Monthly Archives: October 2009

Looking for Trouble

Nothing like getting into trouble with your younger brother. Remember this little heartbreaker from my recent post “A Good Jewish Boy”… he looked all sweet with that flower, didn’t he?… But boy, he was a handful!  and I think it was his sister who talked him into it 🙂

Tell me these two aren’t up for causing trouble!…


Two of my favorite moments from the shoot… Silly and Sweet…


Look at the body language on little miss thang…


Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Now, I’m in trouble!


Here’s their newly born cousin, and you can tell he’s going to be looking for trouble soon too…


I love these faces!  and I love capturing them with my camera – I feel like I’m squeezing their little cheeks with my lens 🙂

More cuteness, madness, and fabulous news soon…


Portrait of An Artist, Michelle Dunaway

You would be hard pressed to find a more soulful and endearing person than Michelle Dunaway. Michelle is a dear friend of mine, a talented fine artist, and an amazing woman.  She and I connect at such a core level – we can share a great laugh, a good cry, an interesting conversation, and always an inspiring creative collaboration. Michelle’s my soul sister 🙂  So I jumped at the chance when Michelle asked me to join her drawing and painting workshop and take pics for American Artist magazine.  Even though I had family shoots each morning, the past 5 days have been a whirlwind of inspiring art, geeking out on technique fundamentals and discussing light, shadow, color and line!  Thank you Michelle – I had so much fun. Who needs sleep?

This is one of Michelle’s beautiful portrait paintings… I saw it in the studio, and I used it to inspire my portrait of her (above).  I wanted it to look like one of her paintings… with soft blue tones and a gaze that draws you in…  (taken with my favorite 85mm 1.2 and letting light enter the lens directly.)


Michelle is a master of the 5 Minute sketch…


Here are a couple of Michelle’s 5 Minute drawings, published in an art book, “Strokes of Genius II, The Best of Drawings.”  Her work is incredibly inspiring to me – it’s confident, sensual, deliberate, and elegant.  There are subtle nuances in even her simplest strokes…


It’s great to have a teacher with a sense of humor and patience.  She always has a kind word of encouragement.


The picture on the left is my drawing of the gorgeous model (shown above).  And another of Michelle’s beautiful 5 Minute demo drawings…


The Workshop was held at the freakishly talented Jeremy Lipking‘s studio in Agoura Hills.  Jeremy, Michelle and I first met at an art gallery in 2001 when I did some posing for them.  Here are some of Jeremy’s figure demo’s and his latest painting…


A couple of interesting characters in the studio…


A couple of juicy close-ups to finish up. I think these pics truly capture Michelle’s sensitivity, beauty and spirit.


I loved switching back and forth from photography to art – what a great way to be challenged, grow and stay inspired!  I’m forever grateful to Michelle for the invitation and most of all… for her friendship.



PS.  Michelle is not only a fabulous artist, but she’s also a phenomenal photographer.  She was the gal behind the lens of my profile pic on the About page of this blog 🙂



Nude in Charcoal

The first lesson my Dad taught me was how to look at an object and see the light and shadow. I had the extreme pleasure yesterday of stealing a break from my busy fall schedule to meet up with my dear friend and incredibly talented fine artist, Michelle Dunaway.  Michelle called me up last week to let me know she’s back in town teaching a drawing & painting workshop and asked if I would photograph her for American Artist magazine.

Best of all, she offered me the opportunity to sit in on the class and draw!  Now, I haven’t picked up a piece of charcoal since 1992, but I was so excited!  Like a kid at Christmas kind of excited.  Michelle took me yesterday to buy supplies, and after taking loads of photos for her, I sat down at an easel bench and a blank piece of paper.  Michelle wandered over to give me a quick demo on drawing 101, and I began some 5 minute sketches.  The above picture was done in maybe 6 or 7 minutes. I had such fun with the process – very liberating.  I’ll be going to Michelle’s class over the next few days after my morning shoots, and will post pics of Michelle and her incredible work soon.

In other news, today is my 1st Anniversary! The Studio + Gallery, Christa Meola Pictures, is 1 Year Old!  The Grand Opening party last year was a blast, and today I’ll have to celebrate with a cupcake, candle, some friends, some photos, and a lot of nude drawing!



A Good Jewish Boy

Nothing like a cutie in blazer offering me a flower! This is my third shoot for this family, and I am completely charmed by this little guy every time.  Just look at those eyes!


Pouting because he couldn’t get the flower to stay in his lapel… ugh, so cute!


This little songbird stole my heart.  How can you resist?


I’ll post more pics of this gorgeous sweetheart and his family soon….

Once I recover from heartbreak 🙂



Whole Lotta Blonde Goodness

It’s holiday picture time!… and I am busy busy shooting family photos all during the fall.  Here is quick peek from a shoot this past weekend – a photo party in the park with the beautifully blonde, all-American, sweet Benson family.

Love a good close-up…


One of my recent favorites…  It just says DAD to me…


And let’s not forget how all this craziness started…


These pics make me feel good.  They are a reminder for what’s important in life… being silly, loving, playful, comforting, and connected to the ones you truly truly love.

xoxo – I’ll try to blog more soon!



Ashli Marino is one cool girl. She is super sweet, easy going, affectionate with her parents, loving with her friends, and has a way with animals.  So it’s only natural that she celebrated her Sweet Sixteen birthday on Friday with family, over 200 friends, and a few furry beasts: an African Lion, a Mountain Lion, an African Monkey, and a Wolf.

Pre-party, getting ready…



Peeking out of the dressing room as her friends arrive…


Ashli makes a grand entrance with a wolf, and the paparazzi swarm!


This African Lion is named Romeo, and we weren’t allowed to get too close.  Romeo’s trainer told me to stand back up when I had crouched down for a shot, warning me that Romeo may try to fire pee at us.  Seriously? Yes.


The African Monkey is also “very dangerous” according to the trainers, and no stranger is allowed to hold, pet, or interact with him… Until he met Ashli and was completely won over by her.  Look at him – he’s practically coo’ing in her lap.  (Do monkeys coo?)  And yes, even though he’s wearing a diaper, he still looks scary to me.


The dance floor was packed the entire time…


The party was held outside at Mountain Gate Country Club.  My second shooter for the evening was the amazing Shani Barel – who’s presence on Friday night was a Godsend.  I recommend her highly!  I am so grateful for her enthusiasm, positive attitude, and generosity.  Here are a couple of Shani’s shots…



It’s all about the shoes, until —


Cupcakes and a cocktail of milk – perfect.


Happy Sweet Sixteen, Ashli!

Thank you for a memorable evening, and I’m looking forward to geeking out with our camera’s together soon 🙂



Santa Monica Pier, Sarah and Aaron Pt. 2

I’ve known 4 yr. old twins Sarah and Aaron since they were born, and I’ve been lucky to photograph them every year of their young lives since. I’m crazy about these two kids! – they have such personality, are so loving and energetic, and are hands down the most cooperative and up-for-anything toddlers I’ve ever met.

What a great job I have, to spend an afternoon with these two little packages of happiness at Santa Monica Pier…


Gazing out at the sea…


Sarah is definitely the “me first!” type of girl, independent and fearless, quick to laugh and easy to smile.  While Aaron is laid back, super sweet and very silly.  This picture says it all…


Running after pigeons, running after each other, or just running wild – these two ran almost the entire time.


Snack faces.


Putting a penny in for luck…


Celebrating his win with “woofie” and “swish!”


This girl’s got sass… she doesn’t walk, she struts!


Whew! – a moment of rest…


…and that was all before lunchtime!

Stayed tuned for more 🙂



Santa Monica Pier, Sarah and Aaron

Busy Busy!… I’m so fortunate to be booked solid every holiday season with family portrait sessions, and this year is my busiest.  I’ll catch up with postings this week.  In the meantime, here’s a quick sneak peek of one of the most fun shoots this year.

Little 4 yr. old twins, Sarah and Aaron at Santa Monica Pier yesterday.  It does not get any more adorable and sweet than these two…


More tasty cuteness on the blog tomorrow!



You Can Be Anything!

Billy Elliot is one of my top favorite movies of all time… and I’m not ashamed to say so is Rocky and Flashdance!  I’m a sucker for the underdog story and any movie that’s about heart, courage, and pursuing your dream.  You really can be anything you want to be.  You just need to decide! – which can sometimes be tough when there are so many exciting, wonderful, interesting, and amazing things to be 🙂

You can be a silly black cat…


…or a freaky witch in a hat…


You can be a a really good dancer – a prima ballerina…


…or a top model and fashionista…


…and these are just a few things that this little girl wants to be.  I’m sure for this Halloween coming up, she’ll have another half dozen costumes for me to shoot.  And I love that!… a girl after my own heart – why choose just one?  You can be anything, and you can be everything! 🙂