Friday, March 23, 2012

2012 Fifth Annual Santa Barbara Women's Festival
March 9-10, 2012
Honorary Chair & Executive Director; Tracy Beard
Founder and Producer; Patty DeDominic
Co-Founder; Mary Schnack (This 5th Annual Festival was dedicated in her memory)
Master of Ceremonies; Mignonne Profant
*And many, many other men and women who have worked throughout the year to help make this festival happen!

This was my second year photographing the Women's Festival and it was by far my favorite year. Dynamic speakers Kathy Ireland (who graced this month's cover of Forbes Magazine) and Keynote Speaker Lynda Weinman (of took the stage sharing their life experiences and lessons along the way about being balanced, strong women in touch with living their passions. Local vocal sensation Lois Mahalia sang a tribute during the V.I.P. reception followed by a small but mighty troupe of Girls,Inc. singers who absolutely charmed California Congresswoman Lois Capps who was sitting in the front row for the performance.

Saturday's festival featured dozens of vendors offering health products, consultations, non-profit information, chocolates, glitzy clothing and accessories (b/c what would a women's fest be without things that sparkle and shine?!) as well as a section devoted to local artists (a few of whom donated to the Women's Festival). The afternoon was absolutely gorgeous and the setting was sublime...overlooking Santa Barbara's pride and joy....the Pacific Ocean and outlying Channel Islands. Round table discussions featuring local authors, entrepreneurs, healters, and coaches were held in the afternoon overlooking the whole ocean.

Not that I'm personally biased of the highlights this year, in my opinion, were the dance performances held throughout Saturday afternoon. The Djun Djun Mamas led by Lisa Beck ROCKED THE STAGE...with their thunderous drumming, dancing and singing (yes, I'm a proud member and was seen periodically running around with both my camera and my drumsticks throughout the afternoon). Among several singers and groups were Hip Blessings who drew a crowd with their Middle Eastern choreographies as well as World Dance Workout led by Janet Reineck whose dancers' enthusiasm was infectious! Two Chumash groups performed as well as the frame drumming and dance troupe Gaia led by local goddess Kris Oster. Unfortunately, I missed Jo Williams' early morning "Wake Up!" but know it was fabulous b/c everything she does usually is!

A HUGE thank you to all of you who helped to support the Women's Festival this year either through your donations, your volunteer efforts, involvement as a vendor or performer, or as a guest coming to just enjoy the events. I'm also grateful to Patty DeDominic and everyone on the Board of Directors for including me as their photographer again this year!

I hope that word continues to spread with each year of the festival....and that it only draws in more and more amazing men and women to join in the celebration.

Enjoy the slideshow and feel free to share the link to your friends and other men and women who were involved or who would like to be involved in the Women's Festival next year!

*If the music doesn't come on when you click on "play" then refresh your page and start the slideshow again.

**A special thank you to Lisa Beck's father, Jim Beck, who was able to take my camera for our Djun Djun Mamas performance and get some great shots of our group in action! Difficult to clone myself and do both at the same time...maybe next year. ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"The Magic of Mermaids"
Photo Shoot with Local Mermaid Goddess
Kris Oster
by r.s.thurston photography

“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.
Anaïs Nin

Since late last summer I've been dreaming and obsessing on mermaids....spending hours online collecting mermaid photos, paintings, and even creating a Pinterest Board dedicated to these magical, feminine sea creatures...completely transfixed by their long, lustrous hair and gracefulness in the water....tails and tendrils swirling beneath the water.
It's incredible how mysteriously our creative minds work....A few months later my good friend, fellow Djun Djun Mama and past photography client Kris Oster called me. She had purpose and intention in her voice.

"I know this is going to sound strange, Rachel, but I have this really wild idea that I want to manifest with you and I think you're the perfect person for it."
Even before the word slipped out of her mouth I knew what was coming.
"I've been thinking about mermaids. Would you be interested--"
"Of course!!!! Of course!!!" I screamed before she could even complete her sentence.
It would be absolutely perfect to work with Kris on my first mermaid shoot. The last shoot we had done together was one in which we had manifested her connection to a tree goddess. Everything had come together so beautifully when we worked together.
Kris began the search looking for the perfect tail and we met a few times to go over her wardrobe. We even enlisted our good friend Ms. Lisa Beck (leader of the Djun Djun Mamas and also a favorite muse and photography client of mine) to assist me in keeping Kris in perfect mermaid form and in moving her along the sand (as mermaids are quite the aqueous creatures but not so adept at moving around on land until their legs have grown back).
We ended up doing two shoots one in freshwater and another in the ocean. We couldn't have asked for better conditions when we shot along the ocean. The light was sublime as the sun set over the Pacific....she looked like an absolute goddess perched along the rocks as the waves broke over her feet and the receding foam wrapped around her legs like perfectly sculpted clouds of meringue.
I had to keep pinching myself. What a joy to be photographing such a dear friend while being helped by another.
Kris is an absolutely amazing being. She is strong, graceful, nurturing, incredibly bright and creative and has zero trace of any ego so often associated with highly successful people. She is a percussionist, an academic, a leader, a teacher and to top it all, she has an entire background in the field of marketing. She's currently promoting her Elite+Fabulous Marketing Sessions to local entrepreneurs.
Anything Kris Oster touches becomes gold. She is a fabulous creature and epitomizes the idea of a goddess. She looks like a true creature of the water in these photos effortlessly manifesting these water deities.
I hope you enjoy these photos as much I we did doing these shoots together. I have to believe that there's a higher power at work during shoots like this. And I certainly hope that this is just the first of many more shoots to come of mermaids and other magical sea creatures!
If you don't hear the music when you start the slideshow, just refresh your page and click on "play" again.