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

Friday, September 05, 2014

Lisa & John's Tahoe Wedding Celebration

*Feel free to leave your comments and congratulations for Lisa and John on the thread below the slideshow. Thanks!

One of the sweetest highlights of my summer (and probably my year!) was traveling to Squaw Valley, Tahoe this summer to photograph an incredible multi-day celebration of Lisa and John's wedding. I met Lisa's family several years ago when I photographed them on a celebratory family trip to Santa Barbara. Many years later it's been an equal pleasure to meet the rest of her and John's extraordinary families.

In short, this is a love letter to Lisa and John and both of their gracious, kind-hearted, down to earth, and big-hearted families who came in from all parts of the country to celebrate their union. It's a special privilege to feel so included in a celebration the way that Lisa and John made me and my honey feel. It's an inspiration to me to know two such lovely people and to be made to feel like "family" during a very intimate occasion.

I was deeply touched by the way that Lisa and John included their five beloved kids and "blended family" in their nuptials and in a very well thought out slideshow and ode to their family. The love between a couple like Lisa and John  and the love they share with their families is exactly what the world needs more of. 

I look forward to watching their love and their families continue to grow over the years and hope to continue having the opportunity to photograph them all over the years…no matter the location! ITALY, ICELAND, MALAYSIA?! Where will your next celebration be? I'm so there! ;-)

As a special thank you to Lisa and John and their beautiful friends and family, and because they live spread out around the country, I have put together not one but FOUR SLIDESHOWS of their celebration in Tahoe earlier this year. I'm hoping you all have as much fun watching this as I have had putting these together for you all!

Much Love & Many Thanks,

*To watch the slideshows in full screen mode, just click on the rectangle icon in the lower right hand corner of the slideshow window. Voila!

**If the music doesn't play with the slideshow, just refresh your browser window and click "play" (arrow icon in middle of the screen) again. 

Cummins-Dulchinos Family & Bride & Groom Photo Slideshow: 

Cummins-Dulchinos Wedding Ceremony & Cocktail Hour

Cummins-Dulchinos Wedding Dinner & Reception

BONUS: Cummins-Dulchinos Wedding Rehearsal Dinner

*IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO VIEW THE WHOLE GALLERY OF PHOTOS (many of which are not in these slideshows) PLEASE CLICK HERE:

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.