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!! **

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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


    2012 Holiday Portraits!

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


    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,


    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


    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’re gonna rock this town, rock ’em inside out
We’re gonna rock this town, make ’em scream and shout
We’re gonna rock, gonna rock
Gonna rock til we bop, gonna roll until we drop…

Ah…  good ole Brian Setzer and his days in the Stray Cats! I was um, pretty young when this song was popular. Really. Like, computers were barely a blip on the radar and everything!

I have SO many exciting things to share and say and do and catch up on, blogging-wise; but, for the most part, my new blog is up to speed (website still in progress), but now that it’s all fancy-schmancy and cool, it will be easier to blog more, blog more quickly, and upload images more often. So thrilled to be sharing all of this with you!

So, I chose a Rockabilly-themed song for this post, because a few weekends ago, I joined the SoCal Photog Shootout (San Diego chapter) for a Rockabilly Pin-Up themed shootout with approximately 45 or so other photographers at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum in Encinitas, CA. It was hands-down, the best one I’d been to, it was a perfect day after a week of crazy and unheard of weather here in SoCal (tornadoes, floods, torrential rains… pretty crazy! Kinda fun too! As long as no one gets hurt…)

So, instead of chattering on forever… I think you’d probably like to see my new and improved flash-based gallery of images, right? Well, say no more. There’s a lot–so many to choose from that I loved. I hope you enjoy them too! Fantastic hair, makeup, models, location and leadership. A perfectly charming day! Like, right, daddio? 😉

Sabrina Sloan, Anna Good, Yan Moreno, Lindsey Addie, JK DeLapp, Devon Ligus, Erika Merkle, Michele Penner, Megan Honkanen, Michael Hendrickson

Robyn Mason

Rebeca McLaughlin from Beaucage Salon
Kelly Sluder

Special thanks to the SD Photog Shootout leaders, Yvonne LeBrun, Stephen Knuth, as well our individual group leaders, Scott Anderson, Garrett Delph (also one of the owners of ShootDotEdit), Betsy & Jeff McCue of LaVida Creations, Hanssie Trainor… as well as Lawrence Chan (aka Tofurious) for his presentation afterwards and Roxanne Benton of Pixel 2 Canvas!

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Hi friends!

Today for my first OFFICIAL post of the new year (although I’ve written the “2009 Year in Review like 3 times now and scrapped it each time & never ended up posting it — too many words and I want to get my NEW blogsite up and running so that it’s easy to upload my images)!

So, I’m scrapping my usual song-title for this initial post because this is so important! Two of my fantastic colleagues (Tracy Norred of Serendipity Images and Thomas Frank of Thomas Frank Photography) and I have joined forces to create OC Charity Photo! We believe as photographers it’s important to give back to the community however we can. We will be doing events for many different causes in the upcoming months, but the first and most important one to kick off our new venture is for Haiti Relief.

It’s so easy in today’s media to forget what other people continue to endure in the face of tragedy and natural disasters. But it will take years to re-create the town of Haiti, which was essentially leveled by a massive earthquake just a few short weeks ago. They need all sorts of help, but from this far away, the best we know how to do is to donate money. But together we can help… watch our promo video and read our flyer below. Hope to see you this Sunday!!

Haiti Relief from Thomas Pellicer on Vimeo.

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Back when I went to art school one summer at the well-respected Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles (summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school), I was part of a group of about 150 students each studying a different emphasis, mine was graphic design, my roommate decided to venture out and try fashion design. This summer was a milestone in so many ways, including an experience that I ended up writing about for my junior-year English class in high school, for which I received an A+! (so excited when I got that back … it also made me wonder if I would have been a good detective… but this story for another day.) 😉

But the other gift I received that summer was the gift of discovering new music. My roommate — oddly enough, by chance, the only other redhead at summer school besides myself (we even got nicknamed! She was taller than me, so she was “Big Red” and subsequently, I was “The Other One”, not sure if this was meant to be demeaning or not!) — was a huge fan of English music. When I say English, I mean that cool stuff that we get from across the Pond. They seem to consistently produce some enduring little bands. You know… whatstheirnames? The Beatles? Oh yeah, them! Duran Duran? They sound sorta familiar.

Well, she introduced me to a group that was NOT well-known here in the states, but I fell in love with their music all the same. Back then, I made copies of her tapes on our dual-cassette-deck-enabled boom boxes (SOOO many things that seem WAY too dated in that sentence!). I listened to them until they wore down, and then in the day and age of MP3s, I was able to download their music. The group’s name is Colourbox, and the lead singer’s voice was so absolutely soulful, incredible, and the range of emotion she could reach touched my troubled teenage angst’s soul.

In case you are a music maven, you MAY have heard of a group called M/A/R/R/S. They did a song released just slightly prior to the techno-era called “Pump Up the Volume” — electronica before its’ time. M/A/R/R/S was formed in the wake of the split of Colourbox (technically a collaboration with AR Kane), and I believe it really was their only hit, but still put them on the map. Colourbox also experimented with electronica, but by far their strengths (that spoke to me) were the soulful, slightly-1940’s-inspired crooner tunes when Lorita Grahame joined the group, such as “Suspicion”, “Arena”, “Say You” and “The Moon is Blue”. If you want a treat, this is the album to get (available on iTunes). They also did a great cover of the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin On” (found on this same album — WAY better selections than their greatest hits CD — and for a little more about their “World Cup theme”, check this out)!

So the song I’m referencing in this blog post is called “Suspicion”… the interpretation of the meaning behind the lyrics could be read in so many different ways, but the chorus is what has stuck with me for years and years:

Fight against them or they’ll break your spirit down
Fight against them or they’ll try…
Try to, try to
It doesn’t matter what they’re sayin’
They’re only trying to break you …
What more would they ever need
When they’re only trying to break you down

And how can I ever learn to keep them down
When they hide in places inside me

I bring this song up because this is also a response to my post, “Beautiful“. When I feel like anyone else has tried to quash my spirit — or worse yet — when I’ve quashed my OWN spirit, this is such a pick-me-up! And in the midst of thoughts roaming my head earlier today, it occurred to me that I should have mentioned that perception and actuality can be such different things. When it comes to self-image though, should they be different, or should one exceed the other? What I often wonder is — while although I also know that we are a product of our experiences — how do we grow to have such distorted views of ourselves?

Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and cringed — only to see your flaws, while other people look at it and sing praises? Why are we taught that it’s more humble or acceptable to put ourselves down? I’m not sure why it’s a learned trait for women to find acceptance through other people’s praises while men are encouraged to be confident.

However, this isn’t a post about men vs. women at all, but I want to find a way to spread encouragement from a young age so that as everyone grows, especially through formative years, that we all have a positive self-image in our appearances, our talents and our successes. Maybe that’s what I’m striving to do in my photography and why I spend hours editing the images that I post (more than I should), because I see so much beauty in people that I want to shine through, that I try to look at my images from my clients’ eyes. Well that… and I love retouching, it probably comes from my years of doing fashion & beauty retouching for The Wet Seal, Inc.! But if I can make their beauty shine through my lens, and because I strive to get to **really** know them, I can see what they are going to be drawn to first, and I minimize any areas I think could be perceived as a flaw, and try to play up the assets. However, I try to keep the “ultimate truth” in the image and not make it unreasonable or have anyone look at their own portraits and see that it was an obvious retouching (fashion and editorial doesn’t fall into this same category, though!). Personally, I think my clients are all so beautiful, that they never really need digital help. The lens is supposed to tell truth, ideally, and I don’t want to deviate from that.

So when those demons inside you begin to rise, fight against them… don’t let them break your spirit down! And in the words of (Saturday Night Live’s) Stuart Smalley, repeat after me:

I am good enough
I am smart enough
And gosh darn it —
people like me!

Holiday Portraits

To top off this post, here are a few shots from a recent family holiday shoot I did at a park just down the street from me in Irvine, CA. Amazingly, we got some vibrant fall colors on our little west coast — who knew it was possible? This is an example of a beautiful family — inside and out. Even better, the day we shot these (November 22, 2009) was the 1-year anniversary of the day I shot Simon & Michelle’s wedding! I love that they come back to me faithfully, it’s such a compliment (it makes me do a happy dance). I love these people, they are warm, funny, inviting. I’ve actually known Simon for many years — I originally met him through a former boss and did (and still do) graphic design work for him. So, I’ve also known Emma and Ben for years… they are growing up so wonderfully, I see them as a cornerstone for positive self-image, which is another reason I think these images are appropriate to this post, they don’t seem overtly influenced by the negative influences that I think so many of us were subject to at their age. My wish for them is that their perception and actuality of themselves are always — at the very least — equal to each other. This family is so happy together, I love how they play around and know how to have fun and celebrate life! Even better is the positive self-reinforcement Ben & Emma get from their family. It gives me the warm fuzzies.

This one was their favorite for the holiday card choice…

We were walking to the bridge and I loved the background on this pathway, had to stop…

Emma and her dad. Love this shot!

This one is more of an “outtake” … but sometimes those are the ones with the best personality!

Finally made our way to the bridge (a new addition to the William R. Mason Park!)

The sunset/fall-like colors generally were too awesome to convert to b&w and sepias, but I had to add a little of my own flair to this one.

Emma and Ben… don’t they have amazing smiles?

A little sun flare never hurt anyone, right?

Another outtake… I love when they crack up! Michelle has the greatest laugh.

This is just for the gorgeous setting… I can’t believe this is in the middle of the now-heavily developed Irvine.

I’m not sure what kind of bird this is exactly, but I thought it looked so elegant, it has such flowing lines so naturally.

And then it took off in flight… I think birds have such beauty and grace. I also love its’ reflection on the water.

Thanks for reading! Next time I post, it will probably be after my birthday on Sunday. I may be a year older and wiser… but also a year BETTER. See ya’ll on the flip side! Can’t wait to be 29… again! 🙂
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Speaking of Heroes… (as I was talking about in my previous post), I’m going to briefly build on this.

As I was talking about photographic heroes in that post, this song by David Bowie kept playing in my mind while writing about it, so now I will elaborate on that… and FINALLY! I’ll add some recent pictures I shot, too. Yup! I really AM a photographer! (“I’m a real boy, Gepetto!”)

Though nothing, will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day
We can be heroes, for ever and ever
What d’you say?

We can be heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day

So, this is what I wanted to do, to be a hero for that one day. With the pictures below, I didn’t want my images to look like everybody else’s. I belong to some groups on Facebook, one of which is the LA-based “Shoot This!” run by Joelle Leder. On Sunday, November 15th, 2009, a group of 30+ photogs from LA, Riverside and Orange Counties got together at Jody Domingue’s studio on Melrose for a New Year’s Eve-theme/high-glam/fashion shoot. We had makeup artists, hair stylists, da works, bay-bee!

But, I was frustrated, because despite multiple models and locations, a large chunk of us were shooting the same models at the same time, and ending up with the same images with essentially the same lighting and the same expressions. I was starting to feel suffocated, and while almost all of my colleagues were amazing in respecting the space they were occupying, one or two were not. Don’t they say it can only take one chef to ruin the soup?

So I decided it was time to make some new soup using my own recipe.

In becoming my own Hero, I wanted to shoot something different. I’m not a cookie-cutter type, never have been. So, about 5 friends and I asked one of the models if she’d like to walk across the street on Melrose to the car-cover shop and then into the graffiti-painted alleyway behind it. And suddenly… I was happy. I could have freedom to move, freedom to direct (and share the time with my fellow photogs and learn from them as well!)… our soup was gonna be GOOD!

I love shooting high-fashion/editorial style, but not every wedding will allow me to do that, obviously! So this is a chance to spread my wings a little.

And, of the images below taken in-studio, were the few precious moments I was able to make these completely my own. Please enjoy! (… and click on each image to see a larger version)

Megan looking high-fashion fab on the streets of Melrose in Hollywood, along with the Peter Pan shadow that looks like it’s about to walk away and separate from her owner… newfound love of shoe-shopping on Melrose, maybe? Love!

Another fave of Megan… crawling the alleyway, looking vulnerable and fearless all at the same time. Roooaawar!

Chelsea in studio, so amazing up close and personal…

Chelsea in studio again, just a moment later and still ethereal and soft, despite stunning smoky eyes…

Back to Megan out on the street, animal instincts taking over… I totally see this as a 2-page spread in Glamour, Cosmo or Allure right? Can’t you see the headline: “When animal prints attack!” or some equally silly (but way more clever than mine) title? A short paragraph could follow talking about what’s in style right now… and then my photographic byline! I’m totally going to mock this up… but being that it’s 2:30 a.m. as I write this and I have to be up in about 4.5 hours for a plane back home… I’ll whip that up for another night. 😉

Last but not least… back to Chelsea with David in-studio…

Lastly, I’m adding credits. If you’d like more information on contacting the models, please email me!

Location: Jody Domingue Studios

Leads: Doug McNamee(also teaches a tilt n’ shift class)
Leads: Chris Diset

Makeup by: Kimberly Bragalone
Hair by: Shannon Ely

Sponsor: FolioMojo – Web Marketing Mojo for your online portfolio

Megan Bibbo
Chelsea Ravitch
David Liggett
(All 3 may be found on Facebook)

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There are two songs called “Beautiful” and I love them both for different reasons. The more popular and undoubtedly the most well-known of the two is the version by Christina Aguilera. But for the purpose of this posting and so I can reach into my bag o’tricks if I’m’a stumped in the future at some point, I’m saving the C-tina version for a another day.

The version I’m quoting today is by a Canadian group (eh?) called Joydrop. I think I heard this originally on the “Catch of the Day” by Jed the Fish on KROQ radio (based in SoCal), many years ago (late 90s, to be precise). The lead singer’s voice starts singing so sweetly like a little girl’s, yet is soulful at the same time, and the message is profound in its simplicity:

If I was beautiful like you
I would never be at fault
I’d walk in the rain between the raindrops
Bringing traffic to a halt

But that would never be
No that will never, never be
‘Cause I’m not beautiful like you
I’m beautiful like me.

The music turns electronic and the lead singer’s voice turns hard-edged, as if these are life lessons that have been hard-earned, well-deserved, but with acceptance that is steely and full of resolve.

I’ve struggled with this same concept, both personally and professionally, for many years. Personally… I’ve found growing up in SoCal (Orange County) looking unique as I do, a challenge. Being young in the 80s I was surrounded by girls bleaching their hair with Sun-In (don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about!) and laying out getting browner by the day.

I couldn’t do that. I’m fair — half-English & half-Russian/Estonian/Latvian/something-Slavic. I’m fairly white… maybe even blue-white! I have red hair & freckles. (“Oh, mass of freckles on my arms and legs: when will you join together to just create a tan?? Today? No? Well, how about we try again tomorrow, then!? Hmm?”) I remember a boy teasing me in my single-digit years for having hair that was “on fire” (ahh, the inventiveness of an 8-year old… who, oddly, also himself had red hair. Hello? Physician? Heal thyself, please). In my teen years, I entered an awkward phase that lasted around 25 years or so. You may laugh, but in my eyes, I’m not kidding! Oh wait. I’m only 29. Again. (my birthday is a week from today as I write this. I’ll be… ummm… 29! Yes, that’s it! 29! I like it. Would you buy that for a dollar?) Sooo, let’s say this awkward phase lasted something more like 20 years. Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket!

But learning to embrace individuality is a tough road. When you’re young, it’s easier to go with the flow, be one of the pack, for fear of being teased (and I was always one of those ultra-sensitive types, and still am, really). We’re not really rewarded for celebrating or showcasing our individuality until college, and by then, you hope your spirit’s not already been quashed. For fear it has, hopefully it’s not hard to regain it, or to find your way all over again.

I’m in Phoenix, AZ, for the Thanksgiving holiday right now. My parents have another place out here in central PHX. I have a couple of close friends from high school out here. Earlier this year, I even had a boyfriend out here. So, it’s a place that I’m familiar with, but is just different enough from home to help encourage the landscape of my mind to chart unfamiliar territory. On the plane on the way out, I was reading my book “Fast-Track Photographer” by Dane Sanders (bought it from him at a local event he’s set up in Newport Beach; fortunately, that’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from my home in Irvine. Have I mentioned how fabulously LUCKY I am to live among some of the biggest photogs in the wedding industry, all based right here out of OC? It’s so easy to go to SmugMug meetings, etc and meet them in person!).

So, I came to page 58 where Dane was talking about his experience as a new photographer to the wedding industry. He wanted to emulate and be just like his photographic heroes, those “celebrities” who inspired him. As he stated, that was a terrible mistake and a total disservice to himself. He essentially said (and I’m paraphrasing) that to be a success, you should really try hard not to be a carbon copy of your heroes… that they are successes because they approach the market in a very specific way that they have found which works for them personally.

I read this and totally found at that moment, 30,000-some-feet off the ground (yes, I was a’flyin HIGH!), that was the reiteration I needed for a thought that had been swirling around my head, but had never really coalesced into a finite, tangible truth: I don’t need to be exactly like my heroes. Learn from what they have to offer, via experiences and business modules, but I can be free to be me. Shoot my images from the heart my own way, not with WWJD (What Would Jasmine Do?) lurking in my mind. Like my mom has been saying forever to me: “Don’t reinvent the wheel… someone else has already done it, why would you want to, too?” So, I’ve had to take from my photographic heroes all of these tips and tricks that they share, and more: the biggest of those including drive and inspiration. But, I’ve had to also remind myself to really BE myself, and not to be what I think someone else wants me to be. I don’t want my brain to be a crutch, relying on the aforementioned “WWJD do in this situation?” I was given a brain and the knowledge how to use it… so… use it! (I give myself all those visualization exercises so I can hopefully be prepared for any situation, and I try to listen to other photogs’ horror stories so I can learn from their experiences too). And I can’t be like someone else and be a success, because that’s what they perfected, and it fits with them and their own uniqueness. It’s okay to embrace me, flaws and strengths and all… right?

Embrace it. Love it. Learn to love my freckles. Connect the dots. Love my hair. (Turns out, lots of people love my hair and freckles. Why did everyone tease me then about being different when I was little?) And, I’ve found what draws people to me, and me to them: connecting. Like I’ve mentioned before, this world is all about making connections, and I can do that not only through photography, but through really getting to know others, and getting the pictures that are very specifically capturing their essence. If you’re like me, you will constantly love to learn, and you will strive to be more than you are not only today, but to become more of that well-rounded person everyday. And by meeting and being genuinely interested in others, I think this follows: other people love to share, and I get to learn!

So professionally, this wild ride I’m on, because I had heroes, I was trying to be like them. I want their success, personally and professionally, so very badly. But you can’t make those things come to you in quite such an obvious way. It sidles up from the side in a more obtuse way. I guess professional success may be like what they say about love: It will come to you when you’re least expecting it. So I’ve finally decided to be real, work hard (but smart), love completely and the hardest part: have faith in myself. If everything is genuine and true and I work hard for it (and I work smarter, not harder), it will come in due time. Faith in myself is something that’s never come easy for me, because everything came so easily & so naturally to me when I was little, that when I left the nest and flew out into the competitive world, where people put me down to elevate themselves, I was shell-shocked. Private school gave me a massive head-start intellectually and professionally, but I think it may have cut me off at the knees because of the insulation from the “real world” and the emotionally hard-hitting tactics people have used more than once — and I allowed them to — cut me down.

So, it was hard for me because I was always told how much cuter I was than the other kids when I was little (I’ll have to post my headshots someday from when I was 5, 6 and 7 and auditioning for commercials). I was smarter than the other kids (my parents both have PhDs and are Mensa members… no pressure there! I always scored 99%tile in all standardized tests). I was more talented than the other kids (I excelled in art and dance from a very early age). Then I left my sheltered life for public school at 13, then college, then the **ahem** real world. And… Reality. Hit. Hard. And I’ve found that sometimes people I thought were friends put down my talent or personality to my face, yet when they exhibited the same personality traits, they thought it was normal or even superior, and that behavior never failed to floor me (I have very specific stories, but I’m going to refrain from sharing those for now). They made me feel ugly, inside and out, which I didn’t like. I’m naturally sunny by disposition, so it put me in a bad place. But eventually, if anything, it made me work harder to be an even better person, more successful personally and professionally. Living well is the best revenge, my friends repeat to me (over and over). Then I guess I should try to live it!

If I was beautiful like you
Oh the things I would do
Those not so blessed would be crying out murder
And I’d just laugh and get away with it too
Like you do

But that would never be
Never, never, never be
Cause I’m not beautiful like you
I’m beautiful like me, beautiful like me

And I don’t have to be beautiful like you, my heroes… because I’m beautiful like me.

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