Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vendor Spotlight: The Legacy Boutique Photography

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet with photographer Karen Christensen, owner of The Legacy Boutique Photography Studio.  I was so impressed by her work, and I learned a lot during our session as she schooled me on the difference between a "shoot & burn" photographer versus a professional (such as herself) who brings a lot more to the table. As I learned more about Karen, I was equally impressed by her mission and what she stands for.  Not only is she an amazing photographer, but she is a strong advocate of women's and children's rights and devotes a lot of her time to working with non-profit and women-owned small businesses.  Karen is also engaged to be married, so she can really relate to her clients and anticipate their needs when it comes to the desire to find a photographer who can capture the memories that will be cherished forever.   Check out my interview with Karen, as she steps from behind the lens to discuss everything from the inspiration behind The Legacy Boutique to money-saving tips on wedding photography.

Interview: Karen Christensen  
The Legacy Boutique: Owner, Photographer, Mixed Media Artivist

How did you get involved with photography?

Photography is something that’s been a part of my world since I was fourteen, when I first got the bug to act and model for TV, FILM, and COMMERCIALS. But I really first devoted myself to shooting in 2004. That’s the year my best girlfriend, and then roommate, lost an 18month battle with Leukemia. I was pummeled by that loss. So after taking a long hard look in the mirror, and seeing an entertainment career of compromise staring back at me, I stopped auditioning to finish my BA in Photojournalism and Women’s Studies. That’s when I also really connected to the fragility of life, feeling as if Time was like water through my hands. Overnight, I found solace in using my power behind the lens to help change that. And so my photography studio, named for my friend in many ways, works to make my Art my Activism. Donating my time, talents, and a percentage of the studio’s proceeds to local and international organizations – my Art supports the improved self-esteem and self-sustainability of Women and Children in the U.S. and the Third World.

Do you have any formal training?

Yup! While my Photojournalism degree certainly trained me on the fundamentals of photography, the real training came when I became passionate about this art form, allowed myself to “play,” and surrounded myself with peers whose work inspired and humbled me. You know you’re in the right company if the people: A) completely floor you, B) secretly terrify you, and C) make you question your very worth as an Artist. Funny, but true! Maybe that’s selfish, but I’ll tell you it’s good business and it makes for wonderful community. It’s what you need to navigate finding your signature style, getting the phone to ring, and managing the complexities of running a successful studio.

What did you do prior to this?

I know, very personally, the pressures and the wonders of being in front of the lens. Before shooting professionally I was acting and modeling for roles in TV, FILM, and COMMERCIALS. My currency as an actor was never in my intelligence or life experience but rather in my looks, which is unfortunately true for many women in many professions. On set I would feel terribly outside of myself, unable to connect to the work, and highly aware of every minor imperfection on camera. But I truly believe, in life’s mysterious way, those awkward moments are what now gives me such empathy and rapport with my photography subjects. That’s what makes for authentic portraiture, beautiful from the inside out.

How would you describe your photography style?

I use Photojournalism to capture those “verb” actions moments, like the bride laughing by her great grandmother or the groom popping his shirt collar with a wink and a smile. And I use Fashion compositions for more stylized group shots, where we can add in artistic concepts like Antique lanterns spelling out the word “Love” in a corn field. Go all out creatively, you know?

What is your favorite moment to capture at a wedding?

My favorite moments to photograph are, well, all of them! But if I absolutely had to choose I would say the Engagement Session and the First Looks. Those are the times when it really and truly is about the couple themselves. Not the Dj who’s driving you crazy or the limo driver who’s late, just the bride and the groom connecting with each other and celebrating this new venture they’re embarking on for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Brings me to tears every time! But I really can’t pick ONE so I have to also say the bridal party and couple formals with fun Fashion concepts!

What makes a client choose The Legacy Boutique over competitors?
Incredible word of mouth praise, referrals, and returning clients are what keep my studio a sweet family boutique. I feel so, so grateful! I think the top 5 reasons clients choose The Legacy Boutique are:

1) We offer expert soulful coverage in both Photojournalistic and Fashion styles. And we design custom Art to showcase on your walls or in an Heirloom Album.

2) We build an intimate relationship starting from, “The Legacy Design Consultation,” to the Complimentary “Engagement Session” to the “Bridal Boudoir Bachelorette Party,” to the “Trash the Dress,” day after photo shoot. Consequently, we often become a client’s chosen family photographer for life and go onto shoot Maternity, Newborn, Baby, Child, Family, and Anniversary sessions.

3) Clients feel good knowing that an investment in The Legacy Boutique is also an investment in the improved Self-Esteem and Self-Sustainability of Women and Children through our donated Time, Talents, and Studio Percentage.

4) My former career as an actress and model helps boost clients’ confidence on shoots, ensuring not only strong storytelling with a high art Fashion look but also the most flattering lines and angles with flawless complimentary retouching.

5) We offer flexible Collections, payment plans, and even Registry that allow even the budget bride to have the Photography & Videography of her dreams.

What would you say is your biggest source of inspiration?

Time. I wrote in a letter on my website, “I’m haunted by Time.” And that’s really true. I think when you’ve managed a loss of any kind, for me it was the death of my friend in 2004, you become more and more acutely aware of the fragility of life. Whether it’s a morning snuggle with your partner or that point where tears turn to laughter – Life is lived in the little details. We can make big plans, we can chase fame and fortune, but ultimately it comes down to simple togetherness. And that “togetherness” can be fleeting. In many ways, everything I do now has come after the lessons I learned from losing my friend to Leukemia. The moments we shared are now lost, vanished and gone, but her legacy lives in me. Capturing legacies in Art is what inspires me.

What are a few ways couples can save when it comes to photography?

1) Even our base Wedding Collection includes a Complimentary Engagement Session with your choice of Complimentary SAVE THE DATES or Photo Guest Favors.

2) We offer Collections that gift couples a Complimentary Archival Hi-Resolution CD of all their images, which is perfect for inexpensive additional small proofs. We simply caution clients that they will see MAJOR discrepancies in quality, however, it enables them to invest in a few signature enlargements or an album through us.

3) A popular modern trend is to have your guests register for either all or some of your Photography/Videography Collection. Modern couples don’t often need the traditional set of Tupperware and guests love the idea of investing in something that’s both meaningful and permanent. I encourage the brides on a $10,000 budget to utilize your registry to help you! And don’t forget about flexible payment plans.

Besides shooting awesome photos, what else fills your time?

Aside from Photography, I am lucky enough to genuinely say I am in love with my life! From international exploration to local get-togethers, my fiancé and I are very blessed to live and love and laugh freely. Things we love: sunrise workouts in the park, cooking breakfast, beachside bike rides, local farmers markets, snuggling with my cat, riding motorbikes across Indonesia, sea kayaking in Thailand, sleeping in a Guatemalan jungle, climbing a Honduran volcano, ocean swimming beneath the Mayan Ruins in Mexico – to name only a few. My life is magical! Shooting and doing advocacy work is just icing on the cake. And I’m a girl who looooooves cake!

You’re planning your own wedding…what are some of the things you are looking for in a photographer?

Like I offer my clients, I’ll want Photojournalism and Fashion coverage in a combination of Color, Black & White, and Vintage tones. Most importantly I’ll want top quality custom Designer Heirloom Albums, Canvas Wraps, and Prints. Because what’s the sense in investing in excellent coverage and then not investing in a finished product that will stand the test of time, both artistically and archivally? That’s like paying to see only the Dress Rehearsal but not the final performance.

What’s the most valuable advice you’d give to a couple regarding choosing a wedding photographer?

1) Find a photographer who is willing to really spend their time getting to know you personally. You want your photographer to be your photographer for life.
2) Your dress, photography, and videography are your only Heirloom Keepsakes from your big day! Yes you want to invest in exceptional coverage, but you also want flawless Archival Art to showcase and hand down to your grandkids.

If you were not a photographer, what would you be doing instead?

This is a funny question because my fiancé and I romanticize about the countless other lives we’d love to live all simultaneously if we could! LOL. If I were not a photographer I would be living one of these other 5 lives I posted on my blog under, “In Another Life …” ( There I talked about also wanting to be: 1) An Investigative Reporter like Lisa Ling, 2) A Melancholic Singer/Songwriter like Rachel Yamagata, 3) A Respected Actress and UNICEF Ambassador like Audrey Hepburn, and 4) A Dancer like Martha Graham. Add to that: A Women’s Motivational Speaker, Business Consultant, Author like Anne Lamott or Alice Walker, Sculptor – and we may just have me covered! Clearly there’s no lack of inspiration or dreaming, just time.

If you could photograph a destination wedding anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I know I’m thrilled for the Cabo San Lucas Wedding I’m shooting for my new friends Jodi and Mike! But seeing as I can’t make up my mind if I want to get married in Goa, India or Bali, Indonesia or Cartagena, Colombia or Caan, France or Cairo, Egypt – it’s impossible to think where I wouldn’t want to photograph a Destination Wedding. It’s all too fun! Who knows? Maybe I’ll just leave my bags packed and wait for wherever the wind takes me!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

LOL. As you can see, I talk too much! But the last thing I’d like to share is this: (to all the engage couples out there), congratulations to you and your partner. I wish you nothing but Peace, Blessings, and May You Always Live A Life You Love.   

For more information on Karen, check out her blog, and become a fan of The Legacy Boutique on Facebook to see photos from recent shoots. 


  1. Wow! Thanks so much for such a kind introduction!

    RSVP for the 2010 OPEN HOUSE because a Little Birdie told me there will be some killer goodie bags, raffle prizes, and maybe even a blog contest for a free portrait session coming up!!!

    You know I'll be there! Call or email me with any questions! or 310-503-6379

  2. Can't wait to meet you in Cabo, Karen. You are one amazing person - reflected in your amazing photography.

    (I'm Mike and Vikki's Mom!)