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Couples Choice Awards – Wedding Wire

Willa Kveta Photography is a recipient of WeddingWire’s prestigious Bride’s Choice and Couple’s Choice Award – since 2010
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From WeddingWire.com – ABOUT THE COUPLES’ CHOICE AWARDS™

The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ recognizes the top 5 percent of local Wedding Professionals from the WeddingWire Network throughout the United States and Canada that demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Unlike other awards in which winners are selected by the organization, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ are awarded solely based on the reviews from over 200,000 newlyweds. Awards are determined by a combination of excellence in four factors: overall rating (quality), total number of reviews (quantity), review performance (recency), and consistency of reviews from year to year (consistency).

The esteemed annual awards program recognizes the top local wedding vendors from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism within the wedding industry. While many industry awards are selected by the organization, Willa Kveta Photography was selected based on its stellar reviews from past newlywed clients.

Willa Kveta Photography is recognized as part of the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire local vendor community, comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the United States and Canada. The Bride’s Choice Award recognizes the best local wedding vendors across 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their overall professional achievements throughout the past year.

“WeddingWire is thrilled to honor the success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Since the launch of the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program four years ago, thousands of outstanding wedding professionals have been recognized by the bridal community for their supreme service and dedication to the wedding industry. It is with great pleasure that we congratulate Willa Kveta Photography for their continued professionalism and commitment to enriching the wedding planning experience for engaged couples.”

We are happy to announce that Willa Kveta Photography is one of the very best Photographers within the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding planning sites WeddingWire, Project Wedding, Brides.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. Thanks to their positive feedback we were able to receive the WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™.

Press Releases from WeddingWire for Bride’s Choice Awards Winners:
Brides Choice 2013: http://www.weddingwire.com/brides-choice-awards
Brides Choice 2012: http://www.weddingwire.com/brides-choice-awards-2012
Brides Choice 2011: http://www.weddingwire.com/brides-choice-awards-2011
Brides Choice 2010: http://www.weddingwire.com/brides-choice-awards-2010

WeddingWire™, the nation’s leading marketplace serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 200,000 reviewed wedding vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers. WeddingWire also offers a comprehensive suite of online planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites and wedding checklists, all at no charge. For wedding professionals, WeddingWire is the only all-in-one marketing platform for businesses online and on-the-go. WeddingWire offers one simple solution to build a professional network, improve search visibility, manage social media and reach mobile consumers. Businesses that advertise with WeddingWire appear on WeddingWire.com, ProjectWedding.com and other leading sites, including MarthaStewartWeddings.com (NYSE: MSO), Brides.com and Weddingbee.com.

Wedding Season is in Full Swing

It’s hard to keep up with everything when wedding seasons is in full swing. I’ve clearly neglected my blog for months! I’ve always done everything on my own, but it may be time soon to hire someone to help me out with certain tasks since I don’t seem to have enough time to stay onto of it all. I absolutely love my job and I am thankful everyday that I am busy enough to be able to support my family doing what I love to do – taking photos! I sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am! If I sound at all cocky, I don’t mean to be at all, I truly feel so blessed and the gratitude I have for everyone who has helped me get to this place in my life is overwhelming. It took a lot of years of very hard work and living paycheck to paycheck to get to this place that I’m at now, and believe me, I don’t take any of it for granted. Wedding season is crazy, it’s also summer and my daughters are out of school, which makes it even crazier since they are 6 years old and all they want to do is spend time with me. Luckily, I work from home (when I’m editing and not shooting) so they get to be around me, even if I’m working. I also play hookie as often as I can since I know my daughters will grow up quicker than I can even imagine and spending time with them is always worth it. It’s been hard, but I’ve figured out how to balance life, keeping on top of my client obligations while spending as much time as possible with my family. I have to say, blogging has fallen short of the must-do list, but I strive to be better. If you want to see my latest images, please check out my Instagram:http://instagram.com/willakveta @willakveta
Thank you for your support and for stopping by.
Santa Barbara Engagement Session - Hendry's Beach - Willa Kveta Photography

Montecito Sequoia Lodge ~ Our Family Vacation

Last week, we packed up the van and headed up the mountain to Montecito Sequoia Lodge, a family friendly lodge in Sequoia National Forest. A group of our friends have been going to this spot every year for the past few years but this was the first time we made it. I have to admit, I’ve been in Hawaii for the past couple of years around this time, and for me, there was no question which option I liked better. But this year, I asked my twins, who are now 6 years old, which option they preferred and of course, they wanted to go to a lodge with a bunch of their friends, so that’s how we ended up there. Honestly, even though all of our friends who had been there before just raved about the place, I didn’t have very high expectations. I even read the reviews on Google, which weren’t so good and made me second guess my decision, but I couldn’t change my mind at the last minute because I knew my girls would be so disappointed. Anyway, we knew not to expect snow because this year has been so dry so we just figured we’d go, hang out with friends, and enjoy some time in Nature with the giant trees.
Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Mountains_SunsetGorgeous View from the lodge at dusk.

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I’ve never photographed fire like this before!  It was so much fun!  The sparks were amazing to capture with my 50mm 1.4 lens!

Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Kids When we arrived, the girls immediately went off with their friends and a ‘kids camp leader’ and within an hour, we were hiking with friends (adults only) to an incredible, gushing, icy waterfall! It was amazing and I started to feel excited about being there! Don’t get me wrong, I totally love the friends who we went with, sometimes I just have a hard time letting go of my Hawaii time, because Hawaii is truly my place. It’s where I feel most at home (in the states). I’d say Costa Rica is truly ‘my place’ if I count everywhere I’ve been thus far, but that’s another story. Anyway, we got back to the lodge and the girls were sooo stoked and having so much fun and the self-serve hot chocolate with marshmellows all day long was an added bonus. The dinners were amazing – actually all of the meals were amazing and all included in the very affordable price! My favorite was the self-serve tea all day long! Sooo nice!Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_girl Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_FriendsSome of our sweet friends!

Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_FussBall Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Playing Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Music Some things were definitely unexpected – no phone service and very very little internet service – it look about 15 minutes to send an email and another 30 minutes to download the received emails! I quickly had to scrabble to add an out-of-office reply email – which actually didn’t happen ‘quickly’ since it look about 2 hours to complete the task with the slow connection and all! But, in the end, it was such a blessing to be unplugged for 5 days! I NEVER stop working so being forced to take a break was soooo nice!!! And, the most exciting and unexpected thing that happened – it snowed!!! It snowed 10 inches and we woke up to the most beautiful winter wonderland! They are so set up there – with sleds, skis, snow shoes, etc. It’s awesome! The girls had a blast playing with their friends in the snow and it was so magical to experience all of it with some of our dearest friends! Truly a treat! At night, we would put the kiddos to bed upstairs and then slip downstairs to the fireplace with baby monitors listening in on our kids and play awesome adult games – “Things” and “Cards Against Humanity” drinking wine and laughing by the fireplace till 1am or later! Sooo fun!!!
Terra_Malia_designs_in_the_snowIt started to snow!!!

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Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_in_the_snowThe next morning…

Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Happy_to_see_Snow Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_SleddingFunSoooo much fun!!!

Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Sledding Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Family_PhotoFun Family Portraits in the Snow!

Mom and daughter in the snow Throwing snow up in the air

Family Christmas Card 2014 Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Loving_the_Snow Montecito_Seqoia_Lodge_Snowball_FightLove this spread of mom and son in a snowball fight!

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So after all of my hesitation and internal resistance to this trip, I now want to make it a yearly adventure with our friends!  It’s so set up for kids and with ‘kids camp’ everyday for 5 hours included, there’s time for everything that adults might want to do without the kiddos (like extensive hikes, etc) but there’s also so much time to spend as a family and together enjoying each other’s company!  Every night had a different kid-friendly activity and the camp leaders were so cool making it so fun for everyone!  One night was a disco party dance with balloons and awesome music, another night was movie night with popcorn, it truly was such an awesome experience for all of us!
The only thing I’d say, is if you don’t have kids, this place might be too loud to handle!  There are some really nice cabins that you can rent that are separate from the main lodge, but as soon as you enter the main lodge to eat or hang out, you’re definitely inundated with kids everywhere!  So, it’s perfect for families because they totally embrace kids and it’s super set up for the littles :)

Rehearsal Dinners at the Wine Cask

Rehearsal dinners at the Wine Cask are intimate and beautiful, embodying the ultimate purpose of bringing your closest family and friends together for scrumptious food, incredible wine, and sharing of memories with laughs and maybe a few tears. The space is perfectly designed for a family-style event and has such a wonderful atmosphere. Here are some images from a rehearsal dinner we photographed there last summer – designed by amazing planners Colette and Kaitlin of La Fete Weddings.

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PAN SEARED WHITEFISH - artichoke croquettes, crispy fennel, exotic citrus & wild arugula salad, green olive tapenade, blood orange marmalade

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From the Wine Cask Website:  “DOUG MARGERUM and MITCHELL SJERVEN’S Wine Cask, located in downtown Santa Barbara in the historic El Paseo complex, offers the best of all worlds to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner in a stylishly relaxed setting. Their passion is great food, the highest caliber of service and bringing back the comfort and nostalgia of one of Santa Barbara’s favorite restaurants. Indulge in great foods featuring the freshest local ingredients and select from the best wine list in town, not to mention signature cocktails that change regularly. Whether you’re looking for a casual drink and shared plates al fresco on the patio lounge or nestled up in front of the fireplace, or feel like a lively dinner in the main room, you’ll find what you’re craving at the Wine Cask.

Wine Cask is a locally owned, multi-faceted restaurant with an iconic reputation as Santa Barbara’s culinary and wine landmark. It’s food and wine central for aficionados; a full sensory experience from the historic setting the restaurant occupies to the innovative cuisine balanced with the warmth of personal service. Wine Cask Chefs shop at the farmer’s market every week and feature local seafood, produce and wines in support of Santa Barbara industry.

Repositioned and reinvented to meet the modern-diner movement, the Wine Cask concept consists of several elegant spaces, all offering a different ambiance and experience. The ‘Gold Room,’ our main dining room, offers an up-scale yet approachable lunch and dinner experience famous for its majestic oversized fireplace and its historic vaulted wood beam ceiling adorned with gold leaf. The ‘Margerum Wine Tasting Room’ is branded after the original and now current co- owner and wine maker, offering a dual use space as a tasting room and event venue. ‘The Riviera Room’ is a private banquet/dining room that is sophisticated in nature with the ability to accommodate mid-sized events or groups. Intermezzo is the colloquial ‘bar/café’ of Wine Cask, a favorite after work and evening haunt for locals and a comfortable, quaint place to sit by the fireplace and enjoy fine wines and flat breads with friends before a show. Lastly, the courtyard between the Gold Room and Intermezzo, delicately draped with whimsical, retractable sails high above the space, offers an al fresco experience. We are delighted to provide the same exceptional cuisine and service for private and group dining that you would expect as a table for two.

Wine Cask has personality, soul, deep community roots and is a full sensory experience. Staff carry themselves with personal and professional pride, and offer the highest standards of guest service.

Our Mission Statement: to surpass guest’s expectations for service, food and wine in an inviting setting, such that every customer who comes through our doors leaves impressed by Wine Cask and excited to return again tomorrow and thereafter.”

To see more images and what’s new at the Wine Cask – check out their BLOG

El Encanto Hotel – Gorgeous Riviera Venue

El Encanto Hotel is one of Santa Barbara newest additions – an incredible venue on the gorgeous Santa Barbara Riviera overlooking all of Santa Barbara and the ocean beyond.  The sunsets are unreal from this hilltop estate!  Last night El Encanto treated some of the Santa Barbara Wedding Industry’s top vendors to a special “Vendor Appreciation Event” where we experienced absolutely wonderful treatment from the staff while nibbling on scrumptious appetizers and sipping on delicious wines.

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The hotel actually has been a long-time Santa Barbara destination, however just last year it re-opened its doors after being closed for seven years, with a revived look and vibe, while keeping to its traditional feel.  It is now one of the top wedding venues in Santa Barbara with its unbeatable location, friendly staff, and incredible cuisine.

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It’s always a blast when all of us ‘wedding industry vendors’ get together since we essentually speak the same language and can gab for hours about our weddings and clients.  Since we all run our own businesses, we truly understand one another, and working together as a community of vendors and friends is so rewarding.  So many great friends were there – Colette and Kaitlin of La Fete Weddings, Jill from La Fleur Wedding and Events, Nico of NLC Productions, DJ Scott of Scott Topper Productions, Sophie from Amazing Days Events, Armando and Shauna of Alegria by Design and wonderful photographers Melissa MusgroveBaron StaffordBrandon and EricaMichael and Anna Costa, as well as so many other great vendors.  Special Thank You to Kathleen Murphy at El Encanto for hosting this very special event. El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Nico_Cervantes El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_App El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_YummyEl_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Evening_GlowEl_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Jill_La_Fleur El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_La_Fete_Weddings El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Wedding_Industry_BestiesEl_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Willa_Kveta_Photography El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Colette_Lopez El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Chillin El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Yum El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_FunTimes El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Armando_Martinez El_Encanto_Wedding_Venue_Alegria_By_Design

For more information about weddings or to see more wedding photos from El Encanto Hotel, please contact me at Willa Kveta Photography

Four Seasons Biltmore Weddings

 

Weddings at the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara are absolutely stunning.  From the waterfront, to the endless giant fern and palm tree lined tropical pathways, to the beautiful spanish influenced tiles and architecture, this venue is hard to beat!  As a wedding photographer, I love working in natural, outdoor settings, using light as my guide for all of my photography and this venue is a Photographer’s dream!  There is not one spot on the property that is not completely gorgeous!  The reception areas are also stunning, with high ceilings and intricate detailing and you cannot beat the Coral Casino ballroom overlooking the ocean.

Here are some of the weddings I’ve had the pleasure of photographing at the Four Seasons – to give you an idea of locations, photography styles, and possibilities for your wedding photos.

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From the Resort: “The oceanfront Four Seasons Resort – The Biltmore Santa Barbara combines stunning natural beauty with world-class Four Seasons service for an unforgettable experience.  Featuring diverse settings from lush romantic gardens, to grand beachfront venues, the resort is the premier destination for exclusive weddings and special events on the West Coast.  Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ynez mountains the legendary 1927 property has long been a favorite destination of old Hollywood celebrities, world dignitaries, and American society figures.  Today the storied resort offers modern five-star amenities and luxuries while preserving the embodiment of classic California elegance and its Spanish colonial architecture featuring red roof tiles, ivory adobe, magnificent archways, and gas lamp lit brick walkways.”

It’s no wonder celebrities from all over the world choose to spend their holidays at this exquisite resort; and in January 2014, Sean and Catherine of the Bachelor were married in the live ABC televised event.

Interested in getting married at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort – Santa Barbara?

Preferred Vendors List

Here is my Preferred Vendors List

EVENT PLANNERS

Felici Events – Zohe Felici
http://felicievents.com
info@felicievents.com
805.895.3402

La Fete Weddings – Colette and Kaitlin Lopez
http://lafeteweddings.com
info@lafeteweddings.com
805.563.5045

Donna Romani Events – Donna Romani
http://donnaromanievents.com
info@donnaromanievents.com
805.286.6505

Soigné Productions – Tonya Szele
http://www.soigneproductions.com
tonya@soigneproductions.com
805.448.8028

XOXO Bride – Sonia Hopkins
http://xoxobride.com
info@xoxobride.com
805.644.9696

Amber Weir Weddings and Events
http://www.amberweir.com
info@amberweir.com
805-223-5505

CATERERS

Pure Joy Catering – Lynette and Dennis
http://purejoycatering.com
dennis@purejoycatering.com
805.963.5766

Omni Fresco – Sarah
http://omnicateringsb.com
info@omnicateringsb.com
805.564.4200

Duo Catering and Events
https://duoevents.com
805.957.1670

Seasons Catering
http://www.seasonscateringca.com
info@seasonscateringca.com
805-339-9665

Island View Catering
http://www.ivcatering.com
geoff@ivcatering.com
805.569.5747

CAKES AND CUPCAKES

Your Cake Baker – Wayne Kjar
http://www.yourcakebaker.com
info@yourcakebaker.com
805-845-5519

Christine Dahl Patries
http://www.santabarbaracakes.com
805.569.5889

Enjoy Cupcakes – Amber and Kevin
http://enjoycupcakes.com
kevin@enjoycupcakes.com
805-451-0284

Crush Cakes
http://crushcakes.com
events@crushcakes.com
805.886.4042

DJ’s

Gavin Roy Presents – Gavin Roy
http://gavinroypresents.com
info@gavinroypresents.com
805.617.4650

Music By Bonnie – Bonnie Hope
http://musicbybonnie.com
bonnie@musicbybonnie.com
805.965.8249

DJ Patrick
http://djpatrickb.com
djpatrickb@live.com
805.570.0366

Scott Topper Productions
http://www.scotttopperproductions.com
scott@scotttopperproductions.com
805.965.7978

AMS Entertainment
http://santabarbara.amsentertainment.com
sb@amsentertainment.com
805.899.4000

BANDS

West Coast Music
http://westcoastmusic.com
jim@westcoastmusic.com
310.278.9813

De Bois Productions
http://www.deboisproductions.com
info@deboisentertainment.com
310.860.9370

Area 51
http://area51livemusic.com
info@area51ivemusic.com
805.565.9135

HAIR AND MAKEUP

Luna Bella – Ashley and Kristin
http://lunabellamakeupart.com/
info@lunabellaartists.com
805.450.7049

La Rouge Artistry – Rachel Perryman
http://www.larougeartistry.com
info@larougeartistry.com
805-377-8177

TEAM Hair and Makeup
http://teamhairandmakeupservice.com
info@teamhairandmakeup.com
888.338.8326

FLORAL AND FLORAL DESIGN

Grass Roots – Eileen and Jessa
http://grassrootssantabarbara.com
info@grassrootssantabarbara.com
805.682.9105

Terra Malia Designs – Specializes in Succulents
http://terramaliadesigns.com
terra@terramaliadesigns.com
805.966.5521

Nico Cervantes – Floral and Event Design
http://nicosb.com
nicodesigns@gmail.com
805.201.6685

Camilla Svensson Burns – Floral and Event Design
http://camillaflowers.com
805.610.2166

OFFICIANTS

Santa Barbara Classic Weddings – Patrice Handley
http://www.santabarbaraclassicweddings.com
patrice@sbclassicweddings.com
805.886.5930

Miriam Lindbeck
http://www.weddingsantabarbara.com
miriam@weddingsantabarbara.com
805.564.4414

Reverend Clint Hufft
http://www.reverendclint.com
RevHufft@mac.com
323.936.9027

LIGHTING

LBPS Events – Lani
http://lbpsevents.com
info@lbpsevents.com
805-201-6262

Bella Vista Designs – Trevor and Cristina
http://bellavistadesigns.com
mail@bellavistadesigns.com
805.966.9616

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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PHOTOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH WILLA KVETA PHOTOGRAPHY – SANTA BARBARA, CA

Willa Kveta is a fantastic Santa Barbara photographer who can do wonders with natural light, and we’re very proud to feature her in this Spotlight Interview with Willa Kveta Photography! With her photojournalistic approach, Willa has the amazing ability of capturing just the right moments and her photos always give the lucky couple a wonderful happily ever after.

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How do you like to spend your time when you aren’t shooting weddings? When I am not shooting (or editing) weddings I’m most definitely hanging out with my twin girls, who are now 6 years old. We love being outdoors and the beach is our spot. We also spend a lot of time in our backyard. I love to garden and they love making mud puddles or setting up homes for the fairies among the flowers.

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Have you always wanted to be a photographer? If not, when do you remember knowing? In order to properly answer this question, I’ll describe the three stages of my evolution as a Photographer:

Unwitting 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. 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 loved experimenting with light and multiple exposures, yet when it came to picking my electives in high school, never once did it cross my mind to take a Photography class.

My Path to “Finding Photography”
I finished high school early through the Washington State Running Start Program – working at a coffee shop during the day and going to community college at night to fulfill my high school requirements. My goal after high school was to travel. 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 quite know 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-stricken third-world countries) and I realized that I wanted Photography to 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, with the intention of becoming a Worldwide Photojournalist/Documentary Photographer.

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 trumped everything. I’ve always loved children and I realized that I would never be able 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 full time gig. 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. And I’ve truly been LOVING it ever since!!!

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Describe an average day for you. Shooting weddings is actually just a small portion of what I do. My average work day actually includes a lot of time at my desk.

My alarm wakes me up at 6:45 am and I press snooze immediately. At this time, my girls sleepily wander into my bedroom, snuggle in – one in each arm, and the three of us are fast asleep for another 10 minutes until the alarm goes off again, at which point I press snooze again. At 7:05 am I finally commit to being awake and I pick up my phone and look at my emails and delete all of the spam messages. Then I get up and shower while my girls get dressed for school. I make coffee for me, make lunches for them, and scramble to be out the door by 7:45 am to walk to school. I’m usually back at my desk at 8:10 am and I’ll either start working or leave to do some morning exercise like paddle boarding or jogging by the beach.

Once I’m at my desk – emails are first. I take care of anything that needs immediate attention – new client inquiries, questions from clients, etc. and then I start editing. I usually Instagram a photo somewhere in there as well. The day goes by, I drink more coffee, usually talk to a client or two on the phone at some point, and do more editing. If I’m lucky, I’ll blog a little, but that hasn’t happened lately (during the busy seasons, my blogging gets neglected). Before I know it, it’s time to pick up my girls from school and unless I absolutely have to get something done that day for work, or have a photo shoot that day, we hang out – usually in our backyard or at the beach. Of course there’s always laundry and making dinner and doing dishes and sweeping the floor, etc. all mixed in there as well. Nighttime usually consists of family dinner – usually outside in the summertime, watching a few Wimp.com videos (our little tradition), bedtime stories, snuggling in bed, and then some relaxation time after the girls are asleep.

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Do you offer albums? What kind? What do you feel is important about wedding photo albums? I offer a variety of high quality leather bound, lay-flat hand-crafted albums. Over the past few years I’ve noticed a trend in my clients increasingly ordering albums less and less. Most would say they didn’t want to spend the extra money on a book they would hardly ever look at and were much more interested in having the digital files. With the digital age and accompanying trends, everyone seems to want their photos fast and online for social media, websites, and online sharing. I was happy to embrace this because I never really enjoyed designing albums.

But recently, my thoughts completely changed on the subject when I realized that most of my clients from the past 5 years didn’t have any of their images printed. Some of them have probably even misplaced their flash drives of wedding images, so all they have on hand is a few images they posted on Facebook. I think that as the years go by, having a high quality album becomes so meaningful and I think that everyone who values their wedding photography enough to hire me and spend the money that they do on their wedding photography, should absolutely include an album in their package.

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What do you find to be the biggest challenge or most difficult part of being a wedding photographer? The pressure of having to be there no matter what. I take my job extremely seriously and I can count on just a few fingers the reasons that would force me to find someone to fill in for me at a wedding and being sick is not one of them. This also means that there are a lot of events in my personal life that I have missed and will miss as the years go by. For example, being with loved ones during special occasions or times when they are sick or dying, celebrations of loved ones such as graduations, birthdays, even weddings. Obviously I can choose to not book a certain date if I know in advance that I have something planned, but there are plenty of times when my clients book me over a year in advance and I have to honor that contract no matter what comes up in my personal life.

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What would you be doing if you weren’t a wedding photographer? If I wasn’t a Photographer, I’d definitely be working with children in need. I can see myself running an orphanage or if I was independently wealthy, I’d probably just adopt and/or foster a bunch of children and be a stay at home mom and just love on as many kiddos as possible.

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Why photography? What draws you to it? Visual storytelling. For me, because every photo is an actual real moment captured, images automatically hold a great deal of emotion, beauty and rawness, no matter what the subject matter.

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Who has influenced your photography? My dad, since day one. My dear friend Elyse Butler Mallams who is an incredible Photojournalist based in Hawaii and who is a constant inspiration to me. My partner Paul, who encourages me to carry my camera everywhere and shoot for fun. My best friend Meara who let’s me bounce anything off her and gives me her honest opinion. My mom, with constant love and support. My daughters, who always allow me to ‘practice’ on them. My professors at Brooks who encouraged growth and creativity. Joyce Tenneson – from the moment I first saw her work. Elizabeth Messina – because her images carry so much emotion, rawness and beauty. And countless other photographers whose images I see on Instagram, on blogs and in magazines.

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What is your creative vision? What do you desire to express with your photos? Raw emotion and beauty that holds a cherished memory for my clients.
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Any direction you would like to take your photography? My hope is that my photography will always be evolving and changing as I grow as a person, mother, photographer and artist. I want to constantly be inspired to try new things and approaches that not only challenge me but keep my creativity alive. It’s so important to me that my images feel authentic and come from a place of truth.

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Any advice for couples who are looking for their perfect wedding photographer? Look at websites or get referrals from friends and find the style of photography that you love. Then meet with your top selects to find the photographer that you connect with or feel naturally comfortable with. I think it’s important to genuinely like your photographer because you want to remember your wedding day, and not how you didn’t like your wedding photographer. Price is important also, but remember that after all of the food is eaten and the drinks are drank and the flowers and decorations are taken down, the photographs last forever and keep your memories alive in your mind, so I really do think it’s important to prioritize your photography.
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Do you have any advice for beginning photographers, wedding or otherwise? When I was just starting out, I heard someone say something like: “Most people quit right before they are about to achieve their goals, so keep going, even when it seems like you’ll never get there because if you don’t quit you will without a doubt achieve your dreams.” I absolutely believe this and this is what kept me going even when it seemed so far fetched for me to be able to actually make a good living as a photographer.

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Best advice you’ve ever received about being a happy human? Life is a journey – enjoy it! Learn to master a work-life balance. The power of attraction is real – focus on the positive! Be kind and be grateful. And…smile and laugh a lot!

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Thank you for sharing your work and words of wisdom, Willa!

Being a Wedding Photographer and Being Sick

When it comes down to the wedding day and someone is sick, the day must still go on.  Shooting a wedding while having the flu or a bad cold is definitely not fun but luckily there are enough over-the-counter pain meds that usually last for 6 to 8 hours and can pull me through.  Luckily this has only happened twice (so far) but it’s an inevitable, unavoidable fact of life when you have a job that isn’t the kind you can easily call in sick for.

Last fall I shot a wedding where the poor bride was super sick and she was such a trooper!  She made the best of it and in the end wanted to enjoy her day that she had planned so much for, so she didn’t let being sick stop her from having fun!  Of course she reported to me that she was super duper extra sick the next day but she said it was worth it because she got to enjoy her wedding day and she didn’t let it ruin her fun.

You can’t reschedule wedding so what do you do?  You take some meds and you suck it up.  Likely you’ll feel worse in the following days because you didn’t rest when you were sick but it’s better than ruining someone’s day by canceling (if you’re a vendor) or ruining your own day by feeling miserable (if you’re the bride or groom).

This topic is on my mind because last week I got sick with the flu and I’ve never felt so horrible in my life.  I was laid up in bed for five days straight, unable to move, which is not normal for me.  If I get sick I tend to start getting well within 24 hours.  My immune system is usually pretty good so this hit me like a ton of bricks and was very unexpected.
I woke up on Monday (9 days ago) not feeling my greatest but I had a client meeting at 10:30am so I just put on my game face and went to the meeting feeling pretty crummy. I could’ve canceled but my clients were in town from Orange County and I didn’t want them to have to drive back to meet with me another day.  And when I set my mind to it I am able to focus on the task at hand so I ‘pleasantly’ conducted the meeting, laughing and chatting with my clients about their day – without them having the slightest clue that I was sick. I feel like there’s no reason to burden my clients with my own problems especially when there’s nothing I, nor they can do about them. Of course if they were local and it was easier to switch meeting times I would have done that, but in this case, I felt it my duty to attend.

As far as the wedding day there are very few things that would keep me away. I don’t even want to mention them because they would have to be pretty awful.  Even then I know I would be consumed with making sure they had a good photographer there to take my place (I always have Associates on call).  I pray to God I’ll never be in a situation that horrible.
So anyway, being sick sucks when you have to work but it doesn’t matter because in the end, I want to be there for my clients and being the best photographer that I can be and shooting your wedding as I shoot all weddings – with excitement creativity and passion, is what I’ll do, no matter how I’m feeling.  I love my job and I also feel very responsible to my clients and when I make a promise to shoot your wedding I will do everything and I mean everything in my power to be there!!!

Being_Sick_When_Photographing_A_WeddingThank you Sansum Urgent Care for getting me through this awful Flu!

 

Wedding Timelines – Helping my clients understand what they want

So much of my job is about helping my clients understand what they want and need from their Photographer.  How many hours of coverage will they want?  Do they want an engagement session?  What’s their budget and how can we fit what they want into that budget?

When I meet with clients for the first time I always show them my work and we discuss my style of photography, which I describe as a photojournalistic but also timeless and beautiful.  I also use a special technique that enables my style to stay consistent and true to me as a Photographer.  I want the images that I shoot to truly capture the love and connection between my couples – their chemistry, silliness, deep love.  Every couple is unique and the way they show emotion and their love is different, so identifying it and then capturing it authentically is important for me to do as their Photographer.
The other huge part of the client meeting is dedicated to understanding what my clients are looking for and even sometimes helping them understand what they want.  It must be so confusing to get engagement and then all of a sudden be be thrust into a whirlwind of decisions about venues and photographers, cakes and caterers, dresses, colors schemes and flowers, etc.  and then on top of that having to figure out a budget and try to stick to it.

1) TIMELINE – The super comfortable / relaxing 8 Hour Timeline with First Look
2:00pm – Getting Ready Photos
3:00pm – 1st look into Bride and Groom Photos
3:45pm – Wedding Party Photos
4:30pm – Ceremony Site Photos (Bride relaxes)
5:00pm – Ceremony
5:30pm – Family Portraits / Cocktail Hour
5:55pm – Bride and Groom Join Cocktail Hour
6:30pm – Grand Entrance into First Dance (1st Dance can happen here or happen after dinner before the other special dances)
(Sometimes people do a 20 minute dance set after the grand entrance for all guests to enjoy)
6:40pm – Welcome Toast or Blessing
6:45pm – Dinner Served
7:30pm – Toasts
8:00pm – Father/Daughter, Mother/Son Dances into Open Dancing
9:00pm – Cake Cutting/ Thank You Toast by Bride and Groom
9:15pm – Bouquet Toss (Optional – think about who/how many is/are single – you don’t want to make anyone feel awkward) into Open Dancing
10:00pm – Photography Ends

2) Same as above TIMELINE with 6 hours of Coverage (saves you about $1400)
2:30pm – Getting Ready Photos
3:00pm – 1st look into Bride and Groom Photos
3:45pm – Wedding Party Photos
4:30pm – Ceremony Site Photos (Bride relaxes)
5:00pm – Ceremony
5:30pm – Family Portraits / Cocktail Hour
5:55pm – Bride and Groom Join Cocktail Hour
6:30pm – Grand Entrance into First Dance
6:40pm – Welcome Toast or Blessing
6:45pm – Dinner Served
7:30pm – Toasts
7:50pm – Cake Cutting/ Thank You Toast
8:00pm - Father/Daughter, Mother/Son Dances into Open Dancing
8:30pm – Photography Ends

3) TIMELINE – 8 Hour Timeline (without the 1st Look)
2:00pm – Getting Ready Photos
3:00pm - Groomsmen Photos
3:45pm - Bridesmaids Photos
4:30pm – Ceremony Site Photos (Bride relaxes)
5:00pm – Ceremony
5:30pm – Family Portraits, Entire Wedding Party Photos, Bride and Groom Photos / Cocktail Hour
6:30pm – Grand Entrance into First Dance (1st Dance can happen here or happen after dinner before the other special dances)
(Sometimes people do a 20 minute dance set after the grand entrance for all guests to enjoy)
6:40pm – Welcome Toast or Blessing
6:45pm – Dinner Served
7:30pm – Toasts
8:00pm – Father/Daughter, Mother/Son Dances into Open Dancing
9:00pm – Cake Cutting/ Thank You Toast by Bride and Groom
9:15pm – Bouquet Toss (Optional – think about who/how many is/are single – you don’t want to make anyone feel awkward) into Open Dancing
10:00pm – Photography Ends
*Every wedding is unique and so there are endless options for Timelines.  Hopefully this just gives you that extra help you needed to get started on yours.

Optional Ideas: 
Married Couple’s Dance - 
All couples dance and the DJ slowly eliminates couples who have been married 1 year or less, 5 years or less, 10, 15, 20 25, 30, etc until only one couple is left standing.
Sometimes they are given a special bouquet or a single rose as a token

Money Dance -
Fun and lucrative – makes great photos
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Here’s a great checklist to help you get started with everything else: http://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-timeline

Santa Barbara Wedding Photographer Willa Kveta Photography

420 E Carrillo St Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Phone: 805-633-4633

Our service area in santa barbara, california: 93101-93103, 93105-93111, 93116-93118, 93120-93121, 93130, 93140, 93150, 93160, 93190, 93199