchase prints from their wedding just click here:

Hoping you and your loved ones enjoy these super fun slideshows!
*If the music doesn't come on when you click on the "play" (arrow button in the middle of the window below) then refresh your browser and click on "play" again.
**To make the slideshow full frame (recommended) just click on the rectangular icon in lower right hand corner of the slideshow window below. Voila! 

Erika & Jeff's Bride & Groom and Ceremony Slideshow

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Montecito Piano Bar With Gil Rosas by The Profant Foundation For The Arts

Hosted by The Profant Foundation For The Arts
Featuring Gil Rosas on Piano & Vocals....and a few other surprise guests! ;-)  ♪♪♪

Lively music, piano playing, upbeat Broadway musical singalongs, lots of smiles and laughter served up along with beautiful ambience in gorgeous home in Montecito? Ummm, YES, PLEASE! ;-) 

This event was such a treat to photograph thanks to Mignonne Profant who brought me on board and whom I met many years ago while photographing the SB Women's FestivalThe aim of the Profant Foundation (run by Mignonne, her three lovely sisters and their Mother)  is to raise funds towards scholarships for local artists as well as to resurrect some local cultural traditions around the arts, hence this latest musical event.

What a delight to capture laughter and camaraderie among guests as they sang along with Gil who has spent the last 60+ years entertaining local Santa Barbarans. He's also well known for his many years performing at the much beloved "Olive Mill Bistro" (where "The Montecito Cafe" is now located) back in the day. 

I thought a slideshow would be a fun tribute to the evening's celebrations! 

*To view the slideshow in full screen mode, just click on the "rectangle icon" in the lower right portion of the screen. 
*If music doesn't come on at first, just refresh your browser and click on the "triangle" play button again. 
***If you would like to purchase any prints from the gallery below, click here to be taken to the gallery.  

Enjoy the slideshow! ❤ 
*Song Credit: "King Of Swing" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (who originally hail from Santa Barbara! ;)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

 Judy's Mesa Family Photo Shoot  

        Such a fun photo shoot with a dear friend of mine, her two beautiful kids, and their sweet puppy Oakley (who unexpectedly passed away a few months after the shoot). I'm so happy we were able to get Oakley in several of these was a magical evening with that dreamy, creamy sunset peach light! 

        She ended up choosing several of the same favorites I had from our shoot together and ordering some gorgeous large prints from me and Zenfolio (Awesome Professional Photographer's Lab) for her living room. So fun to see them being appreciated and enjoyed on a daily basis!  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra's "Tango And Tapas" Gala Season Kick-Off

SBCO Executive Director: Kevin A. Marvin
Music Director & Conductor: Heiichiro Ohyama
Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra at The Lobero Theatre on Saturday November 1st, 2014

What do plunging necklines, deliciously sexy acrobatics, sangria, and Vivaldi all have to do with another?

Pues, todo! That's where the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra "Tango & Tapas" Gala Season Kick-Off on stepped in…seamlessly stitching all these artistic and musical elements together into one fantastic celebration at the Lobero Theatre earlier this month….

It has been a very exciting time to step on board as a photographer with the SBCO as their new executive director Kevin A. Marvin (with the help of his staff and the board) has been putting together an unprecedented event this fall mixing the delights of the SBCO's classical music at the Lobero along with a VIP event featuring tapas, sangria, and the incredibly sexy dancing of "Dancing With The Stars" choreographer/performers and husband-wife team "Sandor And Parissa," considered by some to be two of the best Argentine Tango Dancers in the world. (Am I the only one who thought Parissa was a dead ringer for a Latina version of Ashley Judd?)

Following the VIP event was a very moving concert by the SBCO featuring Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and Astor Piazzolla's "Four Seasons Of Buenos Aires" (Aha! The Argentinean connection once again, folks!) featuring violinist Martin Beaver and SBCO Conductor 
Heiichiro Ohyama.

It was such a pleasure photographing this event, meeting several of the board members, and being a part of a one-of-a-kind SBCO Event. I look forward to hopefully working with them all again in the near future~ ;-)

Kudos to Kevin A. Marvin, his hard-working staff, the SBCO Board Members, SBCO Sponsors, Conductor Heiichiro Ohyama, Violinist Martin Beaver, the SBCO Musicians, the Lobero Staff, and all of you who were involved in creating a truly extraordinary evening of music and dance!

I want to give a special shout-out to my friend, client, and classical violinist in the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra Sally Barr for having connected me with them and sponsored the photography for the night! Without you, none of these photos would exist~ I am very grateful to you, Sally!

As a special thank you to Sally, Director Kevin A. Marvin, his staff and the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, I've put together a slideshow celebrating a few of my favorite moments from the evening. Enjoy and please share the link to this blog with your friends and SBCO lovers! You can check out this 2014-2015 season's schedules here: 


Rachel Sarah Thurston

Enjoy the slideshow! 
~Click on the arrow in the middle of screen to play the slideshow.
~Recommended: Click on the rectangular icon in the lower right corner to make the slideshow full screen.
~If the music doesn't come on at first, please refresh your browser and click on the play arrow button again. 
*Music is "Postales" by Federico Aubele