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

Okay, well, it’s not a true boardwalk per se, but the song fits. πŸ™‚ A week ago Sunday in Orange County, we got our first cold and blustery-at-the-beach day of the season, right after our (hopefully) last heat wave of the late summer/early fall. But, the sunset and smell of salt air imparted the feelings of true peace and happiness in me that being at the beach at sunset ALWAYS imprints on my pysche.

I was so happy to get an email from Paula several weeks ago, asking to schedule holiday portraits with her family. I worked with Paula in 2008 for several months while I was freelancing as a graphic artist on-site for a direct-mail firm, and ended up taking their holiday photos last year. It was such a charmed day that we not only got a ton of wonderful portraits, but a ton of amazing candids of her 2 daughters. Her older daughter had just turned 6 last year, and was adorable with an upper front tooth missing, which adds a modicum of impishness and innocence to all the pictures in such a natural, fun-loving way. Paula’s younger daughter was approximately 6 months old and so sweet and mellow.

So I couldn’t wait to see her girls again this year! Lila is now approximately 18 months old, walking, quick to smile and full of curiosity. Maxine just turned 7 the day before our shoot, and her hair had grown out soooo long; I had a glimpse of the elegant girl she was growing into, but while I sensed more maturity, she still had the carefree, slightly awkward movements of a growing girl who is still a free spirit, unhampered by worries that can plague us as maturity threatens to squash our creativity and ability to imagine what we can do in this great big wonderful world we’ve been given to grow in.

Paula suggested we take pictures at the San Clemente Pier in South Orange County, and the second she mentioned it, I knew it would be perfect β€” I love this place! (I actually went on a date there last year and couldn’t believe I’d never been there before then… the sunsets from the pier are so calming there. Plus the vibe of San Clemente is not the same as every beach town… this city retains a small-town feel, low-key and pure. It doesn’t strike me as “OC” as other beaches I’ve visited… it’s like they remain unaffected by outside influences. But β€” what a shock β€” I digress). πŸ˜‰

Paula and her husband John walked up with the girls on the afternoon of our shoot, and as soon as Lila was let loose (and even before, while she was still in her stroller), I started snapping pictures of her:

I love how the light catches Lila’s eyes here… they absolutely glow in the sun!

Then, it was time to do our first costume change… and Maxine and Lila became the cutest gosh-darn cowgirls west of the Mississipi! These are their Halloween outfits too… how adorable are they?!

Then, it was time to get into their holiday dresses β€” so elegant and colorful! β€” and head under the San Clemente Pier for “official” holiday portraits (this first one, a black-and-white, was more of an outtake, but I still love it):

And I love these as well, the first one for how sweet the sisters look, the second one because of Lila’s funny expression!

I love this image, and although you can sense Lila’s frustration (“Let me get up and be FREE! I need to go explore!”), I adore the serene, peaceful quality of Maxine as she envelopes Lila in a gentle hug…

Here Maxine is writing her name in the sand, a favorite activity this particular Sunday. She even wrote her name along with Lila’s in the sand:
 

It really was getting cold, so I got a picture of John cuddling with Lila as he wrapped her up in warm fuzzy blankety goodness…

One more wardrobe change; Maxine is channeling her retro-50’s look with a white t-shirt and hot-pink poodle skirt, she’s so adorable!…

And last but not least, this picture holds special significance. Lila was born very premature, and at her time of birth, her torso was the same length as the little bear she’s holding in her hand. They took pictures of her in the hospital next to the bear, as a frame of reference to just how small she was. But as you can see, she’s WAY outgrown the bear! She’s a vibrant, happy and healthy little girl. I love seeing how great she’s doing; it’s a scary way to start life as a preemie, but I especially love hearing the stories of children with strong spirits and a will to live that is strong and powerful, and they supercede all expectations. What can I say? I’m a sucker for happy endings!

Tomorrow I’m going to try to post some additional pictures I took after Paula and her family left. As the San Clemente Pier is right by the train tracks, I had fun hanging around on my own and snapping pictures of the RR crossing, as well as surfers silhouetted in the water, bathed in a golden purple-ly twilight. I didn’t want to leave, so I found excuses to stay as long as I possibly could!!

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Tonight’s post has everything to do with Seconds (as in, “That dinner was so delicious, I think I need to have SECONDS!”). Tonight’s post’s title was inspired from the group Shinedown, with a new(er) song called “Second Chance” (if you’re a fan of KROQ, Los Angeles & Orange County’s leading alternative-music station, you’ll have heard it there, which is where I first heard it. In fact, I liked it so much that I unwittingly tagged it more than once in Shazam, one of my fave iPhone apps). But, I digress… which is not uncommon with me. Come along on Karen’s Mind Road Trip, the ride is a magically wonderful one, I promise.

But back to the subject at hand. While the main refrain of the song is that “sometimes goodbye is a second chance”, my thoughts are that it’s about making #1 out of seconds. As in, second shooting. And, I **love** second shooting. Tomorrow (or, later today, as it’s after midnight) I’m assisting my friend Colleen Bell (whom I’ve mentioned before) on another wedding up in LA. If you’re a “glass is half-empty” type, you may say that you’re not the “star of the show”. But haven’t you ever been to a movie or play where one of the supporting actors was so amazing, they blew away everything and everyone else for you in that movie/play? And so, while you’re there to support, help and anticipate what the primary shooter needs — and it’s still work! — for me, it’s a license for creative freedom, to take time to capture those beautiful moments from unusual angles, where no one is anticipating me. Instead of being just work, or just a job, it’s a chance to get back to basics, when you are reminded of why you do what you love, it re-ignites the passion for being behind the lens. Obviously, your first objective should be to enhance and round out the primary shooter’s body of work, get all of the moments that they can’t be there to capture themselves, or help switch out lenses, carry extra gear, etc… but oh the moments I’ve been able to get! Colleen and I have talked about this, that somehow there’s less pressure on you as a second shooter, you get to do “the fun stuff”, the creative stuff. So really, isn’t being “second” really just all about your attitude?

And while we’re on the subject of “seconds”, regarding the concept of “add-ons”: I’d like to mention plug-ins. Yup, plug-ins. I use them for my favorite programs, Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. The programs on their own are hands-down, fantastic. But through years of using them, I always find things that I would like, to streamline and speed up my processes, all while improving my images. Well, ask and ye shall receive! That’s where these plug-ins come in handy (I’ve mentioned these before too), such as action sets and tools from Kubota Imaging Tools, Totally Rad Actions, Jeffrey Friedl and Tim Armes. I’m planning a post soon for other photographers and aspiring photographers on my faves, where you can read more about what each one is, what they do, where to get them and why you should have them in your own workflow. I rely heavily on posts from my own photographic inspirations/heroes/mentors/teachers on Facebook and Twitter about the best of what’s out there, and the options available to me and why I would want them. Often there are links for reviews of new or little known time-savers/gems, and I try to read about as many of them as I can. I believe in being informed, and I love sharing any knowledge I’m able to get as well!

So, not being first isn’t always a bad thing. Being second, or even getting a second chance? Now THAT’S something worth being proud of, that you’ve made it so high on the food chain! Embrace it, make it your own. By loving what you do… that’s when you turn your seconds into being firsts, especially in attitude. And that’s something worth being proud of. Don’t measure your failures, but rather, your successes, no matter how incremental — being and staying positive is a key factor in how high you will be able to go not just in your career/profession, but in your personal life as well.

By the end of the weekend, I’ll have more posts up, from a holiday family shoot I did at the San Clemente Pier recently to images from the Santa Barbara wedding that I shot (my previous post featured the slideshow I created for the bride and groom). Can’t wait to share! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead!

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Today’s post is WAY overdue … I always write WAY too much, which is usually my deterrent from starting a new story. So, let me use tonight’s post as an exercise in brevity (hahaha! Oh, how I love to tell myself these tall tales). As y’all know, I like to use song titles, and this particular title is in homage to Nikka Costa, whose funky-fun groovin’ sounds makes me think of a modern-day Janis Joplin. And true to the title, the slideshow I am posting below is from Rachelle and Brian’s wedding (in Santa Barbara on Saturday, September 26th, 2009), who definitely have their own Somethin’ that makes them So unique and So much fun. (alliteration alert!) I love that they took their Somethin and branded their wedding with their signature way of doing things!

First of all, they wanted a really good party. Instead of champagne, they had tequila toasts (yep, custom shot glasses and Patron at every table! I like ’em already!). They wanted to have their wedding outside, and so Godric Grove in Elings Park was the destination, with an amazing outdoor amphitheatre for the ceremony, and then just over the hill was a fabulous wooden deck at the top of the park, with round Japanese-style paper lanterns everywhere that lit up as dusk disappeared … and dinner was a Mexican buffet… and who doesn’t like Mexican food?! Seriously! The cake was hands-down: The. Best. Ever. It was red velvet cake with cream-cheese frosting. And yes… in embracing part of Rachelle’s Jewish heritage, they also celebrated to Hava Nagila with the Hora, soon to be followed by Brian doing a knee-slide across the dance floor … and better yet, he then entertained his guests with air guitar and ended up crowd-surfing across his adoring fans (aka, the guests!). Oh yeah, and there was an impromptu conga-line too. Great music really helped round out the vibe of the evening and kept virtually everyone up on their feet all night dancing! These are my kinds o’ people!

See what I mean? Everybody’s got their Somethin’… and I love the Somethin’ they gots to give!

One last thing that I love about Rachelle and Brian is how they even have their own PERSONAL signature style… Rachelle is constantly hopping up on Brian’s back and getting piggyback rides… and that’s when they come alive in photos! It’s so THEM. So, of course, I had to get some pictures of Rachelle in her wedding dress up on Brian’s back, and they look so adorable & deliciously happy together — all growed-up and fancy-like, yet they have a child-like enthusiasm that is wonderfully infectious too.

The slideshow below showcases the highlights that tell the Somethin’ Story of their day. Rachelle and her bridesmaids got ready in a gorgeous suite at the Fess Parker Santa Barbara Hotel (love love love!), and then I met up with Brian and his groomsmen at Shoreline Park… they looked like rockstars admist a perfect blue sky with glittering water. After that, it was back to Fess Parker for the bridesmaids’ portraits with the gorgeous Rachelle, and then we moseyed over to Elings. I simply couldn’t have asked for cooler, more fun people who I am now also so honored to be able to call friends, too.

Pictures to follow soon… Meanwhile, sit back and enjoy the show!
(and once again, music credit for the original instrumental to my friend Danny Hamilton. Thanks, Danny!)

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Today’s (short) post is with apologies (or THANKS!) to the Crystal Method… this is a great song (well, it’s electronica, not so much a traditional “song” per se). I remember dancing to this back in the late 90s at my fave club that played our favorite genre of music (in SoCal, it’s KROQ music, or the top 40 of alternative music). Anyways, in keeping with the theme of using songs as my blog titles, this one seems applicable because in this economy, it’s hard on a lot of people. And, I want to get busy! Get busier! Busy-bee! **tap tap ** hello? Is this thing ON??! (Was that a tumbleweed I just saw blow by…?)

But, there’s one thing that holds true: people are still getting married, people still need holiday pictures done (and yes! I just got my first inquiry for holiday pix and it’s a repeat customer from last year!), babies are still being born. And there’s an art to staying busy, as it turns out, in the absence of work. See, I’m a graphic artist by trade working my way (transitioning, if you will) into full-time pro photography, and the daily graphic design assignments are what pay the bills. But, I got laid-off of my year-long on-site contract back in February (and since then, they’ve laid off about 25 or 30 more people; this is a good chunk of the company, so I guess it was bound to happen soon or later), and everything has been touch-and-go since. And I’ve been “working on my new website” since then (hello?! It’s been 7 months!), but my problem has never been motivation, it’s confidence. I really think though, when the new site launches, it will turn things around. I am constantly striving to better myself, through art and/or business … but always second-guessing myself in the process. Part of my problem lies in the fact that I am truly one of the most “middle-brained” people you will meet, and I read recently that it’s difficult for those who are middle-brained to fully commit to decision-making, because both halves of the brain’s hemispheres are constantly at war with each other; in effect, playing a tug-of-war and making it difficult to make a definitive decision.

Some of the problems I encounter is the psychology of the layout of a website. Keep in mind, I received my BA in Communications/Advertising (specializing in Creative Advertising). I know a lot of the prominent ways of thinking, but I graduated from college in 1995, and since then, we’ve had the internet boom. The science of the internet and multimedia design has been intensively studied and reviewed since then, yet the old axioms still hold true as well. Finally though, what it boils down to is this: everyone is different, their brains work differently, and what works great for one, will be completely backwards to another. What I have to try to do is speak to the common denominator, of a specific audience I’m trying to capture. I’ve tried to simplify my site as much as possible, making the pictures big and prominent, and everything else is just frosting, the little details.

One of the big things I keep wrestling with is listing my prices online. The argument goes like this in my head (I’m going on the memory that I **think** the right hemisphere is the creative side, the emotional side, and the left hemisphere is the side of reason, the “numbers” side… right? Even if I’m wrong, go with me here, I’m on a roll and not willing to stop to go look it up):

Right Hemisphere : Why WOULDN’T I want to post my prices online? Shouldn’t they see my work and fall in love, so that price doesn’t matter, listed or not?

Left Hemisphere: Well, why WOULD I want to post my prices online? What if they look at the bottom line FIRST, then even though they love they pictures, they decide I’m out of their price range?

RH: But the classes I go to say that I **should** post my prices, so I immediately get the target that I want, the customers who value pictures so much, that they know the value of a good photographer. I just want to focus on the art!

LH: But what if they end up being a source of many referrals? Isn’t SOME work better than NO work? And bottom line, work is work, no one should be overlooked as a source of a potential referral, right?

RH/LH: So, which side wins out? Both arguments make sense. Grrr.

This is what goes on in my head daily, about every aspect of my business. My downfall is I am my own best (or worst?) devil’s advocate, so I CAN see both sides to every point. And because of this, I have to decide ultimately what is the best decision for me personally. But then it turns into the same old song and dance in my own head: WHICH is the best choice for me? And it’s a self-perpetuating cyclical argument. I simply am the poorest person I know for making decisions regarding myself. Which is why when I feel SOLID, in my core, about a decision, I know it’s right. And being in photography is a solid feeling, one I don’t and never doubt. I doubt my work all the time, which is why I am constantly striving to do better, but I will emerge victorious!

But in the meantime, it’s time to get that website up, it’s time to get holiday pictures going, and start booking numerous weddings in a calendar year! It’s time to get busy, child!

Oh, and I DO have a series of new pictures to post… coming soon. I post directly from Lightroom to Facebook or my Zenfolio portfolio site, using these great plug-ins by Jeffrey Friedl (he’s awesome, check out his plug-ins for LR here), and it’s easy to export direct to these programs without ever creating the new file, so it’s something I need to incorporate into my workflow, exporting my faves for upload directly to my blog too. I SWEAR, I’ll get this blog thing under control and part of my daily life soon. See? Get busy, child!)

p.s. — I was trying to get to Jeffrey’s blog, but the site isn’t connecting tonight for some reason. I will update this post with a proper link soon. In the meantime, if you want to know more, Google “Jeffrey Friedl Lightroom plugin” You’ll find it right away!)

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Today’s blog post title brought to you by Simple Minds. I choose this for 2 reasons: #1, because this past weekend was my 20-year (yes… I said, TWENTY-year!) high school reunion, and #2, it represents my generation (the 80s) and I don’t think anyone wants to show up at their reunion and think that no one will remember them! (luckily, name tags and the influx of Facebook into our lives helped to alleviate much of that, for many of us, I’m thinking!) I’d also like to add an honorary #3 as to why this song title is so appropos: I think it’s timely to mention a moment of rememberance for John Hughes (yes, again, please!), as this was the keystone song that represents “The Breakfast Club”, an 80s icon unto itself, and that TOO was symbolic of this weekend’s anniversary, because in high school, everyone is broken up into a title, a clique, a symbol, because it’s easier to fit into a pre-determined label than to carve your own way. And even if you ventured out to find your own unique voice, then you were an outsider, because you weren’t like everyone else. Unless of course, you were a POPULAR person who walked to the beat of your own drum, and then you were hailed as innovative and people yearned to be like you… (and in doing so, they fit into another pre-determined label as follower, but hoping to be a COOL follower). In The Breakfast Club, I think it was nailed down pretty succinctly in the letter Brian wrote to the principal: “You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain… and an athlete… and a basket case… a princess… and a criminal… ” (hoping no one from our class was a criminal though!)

We graduated 1989, when we voted Erasure’s “The Innocents” as a favorite album, the year before moving into the 90s and away from a decade of over-abundance and excess. I could get all Dickensian (is that proper terminology?) and say “It was the best of times… it was the worst of times…” but then again, it’s HIGH SCHOOL for goodness’ sake!

But you know what is beautiful about time? People change and most of us (although maybe afraid of change at times) also learn to embrace it. High school is about finding your voice; once you get into college, it’s about USING it, it’s about being HEARD. At that point, no one is chastised for it anymore, they are heralded! And although I attended my 5 and 10 year reunions as well, I found everyone still to be welcoming and wonderful at each one, I didn’t understand why anyone would hold onto reservations for that long. Heck, maybe it was my OWN attitude that matured. I came into a public high school system as a freshman knowing only a few people there, as I transferred in from a small private Montessori school. I had never attended public school a day in my life, and I was scared beyond belief. I went from being a big fish in a small school to a small fish in a big school… and it makes you WORK to be the person you want to be, I had to work to go find my friends and the people I would fit in with. The few people I knew when I came to public school already had their existing friends and cliques, I wasn’t openly invited in. They were comfortable — they’d already known each other since early grade school. But, I found my way over time, and joining drama and sticking with it for all 4 years (not to mention I had my love after school: dance — ballet, tap, jazz, etc) actually made me visible, I guess… well, that and I also was in a bunch of the GATE classes with the other people I wanted to be liked by. The view from inside one’s self is a very different world than how the world sees you. And no matter how apprehensive you are, you have to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone had (and has) insecurities, and we had to learn to support each other, not try to outdo each other. But then again, that concept still always should apply, no matter the time and place.

And the biggest thing I think that makes you visible is your ATTITUDE. Over years, I stifled my insecurities and pushed them down where others didn’t see it on a regular basis, and I put myself out there. I smiled at everyone, I worked in retail and loved working in music stores in high school and college and I made it my own goal to get people to smile and come out of THEIR shells. Maybe I felt I related to those people, their issues, and I wanted to make other people feel better. And in turn, I felt better about myself too.

And when I work at a wedding (especially the reception), I feel oddly at home. Maybe it’s being surrounded by happy people for a happy occasion, but I love getting to know new people, I love hearing their stories and capturing their moments. And so I offered to bring my camera to the high school reunion, I think it was part of my own (in)security blanket. Because when I have my camera in hand, I have a perfectly legitimate excuse to approach anyone I want — carte blanche at an event — and ask them if they’d like a picture. It worked out especially well because I knew a lot of these people already (and attended with 2 good friends, one that I’ve known since the 1st day of high school and kept up with for the last 24 years, and the other one is one I recently reconnected with). Plus, I happened to email one of the reunion organizers (another classmate) asking if I could bring my camera along and take pix during the night, it turned out that the budget hadn’t alloted for a photographer, so it worked out perfectly. And I end up feeling like a little A.D.D-social-butterfly, flitting from one corner of the room to the other, trying to get that perfect moment, then getting swept up in the conversation, then moving on to the next moment I happen to see out of the corner of my eye across the room. (And, if a convo started to get stale, it made a perfect exit excuse, no? But, not that I had any of those moments, thankfully!)

Oh! And, I even approached a guy I had a crush on senior year (name withheld!) — he never knew I had a crush on him — and went up and said hi the other night. I didn’t think he’d remember me, even though we had at least one class together, he didn’t have any reason TO remember me specifically because we didn’t have reason to talk to each other. But all the same, he SAID he remembered me, and you know, it’s the little things that make you feel victorious after all those years. Isn’t that silly? He’s married now and I knew it before saying hi, so it wasn’t like I was approaching him with any sort of hope; ultimately, it was just about saying hi, and connecting with another being with whom I had a shared past, albeit a minor one on a momentous milestone night 2 decades later. We spoke only a few minutes, but it was enough that if I were able to travel back in time, a la Marty McFly, and tell my younger self that he would know who I was 20 years later (or even lie in saying that he did), that would be enough to get me through that class without him ever speaking to me. Sometimes, you make a bigger impact on the world around you than you ever realize. That’s one of my big hopes — that I can leave an impression on the world around me — not just professionally, but personally, too.

The evening went by entirely too fast. But it was so good to see everyone again. Tonight I finished going through and sorting the pix from the night, and tomorrow night I will post them and send out the link. And… in a momentary blip of the old insecurity resurrecting itself, I suddenly wondered and hoped to myself that they all like the pictures too and I will garner acceptance and make my way into the cool kids’ club. πŸ˜‰ At which point the song fades into my brain again, the refrain repeating itself over and over along with all the key and pertinent lyrics: “Don’t you… forget about me // I’ll be alone, dancing you know it baby –” (that’s so me! “Dancing, you know it baby”) — “Slow change may pull us apart … Will you recognize me // Call my name or walk on by … Don’t you try to pretend … It’s my feeling we’ll win in the end // I won’t harm you or touch your defenses // Vanity and security … Don’t you forget about me.”

I know I won’t forget.

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