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Sweet Evelyn Anne

This last week Zak and I headed up to Portland for a family visit to celebrate his mom’s birthday and to meet our new little niece! Evelyn is such a sweetie, and her big eyes and full cheeks will just make anyone fall instantly in love with her. And then she smiles… and your heart melts. We did a little photo shoot and she is the perfect little model. Just a beauty. EnJOY.

Dave D - May 8, 2013 - 8:58 pm

Amazing photos of an adorable baby girl. So sweet. ALMOST makes me want another one…. but not quite.

Success + Heart & Connectedness

DISCLAIMER: Long post ahead. I’ve been working on getting up the nerve to share this for the past couple years. After a day of writing, riding, and a tall glass of wine, I am letting go and just going for it. Giddy up.


What is the difference between success and failure? I’ve struggled with that question quite a bit the last couple years, trying to search and find an answer that didn’t make me frustrated but instead motivated. What I have noticed in my industry of photographers especially here in the materialistic OC is that there is a certain lifestyle associated with being successful, or attitude, or number whether it be in dollars or clients. My problem is that none of those things drive me or motivate me… its always been a matter of the people I am surrounded by that make my days worth it. I could be working in a boring financial analyst position and be happy as long as I have great people to work with. (I used to work in the financial industry before becoming a photographer. Hello 180.) The people thing is just always how I’ve been wired and feels sometimes like a blessing and sometimes like a curse.

So when photography fell into my lap I went with it with equal parts fear and excitement knowing it was some sort of a calling on my life. I love creating something beautiful while making people happy at the same time. I built a pretty strong business right away with the first three years averaging about 26 weddings a year. The business was supporting me full-time, I had an office in the beautiful Turnip Rose venue, and the phone was ringing off the hook. I had old friends call me to tell me congratulations and that they were so proud of my success. But the strangest thing was I didn’t feel successful.. I felt burned OUT and miserable. I was so crisply burned that I couldn’t pick up the phone to book someone who just raved about me on my voice-mail, let alone even pick up my camera. Something was wrong.

What I have since realized is that I was performing for people rather than simply letting my joy of what I do guide my work. I even had a quote on my website saying “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” so needless to say I felt a bit conflicted. I read this book by Rob Bell called Velvet Elvis and that was the start to my healing… he has this way with words that put a finger on my feelings when I didn’t even know what they were yet. He was talking about his experience of burn out [Chapter 4, Tassels] and shared that no amount of success can heal a persons soul and that in fact, success makes it worse. There was this moment that he couldn’t go on, and I thought woah, I am not alone in this. Anne Lamott shared once that the strongest words in the English language are “Me too.” Side note, I think she is brilliant. So anyways, he said in that moment he couldn’t go on and it was the best thing that happened to him. Usually we want to suck it up, put on a mask and “keep calm and carry on.” To stop and face the pain is gnarly. But, it can be the best thing we’ll ever do for ourselves. My favorite points he shared:

~”Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God made you to be. And anything else you do is sin and you need to repent of it.” The relentless pursuit of who God made me to be. I started identifying how much of my life was about making sure the right people were pleased with me. And as this became more and more clear, I realized how less and less pleased I was with myself. What happens is our lives become so heavily oriented around the expectations of others that we become more and more like them and less and less like ourselves. We become split. I was split. I had this person I knew I was made to be, yet it was mixed in with all of these other… people. As the lights were turned on, I saw I had all of this guilt and shame because I wasn’t measuring up to the image of the perfect person I had in my head….” [p 114]

~”I am not defined by what I am not. And understanding this truth is a huge part of becoming whole. I had to stop living in reaction and start letting a vision for what lies ahead pull me forward.” [p 115]

~”I’m learning that very few people actually live from their heart. Very few live connected to their soul. And those few who do the difficult work, who stare their junk in the face, who get counsel, who let Jesus into all of the rooms in their soul that no one ever goes in, they make a difference. They are so different; they’re coming from such a different place that their voices inevitably get heard above the others. They are pursing wholeness and shalom, and it’s contagious. They inspire me to keep going.” [p 120]

These are the words that finally motivated me, spoke to my soul, and gave me a vision of what I want to be. I had hoped to be able to share this one day from the “other side” of healing where I’ve finally conquered some of my issues buuuuuuttt now I know that was silly thinking. I’ll always be in the process of learning this, each year taking baby steps of learning the lesson in a deeper way and living in grace. I’ve learned that I can only extend grace to others in the same breadth I give it to myself, and sheesh, giving it to yourself is hard work but worth it. I’m learning my definition of success, slowly. I know that 26 weddings a year is too much for me. I know that I LOVE taking family and baby portraits and scenics. I know that I want to bring in enough income to help support my hopeful future family and those in need. I want my life and business to be a light of wholeness and shalom for others, to inspire and encourage. That is why I’m sharing this, so that those who are in something similar can have that sense of “me too!” and know they are not alone.

That is my heart. And somewhere in there will be my success. I can’t wait to watch it unfold now that I know what to look for. Thank you for being on this journey with me and for me, those of you here.  It means the world.

Jayson - March 14, 2013 - 8:15 am

Thanks for sharing, Karey! I appreciate your heart. I feel like my own view of myself is my biggest stumbling block to understanding how God sees me.

Karey Michelle - March 14, 2013 - 8:43 am

Thank you Jays! Totally know what you mean. We really do get in our own way more often than anyone or anything else.

elizabeth - March 14, 2013 - 9:46 am

hey girl, beautifully expressed! thanks for sharing your heart and where you are on the journey.

Amy - March 14, 2013 - 3:53 pm

So proud of you friend and love you lots!!!

Jen Disney - March 14, 2013 - 10:29 pm

So well written! Thanks for being vulnerable.

Shaun Andrews - March 15, 2013 - 10:39 am

Karey, so amazing to hear your story and journey. So encouraging and enlightening. Thank you so much for sharing!


Sometimes inspiration comes like a bulldozer out of no where and you just have to follow the muse wherever it leads. It found me on Friday, and it’s been a long time coming. Driving up the California coast in the storm with the sun fading in and out of the huge white and dark puffy clouds left me completely amazed at the gorgeous day. It was so stunning that I was only aware of the moment and the gift that it was. The water was a beautiful deep deep blue, and I’ve always loved the verse of “Deep is calling out to Deep” and associated it with the ocean… and I felt something deep in me stir up. I HAD to pull over. With my brand spankin’ new camera sitting next to me, I got out of the car and started taking pictures for me. The funny thing about this job is I always love taking pictures and using my gifts for others, but somewhere along the way I forgot to do that for myself. Something changed while I took these images and it felt like finding my voice again…

I am just sitting here feeling thankful and overwhelmed for the beauty in each day that comes out of the storm and the inspiration that it can bring.

Jen Disney - February 15, 2013 - 1:14 am

Holy gorgeousness! These rock!!!!

The Clampitt Family // San Clemente, CA

There is so much about this family that is so special. It’s taken me awhile to figure out how I can best describe them to someone just meeting them through these images in words that would compliment what the eye can already see. There was a great reason to celebrate them this week thanks to their anniversary of marriage and becoming a family 2 years ago yesterday (11/7), and I celebrate this family as delightful, brilliant, encouraging, brave, FAITHFUL, funny, kind-hearted, loving, sincere, steadfast, trustworthy, and wise. They are a testimony to enduring really really hard times and coming out stronger together as ONE, and I feel so thankful to call them my friends.

We had a great time exploring the hiking trails in San Clemente and then headed down the street to the beach and even got to see some seals bobbing their heads around in the ocean, so fun! Not a bad looking family and I LOVE the blue theme, especially the dark blue on Heidi. Gorgeous.


How cute are Heidi’s polka dot shoes?? I had a hard time containing myself over them.









We were really blessed when we got together for their session with amazing amazing light, and I really felt like God was painting this sky just for them to show His love and the promise of a new day. I don’t think I made that connection when we were playing around and shooting, but I can see it now and I am just in awe of how that worked out. Pretty amazing, in every sense of the word.



Zerlinda was up for being a great star of the show! She’s such a fun young lady who is already smarter than I ever was in my prime in college, sheesh. No need to worry about the next generation with her around! We’ll be in good hands.


A pretty perfect day.



Happy 2 Year’s!!


This is where its easy to see their funny qualities shine…


Heidi is such a great mom to Zerlinda, they love each other so much!


And she is for sure a Daddy’s Girl, I just love to watch them together… so sweet!




This one might be my favorite…



So much love for these guys! We went out to dinner at Avila’s El Ranchito downtown and were served our food in 5 minutes flat, so great, we would all recommend it! Thanks Clampitt Fam! I’m always a sucker for a good quote so I’ll close with one that you can download the full rez file for a desktop background if you like (but you’ll have to crop it how you need it, FYI) HERE:


Rachael - November 8, 2012 - 5:55 pm

LOVE this family, these pictures, and this post. Well done friend!

Karey Michelle - November 8, 2012 - 6:03 pm

Thanks so much Rach! Can’t wait for your next shoot too :)

CK - November 8, 2012 - 9:21 pm

Wow. Beautiful :)

Jen Disney - November 9, 2012 - 12:49 am

What a wonderful post! Such love and such a wonderful family! You done what you do best, friend! :)

Barbara Dax - November 28, 2012 - 12:41 pm

In a word: Stunning! Very nice work!

Vintage Travel Birthday Theme // Murrieta, CA // Part 2


Get ready for my favorite part of Izzy and Paisley’s birthday celebration… the fun with the hot-air balloon backdrop and the birthday cake smash! The kids were given fun animal face masks to use for the photos and they were so fun it was sometimes hard to get a picture of the cute faces behind them:)

The kids all got together for a couple fun and silly shots in the hot air balloon, they were so well behaved! Impressive group right there.

Do you remember in Part 1 when I mentioned that their parents MADE them a kitchen for play? Dad built it and Mom sewed the curtain and dishtowels and they both did the painting… it was AMAZING. So creative and fun all down to the colorful vintage knobs. The kids loved it and were playing and exploring every piece!

Once it was time for the cake to come out the kids were excited for the sugar and the parents were ooh-ing and awe-ing over Rachael’s Martha Stewart skills. The chair was a DIY project they made together too, I just loved the lavender color and well, everything about it. Izzy and Paisley both had their own cake and their own birthday song and I think its safe to say they had a pretty great time at their birthday party!

Izzy sharing how old he is now…

I love this next one. The way kids look at cake is AWESOME.

Oh man. That was some good cake and I think she liked it.

Izzy was pretty stoked on his cake too!

That is a happy birthday boy.

They did a pretty great job don’t you think?? Bundles of creativity all around and not to mention just great all-around quality people. Wonderful job you guys and thank you for having me! Happy Birthday Izzy and Paisley:)

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