2016 Highlights and Reflection

Happy Woo Wednesdays! 2016 has been an amazing year! God has provided in big and small ways. If you follow my blog, you know that I keep very busy. I shot 27 fabulous weddings this year with the most genuine "In love" couples that inspire me everyday. Thank you to all my clients that let me capture one of the most important days of your life. You put your trust in me and I will never take that for granted. 2017 is going to be my 7th year in business. I get to see and capture families grow with their little ones, all the precious moments of life, what a blessing.

I've completed all my holiday shoots for the year and you can check some highlights out here. I can relax a bit now. I won The Knot's Best of weddings for the 4th year in a row. All of my clients gave me a 5 star review. You can check out my reviews here.

2016 was a year of not so good surprises: President-elect Donald Trump, the end of Brangelina and Kobe Bryant.

Some songs that stand out keep playing in my heads are Star Boy by The Weeknd, Closer by The Chainsmokers and my fave, Glory by John Legend. The song glory really gets me on fire to do something big in 2017. I can't forget about the hit song 7 years by Lukas Graham. Love the lyrics

"I only see my goals, I don't believe in failure. Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major."

My favorite youtube videos of this year are: Women that cuts her bangs and Chewbacca Mom. Also me and my Stu still can't get enough of Carpool Karaoke with James Corden. Stranger Things was my favorite show and I'm looking forward to the next season.

The holidaze has been very hectic with family and friends but it's my favorite time of year, so much good energy. Stu and I  just got back from a short road trip yesterday. We spent 2 nights in Mammoth with friends. We got to visit Momo Lake, Convict lake, and Lone Pine. It was so nice to clear the mind before the new year. After, we headed to sequoia to see the largest tree in the world, The General Sherman. The tree is 2,200 years old, incredible.

Here is a photo from friends-mas. Friends are the family you choose. I really believe that.

Can't forget about our boy Fred who turned 3 this year.


Thank you for following me on instagram. Oh how I love IG! I grew my following to over 8k followers on my personal and over 6k on my business account. I not only display colorful photos, I give tips to wedding photographers every week, mostly motivational. It's all about posting consistently and supporting/encouraging others on this platform. I've met some cool friends on this platform.


Highlights of 2016

It's a girl! Ups and downs of the pregnancy

I announced my pregnancy last week. You can see all the photos here.  Thank you for all your love and support. I'm a proactive person/planner, so I planned to get pregnant according to the busy wedding season months. I stopped drinking, got healthy and went to see an acupuncturist. When we found out we were pregnant, we were thrilled! At the first doctors appointment, the doctor told me that it looked like the pregnancy was going to be etopic, where the egg doesn't attach to the uterus. (meaning the pregnancy was a no-go. The doctor then explained that if the egg ruptured, it could be fatal. I bursted into tears! They ran some blood test and she called me the following Monday and told me that my HCG levels were very low and this would confirm the etopic pregnancy. Even though it was early on it was still devastating and scary news. My next check up, the doctor examined me again and told that The pregnancy was just fine! What a relief.

The fear of pregnancy

Wow, what a miracle. That was the best case scenario BUT it made me question the whole pregnancy every single day, and I still do.  I also have an anterior placenta where the placenta is located on the front of the uterus so her movements are hidden behind the placenta. That means, I didn't feel her kicks until 26 weeks and still, the movements I feel, are very week. One more thing, I didn't start showing until 6 months so that also made me feel insecure. People told me that I didn't look pregnant. All of these thing made me question "Is the baby still there?"

The positive side =)

Enough negativity. The kicks are getting stronger and our baby girl is healthy and a little chubby wubby. I'm so thankful to have an easy and smooth pregnancy. I need to trust in God that everything will be just fine. Stu and I are nesting and have never been happier. My niece, Maggie just turned 4 and she is giving me all of her hammy downs. Maggie is going to be an amazing big cousin.

Our daughter's is Piper Sato and we are still trying to think of a middle name. Any suggestions? Seriously, can't wait to meet our little bundle of joy.


Photo by Dipan Desai Photography / Dress by Sew Trendy / Floral Crown by Culver Center flowers / Makeup and hair by Phamous Beauty / Styled by Blue Door Creative

Favorite wedding

This is my fave wedding of the year because it's EPIC and it's my little sister's wedding. (non-biological)
Jenny Phan has been my assistant for 3 years and we have grown very close. We both share the love for wedding photography and weddings on all levels, the romance, creativity, artistry and detail.
You can see the blog post here. Every second of her wedding was breathtaking. 


I can't believe I got to go to Oahu Hawaii 3 times this year, I shot 2 weddings and one engagement. You can check the blog post out here and here and here. My last trip I got to stay for a week with 2 of my closest friends. I bought a ukulele and started playing for Piper.

Business coach

This year I really invested in myself and business. I hired a money mindset busines coach to really UP-LEVEL, referred by my good friend in the industry Hilo Productions.

My coach's name is Marla Diann and she has taught me so much on so many levels. Some of the things I've learned are:

Setting a daily intension and saying it the first thing in the morning / budgeting / meditation / high level money mindset / knowing my worth and not discounting my prices / delegating, outsourcing / working smarter, not harder.

I have an accountability partner and we chat every week to encourage each other.

As creative business owners, we do our best to maintain brand integrity, use our marketing system consistently, attend network meetings, offer quality service, implement a sales system, guard our reputation by being conscious of our conversations, and earn a good living doing what we love.

However, with so many moving pieces, we eventually admit we have blind spots that prevent us from growing at a pace that we envisioned. We look outside ourselves for the answer to higher, more consistent revenues.

Marla gives her students a wake up call. It begins with your relationship with money.

My first live workshops

This was so scary for me, to train other wedding photographers but I DID IT, because I PUT MY MIND TO IT. The reason I wanted to do live trainings is to see if I'm any good at teaching and if I love it. Turns out, I got amazing reviews and response. I confirmed that I am passionate about teaching other. In the past 7 years, I have helped about 5 people quit their corporate job and go full time as a wedding photographer. I want the number to grow significantly.

You have no idea how much heart and time I put into this. In research for this course, I took other courses, filled my brain with education from podcasts and videos, I was a sponge and I learned so from from it. That's the beauty of photography, if you are passionate about it, you will never stop learning. I even created a Private Facebook Group where we share wedding photography tips and trick.

I'm in the process of creating an online course for wedding photographers that will launch by March 2017. The course is called Carissa Explains it all - 25 wedding year


My first workshop was at my home studio. You can read about it here. For my second workshop, I teamed up with my good friend Kate from Blue Door Creative and we put together a branding and styling workshop. The workshop took place at Vene Ai Studio, a gorgeous boutique wedding dress company. You can read about it here. Kate and I met at a wedding where she was the planner and I was the obviously the photography. We got along so well and now have some weddings lined up together for next year.


Featured work

Every wedding professional loves to be featured. I love collaborating with other wedding vendors with similar style as mine. I have created life long friendships from doing this. When I get in the same room with other creatives, I feel exhilarated and inspired.

MOD Magazine - A Classy Bridal Shoot

I teamed up again with Kate from Blue Door Creative and we featured Vene Ai Studio wedding dresses at the classy venue, Redondo Beach Portofino. We were published on Mod Wedding. You can see the feature here.  You can see the blog post here.


Bachelorette Boudoir Shoot

I teamed up with Ede by Jacqueline and we put together a styled boudoir shoot that went viral. We thought a sexy boudoir shoot would be cool as a bachelorette party, not just for brides.

First it was featured on Boudoir Collective. You can check out the feature here. It was named top 30 wedding trends to look out for in 2017.

Pop Sugar Pick up on it and then MSN. Love when this happens.


Little Miss Lace

Speaking of boudoir, Little Miss Lace, my beauty and boudoir company is still steaming up. Shooting boudoir at my home studio is so much fun. The women leave feeling empowered and I feel the same way.

Becca Tiley

This girl may look familiar to you. Yep, it's Becca Tilley from the bachelor. Becca reps a clothing line called sugar love boutique.  The owner of Sugar Love found me on google and was drawn to my playful and colorful photos. This shoot at the Redondo Beach Portofino was so much fun and Becca is just as awesome in person as she is in the show. Many people asked to take selfies with her and of course she obliged, she is seriously the sweetest. You can see my blog post about it here.


What a year! I'm grateful for the opportunities and friendships 2016 has given me and I look forward to 2017.  Thank you to those who have supported and encouraged me along the way. Never stop learning, growing and being grateful for all the big and small opportunities and friendships that come your way.