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Junebug Weddings

Junebug Weddings is one of the most popular, trend-setting and well-respected wedding brands in the wedding world and they represent the very best wedding professionals available. With a limit to 10 wedding professionals per city, per category, they are careful to protect their prestigious reputation. As a Wedding Photographer, I am extremely honored to be accepted into this small community of incredible talent.

Here’s what Junebug Weddings has to say about me…
“Highly sought after nationwide, Santa Barbara based wedding photographer Willa Kveta brings you bright, beautiful, and emotionally charged images captured with an artistic eye and an undeniable passion for what she does. With a combined background in photojournalism and portraiture, she has an amazing ability to illusively capture the most intimate and heartfelt moments while making you feel relaxed and at ease in front of her camera. Willa’s capacity to see and use light in a way that few can mimic, has positioned her as one of the leading photographers in Southern California. Connect with her to discover how her extraordinary work, true warmth and infectious smile make her so appealing to work with.”

To be honest, I still find it so amazing that have made it to this point because never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine this. I cannot say enough how incredibly blessed and thankful I feel, every day. It’s a feeling of gratitude that encompasses my whole life and everything that have and everything that I do. I know I work hard, really really hard and I don’t let myself get away with anything, so I know that I didn’t just end up here by pure luck, but on the flip side, I am extremely lucky and some of this is pure luck, maybe? Life is amazing and I am so thankful everyday for all of these gifts.

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Santa Barbara News-Press Special Weddings Edition

Hot from the Press – Santa Barbara News-Press Special Weddings Edition – 2 Love & Cherish (full edition) – Featuring a ton of Willa Kveta Photography Images!

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Text by Joshua Brayer - Santa Barbara News- Press When Jessica Welborn was in her late teens, her parents purchased property and the exclusive and beautiful Hollister Ranch area. She quickly fell in love with Rancho San Augustine’s rustic charm and it’s picturesque view of the ocean, and she began dreaming about getting married there. When she met Brandt it wasn’t long before those dreams started to become a lot more real.

Brandt proposed to Jessica while the couple was vacationing in Costa Rica with all of Jessica’s immediate family and a few friends. One morning Brandt and Jessica had planned a stand up paddle boarding session. While Jessica was still sleeping, Brandt woke up the rest of the family to tell them of his plan to propose, and they managed to capture it on video from the shore while Brandt attempted a proposal in some pretty hectic surf conditions.

The couple planed their wedding for January 5, 2013 at Rancho San Augustine – the Welborn family vacation home in Hollister Ranch with the help of Zohe Felici of Felici Events. “Rancho San Augustine has been an incredibly special place for my family to gather for the last 15 years”, said Jessica. “In the Winter the Monarch butterflies literally drip from the eucalyptus trees. It is truly magical. Brandt and I got married under the eucalyptus trees with the Monarch butterflies surrounding us!”

Many couples have been opting for idyllic settings for their big day and Rancho San Augustine, with its warm animals, fruit trees, barn, and panoramic view of the ocean certainly set the tone for the Welborns. Hollister Ranch is known for its unblemished landscape and this proved true when, not long before the ceremony, a bobcat was spotted stealthily hunting prey in the spacious backyard.

Brandt, who took Jessica’s last name in part because “her family is so cool” and because there are no men to carry on the Welbore name among Jessica’s siblings, went to great lengths to include his new family in every step of the wedding. Prior to the Costa Rica trip, he ventured to Rancho Santa Fe, near Encinitas, to ask Jessica’s grandmother for her permission to marry her granddaughter. While there, Jessica’s grandmother produced several boxes of jewelry from which Brandt could choose a ring for Jessica. He chose a plain gold band which they later discovered was Jessica’s grandfather’s wedding band. Jessica later had it melted down and used to create her wedding rings, a task performed by Los Olivos jeweler Johnny Ninos.

The couple chose to write their own wedding vows which they read like a dialogue back-and-forth to each other, and concluded with their personal intimate expression to each other “I love you fierce.” The couple used local vendors for their food (New West Catering) and beverages (Sandford Winery and Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co) as well as their cake (Enjoy Cupcakes in Los Olivos), and Photographer (Willa Kveta Photography in Santa Barbara), however the Hollister Ranch venue with its gorgeous Oceanview stole the show at the Welborn wedding.
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* Cover photo is not by Willa Kveta Photography

How I Balance My Two Careers – Wedding Photography and Motherhood

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I get asked all the time how I became a Wedding Photographer and how I manage to run a successful Wedding Photography business while being a full time mom to young children, so I thought I would share my story as well as some insights, challenges, and tips with all of you.

To begin, I’ll explain how and why I became a Photographer and how my life experiences began shaping my future. I find it so interesting and serendipitous that I landed in Wedding Photography.

Unknowing Childhood Photographer:
As a young child, I was always interested in photography and imagery. I’m sure a lot of influence came from my experience growing up attending Waldorf School, and from my parents who are both artists in their own ways. Throughout my childhood, my dad would never miss an opportunity to document family or friend gatherings with vivid, artistically raw, up-close photo images of everyone’s faces. When my parents gave me my first camera, it was so natural for me to habitually carry it with me and constantly take photos of my friends (people were always my subjects), it didn’t even phase me. Truthfully, taking pictures was just something that I did; it never crossed my mind until much later that I wanted to be a Photographer ‘when I grew up’. I remember as a teenager, I would set up shots/scenes and have my friends pose for me. I would also experiment with light and multiple exposures, yet when it came to picking my free periods in high school, never once did I consider taking Photography.

My Path to “Finding Photography”:
I finished high school early through the WA State Running Start Program – working at a coffee shop during the day and going to school at Community College at night so that I could finish school ahead of schedule and go travel the world. My travels during this first trip which ended up lasting over two years landed me in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru. Later, I would go back to Peru and Ecuador and also travel through Bolivia. All the while, I documented my journey in a daily journal which was for me, how I studied and reflected on my current life and surroundings/teachings. I spent a lot of time thinking/learning about human behavior, human psychology, life patterns, our place within Nature, and of course learning Spanish. For me, documenting my travels and experiences made me realize that I wanted to ‘document life’ as a profession but I didn’t know quite how yet. I went through many cameras while there, some of which were lost/broken/stolen, but my journals become the most cherished of my possessions. Near the end of my travels, something became intrinsically apparent to me – I knew that I wanted to document human happiness – to show the world that happiness exists everywhere (even in poverty-striken third-world countries) and I realized that Photography would be my medium in which to do so. When I finally returned home to the States, I began shooting more for fun and taking on small jobs and eventually, when I was sure that Photography was it, I searched the country for the best photography school, and ended up moving to Santa Barbara California to attend Brooks Institute of Photography, where I truly thought I would become a Photojournalist Photographer and travel the world.

Evolving as a Photographer:
During school, I worked so hard at honing in my craft that I let a lot of other things in my personal life slip away and I made many mistakes which I have learned great lessons from. If I had to do this part over, I would have spent more time with my family and balanced my homework/home life a little better. As the years flew by, it became extremely clear to me that being a traveling Photojournalist would never work for me because having children and being a mom would trump everything. I’ve always loved children and my first job ever was babysitting, which later became full time nannying for other children. It hit me one day, that I would never want to leave my children for an extended period of time to go do a photo story in another country. After trying out many different types of photography including Maternity and Newborn Portraiture, Digital Retouching, Family Portraiture, and even some Commercial Photography, it dawned on me that Wedding Photography was it! I had shot a smattering of weddings throughout the years but never thought it would become my shtick. Then all of a sudden one day, it hit me so hard I knew this was it! Wedding Photography was everything that I ever wanted and more! It ultimately allowed me to capture/document happiness AND be a mom. It also came with some great perks including setting my own hours (except for the wedding days – which are usually only once per week) and provided much needed income stability and predictability.

Learning the All Important Work-Life Balance:
This one never came easy to me. I think if I did not have my children and my partner to remind me of the importance of a work-life balance, I could easily slip into workaholism. I am such a hard worker, which I am proud of, but having balance in life has brought so much more joy into my life. When my twin daughters were born, finding that balance for them was easy. They needed me so much and I wanted to be there for them that there was nothing that would stop me from putting them first. They were and still are such good reminders of the importance of stoping to enjoy life’s little moments, of play and laughter, of spending quality time with loved ones, and of being ever so present in the current moment. Now that they are six years old, I find myself cheating sometimes and trying to work late, but they don’t let me get away with it – and I’m so grateful for that. Along the way, I’ve also learned the importance of taking time for me and recently began bicycling everywhere, hiking, and gardening. For so long, I was narrowly focussed on my little world at home with my babies and my business, that I forgot to open my eyes to the beautiful that surrounds us. Santa Barbara is a special place and I am working hard at reminding myself everyday to enjoying it to it’s fullest potential.

Tips and Tricks that have allowed me to thrive at both being a Mom and a Wedding Photographer:
1. My daughters come first, but my clients come so close to first as well
2. I’ll do anything it takes to be there for both my daughters and my clients
3. I’m extremely organized and diligent about responding to clients within 24 hours
4. I have an ongoing TO DO list that I email to myself and keep in my Inbox, which I am constantly updating
5. I stop work (almost) every day when my girls come home from school to spend quality time with them
6. I sometimes work at night when I need to, in order to feel ‘sane’ and caught up
7. I treat myself to frequent massages – especially when I have a migraine or tension in my neck or shoulders
8. Now that my girls are in school (Kindergarten), I do my errands via my bike whenever possible, so that I get built-in fresh air, nature, and exercise.
9. Networking with other Wedding Photographers and Industry Professionals has brought so much more to my business and overall success.
10. Checking back with client inquiries pays off (sometimes people simply forget to respond until you remind them)
11. Looking at blogs and others Photographer’s work helps keep me inspired and pushes me to constantly grow as a Photographer
12. Submitting Weddings to Magazines and Blogs and keeping up with my blogging is a must for exposure
13. SEO is important to understand, learn, and update often
14. Diversifying Advertising Expenditures is a must, as is identifying the ones that yield the greatest return of target customers
15. There’s nothing wrong with asking for Reviews from past clients – and the more positive reviews, the more reputable you become
16. Volunteering my services here and there is extremely rewarding and personally gratifying
17. Work Hard, Play Hard. Again along the lines of that All So Important Work-Life Balance
18. Always honoring my contracts and and surprising my clients with early delivery of their images whenever possible is so great for making Happy Customers
19. Being real and being honest are very important to me and I believe directly reflect the kind of business I draw to myself and the clients I work with
20. Always striving to keep the pedals turning and keep moving forward. Being grateful and happy with where I am at today, but always reaching for the next goal at the same time.

Truths:
1. It’s not easy
2. It is worth it
3. I feel blessed to be/do both jobs
4. I haven’t always been good at the work-life balance
5. I’m super passionate about both of my careers: being a Mom and being a Wedding Photographer
6. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything
7. Wedding Photography provides the income stability that is absolutely necessary when raising a family
8. Basing my hours around my family is a must
9. Wedding Photography is super rewarding – it’s what I realized a long time ago that I wanted to do – ‘document happiness’
10. Goals change and growth happens but loving the journey is the most important part!

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If you’re interested in reading more about my story – here is a blog post I wrote a few years back About My Travels

Here’s another Photographer-Mom’s insight about her experience balancing both: Jessica’s Video Blog

Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer’s Video – surpassed the 1,000,000 views mark on YouTube!

Sometimes I don’t think of myself as a Photographer…in my everyday life, but then my friends remind me that I have taken more photographs of their children then they have, that I am the one documenting the moments, even if it is only with my iPhone, and I am the one posting pictures and videos to Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.  As a Wedding Photographer and Photographer/mom in this amazing city of Santa Barbara, I see life in pictures and videos.  It’s not only my job but my love and passion.  I get excited about photos and photography and so this is kind of exciting news for me…that my YouTube video has surpassed 1,000,000 likes!

Anyway, two years ago, I posted a video that I made from various clips I joined together of my 3 year old twin daughters swimming underwater on YouTube so that I could show it to my family and friends.  It never even crossed my mind that more people would see it.  All of a sudden however, it started getting hundreds of views per day and I was receiving tons of commends and subcribers on YouTube.  It definitely didn’t go viral over night and really, compared to many videos out there, it’s ‘likes’ count shadows in comparison, however, I’m pretty surprised to see that it has been viewed over 1 million times…1,000,000 views +!!!  What?!?!  That’s crazy to me!

I Titled the video UnderWater Dancing because to me, their movements under the water looked like dancing.  This video shows them in their most adored element – under water.  My girls LOVE swimming!  They are 5 years old now and to this day, want to swim every day.  They are truly fish, little mermaids under water.  They can swim better than I can in the ocean and stay in the pool for hours on end!  My favorite little parts of this video are watching them dive down, kick their feel in unison as if they are mermaids, their smiles as they swim towards me, and their free dancing/jumping/turns under the water.  I cherish this video not because of how many likes it has received on YouTube, but because it truly represents my daughter’s undeniable love of the water and of swimming, and that to me as their mom, means everything.

Here is the link to view this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbPjxBFNUX4

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Santa Barbara Day Of The Dead Engagement Session

I was so excited to photograph this fun couple’s engagement session. They had all of the locations scouted ahead of time and it was so much fun to capture all of these moments for them, in such gorgeous places around Santa Barbara and Montecito! Since they had originally planned on getting married on the Mexican Traditional Celebration of the Day Of The Dead, they wanted to incorporate a little bit of that into their Engagement Session. Scroll down to see the awesome photos of their amazing face paint my Maria (who does awesome face painting for birthday parties, weddings, etc. text her if you’re interested – 805-689-4104)

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Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer’s – Child Portraits

Innocent Beauty ~ Child Portraiture ~ Santa Barbara Photographer: Willa Kveta’s Daughters

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One night, my daughters wanted to play dress up and curl their hair, which is normally straight and usually quite messy since it’s fine.  It seems impossible to keep it looking brushed!  We got all into it and then, since I already had some lighting set up for another shoot, we decided to play around and take some fun pictures.  I was intrigued by their solum expressions and wanted to play off of this look.  Normally, I can’t get them to stop giggling and laughing in front of the camera (which I love), but this night they were totally into this look.  I had recently edited a bridal shoot that had a similar solum look, and of course they see all of the images I’m working on, so I think they may have been a bit influenced by that other shoot.  I love these pictures.  I’m sure some people will criticize me for them, as I know they have an intensity to them, but for me as a Photographer and especially as a mother, these images are Fine Art to me and I like how their gazes seem to pierce the screen.  These are my daughters, children of a Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer, so they seem quite fitting.

Ellwood Butterfly Migration in Santa Barbara California

The Butterflies have arrived at Ellwood in Santa Barbara!

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Every year, Santa Barbara is so lucky to be one of the destinations for the monarch butterflies on their migration south. This is a picture I took of the Ellwood Butterfly Migration in Santa Barbara California, where I live.  It’s a magical sight and such a blessing to witness it ‘in our back yard’ every winter. Yesterday was a gorgeous sunny day and the butterflies were out in full glory! I’ve always loved the Ellwood Preserve – my daughters and I take walks out there all the time – year-round, but this time of year is so special. Of course their favorite part after we saw the butterflies, was walking out to the bluffs and playing in the mud puddles. My girls always remind me how great life is and how so much fun can be had in nature!!! I’m truly blessed to have such incredible daughters!

 

Santa Barbara Photographer – Family Portraits at El Capitan Canyon

We had so much fun photographing these awesome family portraits out at El Capitan Canyon Ranch outside of Santa Barbara a few days after Christmas!

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Santa Barbara Photographer – Family Portraits at El Capitan Canyon – Willa Kveta Photography

Santa Barbara Winter Wedding Photography

Santa Barbara Winter Wedding Photography

The unique design by Alegria By Design’s Armando Martinez ~ a blue and white winter wonderland, sparkling iceland with accents of pinks and yellows, was stunning. Every detail was winter perfection – the tables were sophisticatedly decorated yet still whimsical in their design, with off balanced floral bouquets of white long-stemmed tulips and lilies, offset with short bunches of white peonies, floating candles in glass vases of all shapes and sizes, sparking bowls of ‘ice’ with silver ball accents and jewels. The ceremony was held outside on the rooftop of the gorgeous Spanish style Canary Hotel in downtown Santa Barbara with a 360 degree view of the surrounding scenery. I was so lucky to photograph this Santa Barbara Winter Wedding!!!

Santa Barbara Photographer – Published Weddings Magazine

Felling Blessed – Another published Willa Kveta Photography Wedding Magazine hit the stands this week!  This year has been an exciting year for me, as my wedding photography is getting more and more recognition and publication! So excited about this full page feature in the current issue – Winter 2012/2013 of Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Magazine! Santa Barbara made their top 12 world-wide list for best places to tie the knot!

Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Magazine

Hot Locale # 12: Santa Barbara, California!
Less than 100 miles north of Los Angeles, the scenery suddenly changes from skyscrapers and freeways to rolling hills, verdant vines and pristine beaches – the perfect outdoor wedding setting. Naturally, couples flock to the region’s top vineyards for idyllic ceremonies. Swap vows in a romantic garden filled with Diana, Princess of Wales roses at the award-winning Fess Parker Winery, which completed renovations on its cozy inn in April 2012. The result: a new swimming pool, Mediterranean restaurant and 19 rooms decorated in hues reminiscent of pinot noir and sauvignon Blanc. For an oceanfront ceremony, head to the beach at the Hyatt Santa Barbara, whose circa-1931 Spanish-colonial grounds also underwent a stunning makeover in April 2012. The garden-filled El Encanto, another coastal escape, reopens March 2013 as an Orient-Express property. This Californian wine mecca is also known for its fresh cuisine; foodies can throw an unforgettable fete at the Pierre Lafond Montecito Wine Bistro, where the farm-fresh menu (this duck confit paired with local wine) began wowing gourmands in November 2011.

Santa Barbara Photographer – Published Weddings Magazine