Sunday, December 26, 2010

Alpha Resource Center Holiday Thank You Party, Montecito, California

Photography by r.s.thurston photography

What do you get when you take a beautiful Spanish-style Montecito Home, mix in mini-cupcakes, a make-up artist, jeweler, Artiste Wines, a tarot-card reader, masseuses, loads of scrumptious plated cheeses, breads, and stuffed mushrooms, and a costume room full of hundreds of alter-ego possibilities?

A dang good time right before the holidays!

Alpha Resource Center wanted to give back this year and thank some of their top donors for their generous support. For those of you who wonder what Alpha does besides operate those killer-good-deal thrift stores around town, they're a Santa Barbara based non-profit committed to empowering individuals with developmental disabilities. The rewards event was spearheaded by Alpha’s Outreach Coordinator Marisa Pasquini. My good friend Michele Sakakibara was in charge of helping to orchestrate the night at Molly Houston’s gorgeous home in Montecito (she generously donated her place to be the event venue).

In my humble opinion, I think I had the coolest job of all! In my photography I absolutely love to “style” my clients and I’ve always been a glutton for costumes. I’m known for bringing several pieces of my own clothing, accessories, and props along to pump up fun in the shoot. Molly’s costume room is an absolute dream for anyone who loves to dress up…for all of you who love to try-on different personas….you wouldn’t believe the quality of costumes she’s both collected and created over her past many years in theatre and events….hand-beaded mermaid dress with matching slippers, Spanish dresses with layers of ruffles and matching hats, Chinese headdresses, weighty beaded flapper dresses, and whimsical chiffon princess skirts and bustiers…..and there’s a room full of Tupperware packed to the brim with every color feather boa and wigs you could imagine and hope for.

For four hours I helped to style, dress, and then photograph the guests at the party. I know, I know, it was rough work but we made it through the night….laughing, cajoling each other, and having a ball encouraging these beautiful women live into their alter-egos.

Of course, we had to have a costume contest and the winners were given some fantastic prizes. I’ve posted the top three winners here but definitely take time to check out the slideshow as well!

Molly is hoping in future years to grow this event and possibly hold a fundraiser here. Her place is an absolute dream to celebrate in and I hope to be a part of it next year~

Thank you again to all of Alpha’s Donors as well as to Marisa, Molly, Michele and the rest of the amazing men and women who came together to donate their time and help to create this event.

Happy New Year~!

Enjoy the Slideshow~

r.s.thurston is available for events and private portrait sessions. To see more of her work, just click on “portfolio” above or check out some of her photo sessions here on her blog. You can contact her at

*The slideshow does have a music track. If the sound doesn't come on within a second or two, refresh your page and then click "play" again.

For those of you who attended the party and would like to download some of these photos, please follow these easy steps:

1) Click in the upper right corner to “visit gallery.”

2) You will be redirected to my Zenfolio Professional Gallery. Double click on the picture you would like to download. Roll your cursor over upper left portion of picture and select “Download Original.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspiring Speech by J.K. Rowling to the Harvard Graduating Class of 2008

I rarely post videos unless they're either a) super inspiring or b) super entertaining. This is a bit of both. My boyfriend's Mama recently shared this with me and I finally had the chance to listen. It's great to put on in the background while you're doing work.

I think this is a beautiful way of wrapping up the year and starting the new one, feeling grateful for all that we have and full of fire in our bellies for the upcoming year.

Enjoy and have a beautiful holiday and New Year!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Just For Fun:
Hilarious Holiday Video of Cats and Dogs

Okay, I admit it. I spend a little too much time on Facebook and Youtube BUT I will proudly state that I rarely post Youtube Videos on my blog unless they're 1) incredibly inspiring or 2) incredibly funny.

This one is both and thirdly is 3) in the spirit of the holidays.

Even if you're a self-proclaimed Scrooge, I dare you to not be charmed by this one....
*I think my favorite is the goldfish singing about halfway through....

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

r.s.thurston writing and photography

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes for motivating myself to keep on keepin' on with all my creative dreams! Here's to coming down the home stretch of 2010 and creating amazing, beautiful things in 2011....

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

"Gorgeous, Sexy Goddesses
in the Woods"
Photo Shoot with Karen Custer Thurston's Middle Eastern Dance and Drumming Troupe
"Al Rakasaat"

"Dance is the hidden language of the soul."
~Martha Graham

I was born a dancer to a mother who was born to a dancer who was also born to a dancer. As far as we can see, the love of music and dance--that's as natural to us as being women--goes back to at least my great grandmother Ruth who was a hard-working farmer and saved up $ from selling butter and eggs during the Depression to put my grandmother and great uncle through dance classes and training to become performers.

It's not something that my Mother and I were ever told we needed to do. It's something that we find we have to do. It brings me such joy, such bliss to dance and to have music in my life. My Mother has been one of my greatest inspirations in the world of dance. As I've followed my dancing path here in Santa Barbara, she continues to expand as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in Flagstaff. Her dance troupe "Al Rakasaat" is composed of a beautiful group of women who have studied with her over the years as they've all grown together in their dance and their friendships through their shared love of dance.

Flagstaff is like a second home to me (along with Indiana!) and it's been a dream of mine for years to have the opportunity to photograph her with her dance group. Many of the members have become friends of mine over the years and it's been a joy to watch them perform on my visits out to Flagstaff.

For anyone who has music and dance in their life, we are blessed! I cannot imagine a life without dance anymore than I can imagine a life without air, water, and good friendship.

To my Mama I say, "Thankyou for being an amazing mentor to me in my own pursuit of happiness through music and dance! And thankyou for always being such a solid foundation of support for me through thick and thin." And to these women I say, "I hope that you continue to have music and dance in your lives for many, many years to come and that your friendships continue to deepen and expand~"

Thankyou for giving me the opportunity to photograph you all~

Dance on!
all my love, Rachel

These photos feature Turkish Egyptian Dancer/Choreographer/Teacher Karen Custer Thurston and the current Dancer and Drumming Members of "Al Rakasaat": Crystal Drumheller, Cintamani Ellsworth, Sandra Gomez, Meredith Rankin, Nicky Sanders, Sarah Vrba, and Janet Wilson.

*Visit my Fanpage on Facebook as well at r.s.thurston photography~

Enjoy the Slideshow!
r.s.thurston photography
*Make sure to turn up the volume for the music. If the music doesn't come on, refresh the page and play slideshow again.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Goddess Photo Shoot With Lisa Beck
....Basking In the Sun!

"Joy is a flower that blooms when you do."
Author Unknown

I've had the opportunity to photograph the divine spirit that embodies Ms. Lisa Beck....she's a veritable Goddess in every sense of the word. In the past ten years of our friendship, I've seen her blossom into this tour de force. Using a unique range of talents, she and her partner Mr. Budhi Harlow have created a dynamic community of dancers, musicians, and percussionists from their loyal following of students. She sings, she dances West African and Bollywood, she's a fabulous djembe and djun djun player, dance choreographer, and she's able to share these passions with her dance students who can't seem to get enough of her classes!

Most of what I love about Lisa, however, is what a steadfast, radiant spirit she is and I think that these portraits capture the grace that emanates from within her. She inspires me on a weekly basis both as a teacher and a friend and to me, that is exactly what being a Goddess is all about!

To find out more about their classes and community, visit

Make sure to check out the slideshow...if the music doesn't come on at first, try to refresh the page.

with love, Rachel

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween 2010

Greetings To All You Romans, Superheroes, Pirates, Miss Piggies, Vamps, Pimps, Exotic Dancers, Gladiators, and Disco Stars:

Thanks to you all for helping to make this another awesome Halloween experience! I
loved seeing the costumes, throwing back some jello shots, experiencing all those good vibrations on the dance floor. It was, in short, another amazing Halloween for us!

Here's a slideshow of some of the best pics from the night including those from the photo booth. Don't worry, I didn't post any of the truly risque shots (and there definitely were quite a few). If you'd like any of these pics, you can click on "Visit Gallery" in the upper right corner of the slideshow. Once you're in the gallery, click on the pics you want then click in the upper lefthand corner. You'll be given a choice to "Download Original." You can also choose to download "All Available" if you like.

Oh yeah!!! Don't forget to turn up your sound for music to the slideshow. If you still don't hear it, refresh your screen and it should come up when you click "play" again.

Be good, rest up, and keep the celebrations alive into 2012!

Cleopatra, The Mad Cow, and Senor Beltran!
Rach, Steve, and Jim...

Monday, September 20, 2010

September 24, 2010
Goddess Shoot With Kris Oster...Afro-Brazilian and Cuban percussionist, researcher in mythology and rhythm, and the founder of "Gaia," a women's conference in Santa Barbara.

Serendipity comes sometimes when we least expect it. Just around the time I decided to switch my business name from "Rachel S. Thurston" to "r.s.thurston photography" and to focus on Goddess Photography, along comes Kris Oster, another sign from the universe that I'm going in the right direction!

I've been drumming with Kris for the past year or more with the performance group The Djun Djun Mamas and knew she was a gorgeous, multi-talented goddess but had no idea just to what extent her goddess roots went! Besides spending the last handfull of years completing her doctorate in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute and regularly leading workshops and classes in goddess mythology and drumming, she's also a radiant Mama and wife. To top it off, she comes from a family of percussionists and has been drumming professionally and recording since she was twenty.

Which makes her all the more of a rock star in my eyes!

And then she tells me that she's running a goddess women's festival this coming fall called "Gaia," which celebrates the divine spirit and that she'd like to have some beautiful, goddess-like photos to promote the festival and her own work.


So I continue along this goddess path...having the opportunity to photograph incredible women who are divine inside and out.
We played with the light, the shadows, and a few fun wardrobe changes. Best of all, Kris really feels a deep connection with the tree goddesses and I've been wanting to take more sensual photography of women wrapped up among tree branches... I really love what we created together!

I'll let the photographs speak for themselves.

Here's to Kris and all that you continue to create, my love!
Hoping that our goddess paths continue to cross and overlap....

much love,

Sunday, August 08, 2010

August 8th, 2010

Baby Photo Shoot With Erin, Javier, and Mateo
Santa Barbara, California

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.
~Woody Allen

I first met Erin and Javier through a mutual friend and we hit it off immediately. Turns out Erin is a Hoosier--born and raised--just like me and Javier is an what's not to love? Mateo is growing up bilingual in a super loving, joyful home and has Queso as an energetic, playful canine playmate.

We had such a blast doing this shoot together that we toasted to it at the end of the afternoon!
Mateo, like his parents, is a super mellow, happy kid who has infinite patience and smiles when large cameras are being pointed at him and grown-ups are making funny faces and noises with every possible type of of rattle and stuffed animals. Sometimes I wish had a photographer documenting the interactions between me and the parents when we're trying to elicit sweet responses from's probably one of the most entertaining behind-the-scenes moments of baby shoots.

As the shoot went on and little Mateo became more and more tired of our grown-up tricks, we got goofier and more creative...using bottles of tequila, bottles of vitamins, and stuffed gorillas to entertain him. I still wish I had a recording of Erin, Javier, and me all trying to make our best monkey and cat calls~

And I was especially stoked to discover one of Erin and Javier's favorite songs by John Lennon that really speaks to their journey with Mateo....Here it is. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25th, 2010
Santa Barbara, CA

Co-Creating The Journey:
Photo Shoot With Lisa Beck and Budhi Harlow of
West African Dancers and Drummers

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Ursula K. Le Guin.

I don’t’ even know where to begin with explaining my relationship with Lisa and Budhi. Friends. Mentors. Co-creators. Teachers.

We perform together. We dance together. We drum together. We commune together. And we occasionally sing together. It’s difficult to separate out the levels of relationship that we have together. But one of the most cherished of these relationships is as their photographer. In the past ten years, we’ve had several photo shoots together which have unintentionally archived our journeys as artists from their first music cd around nine years ago with their first band to their connection with the ocean and Lisa’s growth as a dance teacher to this summer during which our creative energies only seem to growing without abandon and Lisa has become something of a mythical creature…graceful, gorgeous in a very unself-conscious way, strong. There is so much that I wanted to create with her photographically this time around that we decided to do a separate photo shoot of her as goddess portraits (to be released soon) and another of her and Budhi shining in their musical elements….

Budhi is a phenomenal musician, composer, teacher and performer. And in the past ten years, Lisa has not only blossomed as a highly talented musician and dancer but she has become one of the most gifted dance teachers I’ve ever known (up there along with Vanessa Isaac and my beloved Mamacita). Her humility, grace, unending ability to combine her multiple talents have helped make her such an amazing leader. Together they have helped to create a truly beautiful community of drummers and dancers in Santa Barbara over the past several years and one which I consider to be one of the many amazing blessings of my life.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. There is a beautiful synergy that occurs when creative spirits come together with a similar vision and you can almost taste it in the electrical texture of the photos….This is the path that I have envisioned for many years to come. It’s difficult to imagine having more fun than we did together on this shoot but, after years of experience with them both, I know it’s always possible! ;)

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28th, 2010
Whirlwind Summer Solstice Weekend....Scantily Clad Drumming, Dancing, and Celebrations! I've survived another Summer Solstice Celebration in Santa Barbara! I've just finished a whirlwind weekend...a Friday Night Pre-Solstice performance of drumming/dancing/singing with the Djun Djun Mamas, dancing with Panzumo's Summer Solstice Ensemble on Saturday in the Parade, threw a bridal shower on Sunday, more celebrations on the beach, then watching another awesome episode of "True Blood" with good friends on Sunday night.

Dang! Now that's a great weekend!

I'm so happy to be on this creative path and to have a life that is so abundant in music, dance, drumming and creative fulfillment with amazing people. Here are a couple of videos of the weekend. The first is a clip of the Djun Djun Mamas...a group that I've been with the past two years. We worked on this piece for about six weeks and are really proud of it!

The second clip is one of our Panzumo Summer Solstice Parade Ensemble dancing several West African Rhythms in the Parade.


Monday, June 07, 2010

June 7, 2010
Ahhhhh...The Joys, Trials, and Tribulations of Camping~
Absolute Spot-On Treatise About Camping by The Stuff White People Like~

Okay, I rarely put up links to other websites here unless they absolutely stun me with their wit or manage to provide sufficient entertainment to distract me from my actual work....and this one succeeds in both!
If you haven't yet discovered "The Stuff White People Like" then you've got to take some time and check it out. It's truly brilliant and super flippin' funny~

Their latest post on "Camping" especially struck a chord after a recent camping trip with friends and family down the Kern River. I've grown up camping, lived in and out of a tent for several seasons of my life as a river guide/outdoor instructor, and will continue to camp as often as I can...but still...has anyone ever noticed how much work it is to pack/unpack/organize?

The masochist in me enjoys it. And apparently, a bunch of other White People feel the same way!

Check it out~ Spot on!
And as they say at the bottom of this post:
Note: This works for all races!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weekly Teaser....
Here's the first shot I've edited from my recent Goddess Photo Shoot with Lisa Beck~
LOVE IT! More to come....

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Kern River Trip With Family And Friends~

The first river you paddle runs through the rest of your life. It bubbles up in pools and eddies to remind you who you are.
~Lynn Noel

For those of you who have known me in my pre-Santa Barbara Days...I spent many blissful years living and working on rivers. For nearly five years I worked as a park ranger, a commercial river guide, and as an Outward Bound Instructor (yes, I made many young teenagers occasionally cry but was compassionate all around!) throughout the American West (California, New Mexico, Utah/Colorado, the border of Texas and Mexico, and along the border of Minnesota and Canada.

Those were some of the best years of my early adulthood...seasons spent running rivers, living out of tents and tupperware, living into the strength of my body, pushing my physical and psychological comfort zones, basking in the intense desert heat, and living as a nomad through the winters when I traveled throughout Latin America and Australia.

It is true that you can never step into the same river...twice. The same goes with revisiting those years lived on and along the river. But like any river rat, the river continues to have a sweet spot in my heart with deep roots. I still have occasional midsummer night dreams of navigating whitewater in some foreign wilderness. And every time I visit the river I am a different person living out a whole new chapter of my life...but yet the river remains some constant unchangeable force.

I was fortunate to recently return to the river on an incredible trip with family and friends. Although it has been years since I went down the river and even longer since I gave an impromptu "safety talk" or lesson on reading whitewater, it felt so encouraging to know I still had the chops! All those skills came immediately back. I was in absolute heaven being on the water again. My heart sings on the water and I feel like I am home again...all the rivers seem to be one and to contain the same fluid energy.

I'm so grateful to the Abbeys for putting together another Amazing Trip and to the rest of the Rousseau Clan and to my friends Richard and Michele for making the weekend into such an amazing trip! I can't wait to go back to the river and the Sierras with good friends and family~

Life continues to move quickly sometimes speeding up...but when I'm on the river, something seems to have stayed the same if only for a brief moment in time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

"Mangos, Mojitos, and Completely Blissful Escapism"
Club Med Ixtapa, Mexico
May 17th, 2010
*Make sure to check out the slideshow at the bottom of this posting

After a lifetime spent traveling to developing world countries and living on the cheap, I've always eschewed the idea of resorting it and spending a week or two comfortably cut off from the local culture while sipping fancy drinks and surrounded by my similarly situated socioeconomic and national kinsmen. Well it turns out that this form of travel is called "vacation" and that it's actually quite enjoyable! I had NO IDEA how amazing the experience of resorting it could be.

By sheer fortune, my boyfriend's parents offered to take us and his brother, sister-in-law, and nephew all to spend a week at Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico. And all I can say is OH.MY.GOD. AMAZING! I think that the older I get the more I appreciate the art of relaxation and learning to spend an afternoon doing absolutely NOTHING! Club Med also provides ample opportunities for guests to stay active if you're not entirely content reading Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and drinking endless glasses of cool, sweet minty mojitos under a private palapa on the beach (I know…it sounds rough, doesn’t it?).

From the morning into the late evening, you can choose from Zumba Classes (one of my favorite activities…a Latin/Hip Hop style of really popular cardio-exercise), tequila tastings, Body Sculpting, Archery, Trapeze/Circus Classes, Tennis, Rock Climbing, Body-Surfing, Kayaking, Sailing, Swimming, and Cooking Classes with the top chefs from the resort. At night you have your pick of checking out an incredible variety of dancing performances, hilarious skits playing off of movies and pop culture music, and an unforgettable finale circus performance.

Then there’s always the option of just staring thoughtfully into the Pacific sipping on a Pina Colada as you contemplate whether you’ll be going with the Beef Tenderloin and mushroom sauce for dinner or the grilled Mahi-Mahi with a side of fresh mango and lime juice.

Or you can do both. Whichever way…it’s all about the options you have at Club Med!

We were especially blown away by a the quality of food and drinks that we indulged in day after day....homemade spinach stuffed ravioli, fresh ceviche, mouthwatering slices of mango, papaya, and watermelon, endless trays of freshly made fruit tortes and pastries, cinnamon and sugar-dusted churros, imported cheeses, hand-rolled tortillas and pre-hispanic dishes, stir-fried vegetables, and Moroccan, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian themed dinners.

The staff was also incredible to us…I can’t say enough amazing things about the quality of service we had there. Another one of Club Med’s philosophies is that guests are treated like royalty but that they have a chance to interact and become friends with the staff, who hang out, eat, and drink with the guests at the meals and parties. I feel a special affinity for many of the staff that we got to know there over the course of the week and want to send out a special thanks to several of them:

A huge THANKYOU to Eduardo (operations manager), Daniel (bar and entertainment), Asaia (hosting), Sandra (boutique), Nat (incredibly talented head of entertainment….amazing trapeze artist and comedian as well!), Jona (hilarious impressions of Ricky Martin and self-professed ‘shy guy’…), Chefs Sheik, Miguel, and Arturo (who taught some super fun cooking classes and treated us like royalty while we were there….including an amazing fruit masterpiece you’ll see in the slideshow!). Big thankyous also to all of the dancers, choreographers, costume designers, A/V guys, trapeze artists, cooks, bakers, bartenders, and groundskeepers that give it 150% on a daily basis.

You guys couldn’t have done a more amazing job or made our experience there more amazing!
Thankyou! Gracias! Merci! Cheers! Obrigado! I highly, highly recommend going to Ixtapa, Mexico or trying out another Club Med. In the meantime, for a little taste of paradise...enjoy the slideshow I put together for Steve's family as A HUGE THANKYOU for affording us with this opportunity!


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Celebrating My 29th Birthday (Again!) and Easter….

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

Kahlil Gibran

I have felt so abundantly rich this week celebrating my birthday. I couldn't have hoped for a more beautiful day of celebration...from the gorgeous sunlight filtering through the vines and persimmon tree in our backyard to the divine food several of our friends and family all contributed (scrumptious ginger lemonade, lemon bars, salads, artichokes, and so on) to the gorgeous bouquets of cala lilies, sunflowers, and pansies that are still bringing such vibrance into our house, to the company and laughter throughout the day!

I'm so happy to have so many incredible people in my life. I feel abundant in friendships and it was the cream cheese frosting on the cupcake to see so many making deeper connections with each other or meeting for the first time. Thankyou also to many of you who-although you weren't able to make it--who sent me such beautiful messages, cards, and voice mails.

It was a special treat that a few intrepid souls stayed throughout the afternoon and into the evening to make another meal, commune over good food and wine, and watch a movie. Any party that goes from 1 p.m. to 10:56 p.m. is a good one!

I feel grateful to live here in Santa Barbara surrounded by such incredible men and women~
It’s probably one of the greatest gifts I could ever hope for...the opportunity to celebrate all the love that surrounds me on a daily basis.

all my love and THANKYOU!
Raquelita, Ever The Birthday Girl!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Mari Martin's Going Away Party at Soho....
Friday April 2nd, 2010

"A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."
~Donna Roberts

Mari Martin, a most cherished friend of mine and an incredibly talented singer, is leaving Santa Barbara for her hometown out on the East Coast. Aside from being an extraordinary woman, Mari is one of my favorite singers of all-time...incredibly accomplished and ever-so-humble. Last Friday night's Going Away Party for her couldn't have been a more perfect tribute to her...Soho was filled with good friends who have followed her singing career over the past sixteen years. The club was brimming over with feelings of joy, celebration, and sadness as she took the stage for one of her last times this year.

We are going to miss you so much, Mari! Boston is dang lucky to be receiving such a shining star...
I hope that with every day, you can keep this celebration in your heart and remember all of your family here that loves, cherishes, and adores you here in Santa Barbara!

Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26th, 2010
The Best Family Portrait Shoot (I love that I can say that!)
Elaine, Mike, and The Little Man...Mister Ethan Best

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

I had a truly wonderful afternoon photographing Elaine, Mike, and their young son Ethan at a nearby beach. Although the beginning of the shoot got off to a somewhat chilly start for the little tyke we really gained some great momentum as the sun set lower over the ocean and we tried out a few fun poses. I especially love the little Scottish Hat that Elaine brought along for Ethan...a few of my favorite pictures feature him silhouetted against the sand and lapping waves...the images could just have easily come from Isle of Skye, Scotland as Santa Barbara. Ahh, the magic of photography!

Instead of posting individual photos, I'm going to post slideshow of the shoots I'm doing. I'm so incredibly stoked that I've found a new service which allows me to create slideshows which maintain the integrity of the photos' vivid colors and sharpness! Enjoy some of my favorite pics of the Best Gang. I hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Zenfolio Here I Come!

I am so incredibly stoked to have found an incredible new online photo viewing and purchasing company called Zenfolio. I have been having an absolute blast uploading some of my latest portrait galleries and creating slideshow which I can finally upload to my blog! It's been a heck of a lot more user-friendly than another company which I've been using.

Here's my first slideshow "Dancing Goddesses!" featuring the ever so talented West African Dancer and Drummer Lisa Beck (Panzumo) and Turkish Egyptian Dancer, Percussionist, and Choreographer Karen Custer Thurston.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Viva Las Vegas!
Three Days at the Wedding and Portrait Photographer's Convention (WPPI)
It is our job [as photographers] with light to carve and give dimension.
Winifred Whitfield, Portrait Photographer

Just got back from an amazing short trip to the WPPI Convention in Las Vegas. That’s right…14,000 photographers from around the world descending on the MGM to visit hundreds of vendors, to listen to platform speakers, and take Master Classes from award-winning photojournalist, wedding and portrait photographers….and yes, there was quite a bit of free stuff: chocolate-dipped strawberries, loads of gift certificates and lip balm, pecan-crusted chicken, miniature artichoke/spinach bread bowls, and a few too many grapefruit rum coolers (sounds strange but it’s actually quite refreshing!)

Highlights of the week besides the rockin’ STUDIO 54 Party that Pictage threw for its members on Tuesday night (think glowsticks, endless drinks, faux fashion show, go-go dancers, and a truly fun DJ) were the connections made with countless photographers from around the country as well as my Master Classes. One of my favorite classes was with the highly talented and down-to-earth Photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice who won a Pulitzer Prize for her images which documented a young Iraqi boy whose life irrevocably changed after nearly being killed by a bomb in a Bagdad schoolyard then coming to the U.S. for a series of reconstructive surgeries. She also spoke about the multi-media revolution and how many opportunities there are for blending the mediums of writing, photography, and video in this digital age.

Other highlights of the week included Master Classes with the gorgeous diva Winifred Whitfield who specializes in intimate portraits of women (she’s a photographer and a true digital artists…very stylized and unique one-of-a-kind portraits), Jerry D’s lessons in make-up and boudoir, Anthony Cava’s hard-liner approach to pricing and business ownership, hilarious wedding photographer and Brit Dennis Orchard who spoke about his love of photography and keeping things simple, and the super funny, and accessible Kay Eskridge who has formed a mini-empire side business (she keeps it separate from her mainstream portraits) shooting intimate, sexy portraits celebrating women’s sense of sexy. Very fun speaker and a woman that I think would be great to have as a girlfriend!

I’m stoked to have attended this year. Just as the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference kicked up my level of commitment to the craft, attending this year’s WPPI Conference has kicked up my level of commitment to photography ten-fold. Looking forward to deepening my connection to other photographers around the world, building my business, and feeding my creative muse this year.

A huge thankyou as well to Andrejka and Cherry Thomas, two friends and fellow photographers in Santa Barbara… that was a fun trip!

Viva Las Vegas!

Rachel S. Thurston Photography