Thursday, October 1, 2009

Exciting News!!!!

If you've been around this blog recently, you will recall that I mentioned something really cool was in the mix for Kate Noelle Photography... something amazingly new, fresh, and fun? Well, I really can't wait any longer because it's SO COOL! Wait for it....

Kate Noelle Photography has a new BLOG!

Hooray! I'm so excited because it's awesome and it was a really cool and growing experience working with a designer for the first time! That's right... designer! :) Many thanks and grovels go to Drew Tufano of One Massive Point for being such a cool person to work with, for having a heart of gold, and for being an awesome designer! If anyone needs a blog/website/branding/logo/hugs/encouragement on Drew and tell him you love him!

So, if anyone's wondering what will happen to this wonderful blogger blog... it will still be here.... to look back and read where I've come from. Just as the entries in my older Xanga blog are fun to look at and remember the adventures... so will this one. :)

So if you're a fan of this blog, and want more of Kate and Kate Noelle Photography... come join us at...

Ready Set Go!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Late Night Inspiration

So tonight I had a random urge to watch Disney's Hannah Montana: the Movie. I know... I know... Now, before you discount everything I've ever said about being a person of depth and decent maturity... hear me out. Wait for it... yep.... something in me moved and I found myself inexplicably on my knees worshipping my Jesus to Miley Cyrus' "The Climb." You're probably thinking "Kate's gone off the deep end... she needs more sleep or something!" Well the funny thing about this experience is that it's still got me high. I don't think it's dumb. God created everything so why couldn't he use any of it to speak to his children?

Anyways.... I wanted to share this song with you because it spoke to my heart tonight and I hope you'll hear His whispers in Miley's words:

"I can almost see it, that dream I'm dreaming, but
there's a voice inside my head saying, 'you'll never reach it.'
Every step I'm taking, every move I make feels
lost with no direction. My faith is shaking.

But I, I've gotta keep trying.
Gotta keep my head held high.

There's always gonna be another mountain.
I'm always gonna want to make it move.
Always gonna be an uphill battle,
sometimes I'm gonna have to lose.
It ain't about how fast I get there,
it ain't about what's waiting on the other side.
It's about the climb.

The struggles I'm facing, the chances I'm taking
sometimes might knock me down, but
no I'm not breaking.
I may not know it, but these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yea I just gotta keep going.

And I, I've gotta be strong.
Just keep pushing on.

There's always gonna be another mountain.
I'm always gonna want to make it move.
Always gonna be an uphill battle,
sometimes I'm gonna have to lose.
It ain't about how fast I get there,
it ain't about what's waiting on the other side.
It's about the climb.

Keep. Your. Faith."

If you've had conversations with me lately (or ever), I'm sure you've heard me say over and over, " I just want to get there already.".... or "I just want to be perfect and the best RIGHT NOW!" I don't like to wait. I don't like the hard journey of climbing. I want to be "there" already. I don't like making mistakes. I don't like struggling to find my way. I don't like not knowing everything. I'm constantly thirsty for more. I'm always striving for the mark above perfection..... and it gets exhausting.

"Kate, there's always going to be another mountain that seems to be in the way. And knowing you better than anyone else, I know you're going to want to move the mountain so you can keep going at warp speed toward your dreams. Stop. Breathe. Look around. It's not about how fast you can get 'there' and it's definitely not about that place you seem to want to get to so badly. Security in finances? You won't find that 'there'. Satisfaction all the time? You won't find that 'there' either. You think there won't be any more mountains once you get 'there'? There will be. Stop. Breathe. Look around. The beauty of it all is in the climb. It won't all be easy. It won't all be hard either. Once you get to a higher altitude and closer to the peak, new obstacles will be presented to you... like lack of oxygen. But enjoy the climb because I'm with you."

One last thing... when I was reading last night in the furious longing of God, by Brennan Manning, I was challenged by a reoccurring question. It wasn't reoccurring in the book as much as it's been reoccurring in my personal life.... "If Jesus were to ask you, right now--what do you want?--what would you say? Seriously, what would your answer be?" I was first asked this question in the forest in Herrnhut, Germany when walking alone with God. "What do you want?" And even though it's been a while, and quite the journey since then, my answer remains the same.... there are so many things I want and dream of. I'm a dreamer. I'm a goal setter. But when it comes right down to it, I want to be able to trust that God will take care of me... but not just take care of me.... I want him to make my dreams and desires come true. I want the man of my dreams... I want to be the best wedding and portrait photographer I can be... I want to have a beautiful house to call my home... I want to see the world and bless missionaries.... I want to show the world Your measure of beauty through my eyes and my lens. There are so many things I want... and it's completely freeing to know, in my heart and in my head, that He is a good God who wants to give me my heart's desires. I know this because He told me "[You] are my [Beloved]. And [my] desire is for [you]. (Song of Songs 7:10 NASB)"

So enjoy the climb. I'm doing my best to.

(End Note: I took this photo with a "point and shoot" camera in May of 2007... a whole year before I realized my dream to become a photographer. As my good friend Debora once told me, "trust in what God's put in you." He put a love for photography in me.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Help Portrait

Hey guys... I just wanted to share something really quick. Lately I've really been critically thinking about what
I'm bring His kingdom here to earth in the now. What am I really doing to help the situation? What can I be doing better?
What difference can little 'ole me make in this ginormous world?

Lots of thinking, lots of praying, lots of conversations later, I "coincidentally" came upon this campaign called
Help Portrait. The premise of this campaign is for photographers/anyone who's willing to bring His kingdom to our world
using the gifts and talents He's given us...all on one day (December 12) as an act of love for people.

I'm currently in the process of praying and figuring out what I want to do, but I wanted to share this with all of you to
possibly inspire you to take part in this as well. You don't have to be a professional photographer, to participate. As said
in the promo video, we need volunteers, we need donations, we need make up artists, we need hairstylists, we need
locations and venues.... etc. I would encourage you to find a way to help out with this... whether it's gathering your
courage and offering your photographic skills to someone as a surprise... whether it's finding a photographer and donating
funds or needed supplies/talent to their project... or whether it's finding your own way of blessing someone.

This isn't about me. This isn't about Kate Noelle Photography. This isn't about you. It's not about publicity. It's about
blessing someone or some people with what God's given you. There won't be images blogged from this event.... but
there will be stories. Share your stories about how God uses you... how God shows up to what you're doing to bless
someone else.... because He WILL show up.

Let me know what your thoughts are tell everyone you know.... if you have any ideas...
what you might want to do to participate... don't be shy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bill and Jenn's "Will You"

When I first spoke with Jenn, it was through email. She said that she was friends with Christina Kohlenberg and was really interested in talking more about getting engagement pictures. I met with her and her fiance Bill at my office (Coffee Bean... for those of you who are just now tuning in...) in San Clemente.... and we talked for, what seemed like, hours. We talked about Bill's company and Jenn's new nursing job, we talked about what they like to do in their free time, about their adorable new puppy "Roxy", about life and where it's taken them, about the proposal in San Francisco, and about their love.

Ever since Jenn went up to Bill to invite him to do homework with her and some friends in high school, they've been friends... then more than friends.... then long distance friends... then lovers. Their journey has taken them many different places, through many high and low points, through the aches and pains of changing into their own personas, but their paths have finally come together for good.

They're excited about embarking on this new leg of their journey as future husband and wife, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time doing some of the things they love.

We began with a small hike through the Caramel Mountain area in San Diego and enjoyed the evening breeze as it cooled the hot September ground.

I loved this area because it had lots of trees with character and age.... This is definitely one of my favorite shots from the evening...

Although Bill has lived in California for a while, his roots still run deep and his heart is that of a midwestern MAN'S MAN. He hikes, he bikes, he shoots... and he loves.... His blood even runs the colors of Navy and Orange. (Chicago Bears colors... holla!)

Bill and Jenn weren't the only ones enjoying the outdoors during our shoot... their new puppy Roxy REALLY enjoyed the hike. And, like most good looking puppies, Roxy stole the show. She shot just one sweet puppy glance and seduced mountain bikers, hikers, Christopher, and .... me. She was just so sweet!

What a good looking pair!

From there, we headed down to La Jolla to get a little beach time in before the sun went down... and holy guacamole.... was there a sunset! The light was DEEE-licious and we soaked up every bit of it as we could! Here's just a few of my absolute favorites from the beach...

This picture, I think, encapsulates Bill and Jenn. They're comfortably in love with each other. I love how they don't feel rushed to love, and how they've spent time building their friendship into each other through laughter, and just doing life together. She can rest knowing her best friend will be by her side for the rest of her life... and he can rest knowing the most beautiful woman alive has chosen him. I'm all smiles thinking of where they'll be 10 years down the road...

As the sun set a beautiful orange-y pink against the purple clouds dispersed over the vastness of the San Diego shoreline, we all got a chance to pause and take a deep breath.... God is faithful. He's faithful in the small things and faithful, even still, in the big things. He promised to pursue our hearts and to be with us always. I feel like a broken record, but sunsets and sunrises "get me." There's just something so unfathomable and awesome about something so beautifully colored. I guess, in a far fetched sort of way, that 15 minute span of time when brilliant unfathomable color fills the is a reminder that He Is Here and He is still "I Am". So we can sit on the edge of the seemingly endless ocean, and breathe deep in the stillness and promise of his GOODNESS....

Bill and Jenn I am so excited that you've made the choice to spend your lives together as husband and wife and I'm SOOOO excited to celebrate with you and your families next May! Hurrah!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rylan Gregory Dunn

There is something scary, yet free-ing about challenges. They're a mountain that seems to block your path and the only way is to climb up and back down again. On the way up, the mountain seems to go on forever, it's unpleasant, and you may find yourself winded and your muscles throbbing from the exertion.... but you keep plodding on, one foot in front of the other until you summit. It's only when you reach the summit that the free-ing part comes in. You made it. You're alive. You're exhausted, but the view from the top.... the view of the journey behind you and the new horizon in front of you... makes it all worth it. You accomplished something. You persevered and pulled through the hard times. And now, in the words of my home boy Bebo Norman, " you can walk down this mountain with your heart held high."

Rylan Gregory Dunn made it. And so did Valarie and Barrett.

(Side note: I've known Valarie for about 5 years now and she's always been the trailblazer. I'm so proud of her, of her courage, and of her heart. She's an amazing woman of God and I hope you all get a chance to meet her one day...)

So.... long story short, Rylan graced this world with his presence a little earlier than planned. But everyone's so glad he's here and...he's cute as a button. Here's my favorite shots from the day....

I thought this was such a great picture... partly because he looks like me every morning....

I know this is doesn't show his face, but I love it because it oozes comfort. With his little blanket and little arms... Love it! :)

Rylan was definitely a happy baby... Val and Barrett are very lucky parents!

This was such a sweet moment... I love the way Barrett holds Rylan...

Aaand... these pictures have nothing really to do with Rylan, but I love Valarie's style with all the owls everywhere... even Rylan gets to sport the owl look with some of his baby toys :)

I absolutely love the "tiny everything" about Rylan...

These were my absolute favorite "dad" pictures... I love the way Barrett looks at Rylan, how he holds him, how he talks to him..... Love it!

On our way back from the beach, I decided I wanted to include a little "hot mama" pictures for this HOT mom..... Someone should call the fire department because Valarie's on fire! ..(lame joke..... I know.)

Look at this girl!.. I hope Rylan gets some of her looks...

And lastly, I had to include this picture because it's so sweet. This was taken at the end of our shoot... he was cold and tired, but he was a good sport. I just thought this sad little face was so cute.... melts my heart and I know it melts his parents' hearts too...

Twas a great day to be alive and twas a cool experience hanging out with these awesome people... and Rylan... I'm glad you were born.... you're going to do great things!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Reminiscing: Thailand 2008

I was looking back through old images and I came upon my Thailand 2008 folder. It’s been a while since I shared images from my YWAM outreach and I thought maybe you’d like to reminisce with me….
This picture is from the Hills Tribe village called “Hui Tatop” and this is the former witch doctor of the village. Hui Tatop is a village of about 50 people 3 hours hike into the jungles of eastern Chiang Mai. They used to worship their own Karen gods, but they’re now an entirely christian tribe who are were so encouraging to my team. This guy wanted prayer for healing because he was getting old, was deaf, and was too feeble to walk to 200 yds. to the village church to participate in services…. such a sweet man.

This is when part of our team went on a prayer walk to the border between Burma and Thailand right outside the Akah Village we were staying at called “Beleham.” On our way up, we ran into some of the village women coming home from a hard day of gathering things from the jungle. They giggled as they saw all these random white people walking along on the path… although they might have been laughing at my German teammate Uli saying, “Sawadee-crap” in his German accent… This was by far, my favorite film picture I took on my trip.

These were some of the rowdiest little Akah boys I’ve ever seen… you can see the craziness from this picture…. I loved it.

These little boy on the left was from the Akah tribe in a village called “Beleham” and he stood and looked at me forever with this heavy stare… not carefree and curious like most little boys his age…. he had a very heavy gaze like he’s been through hard times… prayed hard as I smiled best could. The old lady on the right was called “tadpole lady” by our team because she invited us to dinner. Enough said, however I will say that she was just the happiest lady EVER despite her consistent backpain. She was so grateful for our prayers for healing that she invited us to dinner… and served us some wicked hot green curry soup with all sorts of unique things she’d caught….tadpoles, spiders, frogs, jungle potatoes, jungle rat…. who knows what else was in there…. yum.

Anyways… I just thought it was fun to remember… and put into perspective my photographic origins. First a missionary photographer… now a wedding and portrait photographer. I hope one day soon, I’ll be able to go out into the world beyond the US again to bring some good news. For more from my humble beginnings…. click here.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Holidays = Portrait Special Offer

Hello all,

The past month has been one big ball of busyness for me, but the funny thing is, in hind sight, I have nothing to show for it.... because it involved brainstorming, planning, and experimenting. So a million sticky notes and a bazillion Evernote notes later.... I have something to show.

If you're like me, you start planning for the holidays now. I plan so far in advance partly because I'm excited for the cool weather, scarves and mittens, and all the holiday smells and decoration.... and partly because it gets about 10x more stressful as December rolls around.... and I like to prevent as much stress as I can. So to help you guys out, I came up with an awesome holiday offer!

I wanted to offer my services at a lower cost so that anyone who wants a photo shoot of themselves and/0r their families this holiday season CAN!!! WOOOO! All portrait sessions start at $100 and you can add on cool things like cards, larger prints, digital copies, etc. And I even want to offer custom designed Holiday cards! :)

So tell all your friends, and take advantage of this super deal!... because how often do you have a professional photographer take time to capture the beauty of you? Do it. I dare you!

To book now, or to inquire, CLICK HERE.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lance and Laurie's "Will You"

Laurie is one of the coolest people I know. For the longest time, I knew her as "Little Angel", the strikingly appropriate camp name given to her at birth by her parents. We worked at Forest Home's Junior Winter Camp way back when... and we enjoyed many late nights talking and laughing as roommates. As we grew older our paths parted for a while and the next thing I know I'm hearing talk of a boyfriend from her older brother. Finally the day comes in June... this guy proposes and she says YES! :)

It wasn't until I got to spend some time with Lance and Laurie that I really got the bigger picture. I asked Lance to tell me their love story... because I had only heard bits and pieces from Laurie's brothers. As I listened... I got that oddly familiar tugging sensation on my soul... the kind of sensation that happens when I see God so clearly involved in someone's life. Their stories make these pictures all the more sweet... like sugar on summery ripe watermelon....

Their families had been friends for years, but neither Laurie nor Lance had ever paid much attention. Laurie was the straight A beauty who got accepted to California State San Luis Obispo. Lance was the strapping young guy who went off to serve his country with the United States Army... and even though their families were close, their paths never crossed....that is... until tragedy struck.

In 2007, Lance was injured in Iraq. He wasn't just injured... he was hanging onto life. The short list of his injuries included 3 shattered vertebrae shoved into his spinal cord, all the bones in his chest were broken, he had a collapsed lung, his heart was bruised, both his eye orbitals were crushed, his face had been crushed, and it took about 70 staples to hold his face together by the time the many doctors had done their best to fix everything. He spent a lot of time in many hospitals... and doctors didn't think he would be able to walk again. All this to say... his injuries were tragic and his family back home was devastated. The tiny light in the midst of all this tragedy was Lance's faith that God was not finished with him yet. He clung to that hope in his pain and suffering, in his fear and disappointment.

His story inspired many people through the email updates his mom so faithfully sent out. And it was through these emails that Laurie fell in love with Lance's character and faith in God. She noticed there was something different about Lance... something that transcended the fact she had never met him. They wouldn't meet until later.

After spending some time in a hospital in Germany, then traveling to Georgia to recover even more, he had the chance to come home for a week to be with his parents in San Luis Obispo. While hobbling around the kitchen in his neck and back braces, he noticed a picture on the family refrigerator. The picture stopped him in his tracks and he asked his mom immediately, "WHO. IS. THAT? She's BEAUTIFUL!" The picture was of Laurie. (insert sappy "aw's" now) It was love at first sight for Lance.... and before he left for an insanely long recovery period in a Georgia hospital, he told his mom... "Mom, I know you're always right about things when we argue, but I'm going to be right about 2 things this time: One, I'm going to be completely better, home with you, and retired from the army by July 2008 (10 months from then). And two, I'm going to marry Laurie Kohlenberg." She laughed at the thought of both of those things, and saw him off. Little did she know.... he would be completely healed, home again, and retired from the Army all by July 2008. And little did she know, that Lance and Laurie would fall in love... forever.

Again... stories like this, of people whose paths cross simply because they're following the voice of God... they remind me of how intricately involved He is in our lives. Makes me wanna jump up and down, raise my arms in triumph, and shout His praises into the vastness of creation. (kinda dramatic, but it's true)

So for this shoot, I was really excited to shoot with a thematic purpose... I wanted to capture the tension of being in love, the sense of heading out on an adventurous journey, and the tender connection between two lovers. We all had so much fun on this shoot, and I'm so excited with the results! Without further adieu, here's the mini photo story of Lance and Laurie...

Many thanks to John and Christina Kohlenberg for the AMAZING vintage suitcases, and to Christopher for being the best prop/bag carrier of all time! :)

I can't wait for Lance and Laurie's wedding in November... it's going to be so much fun!

P.S... Lance... you're awesome.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stealth | Shoot: Billy Jack and Alissa's "Will You"

We knew it was coming. The minute we saw their smitten faces whispering sweet nothings laced with words and sign language foreign to everyone except themselves..... we knew. This is it.

I've been friends with them both for years prior to dating each other and as I've observed and watched them together, it's clear to me how amazing their relationship is. They bring the absolute best out in each other, they're freaking HAPPY together....I couldn't wish for a better match. From the bottom of my heart and back again, I'm SO HAPPY for you two and I can't wait to see how huge your love will be as your roads merge to become one. (tears...)

His proposal was nothing short of excellence (not surprising at all) and her reaction was priceless.... Here's the short version... He took her on an adventure all around LA, Orange County, and San Diego to visit all the memorable places they had been throughout their relationship. From her sorority days at UCLA to long talks in a favorite coffee shop called Claire de Lune in San Diego, they visited and reminisced about their love story. It was at this particular coffee shop on a specific couch, in which they shared some milestone moments... and on Wednesday night, it was there that BJ decided to ask Alissa to spend the rest of their lives together.

As I was situated in the balcony above the targeted couch area hidden by a customer's bags and my own black hooded sweatshirt, I watched them silently through the lens of my camera... waiting anxiously for the moment he pulled out the little white box and got on one knee. It seemed like forever, but finally the moment came and I watched him sneakily pull the box out of his pocket while she wasn't looking.... I saw him say an opening line leaving her in blank readiness for him to finish with his pertinent question... I saw him kick the table back and get on one knee. Immediate realization and shock swept over her eyes as her hands moved reflexively up to her face... she said yes. Her emotions, exploding like fireworks, signaled to the baristas that it had happened and they all ran out cheering and congratulating them. And on cue, all the family and friends who had gathered in secret outside the store paraded in adding to the excitement and celebration. It was an evening to remember... not just for them... but for all who were present. August 12, 2009 was a night to remember their journeys and to celebrate their love.

Here's just a glimpse into the night... from a stealth shooter's perspective...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sneak Peek: Billy Jack and Alissa's "Will You" Stealth Shoot

So I'm STILL working on a bunch of things all at once... even this late, but I wanted to share my excitement that two very good friends of mine are ENGAGED!!!! :) Congratulations to Billy Jack and Alissa! I'm so excited for you and documenting this huge day in your lives brought me incredible joy... brought Stealthy tears to my eyes! :)

Here's my favorites from this Stealth Shoot.... more to come... I PROMISE!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pageant of the Masters-Media Night

In the beginning of June, Christopher and I had the unique opportunity to join our friend Ernie Castello, a news reporter with OC Skyline, at the Pageant of the Masters Media Night. My dad used to take his Choirs from Santa Ana High School to the Pageant for years and years, but I, personally, had never gone. Since I'd heard great things about this art pageant, I was stoked to have the opportunity to go. Media night is a night at the beginning of summer when everyone from the media (eg television channels, newspapers, journals, magazines, etc.) could come and get a preview of what would happen throughout the summer. There were a few artists' work displayed with demonstrations in their medium of art, wine and chocolate tasting by the Ritz Carlton, a grand tour of the behind the scenes studios, and a preview of a few of the famous pieces on stage, followed by an after-party complete with yummy foods, wines, and desserts at Tivoli Terrace! It was definitely a packed evening and I am so glad I got to attend, and shoot along with the esteemed members of Associated Press and other VIP members of the press! Here's just a few shots from the evening...

Our name tags... (we're such nerds...)

Artists' live demonstrations of their medium...

Mini workshops on how to do the different featured mediums at home... this one is print making. They demonstrated how to roll out the ink and create custom prints...

Here's a shot of the artists finishing up some of the backdrops that are being used this summer in the pageant. These artists are GOOD... let me tell you! So talented to be able to recreate masterpieces so flawlessly!

Christopher, being the excellent teacher he is, spent some time learning about print making and asking a bunch of questions on how he could use this in his classroom to educate students in this fine art... he's so good! :) I love the expression on this kid's face... he's thinking "who is this guy?"

The pageant is famous for recreating fine-art masterpieces in real-life size. So they recreate the paintings and they incorporate live people posed to look like the original painting... it's fascinating to watch the process of the backdrops being created, the props placed, the people's faces being painted, the costumes, and the lighting.... it's a tedious, but spectacular display of art! Here's some shots of the makeup design on mannequins....

And then recreated every time the pageant goes on stage... but on a real person... it's looks unnecessarily unreal right now, but just wait to see what it looks like in the painting... So COOL!

Here's some shots of the full pieces

It was so fun to meet and shoot with so many people from the press and it was so inspiring seeing so many artists using their talents to create the pageant! I hope you have a chance to check it out this summer... it will be an experience you won't want to miss!
"Welcome and thanks for stopping by my blog! I've discovered recently that, in addition to photography, writing is a passion of mine and I've loved including you all in my personal journey this past year. So please feel free to read about my adventures, comment often, and enjoy my photos!"     - Kate Noelle | International Wedding & Portrait Photographer |