Sutten + Jacob’s Wedding- Newport Beach, CA

The same day I shot this wedding, I moved out of our home in Anaheim. It was crazy. Truth be told, sneaking away from the moving chaos was pretty nice. Instead of staring at the loose ends of our messy house, I sunk my toes into sand, squinted into the late afternoon sun and got to drill Sutten and Jacob with 2o questions while we drove from location to location.

Such a sweet, fun couple PLUS her family is native texans and her dad  smoked his own brisket for the wedding.  Give me good light and good food and you will find a happy me.

Thanks to Sutten and Jacob for being so good looking and fun to hang out with.

 

 

Jordyn + Cody’s Wedding- San Diego, CA

 

A happy, light filled wedding day. Pretty sure these types of days will never get old.

On the other hand, looking at this couple makes me feel old. They are so young and fresh. Sigh. But the thing I found most intriguing was how wise and thoughtful Jordyn was. She is one of the most accepting, loving, genuinely happy brides I have ever photographed. She couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful her new husband was and how great he is. It was a heart warming thing to witness. Of course he adored her as well. Duh.

Super happy about all these people finding each other and loving each other. Glad we don’t have to be alone in this world.

So excited for your life together, Jordyn and Cody. Honored to have documented your first day as husband and wife.

 

Salisbury Family- San Francisco, CA

Just another amazing, causal, REAL, family lifestyle session.

We just walked around the Ferry building, chatting, swapping stories and capturing some great moments of this family of three being together.

Man, I love my job.

If you are interested in a lifestyle family shoot at your home or at one of your favorite locations, email me at info@rachelthurston.com

(shot on a contax 645 on kodak portra 400. Developed and scanned by The Find Lab)

 

Baby Theo

Calmness and chaos coexist in the home of a newborn. The chaos is hard to detect if you aren’t around at 2am when the whole world is asleep expect for you….but I have to say these three had a very strong calm over chaos ratio. I wasn’t sure anyone was even sleep deprived. All I saw was starry eyes.

So fun to see friends go from no baby to baby and have it seem like they have always played the role. Morgan and Joel are complete and utter naturals. Parenting instincts blow my mind!

Theo is a very loved and very blessed baby to have the family he does.

All my love and sweet singing lullabies to this new family. xxoo

 

(shot on the contax 645 with kodak trix and portra films)

 

 
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Lowe Family


Often after I shoot a family with small children (specifically toddlers and newborns) I have to reassure the parents that although it felt like a tornado, we did in fact get some really great shots. Every hair won’t be in place and all faces smiling at the camera is a rarity BUT we get something even better. We get something with movement and emotion and smiles and tears. We get something real. We created something that you can all look back on years from now and say with confidence “that’s what life felt like”. To me, that matters way more than creating something fictitious, but then again, I have never been one for faking it.

Thank you to my friends Sarah and Alex for having me document your new family of four. So much happiness going on between all of you. AND Sarah is a stylist and has mad style. I am mildly obsessed with her nursery.

If anyone is interested in having me photography a lifestyle session with your family, email me at info@rachelthurston.com

(shot with a contax 645 on Kodak portra 400 film. Developed and scanned by the FIND lab)

 

 

Morgan + Brock’s Wedding- Salt Lake City, UT

Big time crush on this family.  Cousin’s, aunts, mom, dad, siblings…they are all super great and fun to be around.

And big props to Morgan and Brock for being so patient waiting for their wedding images. I hope it was worth the wait. Kind of impossible not to get great shots of these two. I seriously couldn’t stop shooting frames of Morgan’s hair blowing in the wind. It was like poetry every time.

Beautiful light and  good company makes for a great a few hours of shooting and celebrating. Thank you for having me play a small part. xo.

Ceremony at the Salt Lake Latter Day Saint Temple

Reception at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building

 

(shot on the Contax 645 and Canon eo3 with kodak portra film)

 

Meili + Damian’s Wedding- Salt Lake City, UT


Damian has been one of our closest friends for years. These photos do a pretty good job of showcasing his personality…but you really should meet him in person. He’s even more awesome in real life. He is one of those people that has a way of making everyone he’s around feel important. He’s one of the most creative, intelligent people I know but makes me feel like what I share & think is worthwhile and interesting. It’s a gift. Naturally, feeling the way we do, our expectations were set pretty high when it came to Meili. Within 5mins of meeting her, I couldn’t stop staring. She was too good to be true. The perfect match for our friend. Happy, artistic, affable, loves food, super down to earth, has had amazing life experience, sparkly eyes, stunningly beautiful in all the most important ways (and in the least important ways…babe town!). It is safe to say I fell head over heels in love with her. Right after Damian did.

Their wedding day was crazy fun. Waffles for breakfast, tacos for dinner, cakes and pies made by all their friends AND a reception with a Ferris wheel, carousel & a spinny-makes-you-want-to-hurl-ride. I will do anything for a good shot but due to extreme motion sickness I did spend a good 10mins after I made that photo with my head between my knees. Worth it.

Now I am making plans for camping trips, beach house getaways, holidays and backyard BBQ’s with my new favorite family.

Congratulations again and again. Love you both so much.

(Shot with a contax 645, canon eos3, canon 5d with kodak film)

Allison + Dante’s Wedding- Big Sur, CA

I am starting to develop a real thing for small weddings. Super small weddings. I love them.

I love how the whole day is centered around one thing, the couple. The getting married part, the being in love part. That’s all there is. It fills me up with so much satisfaction and excitement for what I can offer. It is also hard not to feel creatively energized when in a matter of four hours I get to shoot in the middle of redwoods, a field, a river and at the ocean. It was a photographic fairytale.

Also, absolutely fell head over heels for this couple. I wish every couple treated each other with the love and respect that these two did. Yes, they are young but so much wiser than so many when it comes to being in a respectful partnership. I learned so much from watching them love each other.

After getting ready at Glen Oaks and then the ceremony at Pfeiffer Beach at sunset…we headed to Big Sur Bakery where they invited me to join them for dinner. Allison and I couldn’t stop talking. Dante joked that we were the same person. It did kind of feel that way.

It was all meant to be.

So honored to have been there to witness it all and capture all the soft perfect Big Sur light.

(all images shot on film with the contax 645 and canon eos3 on kodak film)

 

Tristen + Jon’s Wedding

This wedding was extra special because it took place at the exact same locations as mine and Grant’s wedding. Including the private beach cove. It felt so amazing to be shooting this wedding and daydreaming about my own wedding day. This time, Grant wasn’t with me though. He was home with our two insanely adorable children. I love when it all comes full circle.

I wish you could hear what these images sounded like. So much laughter and yelling and happy talk. The last image is when Tristen yelled out the car window as they were pulling away “See you at my baby shower in 9 months!!!”. Loved that ending.

Little did I know it was an all white wedding…so of course I was wearing head to toe black. The opposite of blending in. It was pretty funny. Also, the lady in read pleather, who had promised Tristen as a young girl that she would show up to her wedding in red pleather. She might have stood out even more than me:)

Such a fun fun fun wedding. With a beginning that fun I can only imagine how they rest of their life will play out.

Lots of love and BABIES to Tristen and Jon. xxoo

Ceremony- Newport Beach LDS Temple

Reception- Private beach, Laguna Beach

 

(shot on the contax 645 and canon eo3 with kodak portra 160)

Tristen’s Bridals

I don’t shoot bridals all that often…but after this shoot I am thinking I always should!

First, the location was bonkers and second, I love the fact that we get a little dress rehearsal for the wedding day.

No words to describe what a knockout the bride to be was (photographic proof) and her man to be, model material.

It was kind of the perfect early evening shoot.

(shot on the contax 645 with kodak portra 160)

 

Darci + Michael’s Wedding- Santa Barbara, CA

This bride comes from a large family and one of my favorites part of this day was watching all the siblings dance with each other. You could tell they were all such good friends. Made me happy to see them all so happy.

This wedding was full of gorgeous sweet smelling flowers and the loveliest couple you could ever imagine. So gracious and kind and fun. It was a complete honor spending time with them on their wedding day.

Lots of love to both of you, Darci and Michael.

(shot on Contax 645, Canon eo3 and Canon 5D with portra160, 400 and trix. Developed and scanned by the Find Lab)

 

1 Year

A month has passed since we celebrated your first birthday.

For your birthday we went camping for the first time as a family. Of course I wanted to throw a ginormous party for you but given the timing and a bunch of other factors we decided that something smaller would be better BUT I still wanted it to be special.

People ask all the time about your name and why we chose it. When they hear it some think of a wealthy trust fund baby which makes me smile because what I think of couldn’t be farther from that. You were named after my birth city of Fairbanks Alaska. When I think of your name I think of trees and wildlife and bears and berries and crisp clean air. I think of mountains and views and vistas. I think of my happy beginnings and the uniqueness of where my life started. Alaska has a magic untouched feel…“frontier” is a good word to describe it. Your father and I wanted to bless you with a name that would transport you to a mountain top with your arms outstretched welcoming all the adventure, beauty and happiness that life had waiting for you. Fairbanks makes us think of that. Camping for your 1st birthday seemed like the perfect fit!

I made you a s’mores cake with graham cracker cake, chocolate ganache frosting and fire toasted marshmallows on top.

We sang you happy birthday and kissed your squishy cheeks.

You loved playing in the tent and exploring the campsite.

Sleeping that night was another story, but luckily we had each other and I kept you warm and snacked ALL NIGHT LONG.

I loved reminiscing this past month about your first year and all the sweet moments I have had with you.

It has been easy to remember how close we have become given the fact that you are super attached to me right now.

Mama everything.

You walk around the house calling for me, reaching for me.

If you get hurt or fall or are hungry or are happy or just see me…you want me.

We walk cheek to cheek usually with your blue blankie trailing around with us.

You are talking so much more! You say Mama, Dada, Uh-oh, Bye, Hi and you make a barking sound for puppies.

You use your little finger to point to what you want.

You beg for us to pick you up and then we quickly find out we are being used for our height as you lean out from us to reach light switches, thermostat, mirrors, microwave, oven knobs, light fixtures. You want to touch it all.

You especially love opening and closing the microwave and play peek a boo with us on one side and you leaning around the other. I can see your squinty smile through the door and you can see mine.

It seems like you went from taking your first step to almost running in no time.

Love watching you walk around the house “doing stuff” in your diaper and amber necklace.

I love watching your little tummy and flat feet explore your domain….you will catch me watching you and will make the cutest, flirtiest faces at me..which usually end with your classic melt-me-in-a-puddle smiles.

All this walking and climbing has made for some rough falls. One day you fell off our bed, the planter box outside, AND you hit your head really hard on the rocking chair arm. It was a rough day for all of us.

Despite all the head bonks you remain bright and smart (phew).

You love singing with me and it’s my favorite when you put your hands on the side of your head at the end of singing “ball for baby”, during the peek a boo part.

You also are quite snuggly, you like wrestling and love a good snuggle kiss as we roll around on the ground kiss-growling. Hard to explain, have to be there.

Sometimes you just open mouth kiss me. I am 100% fine with that.

Eating is going well. We still BF on demand but you also love your oatmeal and fruit and…everything really.

You do prefer to eat like an adult though. Must have a utensil and plate and cup. I would prefer you to stay in the “hands eating phase” a little longer but you want to learn or something. I guess that’s suppose to happen.

You pretty much sleep through the night and have transitioned to one nap for 2-3hrs.

In the morning you come snuggle eat with me in bed and then you like to crawl all over me smiling with contentment like you are the king of me. Which, lets face it, you kind of are.

Your hair is golden and curly.

Your skin is getting a tan,

If you see a pair of your shoes you carry them to us, asking to put them on. You love shoes. Taking after your uncle Jared.

Sister is still your #1 fan and torturer. You two love laughing during tickle wars, fighting over who gets to sit in the rocking chair. She gives you a boost up on the couch whether you need it or not. She loves to zoom past you…just getting close enough to brush your shoulder and knock you down. She loves feeding you, helping you, dancing for you, singing to you. And when you are sad and she helps you feel better, you should see the look on her face. “Mom bubbies was sad, but I sang a song and he calmed down!”

She loves prepping your room before you go to bed. She will turn on your white noise and the fan and insists on having a night light on for you so you aren’t scared.

If she even hears you breathe in your room in the morning or after nap time she BEGS for us to go get you. She can’t wait to see you and always wants you around.

We decided this last month to move to Kauai! I can’t wait to share that island with you.

I am sad to sell the house you were born in. I will always love this house deeply for holding that memory for me. Your birth was all bright and sunny and happy, just like you. Those huge windows in the family room almost made it seem like you were born outside, which is fitting.

You love being outside, playing at the park, digging in dirt, holding the hose. Being lifted up to see the doggies in the neighbors’ yard.

The curls on the back of your head backlit by the late afternoon sun.

Still so in awe of you everyday. Of your existence. Your individuality. Your unconditional love.

I daydream most of the day and I love thinking up stories about you and the life you will grow into.

Sometimes I imagine you being in love (with someone other than me). Sometimes I imagine you working really hard to stand up on your surfboard and the look on your face once you do! Sometimes I imagine you in a new class at school feeling a little unsure but then someone sitting next to you smiles and some of the uneasiness melts away. Sometimes I imagine tucking you into bed at night and listening to you tell me about your day and your feelings and your dreams. I can hear your voice and the way your words sound.

And in every scenario I imagine, you are still looking at me with those eyes that melt icebergs. You are still smiling your bigger than the whole world smile and you and I are still immensely connected to each other.

I am not going to worry about missing the baby you..because for now you are who you are, reaching up to hold on to my hand and lead me around the house. For now you are the perfect age. My favorite age. And tomorrow will be my favorite age too.

Happy first year my bubby boy.

xxoo-

Mom

 

3 Years

There is no denying you are three and ready to be.

Longer legs, being able to go all day without a nap, constant conversation. You are not a two year old anymore.

Three

We had such a fun time celebrating your birthday. I want you to always be involved with parties that are for you. I asked what kind of birthday party you wanted and all you wanted was a “cupcake party.” A cupcake party with your friends and maybe a grandparent or two. Simple enough. I asked if you wanted to have a bounce house as well…since you are, well, a jumper and you loved that idea. So cupcakes and a bounce house it was. I ordered some fun cupcake invites that I sent out with a wide mouthed photo of you. I made two varieties of cupcakes, per your request. You wanted strawberry and chocolate. So I made Thomas Keller white cupcakes with a strawberry buttercream that was SOOO good. I also made a sour cream chocolate pudding cupcake with nutella buttercream that was pretty decadent. You were happy, so I was too. The friends that came were Winston, Dane, Fox and your cousins Tani and Tribe. It was the perfect sized crew. We had the bounce house until five and got really good use out of it. I will never forget your face, all lit up, bouncing in your yellow jumpsuit. It felt like the perfect way to celebrate the sunshine that is you.

I think the 2nd year is a huge year for communication and you now carry on full conversations. It still kind of blows my mind.

I can reason with you and explain to you and you listen and internalize.

I try really hard to explain decisions to you and why we do what we do and live how we live. I think it helps with the disappointment that is sure to come when I don’t want you to trap your brother in a bear hug he can’t get out of.

It is SO fun having you home with us all day…although I get the feeling you are getting ready for a 2-day a week preschool/joy school situation.

Potty training we have let be an organic thing, self-led by you. And you are completely potty trained!! (Except for nighttime). There was a moment when I wondered if you would ever want to wear panties more than diapers but from one week to the next you did. I even tried a sticker chart situation and you could have cared less. Made me kind of proud that all the reward you needed was actually doing it.

You have gotten a lot more opinionated about your clothing, which is great! You help decide what you wear and lately it is all about dresses. Your favorites right now are your silk pink nightgown and the turquoise and white polka dot dress. You have worn those to the bone.

If you get a little crumb or spot of water on your clothes, you’ll say “Oops it got a little dirty. That’s OK. That happens! We can just wash it. Should I put it in the laundermat?” I agree that it seems like the best idea and then you take it off in 2 seconds flat and run it into the laundry room and threw it right in the washer.

Sometimes when we can’t find an article of clothing of yours we are looking for we can find it in the washer. “I put it in there to dry out mom.”

You love helping to clean up and will willingly grab clean washcloths over and over again to wipe up spills. You are getting really good at helping clean up your toys as well, although sometimes when asked to help you respond with, “I’m just too tired mom. It’s OK. You can do it.”

Ever since you were a tiny baby you have always been gifted at sharing your emotions and being able to explain how you feel. It has gotten better and better as your vocabulary has expanded. “I’m feeling a little sad mom.” “This is a beautiful day!” “I’m a little frustrated because I am just not tired.” “I need alone time.” “I am feeling better!” “Are you happy mom?” These phrases are constant all day long and I couldn’t be happier that you feel safe enough with us and listened to enough to express yourself. I want you always to feel this way.

Sometimes you will ask to have conversations with us, which usually ends up being some variation of a little mermaid story or a recap of an activity we have just done. Lately you want to talk about  PINK. Anything that has to do with pink.

On occasion when your dad and I are talking and you aren’t feeling included you’ll say “I don’t want you to talk to dad, I want you to talk to me.”  I know the feeling.

You LOVE to be outside, going to parks, playing in our yard. The other day you were butt naked making mud. It was one of those perfect sunny childhood afternoons I hope to never forget.

You have a little tricycle you are about to grow out of. I need to get you a little push scooter or bike.

You are taking dance lessons! We started at a community ballet class and it was pretty boring. No music and very little free movement. It was so weird. “We need to find a dance class with music mom”. We found out about an outside class that one of my brides, Marci Tuttle, was teaching and it has been perfect! Fun, happy music….dancing through the grass with ribbon sticks. I love watching you move. You light up around music and dance. And I light up watching you.

You and I have started to really enjoy cooking and baking together. “Can I help you make food mom?” You pour in cups of flour and stir, stir, stir. I find that by including you more with the food prep you are excited to try new things. The other day, after we made applesauce oat bran muffins together, you said, “thank you for teaching me to make food mom.” I pretty much melted.

You are so considerate and thoughtful. Constantly thinking of things you can do for others. Picking flowers for us, covering brother up with a blanket, throwing dirty diapers in the trash. I love my little helper and am really grateful for your willing spirit. You like to be a part of the process…and I can’t imagine not having you next to my side.

Some of your favorite things to eat: butter. Butter you like in all shapes and forms but prefer it plain. We kind of cringe and are trying to help you realize it is just a condiment and not a food group. You also love cheese…any and all kinds, strawberry dip (which is vinaigrette) and will never ever turn down a homemade popsicle.

A while back, we would offer green smoothie popsicles, with the suggestion of eating it in the backyard…now anytime you want a popsicle you want to eat it in the backyard, even if it’s 8 in the morning.

We go to the library a lot. You love love love books. We probably rent a stack of 10 books every week and read them each multiple times. Nap time and bedtimes consist of lots of book reading and story telling.

We chopped your hair which has been really nice and much easier. I think it suits your fun personality as well. “Mom, can you make my hair?” We will go into our bathroom and get ready together. And then you want to run and show daddy your hair.

CHASE! You love playing chase at least twice a day. We run around with a ball dropping it, picking it up, hiding it…just ball play and running. I love watching you and dad chase together. So many giggles and smiles.

You love your brother so much and affectionately call him Bubbas. “He was a baby and pretty soon he will talk and walk!” I think you are way excited for him to run with you. When he wakes up you want to see him and greet him right away. You love bath time together and you have done an amazing job sharing your space with him.

He’s littler than you so it’s fun to pull and hold and pick up. It is hard to not be touching him all the time. You also multiple times a day will give him a kiss on the head and tell him you love him. “We love our baby.”

For your birthday you got a twin sized bed that your dad refinished and painted for you. You took to it immediately and have slept in it every night with no issues. I am constantly amazed at your ability to adjust and be flexible. It’s not easy when you crave consistency and a world you can recognize. Yet, you continue to trust us and have faith in us. You frequently will say “Thank you for taking care of me. It’s your choice to take care of me and protect me.” Yep. I am in charge of keeping you safe and giving you space to learn. Nothing I enjoy more than working hard for you and then hearing your sweet little voice thank me.

I look forward to the stories we will create this year together. Knowing that we have a solid foundation will help with the changes and growth that is sure to come. I am thinking some schooling may start this year, a move, new friends, more learning and figuring out how this whole life thing works.

We were at hardware store picking out paint and I told you I was going to pick out a paint chip color that reminded me most of you. I finally found it. A bright yellow with bits of warmth. Looking at it made me smile. I picked it up to find the name of the color “Bright Star.” It was an amazing moment as I scooped you up in my arms and spun you around.

You are more and more interested in your birth story and like to talk about how you were born in Long Beach at home. I sing you your lullaby and you remind me I sang it to you as a baby. You know that your arrival into our family was a magical, life altering time. I can see how comfortable and happy you are to be ours. I feel like the luckiest mom in the universe

You are such a bright light in our lives. I know the days of having my children home with me won’t last forever. I appreciate all the time we have to get to know each other and experience all these little moments that make up these memories I hold so dear.

Happy third birthday my sweet Nova. You are my everything.

 

 

Meili + Damian’s Engagements

I felt like a true VIP when these two flew me to Salt Lake to shoot their engagements.

There is something I like even more than shooting photographs, spending time with my favorite people. And they are two of my favorites. This shoot ended up feeling more like a vacation and less like work.

Damian was friends with both Grant and I  before Grant and I were even a “we”. He is one of our dearest friends. After the first time we meet Meili, we got back and our car and gave each other eyes. Something was up and it smelled like love.

Really looking forward to road trippin it to Utah with the whole family to shoot their wedding in a few weeks.

Couldn’t be happier for these two.

 

(shot with a contax 645 and canon eos3 with portra 400 & 160)

Danny’s Birth

 

I think midwifes are experts at some of life’s most pressing questions…the answer being, “Some things are worth waiting for”. I have obviously not developed the patience it takes to wait for these babies. If I know a baby could come any moment, it’s all I can think about. How is mom feeling? Is my camera packed and ready? I better go to bed now just in case I get a call at 1am. Umm, hello? Baby? WHERE ARE YOU!!? It takes everything in me not to text every 5mins. I am not mad at the baby just out of my mind excited to photograph his first breaths and out of my mind about the slight chance that I could miss it.

So sweet baby Danny made me wait and wait and wait. We all waited until all the stars aligned. I didn’t get the call in the middle of the night, rather it was 6:30pm. Thank you Danny! After waiting so long, I sped through freeways and highways and roadways muttering a prayer the whole way…please wait for me…and he did! Thank you Danny! Everyone that they wanted to be there was there. It ended up being just as it should be (always does!) and I was beyond privileged to photograph Angela give birth to her 6th child and only boy. Moms are so kick ass…and witnessing one going through labor and a birth is full on the same way you feel being near a celebrity. Giddy, nervous, hoping I am cool enough. I’m just in extreme awe every time.

Midwife extraordinaire, Lindsey Meehleis, did it again. Playing the best support you could ever want. I am madly in love with her and her magic ways.

Oh babies. I love your entrances so much. Waiting waiting waiting. I will always be here, waiting.