Karen ReVelle Photography :: vibrant. sassy. inspired. » southern california and destination lifestyle photographer for extraordinary individuals!

  • Welcome to Karen ReVelle Photography

    Anything can happen on any given moment on any given day, and moments are just that: single moments, frozen in time. That is the beauty of the classic still image. Life is about the journey; not the destination.

    Our attention spans have been cultivated to be so brief in this day and age; with video, advertisements, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and more... all vying for a precious moment of our time. Capturing a perfect moment means being ready for anything.

    THOSE perfect moments are the ones that we frame, that we enlarge, that we hang on our walls because we want to see them every day, because they fill our hearts with joy, with memories and with happiness.

    That is what you will find here, a collection of perfect moments from a mixture of portraits, weddings, events and more. Karen ReVelle Photography strives to capture more than just ANY image, but a collection that tell a complete story, from small details, to glances stolen between new husband and wife; loving moments between parent and child; laughter between best friends; and so much more.

    The moments in the in-between are what tell the story. Welcome, and hope you enjoy the journey.

    ** NOTE :: 08/2015: the "galleries" section of this site is currently under construction :: please check back soon for updates!! **

  • GALLERIES
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    Family :: Babies :: Children

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    Weddings :: Engagements :: Love

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    My Favorite Things

    Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes Silver white winters that

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    2012 Holiday Portraits!

    Hello, friends! I am SO remiss in not blogging faithfully. Life proves to be crazy busy and that’s a wonderful,

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    Announcing 2011 Holiday Portrait Details!

    Hello friends! It’s the beginning of November and that special time of year is upon us. A chill in the air,

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    It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas…

    Why … hello there, friends! What’s that, you say? It’s been a while since I’d blogged and you

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    Sweet Child O’ Mine

    She’s got a smile that it seems to me Reminds me of childhood memories Where everything was as fresh as the

We live on front porches and swing life away,
We get by just fine here on minimum wage
If love is a labor I’ll slave till the end,
I won’t cross these streets until you hold my hand

— “Swing Life Away”, Rise Against

Not all of you may listen to alternative music, or to local (but world-famous!) LA radio station KROQ, but if you do, you’re most certainly familiar with Rise Against. So if you are familiar with them you probably know this song. Typically this isn’t the type of band you’d hear played for a first dance at a wedding, but Dareen and Sean exemplify walking to the beat of a drum that is all their own, and this song was a perfect fit for them on their wedding day on Saturday, May 1st, 2010.

They met at Nordstom’s. They both worked at the Café … you know, the place with the best Tomato Basil Bisque ever? I’m personally convinced this is the reason they fell in love. There’s magic in those bowls of soup. Really! Fast forward five-and-a-half years after meeting at Nordstom Café, and here they are, walking down the aisle.

Before I go any further, I’d like to share that this wasn’t the first time I’d met Dareen’s family. In fact, through a friend-of-a-friend referral, I met Dareen’s older sister Shireen approximately 2 years ago when I photographed her baby shower, and almost a year later, her daughter’s baptism and reception. Shireen also referred me to her former UCSB college roommate, and I was able to shoot Rachelle & Brian’s wedding in Santa Barbara last year too. So, I adore this family and their friends throughout. And, when I was asked to shoot Dareen’s wedding too, I could not be any happier!

Dareen and Sean’s wedding was a beautiful fusion of Syrian culture (Dareen’s family) meets Hawaiian culture (Sean’s family), complete with purple & white dendrobium orchids everywhere, and I love that both of Dareen’s parents escorted her down the aisle to the sweetest strains of the Hawaiian (ukulele) version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” by Iz — it was almost like being transported to a tropical island.

It was a picture-perfect day with clear blue skies and light winds at the Royal Vista Country Club in Walnut, CA. A wonderful addition to the reception (complete with wishing tree!) was the Hawaiian dancing show! I’ve never seen a live version, and was blown away by their energy and their numerous colorful costume changes. At the end, Dareen and Sean were adorned with flower leis and consequently, guests and Bride & Groom were all invited out onto the dance floor to join in the dancing fun. There was also Persian dancing, and the evening was rounded out at the end with modern music as well. This was a multicultural wedding with a flavor for all!

I might add that Mahesh, the Best Man, gave a great toast — funny and touching all at the same time. He told how he knew that Sean was serious about Dareen (or, as Mahesh first heard and interpreted her name, “Doreen”!). He told about how Dareen would come to see Sean’s band up in LA, and how Sean bought a purse for Dareen while in Las Vegas with the guys — and then Mahesh knew Sean was serious about Dareen.

Many thanks also to Kim Luong of All Made Up, for being so wonderful to talk to; she did an amazing job with Dareen and her sisters’ makeup — they all looked absolutely stunning (as they always do — seriously, the most gorgeous sisters I’ve ever met!), but on this important day — Kim helped them look even more so.

Big, huge, wonderful thanks to my friend Holly Gratner as well, for helping me out on this day  — Holly, you are a superstar and I *so* appreciate all you did!! I couldn’t have done it without you!

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But when somebody loves you
There’s nothing you can’t do
When somebody loves you
It’s easy to get through
When somebody loves you
The way I love you

–Alan Jackson, “When Somebody Loves You”

Once upon a time, there was a lady named Shirley, and a gentleman named George. They met at a Halloween party, and began dating and then got married. Fast forward: they now have 3 lovely grown daughters. One of these daughters, Michelle, also attended a Halloween party a few years ago. Guess what? She met a man there named Mike, and they began dating. And Michelle has followed in her parents’ footsteps, for she got engaged to Mike, and their wedding was this past weekend. So as you can see, Halloween holds a special significance in this family. Michelle even met her best friend (who was her maid of honor at the wedding) at a Halloween party 14 years ago! Anyone have The Monster Mash cued up?

So, here’s some of my favorite pictures of the day. Congrats, Mike & Michelle! Thank you so much for entrusting me with all of your important moments! For more of their story and details, read on after the pictures.

So, last year I was fortunate to photograph Justin & Jessica’s wedding, and that’s where I met Michelle & Mike, who were engaged at the time. Less than a year later, we did their engagements in Corona del Mar, and this past weekend, on Saturday, April 24th, 2010, I was honored to capture their big day! The ceremony was at St John’s Lutheran Church in old-town Orange, and it simply may have been one of the prettiest churches I’ve been in! Red brick exterior, huge stained-glass windows inside and a tall steeple that rang their bells for Michelle as she was about to walk down the aisle, to be accompanied by her dad. I admit — I got a little misty at the magnificence of it, yet they were simple, humble and proud in their chimes.

Michelle looked radiant, as elegant and classic as Marilyn Monroe with vintage 50’s-inspired red lipstick, heavy black cake liner (top lids only!) and thick, gorgeous dark lashes. Michelle has the same classic, well-defined bone structure of starlets past, and with her  form-fitting dress (with halter strap added!), she looked as if she’d stepped out of a glamorous black-and-white movie.

After the ceremony, Michelle and Mike had a classic Rolls Royce Packard waiting outside for them, complete with a welcoming red carpet rolled out. After an appropriate amount of time for pictures, the classic car whisked them away to the ceremony at Alta Vista Country Club in Placentia, CA — and it turns out I’ve actually been a guest at a wedding of an old friend there many years ago — it looked just as great as it did XX number of years ago (XX left to be determined)! 😉 Michelle and Mike’s grand entrance led them into their first dance to Alan Jackson, graceful and smooth — again, they both had the air of classic elegance, making spins and dips look as if they were second nature.

I was so happy to have some time to chat with Justin & Jessica at Michelle & Mike’s wedding, too — they’re coming up on a one-year anniversary and they look as happy as can be! Justin’s family was also at Michelle & Mike’s wedding — their parents have been friends for years. This is the best type of wedding to be at: where I feel like we are ALL are old friends!

Oh, and did I mention Michelle has a incredibly gorgeous voice? She sang for the guests at the wedding, but she specifically sang to Mike… It felt like a private moment that we were all allowed to be a part of. To Mike, she sang, “When I Have Sung My Songs to You”, and at the end, walked up to him holding out her hand, which he took, and then he stood and hugged her. More sniffles (by me, at least!). It was a touching moment.

I have to add quick shout-outs to: Randy of Lake Forest Limousines (he looked sharp in an off-white suit and zoot/gangster-style wide-brimmed black hat — he fit right in with the classic car!); also to Richard Morales & Kelly DLux of Mystical Vibrations Entertainment (they were supa’-fly fun DJs who not only kept us in the loop of the schedule, but did an amazing job at keeping the pace of the reception lively and moving). Of course, I can’t forget an extra-special thank you to my good friend Amber Fox for tagging along and helping me shoot the day. She rocks!

Also, thanks to Amber for catching me in action… more than once, I whipped out my emergency makeup stash that I keep with me during weddings/photoshoots. As a trained makeup artist, I keep MAC’s Blot Powder (talc-free!) on me for a quick shine fix, lip gloss, an extra (clean!) tissue and eyeliner. Turns out I was able to help Michelle with touching up her makeup before pictures more than once! (Donna, my teacher and owner of Empire Academy in Costa Mesa would be so proud… look how I’m not touching the bride’s skin, except with one tiny little pinky finger to steady my hand; oils from your fingers WILL show up in images if you get them on the bride’s face! I’ll do a post down the line re: makeup and what to Do and Don’t! By the way — Donna’s school is THE BEST education you will get for business AND artistry combined, hands-down, anywhere! She’s completely business-savvy and so much of what I learned from her classes are things I’ve been able to take with me into the business-side of the photography world too! Thank you, Donna!) 🙂

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I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you

I have run, I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
These city walls
Only to be with you.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone.

But I still haven’t found
What I’m looking for.

–U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
from the album, “The Joshua Tree”

Oh, there’s so much I want to say in this post. So, so much. It will probably get longer than I want it to be, so I’ll do my best to keep it from getting TOO long. 🙂  Stick with me, hopefully it will be worth it! If ya don’t feel like reading much, that’s okay too. Just read the next couple of paragraphs, then you can skip to the pix.

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m a member of the [b] school, an online community started by Chris Becker for photographers. About every 2 months, Becker and his friend, wedding photographer, Joe Paulicivic (also known more popularly as “Joe Photo“), put together a “Day Trip” for members of the [b] school. It’s free to all members, it’s meant to be a fun day to allow yourself an “Artist Date” to play and expand yourself for inspiration and to mix with like-minded photographers.

This past Tuesday, April 6th, 2010, I asked for a day off (can I still call it playing “hookie” then?) from the “day job” (where I’m a graphic artist/art director), and 15 of us carpooled out to Joshua Tree National Park, about 2 hours away. I carpooled with my good friends, Amber Fox and Tom Pellicer, and we met up with Becker & Joe and other fellow photogs outside of Joshua Tree’s southern entrance at an awesome little place called the Crossroads Café and Tavern off of 29 Palms Hwy (catering to all tastes, complete with organic, vegetarian and vegan options, yum!).

We cruised around a small fraction of the park (which is over a massive 550,000 acres!) and ended up at 3 locations, one of my favorites being the Hidden Valley area (and apparently, NO, that’s not where the Ranch Dressing comes from, go figure). The Yucca trees were amazing and the sky was as blue as could be — it was extremely chilly (the high was in the low 60s), but the golden light at sunset still warmed my soul. I’m also SO glad I pulled out my polarizer filter at the last minute before I walked out the door that morning at the wee early hours of 7 am (HEY! I’m a night owl. Don’t judge.) — it deepened the skies and helped make my images really pop!

At this point, I’d like to share my pictures. But if you want to read more about my introspection that the Joshua Tree explorations brought to me, read on after the pictures. Be sure to check out the captions with the pix, too! Thanks for reading. (Oh, and yes — there’s lots of pictures, I had trouble deciding my favorites. So, I won’t be hurt if you don’t look at ’em all)

So, to expand on my song choice as this post’s title: If you want to know more about the album itself, there’s a great post on wikipedia here about the themes behind the conceptual album, and how Joshua Tree was chosen to represent the name of the album itself. Obviously, this album has a multitude of amazing music, and Rolling Stone named my particular song choice as the 93rd Greatest Song of All Time on their top 500 choices. I remember rockin out to this cassette in the 80s (*gulp!* I went there! Cassette tapes?? Really?!), but years later, when it came time to make a CD purchase choice, I went for the 2-CD Greatest Hits set with the b-sides (The Best of 1980-1990), as I’ve been a huge fan of select b-sides of U2 (my faves being Angel of Harlem, which was about Billie Holliday; their AMAZING cover of the Elvis hit Everlasting Love and the Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody). But this song in particular touches my heart, it’s soulful and exploring, so of course, while wandering the desert, this Joshua Tree tune was present in my head.

So… What is it exactly that I haven’t found yet? The short list: success in my photography (so that I can take it to a full-time level), enough time and money to travel (to places all around the world that call to me their siren songs), and love (the enduring kind that you get from a significant other).

Success cannot be defined with clarity across the board; success is defined as a sense of internal accomplishment, peace and calm where we’ve met the expectations defined individually within each of our souls. I love capturing priceless moments at weddings, engagement sessions and within families (especially children and babies), and feel that I’m really growing in these areas with each passing day as I get more and more experienced (although as artists, don’t we always seek out how we could still be better, too? I know I do). What would make me feel truly “successful” though would be able to bring in enough earnings from photography to live 100% off of my career solely as a photographer, and still have enough to put away for the personal areas of my life that I still want to live for as well. I strive towards this with every passing day, and before long,  I hope to be there. So in the respect of success, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

Travel calls to my soul as well. Soon I will post travel pictures that I’ve taken that is a whole ‘nother side to what I love to shoot. Ideally, I’d love to publish a book of people and things I shoot while exploring the world beyond my corner of California. And while I’ve been to a lot of fantastic places, I’d still love to see so, so much more. I have the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” and there’s about 950 still to check off the list! Early next year, I’m determined to get to New Zealand for 3 weeks, rent a car, do farm stays, etc and drive from the North to the South Island and back again. Believe it or not, I’ve also never been to New York City (*gasp!*), so I intend to go for the next — ahem — milestone birthday coming up. Since I’m eternally 29, we’ll call it my 30th birthday trip. 😉 So in this regard of travel, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

Lastly, the most revealing and hardest thing to share, which is always love. Short story long-n-boring: I had a very long relationship with another photographer for years and years, and it ended with a broken engagement with him approximately 5 years ago, and not terribly well, sadly. For a long time after that, I was probably (albeit not purposely) anti-relationship for myself; although … capturing other people’s love was way more inspiration to get back in the dating game than anything else could have been! Then, a year ago, I re-connected with a college friend who lived in Arizona, who I had known because my sorority often socialized with his fraternity back in the day. This was the push I needed back into the serious dating world, but when he disappeared as quickly as he appeared, without a word, reason or goodbye, I was definitely disappointed, as I’d finally allowed myself to open up and trust freely again. These days, I’ve gotten so used to being able to do what I want, when I want, without having to check in with anyone. But there are times I miss having someone to come home and give a hug to for no reason other than it makes my heart sing. And there’s the “grass is always greener” syndrome: when you’re in a long-term relationship and/or surrounded by kids and the demands of family life, you welcome a little alone time and solidarity, but as a single person, you envy having someone close on-demand. So, I’m ready again, open heart, open arms … and willing to make myself vulnerable again, because really, what is a relationship if you don’t appear to even need anyone’s help, love and support? Of course, they say it arrives when you’re not looking for it either, so in the meantime, I’ll just keep working hard to make my professional dreams come true. But in the realm of enduring love, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

That’s it! I’ve been thinking about this a long time, and it’s hard to share such personal things at times with the often-faceless internet world at large. But no matter how hard I try to be independent and invincible, part of making myself human and being a strong and confident photographer is also making myself accessible as a human — and like everyone else, just a little vulnerable at times too.

Oh, and if you’ve made it this far — thanks for reading. I really, really appreciate it. It means you care, or  you found something to connect with, and that means a lot to me, if I’ve been able to touch a part of you too.

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I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me
And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel, feel what it’s like to be new …

Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

Where soul meets body

Today’s post brought to you by Death Cab For Cutie! I was flipping through my iPhone’s iPod playlists, and came across this song, and started listening to it; I love the slightly ethereal, dreamy quality it infers, and the subject seems so appropriate to match up for a wedding, too!

So, how lucky was I to come home from WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photographers International convention) in Vegas, and a few days later one of my great wedding photographic (and business) influences, Becker, asked me to help second-shoot a wedding the following Saturday (03.13.10)?! I was fortunate to have this perfect opportunity to work alongside Becker and learn firsthand; also second-shooting was Kristina Juodyte of PhotoKisses, who happened to be in San Diego the same weekend for an engagement shoot (although she resides in Rochester, NY — incidentally, where I also used to have relatives!). And like me — she’s a redhead — so obviously she was immediately uber-cool in my book! 😉

Tom & Natalie Moore’s wedding was at the gorgeous Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego. There were shades of purple and fuschia infused everywhere and peacock feathers complemented the super-saturated colors (against the backdrop of a perfect cool spring day). All of the fine touches and details were incredible! It was probably the largest wedding party I have seen in person (9 bridesmaids and 11 groomsmen), and also just an amazing set of people — they were all so, so very nice and Natalie was extra-fun to photograph because she was so expressive! The flower girls in their lilac oversize tutus and shimmery eggplant Converse shoes captured everyone’s hearts and laughter throughout the day. After dinner, the live band, The Creepers, played 80s covers tinged with a punk twist. Awesome.

I would also like give to a big shout-out to Kyle and Elysium Productions for their videography — they did a same-day edit and created a wedding video that was shown at the end of the dinner hour. Impressive work and super-nice people too!

I wanted to include a shot I took of Kristina and Becker that I snuck in before the wedding began. Super-fun day!PINTHIS

Again… I have to thank Becker so much for allowing me such a fantastic chance to tag along. I am so lucky to live in Orange County, CA, where not only Becker resides, but also where so many influential and great photographers also live, making it that much easier to connect. One of the best decisions I have made was joining Becker’s the [b] school last December. You might call it “social networking for photographers”, but it’s the best place to band together and ask questions to get help from fellow professionals and newbies alike — it creates an amazing sense of community among photographers, and I dare to say Orange County photographers and the [b] school are paving the way in the industry as a whole to foster this tight-knit community where we can all help each other grow professionally — and make a bunch of great new friends in the process. And hey… if you’re an aspiring photographer, this could be the best $10/month you invest towards your business by joining. What are you waiting for?? Go — do it now!

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Say this is all you want
but I don’t believe
that is true
cause when you least expect it
waiting round the corner for you
Love comes quickly whatever you do
you can’t stop falling

Today’s song inspiration brought to you by one of the many 80s-hit-wonder-duos out of the UK: The Pet Shop Boys! I think I had left the “Discography” CD buried in a box somewhere in my garage when I moved into my home many years ago. But in a fit of looking for another CD I just HAD to have at that very particular moment, I came across this greatest-hits CD a while back, and was reminded how catchy their songs actually were. I unearthed it and tonight (this morning? Sheesh! I have to stop doing this late-night/early-morning thing!), this song comes back to me.

And, it applies to Eric and Jen and their engagement photos that we took on Sunday, March 14th in Laguna Beach. It was the first really nice day since our unseasonal El Nino winter hit this year. We’d already re-scheduled twice, the first time due to the aforementioned crazy weather (not to mention that most beaches had been closed down as a precaution against potential tsunami waves caused by the massive quake in Chile a few weeks ago), and the second time we rescheduled by an extra day, as I had a last-minute opportunity to shoot with OC-based wedding photographer Becker in San Diego this past Saturday (I can’t wait to blog those images next, as well!).

As it turned out, it was an absolutely amazing day, and we had just “sprung forward”, so we got to make use of the later sunset!

A little bit of a quick background on Jen and Eric, fairy-tale style:

Once upon a time, I worked as a freelance graphic-artist at the OC-based teen clothing retailer headquarters, The Wet Seal, Inc. While working there, I became friends with Margaret. Margaret still works at Wet Seal, and she works with Jen (and I have Margaret to thank for sending Jen and Eric my way! Thanks, M!!). Jen worked with Eric — sort of. Turns out, Jen had a little crush on Eric from afar, although they didn’t work in even remotely the same department. Someone spilled the beans (a la “passing a note in study hall”), but luckily, things worked out — and when you see these pictures, you will see how maybe it was fate, because these two are just so adorable together! They just fit. So even if it didn’t happen exactly overnight, love did come quickly for Jen and Eric — and it was totally unexpected from the least-likely place of work to meet, too!

I’m thrilled to be shooting their wedding coming up in Laguna canyon in early May. Thank you also to Jen and Eric — you two were such great sports (even when I made you lie down in the alleyway and climb over rocks during high-tide to catch the last few moments of twilight post-sunset!). Cheers to you both!

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