Saturday, January 31, 2009

John and Christina "Will You" Part 1

I was sitting in the loft above the Creekside Dining Hall at Forest Home Junior Winter Camp. It was Saturday night and we had just finished a full day of craziness with 4th-6th graders. Christopher (camp alias: Phoenix) and I (camp alias: Bam Bam) were sprawled across the couches contemplating foregoing hang out time for bed when Christina (camp alias: Sky) comes in and proceeds to tell me... "So John and I were exploring today during free time and we found this really cool looking run down carnival truck...and I was thinking it might be fun to take some pictures that okay?" Blinking away the sleepiness and trying to manage my spastic excitement about old carnival trucks tucked away in the mountains....I managed a "Sure!" Probably a less enthusiastic response for how excited I actually was.... and that was how we decided to take pictures at the old abandoned carnival truck...who knew Forest Home was hiding such a genius photographic shooting location? I didn't.

If you didn't catch the images from the EPIC Stealth Shoot I did of John's proposal in November, make sure you check it out! 

Now before we get to my favorite shots of the day...I have to warn you...John and Christina are some of the most beautiful people I know (ahem...and handsome...) and they're truly electric together. I can't emphasize the importance of "being into your fiance" in engagement shots definitely makes the shots SO much better when I get to capture LOVE through my lens! So...with that said...I couldn't just pick a couple good ones. They're all SOOO GOOD! So I apologize in advance for the amount of images I had to blog this time around... I hope you'll forgive me....and I hope your mouse doesn't cramp as you scroll and scroll and scrooolll.

The entire weekend, it rained off and on...was warm...then cold....then sunny....then cloudy. And it didn't let up for the I had to constantly adjust my metering and we bounced around different places trying to make the most of the weather and the lighting. We began taking pictures by the truck when suddenly the overcast sky lit up with sunbeams that illuminated the clouds that lingered at about 1500 ft. So being the young and agile people we are ;) we ran to the edge of the cliff and they climbed the mountain of half cut timber for these shots...and they are "SO HOT!" (Christopher's new favorite one-liner)
This is my absolute favorite shot of the day! Blue skies chased by dark clouds... leftover snow packed in the mountains for a background... beautiful lighting... and these two love birds :) (happy sigh...with birds twittering in the background)
For some reason... Vogue seemed to be my inspiration for a lot of these shots by the Truck...
Classic John face...

This happens to be my second favorite picture... aren't they amazing together?
This makes me want to jump up and down... I love it so much. That truck was a great idea huh?! I dig...
For this picture, I told them to give me their best "we're getting married" face...and this is what happened... I almost fell off the rock I was standing on I was laughing so hard...
And naturally adventure finds us when I hang out with these two... the mystery of why Moose and Filly would be chopping wood way up past the Noble's house and leave this sign for all the people who needed to bother them while they cut wood... way up in the middle of nowhere... it's a mystery...
We left the mountain and headed down to Redlands where we had more adventures. This is one of my favorites from the Orchard we walked through...
And for those of you who know Yucaipa, CA well... there's this house on highway 38 with a huge Paul Bunyan statue (among other things) in the front yard and all around the house. John decided he wanted some engagement pictures at the house. I didn't put the majority of them on my blog, but look for them on my Facebook. Love this shot of them looking over the fence into the yard...
I'd like to end with this shot. We all have grown to love John Kohlenberg and his beard... but this awesome woodsman shot marks the end of the "Beard Engagement Shots."
And just to clarify, I labeled this post "John and Christina 'will you' Part 1" because this is only part one of their Engagement Shoot. They wanted to have shots in several different locations, but our schedules only allowed shorter spans of time... so sometime in march, we will continue with their "No Beard Engagement Shots." Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Just a Teaser

John. Christina. Love. Colors. Beauty. Mountains. Clouds. Snow. Old truck. Random.

Love it.

Today I shot an amazing engagement shoot (part one of a series...) in Forest Falls and Redlands. These two amazing people were SO fun to shoot and Christopher and I had a blast hanging out with them! It's been a long weekend and a long day so I'm going to be working on the rest of "John & Christina...the Future Mr. and Mrs. Kohlenberg...Part 1" later....buuuut I wanted to show off a few favorites to keep you coming back for more later ;) Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tides Turning

I've been feeling it build for the past two weeks. I journaled about it. I talked with Christopher about it. The tide's been building and I haven't been able to put my finger on it until now. Tonight It's a Grind in Irvine closed. I've felt like my time at It's a Grind was coming to a close, but I couldn't figure out whether I was supposed to quit or whether I was just being dumb and resenting the daily ritual of cleaning windows and waiting around for someone to order something. I didn't want to quit because I love the owners and I liked working I really needed a steady flow of money. But I still felt like my time was coming to an end. My feelings and journalings and my gut were all right...and it's such a wierd feeling knowing it's over. I have to's a terrifying place in the water after being drop-kicked off the boat ( I hope you all get the Peter reference here...). But in my head, I know He's good. He'll help me figure out the meaning behind no steady money flow and He'll be here every step of the way...even still... thoughts and prayers would be greatly appreciated.

So for now, I guess all I have to do is pray, learn, and prepare for the fun engagement session I have planned for Sunday. Talk with you all soon friends...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Showit Sites Contest

Towards the end of 2008, I grew tired of having so many things half finished with my business. It seemed like I was pulling everything slowly together over the months, but it was always so awkward telling people "I have a website...but it's not done yet", or "I'm a wedding and portrait photographer...but I'm still starting out".... just not the best marketing. That's why I set a goal for myself... to have my website completely done by Dec. 31st 2008... so I could bring in the new year with a fully functional site and portfolio people could actually visit and get a sense of me and my work in. A couple weeks after I had set that deadline, I received an email from David Jay with Showit Sites about their 2008 Site of the Year contest! I was STOKED and worked even harder with the 1st place prize in the forefront of my mind. And since January 1st, I've been obsessively checking the site hoping they had chosen the finalists....FINALLY thursday they began the voting process on Open Source Photo. (Side Note: Some of you complain about how much I Twitter...but it was through Twitter that I found out they had begun the voting process! So Ha!) I began to tweet out to all those who follow me to vote for my site until I realized I had no idea if I was a finalist (kind of arrogant of you Kate...I know... :-/ ) So I went on the site and BOOYAH! I'm a finalist! So now, all the members of the online community Open Source Photo will be voting until next Thursday when they tally the votes and come out with the results. Apparently there were about 50 entries and they narrowed it to 30...not too shabby! As I was looking at the sites though, I was put back in my bowl of humbled-sauce because not only were the other sites AM-azing, but there were so many that were VERY good. So I probably won't win, but I was so excited that I made the consolations the first time around :). But's nothing prayer and an Almighty God can't make happen right? ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Today I finished reading "Jesus Wants to Save Christians" by Rob Bell and Don Golden. I'm a huge fan of Rob Bell's writing style and what he has to say about Christianity and relevant spiritual it was really a no brainer I wanted to read this one. Okay...funny story (well not really funny...but...anyways...) I got this book for Christopher for Christmas...and as I was previewing it (to make sure he'd like it), I got hooked and ended up reading 95% of it. I know...I'm a horrible person for giving a book I read first. But as it turns out, he was stoked I had chosen to read it first because more than anything he LOVES to talk about books. But that's a sidenote. Back on topic... I found it extremely interesting that they began the book by talking about Genesis and how things got to be the way they are today in the world, in the sense that America is somewhat of a modern day Egypt. I won't ruin the book for you because you all should read it, but it was strikingly similar to how Daniel Quinn, author of "Ishmael", depicted how the world came to be the way it is today. How the Egypt that oppressed the Israelites can be paralleled to Babylon... and Rome... and America. I won't spoil it, but it was probably one of the better books I've read recently...and Christopher would agree with me.

This past weekend has been pretty much awesome. Even though I had to work everyday of it, I got SO MUCH DONE! I don't know about anyone else, but I LOVE checking things off my checklist.... I pretty much make lists for everything... just because I like checking them off when I finish them. I'm a nerd. What's new? A.D.D. ...sorry. Yes, I got a lot done this weekend and even got in 8 miles in the in-between times. One of the items on my to-do list has been to back up every single image I've taken in the past couple years and catalog them in my brand spankin' new external hard drive WOO HOO!!! It's so cool! And as I was going through the images, I remembered the random good moments I had behind my lens last month. December wasn't too busy with weddings and engagements so I had the chance to shoot more for fun than anything else. Here's my favorite moments from December...

I got this hat from GAP and I absolutely love it. But my family makes fun of me... they call it my "Pattington Bear Hat" after the cute cartoon bear who wears a RAIN COAT AND RAIN HAT...NOT my cute GAP hat that makes me look British and artsy :) 

My mom is obsessed with Nutcrackers. We have an army of them lining the stairs during the holidays.... it's a bit ridiculous. (But... the cats love scaring themselves silly by knocking the top one over so they domino down the stairs making a big racket.... my mom get's so mad... it's funny!) So my sister Melissa and I decided to get her one from Germany... the home of all Nutcrackers :) I contacted my YWAM friend Jasmin Alber in Nurenberg and she went Nutcracker shopping at the famous Christmas Market there. She emailed me several times saying "we met many nutcracker" and she finally found us the perfect one. So then I sent her Euros and she sent the perfect Nutcracker. As you can see... my mom was a happy lady Christmas morning! Thanks Jasmin!

I love Christmas Colors... one of my favorite smells of Christmas is the scent of pine in the living room :)

I am lucky enough to live in southern California where it's somewhat tropical, but not really. I am also lucky enough to have family from Hawaii... who love to grow plants from Hawaii to make it feel more tropical. This is our Plumeria plant in our backyard and I was quite amused that it's in bloom in December... it still is in bloom... 

We had some incredible rains in the beginning of December and I loved every second of it. One of my favorite things in the world is to fall asleep to the sound of rain outside while I'm warm in my bed... so comforting!

After the rains came beautiful clean blue skies! The clouds were beautiful.... loved it!

A week before Christmas, Christopher led worship at Irvine Presbyterian Church at their contemporary service called Veritas. The guys in the band were solid and it was so cool to see Christopher explore a new avenue... one in which he gets paid to do what he's gifted in and loves... making music to the King! If you get a chance, come check Veritas out at 7pm on Sunday evenings! Christopher and the band will be leading worship.... don't miss it! :) I'll be there for sure.

Not only does December mean Christmas time, but it means birthday time. Both my mom and dad's birthdays fall in December... in fact, they're a week apart! (How cute) This was my dad's awesome birthday cake... my mom makes the BEST carrot cake in the entire world... no joke. I'd bet my Figero's life on it ;)
As I continue to run into past photos that are particularly special to me...I'll keep 'em coming in between weddings and other photo gigs. Yeehaw!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I guess it's that time

So I have to of the first thoughts I had this year has been "holy guacamole...EVERYONE is getting married!" I guess I'm in that span of life when every other month a friend of mine get's married's definitely a sobering thing to think about. We're no longer "post-high schoolers" and we're no longer "college students"...we're young adults. ....SCARY! I'm not wishing I was fact, thinking about getting married at this point in life stresses me out a little bit...I still feel like it's the first year after I graduated high school. I still feel super young....yes... 22 is young in the bigger picture of things....but it's so wierd to think about people my age and younger getting married! Okay...that was just a little vent of thoughts I've had recently. Aside from the momentary lapse of freaking out...I get so excited about my friends finally experiencing what they've dreamed about their whole lives. When I was shooting John and Christina's Stealth Shoot in November, I could barely hold back the tears enough to see sharply through the view finder ( I did, mind you...the pictures turned out great!). I LOVE that love has found these important people's lives and it boggles my mind thinking that one day, it might find me in the forever kind of way it's found them. :) On that note, here's a couple other shots from Dom & Gwen's engagement shoot that I really liked... just thought I'd share them with ya'all.

P.S. I'm still quite open for bookings in 2009 so if you're looking for a wedding or portrait photographer, please holla at your girl! And if you haven't checked out my website, please do! It's been live since new years eve 2008! Wooo! That's so cool to finally say...okay..I'm a nerd. Bed for for you! 

Peace for Now

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

[Insert some phrase that does justice to what I feel]

Tonight I caught up with two friends I hadn't talked to or seen in a long time and it was SO GOOD. The first of the two conversations I had was with a friend from Forest Home named Emily. Emily just got engaged to such a cool guy named Braden and the two of them are so ridiculously makes you want to throw up a little bit (in a good way of course :) ) and their story is so beautiful! I hadn't had the chance to catch up on life with her since, well....before I left the country in Fall of 2007. So much has changed since then in both of our lives....and I cannot even begin to describe how much I miss her and love her and how excited I am to know she's engaged to the love of her life! Braden and Emily will be married June 6th!! Dahhhhhh! My smile is making my face hurt! The thing that was such a blessing in our conversation tonight was the topic of redemption in our hearts. I think, sometimes, the term "redemption" in Christian jargon gets lost in the translation to our everyday lives. We hear it, we may believe it's true, and yet we have no sense of what it means in our own lives. Sometimes I get the chance to hear amazing testimonies from ex-drug dealors who almost died a million times in gang fights/drugs and alcohol and how they found He redeemed their lives and how they now live for Him in their "rough around the edges" leather jacket and studs kind of way....from those "other people" stories, I get somewhat of a sense of the definition and meaning of the word, but still it gets lost on its way from my head to my heart. She brought up how our hearts can be redeemed from past hurts and bad experiences and it was so cool to learn from her and bounce ideas and thoughts on the subject together...I miss those conversations.

The second conversation I had tonight was with Laurie....a lifelong friend who happens to be a smarty-pants studying Early Childhood Development/Psychology at Georgetown in DC. She's home for the holidays and leaving later this week. It was sooooo good to catch up on life with her as well. And again, the topic of redemption in relationships was brought up. I'm beginning to realize it doesn't take an ENTIRE life alteration for me to experience redemption first hand...I'm learning more and more that redemption could take place in friendship and in romantic relationships. I guess we read over and over in the Bible of how God redeems his love relationship with the Israelites and how it's just a bigger picture of what our relationship with Him is like. It's neat to see it fleshed out in my life and I have to say, I love it when knowledge of who God is makes the journey from my head to my heart. I love it when I can honestly tell someone why I believe what I believe and examples of it in my my words "Jesus Loves You" aren't just words, and my orthopraxy can actually be....practiced.

You all might be wondering/thinking..."that's kind of a deep conversation to be having with yourself on the internet Kate." And, indeed it is. But this is just another facet of what I love to capture with my camera. I love to capture stories, and the story of redemption is something that resonates with every single one of us, whether we understand what has been redeemed or not. This is something I've found resonates with me when I think of the word "redeemed" and I'm still in the process of finding more areas where I've been redeemed, going through the process of redemption, or need redemption in. I love it when couples can tell me how they've found the meaning of Christ's redemption in their lives through relationship with each other. I'm always brought to tears when I hear a woman tell me their husbands are the hope they searched for their whole lives. And I'm moved when I hear a man tell me he's marrying the most beautiful woman he's ever met, that she completes him fully, and that she's helped teach him to be the man God created him to be. I love stories of completion and redemption. Brings a smile to your face eh? It sure makes me smile! My face is still hurting! Love you both so much and you've been such a blessing in my life!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008 in Retrospect

So I realize it's now a couple days after the new year, but I just came back from a wonderful family vacation to Breckenridge Colorado! We did some serious boarding and skiing and had a very relaxing time bringing in the new year at 11,000 ft. 

This past year has been one full of change...for those of you who received my Christmas card, you read a little about, and for those who haven''s just a little taste:

Merry Christmas and Happy 2009!

My goodness 2008 has flown by and I feel like so much has changed! Normally I don't write an "update" letter during the holidays,  but I feel like a horrible friend for not keeping more of you updated with all of life's happenings. So here's my attempt at catching you up and I hope you all will forgive me for not keeping better correspondence these past 6 months.

I'm currently sitting in my pajamas at the dining room table with a cup of homemade mocha and my computer, listening to the steady sound of rain pattering outside and the Weepies singing sweetly in the background. Christmas decorations garnish the house and the living room smells slightly of pine and cranberry candles....Christmas is upon us...and probably already passed by the time you get this letter. December has been a month of reflection and uncomfortable nostalgia for last Christmas when I spent the holidays with the Boettinger family in Ulm, Germany. I think it's ridiculous how every time I hear the song "I'll be home for Christmas" I immediately get homesick...because I'm home this family's near. In over-thinking this curious homesick feeling I've come to the conclusion that home is not a place for me...home is in people. Let me explain...

The beginning of 2008 was brought in at the top of a hill in a the smallest town in East Germany called Herrnhut. I found myself a Californi-American popsicle standing with a bouncy Texan, and an artsy Chinese guy from Hong Kong listening to all of Herrnhut and the neighboring "Willages" (Germans pronounce "V" as a "W"...haha) explode with fireworks and cheers laced with German phrases we didn't understand but repeated to blend in anyways. From there, I traveled through the south of Germany to Frankfurt where a team of 9 others and I left on a plane to Thailand...stopping in Sri Lanka for a layover. I feel like I was catapulted through January, February, and March because so much happened. In Thailand we went from Bangkok to the north in Chiang Mai, and spent 7 weeks there helping out City Gate Church and traveling through some of the Hills tribes in the jungles, then traveled to Pattaya in the south and worked with prostitutes for two weeks before heading to Ko Samet (probably the most beautiful Island I've ever been to in my whole life) for a week...then back to Germany. Whew! Needless to say...I slept 14 hours a night for a week after that whole adventure. It completely blows my mind thinking back on all the places I went and all the crazy things I experienced in three months...and it's one of those things that point directly at the presence of God in my life...because I know for sure I would have never done any of it without Him taking me. The craziest thing is how my home became people from every continent (except Antarctica...although I wouldn't mind being friends with a penguin :) ). So this year...I'm feeling a bit homesick for international buddies who are in crazy places like Texas, North Carolina, Washington State, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Africa, and Canada. But my year didn't stop fact, it only started the snowball rolling, gathering dreams and plans and excitement on the way.

I got home in the beginning of April and spent some much needed time with family and friends. But all the while, I was praying about what to do next...go back to Whitworth? Work at the pool again? What about photography? And all I heard on God's end was "wait." Naturally that went over well with my overachieving and obsessive compulsively planning self..."wait"....for what exactly? Well, I waited from April till the end of May. And in that period of waiting, a new development in the romance department sprung out of nowhere. Christopher and I actually JUST met for coffee because he wanted to hear about my YWAM experience before he took off in June for his two year long excursion to Venezuela and Honduras....and we ended up talking for 7 hours. (Wonderful God....way to just show up out of nowhere.) We spent all of April and May JUST hanging out... and being freaked out that it felt like God had put us in each other's lives for specific reasons....reasons we didn't understand or care to understand because we both had PLANS. Then we gave in. And we kept giving in because...well...we had both separately made pacts to make room for Jesus in our lives...and the room that we had both made seemed to be the perfect size and shape for each other. What the HECK God?! So we threw our plans out the window, and, as scared as we were, we started taking steps down the same path...together...and it's been crazy as God has opened our eyes periodically to the "reasons" He put us together...a beautiful thing to witness together. It's been 7 months now and we both agree that we have a bone to pick with God when we get to Heaven for stomping on our plans.... But...Christopher has probably been the most awakening thing that's happened to me since coffee...I hope you all get to meet him someday.

That period of "waiting" also brought about the decision to work as a barista (since it's on my "things to do before I die" list) at It's a Grind Coffeehouse in Irvine. It was a bit of a tough decision since they don't pay incredible amounts of money, but it's been a good one. I've been working there since the middle of June and my work schedule has allowed me time to develop my BUSINESS!!! That's right...I am the proud owner of my own Wedding and Portrait photography business. I'm still currently building it and taking care of the business aspects like taxes and licenses and such, but I'm on my way. Working at It's a Grind has also allowed me time to take two classes at the local junior college, and time to build my website. So although paychecks are kind of anti-climactic... it's allowed me very valuable time to develop other parts of life.

And finally...the biggest development of 2008....starting my photography business. For those of you who knew me pre-YWAM, I was a biology major at Whitworth University and I was on my way to studying medicine and possibly becoming the world's greatest surgeon...just kidding. But seriously...I had been planning on going to medical school since the first year I was in college, I had my EMT certification, I was going to work in the health center at Whitworth as a nurse's aid and I was preparing to take Organic Chemistry and Genetics and Physics. Even though science still fascinates me, I've found something in photography that makes me feel alive and used. Even more than I've loved science, I've loved weddings longer and more passionately. My best friends and Christopher can back me up when I say I'm obsessed with weddings and love... "Barnes and Noble" means Wedding magazines! the waiting period of April and May, God continued to speak to my heart about weddings and how they should be connected to photography. I was terrified and fought it because I always thought being a wedding photographer was out of the question. I didn't want to step out into a field I knew nothing about because...well...there are a million wedding photographers in Orange County alone...and I knew absolutely nothing about it...except that I loved it. And, sure enough...God held fast to His habit of giving me a little kick in the pants and I stepped off the boat into the storm with only the faith that He'd provide almost $8000 in equipment and programs, and clients, and that He'd give me the talent and experience I needed. Sure enough, the beginning of July I connected with a wedding planner who was in need of a photographer for two weddings later in the summer and she hired me. In the same summer, my dad decided to buy the new Nikon D300 and some lenses for himself and for me to use in addition to my own camera. So I found myself at my first wedding with two great cameras, more than enough lenses, memory cards, an external hard drive, and a web domain name with my name on it. ( It was fascinating to see the gigs multiply exponentially as the months went on and totally humbling because I knew it was God. It couldn't have been anything or  anyone else's doing...and with Him giving me everything I needed, I was defying the impossible. At the end of August, I found myself with a brand spankin' new computer in a photoshop class. And in the middle of September, I found myself with two new powerhouse editing programs....the best of the best.....Adobe Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom 2 (although CS4 came out a month later). Also, I acquired membership to a website designing and hosting program and I've been designing my site slowly since then. All I can say looking back is Holy Guacamole God is GOOD! I prayed and prayed " God, if this is you pushing me to start my wedding photography business, you're going to have to provide all I need to do it to the best of my ability. So I'm trusting you to come through." And He has and continues to! Here's a a quick look at his multiplication:

From May to December 08, He's provided one stealth shoot (proposal), three portrait sessions, one event shoot, five engagement shoots, and four wedding shoots. And He's begun to provide for next year as well with an engagement session and four weddings already in the books. I even get to fly to North Carolina for one of them! God is GOOD!

So, this is the brief version of life recently....HA! Again, I apologize for not keeping up correspondence the past couple months, but I hope this letter finds you all just as busy and just as excited about God moving through you. Even though I just gave you a lot of information about all the exciting things that have been happening, the good has been outweighed sometimes with HARD things. My first wedding was a nightmare that almost caused me to give it up and hide forever. There has been more heartache and more difficulties than I would care to think about but it's just made everything else much sweeter. Like salt is bitter and...salty...on it's are some things we go through. But salt added to good food....makes it that much better in the end. 

So friends and family, keep trekking through the salty times (especially with so many of us dealing with economic issues) and find those people in your life that can help you find the good parts of life and share them with you. Those friends are the ones you just might find yourself homesick for during the holidays...but it's a good kind of will end one day when we'll all be together in our new house with the BEST of friends there to share it with us...THANK YOU JESUS!

Peace for now,


And now that I'm embarking on a new leg of my journey in 2009, I wanted to share a little taste of my year last year...the places I went, the people I saw, the new friends I made, and the shoots I enjoyed best. Thank you for being a part of my life this past year, blog readers, and I hope to continue another amazing year in blog world with you by my side! 

So without further Adieu...

"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 |