Words of Wisdom From the Bride on Her Wedding Day

Weddings can be hectic, no matter how big or how small they are.  They all require some type of planning and regardless of how “big you do,” it is still your wedding day and a whole set of expectations come rolled up in this event.  No one feels the pressure more than the bride.  This can be her signature event!  However, I found an exception and she was the calmest bride ever !!! In fact, she even managed to calm me down!  She gave me a little wisdom when we chatted about her state of being that day. More on that later…(can you tell this isn’t you’re traditional wedding blog post.)

You see, I was photographing my first wedding that day and I was nervous.  The level of anxiety I reached that week surpassed anything I had ever experienced, ANYTHING (that includes child birth.)  I wanted them to have an amazing day and I wanted to be amazing for them.   I also worked with a second shooter for the first time; the wonderful Jennifer Hubbell who helped make the day so much easier.  She captured another perspective on the day and was wonderful to have for support (and she’s just an all-around nice person! )

So back to the smart words from the bride…the calmest bride ever !!! (echo, echo, echo…) I remarked and asked her on how she was feeling, how was she managing to be so calm? She said (and I am paraphrasing) that she planned a wedding that wouldn’t allow her to be stressed and that she took care of as much as she could. She then said (paraphrasing once again) that she trusted me and she knew the photos would be great.  Well, it was like someone smacked me and I became incredibly present.  I was overwhelmed by her vote of confidence and I remember not even knowing what to say to her without getting emotional. She trusted in me, so I had to trust in me also and that took over immediately. I understood what this wonderful couple wanted to see as the lasting memory of their day and then it was on.

I mean…look…at…her…


Together as a couple they are just as amazing…





The groom loves him some Batman…




I was so incredibly fortunate to have photographed Susie and Frace’ as my first wedding. It was such a blessing for me. I gained so much from this experience and realized how much I already knew.  Thank you to this amazing couple for trusting in me and I hope we get to make many more beautiful stories together!!

Tryin’ To Get My Read On…

This summer I am challenging myself to read at least 6 books. I actually think it’s a sad goal, but right now I it’s what I think I can push myself to read. The goal was to step out of my comfort reading zone of Agatha Christie mysteries and read books that I typically don’t pickup. So where to start? For me, at the library! I am a big library supporter and my motto for these kind of cultural and community services is “use it or lose it!” I am fortunate to live close to my neighborhood library so I use it as often as I can (hello! WiFi too!) That was my PSA for today….

Next, which book do I pick? As much as I looove to wander through the stacks and inhale that old book smell, time is never on my side. As a result, I whip out my handy-dandy phone and go to my Pinterest board, “Books To Read,” (clever title) and just look for a great cover. Yes, I AM one of those people who totally judge a book by its cover. If it’s a solid colored, no image, all text cover with Helvetica font and a boring title; I am moving on. Instead, I look for a cover that hints to its content somehow with a great image or illustration.  It must compel me to read the back cover, the inside jacket and maybe peek at the first page. By using these highly scientific and methodical methods, I chose “Come Hell or Highball,” by Maia Chance, which is…a mystery. But, it’s NOT an Agatha Christie mystery, so it still counts as something out of my comfy reading zone. (wink, wink) The story is during the 20’s, one of my favorite eras, and its fast paced and fun. (Her next book is being released in the Fall; “Teetotaled“)


Along with fictional fun reads, I am trying to read some entrepreneurial business books and titles addressing creativity and courage. I also thought I’d throw in the occasional audio book for when I’m driving. I began that with an audio book by Tim Ferris, “The Four Hour Workweek,” which is a fundamental read for entrepreneurs or those looking for an alternate view of work, mobility and success. I felt hard-core, dedicated to the hustle while listening to that in the morning and although it wasn’t all applicable to my life, I still got a lot out of it.

After these two selections, I turned to my cleverly titled Pinterest board again and chose “The Lightkeeper’s Ball,” by Colleen Coble. I read this book before bed because it felt indulgent to me. I never read romance novels and this relaxed me. I was a sucker for the cover; a red ball gown.  The book looked a little worn and I couldn’t wait to bend back that front cover when I plucked it off the shelf.

red gown

After finishing the romance novel, I started on the next book that I requested after watching Chase Jarvis and his 30 days of Genius series through Creativelive with Dr. Kelly Starrett. It’s called “Deskbound;” “Standing Up to a Sitting World.” It looks like a textbook. But I’m excited to get my learn on and figure out how to undo the punishment that sitting at a desk does to one’s body.

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Ok, so that was the lowdown on what I’ve been reading lately. I also have a list on my library account page where I am adding books too, so if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I’m always on the lookout for a good read! Leave me your suggestion here or on my Facebook page or Instagram and tag it…#Bravoreads.

Read a book, save a screen. ( haha)

East Valley Engagement: Susie+Frace’

It’s very sweet when you meet a man who adores his “girl”.  You can see it in the way he talks about her, how they spend time together, how they build a life together and create their own story.  His concern for her is paramount and her needs are his needs.  I know such a guy, and I was elated to find out that my friend Frace’ proposed and that she said yes!

Susie and Frace’ have an ease about them that is incredible. After talking to them, I thought they must have mind-meld or something because I swear they could finish each other’s sentences and know what the other wanted or felt. But, this is what love does right? Its syncs your souls and your minds to allow you to create a united life.   This couple has it. Their friendship is strong and you can feel it when you’re with them. I think it is so evident…

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Susie and Frace’ chose this park because they ride their bikes through here and love the trees, (I thought, aww, they bike together!)


We started our walk in their park with this…

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and here is where I met… Monte…Aka Scene stealer.


We kept walking towards the trees and a clearing…

Susie, you are gorgeous and you will be an amazing bride totally unafraid to be intense; I love it.

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Stopping for a moment, and guess who posed…

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As the day got cooler (in Arizona that just means the sun is setting) and it got windier, we started to get golden and they radiated love.



Thank you both for trusting me and allowing me to document your story.


and this is just their beginning.

Last Year Before New Year’s

We are on the verge of a new year so bear with me; I am feeling very new year’s-y!!  I am prepping for January to arrive! I am clearing out at home by decluttering, organizing and even deleting emails, not archiving…delete-ing!   I’m cleaning out my purse, throwing out paper and making lotsa lotsa lists! (Oh how I love thee, a list…)

So in the spirit of this new year instead of making resolutions, I’ve decided to be reflective about the year that has passed. Where was I successful?  Where did I miss the mark? Where could I improve and lastly,  how am I feeling at the end of this year?  Well, I am glad to report that I am feeling pretty darn good.


Ok, there is ALOT I didn’t get to or accomplish, but those things like lose weight, be a runner by December, live a paleo lifestyle; seem miniscule to things that did come to fruition this year.  For example, I taught my kids how to ride a bike, by myself, I taught them. I’m pretty proud of that.  We moved our kids to a new school that we really believe in.  We commute a bit now to get them there and sacrifice some sleep, but we’re doing it and they are thriving.  We got a second car (and accompanying car payment, but c’est la vie) so now can we multitask a little easier but more importantly, my steering wheel heats up and I thank God for those little things! (It’s been a chilly winter here in Phoenix, so far!) But one of the highlights of my year has to be that I met my favorite photographer at a workshop where she was speaking and I girl-screamed (internally, of course) the whole time I was there. We talked, we hugged and she recognized my name from commenting on her blog.  I was so relieved that she is as fantastic in person as she comes across on her blog.  What a moment for me!  I also experimented with different genres of photography and have definitely found a direction that I love and am pursuing.  The feeling of creation feels so good since I have felt a bit blocked for a while, I will be sharing all that new fanciness in the new year.

I am planning for this year to be full of experiences both personally and professionally. I expect to travel more this year, shoot more than ever, write more, try new things, read more, dream bigger and take it all on with my family’s support.  It also wouldn’t hurt if I lost a little around the middle, addressed the grey strands in my hair, and finally found a pair of jeans that fit well!

So if you look back; what are you proud of, what did you miss the mark on? How is it impacting your plans for 2016 and/or…share where you plan on traveling to this year & where do YOU go to buy jeans!!

Happy New Year!

A Holiday Tradition

There is something about the holiday season that makes you remember special events, outings or activities that you shared with your family as a kid. This time of year also makes you want to create special moments with your own family and have something to look forward to every year. These traditions help put a timestamp and personal touch to simple things that create memories. For example, I look forward to my mom’s Colombian pasteles every Christmas.  This dish is so labor-intense that she will only make them once a year and a ton are made so you can freeze them and savor them later on. I also look forward to using my pretty Christmas dishes and placing the felt tree skirt that my husband and I made when we were first married, under the tree.

For many people their annual Christmas card is also part of their holiday tradition and I am flattered to say I am part of a family’s Christmas tradition.


Talk of the picture comes up in November and before you know it, we’re like…IT’S TIME!!!  Mark suggests some locations trying to look for unusual or interesting places to shoot and I advise on the pros and cons of his suggestions.  We discuss wardrobe colors; I remind him don’t be “matchy- matchy” and then we’re set.

This year the family chose a more contemporary location; the grounds of the Mesa Arts Center, in Mesa, AZ.  I had been there only once for a show at night so I had no idea it had so much color and interesting little places to shoot against.




Fun pic right?

A year doesn’t feel like a long time, but I am always in awe of how big the boys have gotten as they stay as little to me as their previous session.


This year one of the boys was under the weather so we had to work quick and we were surprised at how fast the session went.  (But I guess, when you concentrate more and gab less, things can happen faster right!)
I appreciate Mark and Melissa’s support every year and I look forward to photographing many more Christmases for them to share with the people they love.

East Valley Engagement: They’re engaged…For Real!


I’ll get back to that.

It all started with a favor a I asked of Matt a few months ago.  I decided that I wanted to photograph a couple and go through the motions of an engagement session.  My only problem was that I didn’t know any unmarried or engaged couples! So I look across from me in our little “cubicle row” and my coworker Matt became my source.  I asked if he and his girlfriend Ashley would be willing to model for me.   He said of course! (Yay)  But, then it got cold, (for Arizona) and we decided to wait.  In the meantime, Matt asks me, “Do I need to get a fake ring,” and I said, “Nah…”

So then one day he tells me he thinks he’s going to propose for real on that day!  And did a silent girl scream inside.

As we wait for the perfect day that would work for both of us, he buys a ring, asks her dad and then is all set! I couldn’t believe it. This was actually going to happen!  I am going to photograph one of the most important days in a couple’s life!

Yup… no pressure.

The big day was here and I was off to a proposal.  I went from a styled shoot to an actual engagement!

I met Matt and Ashley on a very warm Sunday at the picturesque Riparian Water Reserve in Gilbert, AZ.  When I saw how much work they had done on planning their outfits and their look for the shoot, I knew it was going to be a very special day.

Now mind you, I know “work-Matt,” who loves to eat some strong maple-syrup-smelling-oatmeal and loves “You Tube.”  He can be quiet. and pensive, but when he’s with Ashley he is funny and attentive and you can see how they mesh as a couple.


He had no problem making her laugh…

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Did I mention, they both like Country music and yes he plays and sang a little to her…


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They met at Arizona State University in a dance class and Matt was the Teaching Assistant.  They are very proud Sun Devils…

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As we continued to walk through this nature reserve, we decided to stop under a big “branch-y” tree and do some more pictures.  Then Matt turned to me and whispered…this is it!!  So my cheeks flushed and I said I needed to check some of my images and dashed into a nearby bush.

Hmm..now what does he have there behind his back?

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She still has no clue…

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We all cried and I was shaking so bad I had a hard time focusing when I tried to take another photo!!  So after she yes, in case you weren’t sure by the photos, she did say yes; we kept on with our “Real” engagement session.



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I kept reminding Matt, don’t forget your guitar!!

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I feel so incredibly honored to have been part of this beautiful day and to get to know Ashley and Matt in a very special way.  This was just such a wonderful experience and I gained way more than I had planned;  I gained two new friends!

Congratulations and I wish you all the very best life has to offer!

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It’s Gotta Be Me…

I don’t know about you, but I wrestle with insecurity and doubt when it comes to my work.  I’ve never done anything as personal or as self-expressive as photography.  I was always able to live behind someone else’s identity such as when I was an a Sourcing Manager for such and such catalog or when I was a Buyer’s Assistant for Someone Else at another catalog.  I was always part of a team, a cog in the machine, part of a bigger picture. That’s not a bad thing, but when you decide to go bold and literally sign each and everything you produce with your first and last name, Karina Bravo Photography, things get a little close and uncomfortable…fast.

I’m “judgey” to myself, all tough love for me! So I instantly assume, at first look, could this be better? Even though I may think something may look awesome in camera and I do a little internal girl scream; I still think, hmm its “aiiiight.”

So because of all of this “self-talk,” which I am trying to say “shhushhh” to when I hear it, (no really, I say it out loud), I think, “Compared to so and so photographer, its soft…or dark…or blown out.”  I never say to myself, “go me!”


Karina Bravo Photography

However, recently I think I had an “aha” moment! (This all connects, trust me…)

The “irkiest” thing about photography to me, which has become my personal, never-ending quest, is the goal of attaining the sharpest, focus possible.  My fave photographer does it so well, that I swoon when I see her images, longing for the ability to capture the eyes in such a way that they grab you! Alas, I never think I am never sharp enough.  But because of that constant insecurity, I never allow myself another possibility…

What you say? Did I actually take a chance, and think that I actually knew what I was talking about; take my camera to the camera store and they tell me….ITS BROKEN!!!!! Whaaaat!

I have a sensor in my camera that isn’t allowing my lenses to focus! I swear I heard singing voices, and saw a glow when he said that to me.  To think, that my insecurity kept me from believing it couldn’t possibly be the camera, it had to be me.

That experience taught me a HUGE lesson, don’t let your insecurities keep you in fear.  Fear keeps you from making wise choices, from hearing your gut and intuition and from taking calculated risks.  I swear I’m never going to think so lowly of myself.  I’m doing this, I’m making this happen.

So keep the dream alive people! Don’t kill it before it even gets started!!

Senior Mini Session, Jocelyn

I was recently asked to photograph an awesome young lady and the challenge was,  I had a short window of time in which to do it.   I also didn’t have the luxury of scouting a location, it had to be close by and after work & school.  The thoughts that went round and round in my head were;  how can I make this special?  We were going to the park across the street from her high school.  How can I photograph a cheerleader without doing the typical pics that she probably already owns and lastly I hope I have good light and ok,  last, last was…I hope it won’t be too hot, to where I see her sweating.  (Its Arizona and we can be in triple digits at any time people!)

Well I met Jocelyn and she was such a sweet person.  You kinda want to hug her when you meet her.  She’s so involved in everything; school, cheer, band, she works and she volunteers at the hospital.  Like every senior I have photographed, she was down for anything. I said, “let’s hike up that little mountain for some “desert-y” shots,” and she said ok.  I said,  “how about you sit on the grass?”  She said ok.  Then I  discovered it was wet! ( I apologized profusely!) (and yes we have a little grass in some places in AZ.)

I am so proud of this young Hispanic woman,  ready for the world and for college.


Flowers in the DesertkarinabravologoHer High School in the background,  I couldn’t resist!

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She brought multiple outfits and then I saw it…her Prom Dress!  I could have just photographed her all day in this dress.

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Princess in the Sun


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A girl after my own heart…she takes out her clarinet. (Ok, I played the flute, but still…)


Music in Black and BluekarinabravologoGlossykarinabravologoCongrats to you Jocelyn and thank you for letting me be part of this very special time in your life! xoxo!

I’m Moving In…Now That’s What!

I’m making a big leap and changing up my blog; “refocusing” its focus, using a different blogging platform, and (gasp) changing its name!  I’m using my name as the title for this blog. I’m flashing the coat open, really taking a leap of faith and baring it all;  Karina Bravo Photography.  OMG. 


So this will take a little bit while I synchronize everything…NOT.  I’m hoping this fresh start will begin some momentum for my business and my creativity.  So far this year has started on some positive notes for my family and I am hoping my business and aspirations can ride on those coat tails.

So if anyone has some words of wisdom, please feel free to pass them along.  Any hints on how to use WordPress, please share also.  I LOVE to hear how other people do things.

So, I have to go now and break up with Blogger; write a closing post over there and hope that its a clean break, no hard feelings and that we can stay friends. I had some big dreams and big disappointments while there…and now I am ready to move forward and onward.

This is it…it’s, me!

Karina Bravo


As I shoot more, I learn more about myself and I pay special attention about how I interact with people. I have had the benefit of working with very warm people who instantly feel like friends and I begin to care about them from the “get-go.” One such instance is my relationship with the Realmonte family and their very amazing daughters. 

Danielle reached out to me for a mini session for her senior ad for school. It was crazy, how everyone in my family was sick, the weather was weird and it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.  Then one day opened up and we said lets go!! It was a little cloudy, a little windy and a little chilly, but Danielle radiated beauty that day.

We went up to a park near my home where I take my kids to play and where just a couple of days before we went trekking up the “mountain” or maybe its a hill, I don’t know. But, it was an adventure to take my kids up on the rocky terrain. You could see so far out into the horizon and I thought I’d love a photo up here…(nope I didn’t have my camera that day).  But, it was the first place I thought of when Danielle said she could be ready in a couple of hours for pictures. 



Danielle blew me away with her passion for cooking as she plans to go to culinary school after high school.  She seems to have such ambition and direction, you can feel like she is going to make her dream into a reality.

Danielle also has a radiant smile. You know, people who can’t make a serious face, because their smile is just so amazing. This is her. I had the similar impression of her sister when I photographed her.   But, yet they are very different.  This difference is what I tried to capture.  I think she relaxed eventually and was really able to let herself come through, and it totally did.  I am so excited to do her senior portraits. By that time, she’ll feel like an old friend!

Thank you Danielle for letting me gush about you on the internet! xoxo.