Karah Leibovich is a fabulous watercolor artist based out of Oakland, CA. She’s a pro at creating whimsical watercolors of botanicals and landscapes, and loves catering to city-dwellers who want to connect with nature in their own homes.

For this artist’s Accelerator package (creative headshots + visual branding session), we wanted to show off Karah’s home painting space in her cozy Oakland apartment. She typically paints with natural light pouring in through the open windows, surrounded by succulents and cacti, the chicory smell of fresh-brewed coffee wafting through the room. So we simply recreated a typical painting day for the shoot, minimal re-arranging required.

I’ve been friends with Karah since we were 14, and it’s been such a joy to watch her grow as an artist over the years. Even as a freshmen in high school, Karah would create the most beautifully decorated notes for her friends and fold them into intricate, delicate shapes. Each letter she passed me in Western Civ felt like a unique treasure made just for me.

Karah continues to spread her love through her unique vision, making each recipient of her work feel special and joyful. She played a big role in my decision to pursue my passion for painting, and I continue to be inspired by this beautiful artist and friend.

To learn more about Karah’s inspiration, read my Q&A with this artist below! And be sure to follow her on Instagram.

1. Tell me about you and your beautiful art! What is the inspiration behind your watercolors? What do you hope your customers feel when they display your work in their homes?

There is something very hopeful to me about painting and drawing. I love the way that it can be used in various ways to express the artist’s story or perspective.

In spite of the challenges I have faced as a woman living in a city far from where I grew up, I feel a sense of being at home when I paint which has allowed me to face things I am afraid of and feel safe. I really revere the home because it is an extension of the self.

Another benefit to me is how art connects me to my family. My mother and sisters are interior designers and visual artists, so it’s fun for us to talk about our work and share our visions and insights.

My goal as an artist is to create a safe space on a page. My hope for my art is that it can bring light to the spaces that need it and be a point of connection for those who view it.

2. What was your motivation or vision behind this photo shoot? What did you want to communicate with your pictures?

I wanted to create an online space which could be another extension of my own physical home but then felt pulled back to school and have been busy being a student, so haven’t used them in that way yet.

3. What did you feel when you first saw the photos?

I felt a lot of joy when I first saw the photos because they are like a diary of our creative play. I love spending time with Courtney and she put me at such ease, which I think you can see when you look through them. As an artist you can really see the technical skill and craftsmanship, crafts-womanship that Courtney brings; that is why she is the only one I would hire to shoot my wedding (and did back in 2015!)

4. What was it like to work with me? Feel free to write anything about the preparation process and the shoot itself!

Haha, what is it like? Well, it’s super laid-back, casual, I think there was tea at some point…? Courtney brings so much energy to her work that I felt like I could follow her lead. I think I also made a couple of requests for set-up and was delighted that she let me be a picky artist and agreed to try new things.

5. How have you used the photos I created for you (or how do you plan to use them?) In what ways have they helped your business (or in what ways do you hope they’ll help your business?)

I’m excited to launch a blog and a business with these photos. Even though I’m in school now and not using them just yet for marketing, they are a good reminder of my hopes.

6. What is next for you as an artist?

I am inspired by so much of the fantastic art I see in the Bay Area. I plan to visit a few local exhibitions such as the upcoming show at The Long Weekend Store and at the SF MOMA and hope to get connected with other artists in my neighborhood as a way to build friendships with other artists.

Are you an artist, musician, or maker looking for photos to show off your unique point of view? I’d love to collaborate with you to help you visually communicate your brand! Check out my professional services for creatives and give me a a shout! I’d love to help you flaunt your work and elevate your brand!

This Accelerator Visual Branding Session with Raleigh artist and maker Erin Stesch was a total blast! Erin’s revamping her website and wanted some seriously gorgeous photos that shows off her unique hand-painted jewelry to prospective clients.

After meeting together to clarify her vision and branding goals, we came up with a game-plan and started building our creative team for her session. Erin found 2 models and brought along a stylist, and I brought my fab creative assistant Veronica to help the session run smoothly.

We settled on the Haw River Ballroom for our location– between the ample natural light upstairs and the dreamy river nearby we would have a variety of backdrops for the photos. The session lasted several hours and included several outfit + styling + backdrop changes. By the end of the night, we were all happily exhausted and energized from a productive session of creating!

What do you think of the images? Sound off in the comments below! Here’s how you can learn more about Erin and connect with her to snag your own statement necklace before they’re gone:

Are you a creative professional who needs help refining and visually communicating your brand? Learn more about ways we can partner together here.

Creative Assistant: Veronica Arenander

Models: Amber Carroll Santibanez +  Michelle Roman

Location: Haw River Ballroom

When my sister, harpist Colleen Thorburn, asked me to help her update her professional musician headshots, I said an unequivocal yes!

I collaborated with her harp-horn duo Apple Orange Pair in 2013 for promo materials for their album release, so I knew first-hand how great it is to work with her. (Check out their marvelous pics here!)

One of my favorite parts of photographing fellow creatives is witnessing their evolution in their chosen field. Colleen has accomplished so much since I last photographed her (like becoming the first harpist to have earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale), and I wanted her to celebrate her achievements and have fun with this shoot.

Colleen is a super-talented, accomplished musician, so I highlight her unique skills by picking a location that wasn’t expected (i.e. a performance stage in a music hall). We spent the bulk of her session on the cobblestone streets in Old Towne Petersburg– a funky, fun little spot outside of Richmond VA where Colleen works.

I love the final product, which show off my sister’s beauty and mastery of her instrument.

What do you think? Want some fresh headshots of your own? I have two packages tailored just for creatives– give them a peek and drop me a line!

“I think every woman and girl should be encouraged to embrace  and take care of their bodies.” -Elle, 27

Taking advantage of the lull in wedding season this winter, I switched gears and focused on photography that feeds my soul…which apparently involves some nudity and strong empowered women. 🙂

I’ll always love my documentary photography roots, but its refreshing to engage in more conceptual work. I plan on booking more boudoir sessions in 2018, so please hit me up if you want to have fun running around in your lingerie and feeling sexy!

I admire the fact that Elle did this shoot for herself and not for another person. Read the Q&A with Elle below to learn more about Elle’s take on body positivity and tips on where to buy the best lingerie!

1. What led you to do a boudoir session?

I fully believe in body positivity. I think every woman and girl should be encouraged to embrace and take care of their bodies. That’s what the boudoir session does for me. I am able to see myself from another angle other than the mirror. Seeing photos of myself looking sexy and beautiful is a real confidence-booster.

I hope to do more of these sessions! A big thanks to you, Courtney! This was an incredible experience!

2. What makes you feel sexy?

A lot of things! Sleeping naked. Sheer lingerie. Getting compliments on how I look. Nice perfume. High heels. A shade of lipstick to match my mood. Sensual songs. A good work out. Freshly shaved legs.

3. What was your inspiration for this shoot? (i.e. any particular blogs/tumblr feeds/pinterest ideas). How did you prepare?

A lot of my inspiration came from AdoreMe lingerie and some lingerie models on Instagram. Also (kind of funny but it helped), I practiced some poses at home with a selfie stick just to get an idea of some positions that looked nice and what positions to avoid.

4. What was it like shooting with me? Was it different than you expected? How so?

I guess shooting with you was about how I expected. I assumed I would be a little nervous at first but as I got more direction and some idea of how the photos were turning out I would adjust, and I did. I quickly became more comfortable with less clothing and with that, I think I felt a little more creative. You were great to work with! Honest about how to turn and how certain positions were working out.

The one thing I did not expect was how physically demanding modeling can be! Each shot was just a couple muscle contractions different than the shot before. I have a new respect for the girls on ANTM.

5. What do you plan to do with the photos?

Honestly, I mostly just plan to keep them for myself. I know a lot of women do these for someone else but I like seeing this side of myself. Of course I have some friends who will be interested in seeing how they turned out and maybe another lucky person or two who can see a preview…

6. Which photo(s) from this shoot are your favorite? What do you like most about them?

Tough question because I have favorites from each location. I think my most favorite are the ones in the red one-piece in the bedroom. I like the softness of the lighting with the sexiness of the sheer teddy – very sensual overall. I also love how my hip tattoo looks in that setting. I love how my tattoo also looks really hardcore and awesome in the shots with the bike.

7. Feel free to share anything else about your boudoir session experience- i.e. where your lingerie was from, who did your makeup, where you boots/jacket were from, etc.

  • Make-up credit goes to Adrienne Duterte an amazing and very talented friend of mine!
  • The black set of lingerie was from AdoreMe. The rest of the lingerie was stuff I have collected in the last couple years.
  • The faux-leather jacket is a Forever21 piece. Great addition to my neutral palette wardrobe!And the body is by me!
  • The result of 27 years of lessons on how to love my body and care for my body properly, and there’s still a lot to learn.