Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Road Trip to Big Sur with Mama Chihuahua!
Photography by Rachel S. Thurston and Karen Custer Thurston

*Although I'm posting this on August 19th, I originally wrote this blog on Wednesday, August 5th 2009
Big Sur, California

Listening to the angelic a cappella songs of a Russian Choir and the crackling, low roar of our fireplace…Mom and I are stretched out in our little cottage along Highway 1….long stalks of sunflowers stretch out beyond our windows beside clumps of lavendar…across the road is the Big Sur River winding its way through the redwoods….

We walked today along vertiginous cliffs amber in the light under a cloudless sky…the air was perfect….the hot breeze moving up the hillside carrying the fragrances of sweet musky sage and the occasional aroma of eucalyptus…a mixture of menthol and dill pickles, unmistakeable and surprisingly pleasant...smells that are uniquely reminiscent of California. We wander along one of the paths in Julia Pfeiffer State Park to one of my favorite waterfalls spilling out onto a crescent-shaped beach where the water laps up at such a perfectly gentle speed you’d think it was created for a Hollywood romance….it’s divine!

At sunset we climb an unearthly looking rock island until the only bit of earth separating us from the expanse of the Pacific is a 200-foot cliff face of golden rock studded with lichen and a blaze of red….the ocean so supple….gently rippling…so benign from here….the sky studded now with clouds stretched thin like cottonballs torn into long, transparent strips…..their underbellies a light pink…the Santa Lucia mountains behind us are turning amber…the chaparral and forests are deeper shade of jade…..and then the moon rises just as the sun sets….a brilliant yellow orb and below it the water shimmers like a luminescent spill of gold paint….a cool wind carrying the scent of salt water and summer sweeps past us….one of the docents shares a few rather lame ghost stories…I think a few of us were hoping for more ghosts stories….so Mom and I share stories of our own on our way down the hill…

The air has been deliciously warm and cool like lakewater that’s been stirred up after a hot day….it’s so relaxing here to be hunkered down in our cabin and to be still…

Tomorrow we head South to San Simeon and go on see the Hearst Castle...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 16th, 2009
Mother Daughter Shoot with Vickie and Jeannette
Santa Barbara, California

I continue to be blessed in shooting incredible women….this past month I had the opportunity to shoot Victoria, a friend of mine through the Afro-Cali Dance Community (Panzumo), and her lovely and elegant Mamacita Jeannette. I love shooting mothers and daughters because of that incredibly deep bond that connects them through time and space unlike any other….no matter our ages, we remain daughters and mothers, sisters, and ideally, friends. I count myself lucky to be so close to my own mother and I could see that Victoria and her mother have a similarly close friendship. I think that being close to the women we love never fails to bring out our innermost goddess qualities and with that comes our greatest beauty and lights….

Directly below is the slideshow. The pictures have been condensed for the movie but it gives you an idea of the slideshow I created for them both....Just push the "play" button:

I had originally wanted to shoot at sunset along the ocean but the winter sun wasn’t in the right position so we found a garden setting instead that was even more resplendent in the late afternoon light. In the end, the choice was divine….the white and lemon-colored angel trumpet flowers, giant oak tree, and miniature orchids brought out even more of Victoria’s playful spirit and Jeannette's irresistible smile. We had planned on shooting for only an hour or so but, as always, I fell in love with the colors, the light, and their radiance….it was too much fun! The only challenge was getting Victoria’s blind, aging dog Lily to pay attention to the camera and not sulk….I managed to get a few good shots of her before she completely threw a fit and let us all know it was time to call it a day~

We all went home in the early evening euphoric from the shoot…except maybe the dog who was just relieved to be done with the whole ordeal.... ;)

The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven.

~William Goldsmith Brown

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August 21st, 2009
Official Launch of Karen Custer Thurston's Middle Eastern Dance Website
Of all the people I've had the opportunity to work with over the past several years, one of my most favorite is my Mother! She's hired me to do her fitness shots and fitness website as well as her dance photos and dance website. We giggle, we tease each other, we obsess, we fixate, and then come to some miraculous resolutions together...

My latest project for her has been one of my proudest. After several months of hard work, we're officially launching her brand spanking new dance website here at: www.turkishegyptiandance.com

I'm so proud of it...I am in love with the dynamic colors, the music, the layout, and the fact that its her first website to host video. I love this site so much that I'm gonna have to go back and revamp my own sites to keep up with the elegance of hers!

If you've never had the opportunity to see her dance, check out some of her videos. One of her latest choreographies was with the dance troupe she leads, Al Rakasaat, titled "Alexandria."
There are also a few other clips of performances she's had in recent years...they barely scratch the surface of all that she's done but should give you a good idea of different styles she draws from. We hope to be updating with more videos over the next couple of years....

Viva El Baile!