Capturing the Soul of Newport in Photos

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Newport Beach photographer Kate Houlihan has just released her long-awaited coffee table book, “Finding Newport Beach.”

Kate’s photos of everyday moments, people, places, as well as iconic landmarks, both in color and black and white, capture the textures, moods, and spirit of Newport Beach.  For natives and long-time residents of Newport, this book also captures not only the beauty but the emotions that come with living in such a unique place.

Kate understands that Newport Beach is more than a place where people live. It is a place where they immerse themselves in or on the ocean and bay all year long.  Sea shells, delicate sandpipers, and sunsets can become so commonplace we begin to take them for granted.    Houlihan’s title, “Finding Newport Beach,” is fitting.  Flipping through the gorgeous photos, one gets the sense that they have found something they didn’t realize they were looking for. The soul of Newport Beach captured in photos.

Kate assembled the dream team of talented local moms to help her complete the book. Sarah Drislane provides the text –brief yet rich commentary on the photos and historical context; Denise Wada completed the design and layout; and Suzanna Richter has faithfully served as her production manager and runs her marketing and sales.

The result is a coffee table book which should be displayed in every home in Newport Beach and which any tourist would treasure.  Kate captures the threads that make up the colorful and vibrant tapestry Newport Beach life and allows us to savor them individually.  She has a gift for composition.  She can find a small detail and help us see the beauty of a piece of the whole.

One of my favorite shots is a closeup of a weathered rope around a cleat on a small section of dock.  Only a piece of the wooden rowboat with chipped paint appears along the left of the photograph. You can feel the scratchy planks of the dock beneath your feet, the salty braided rope in your hand. You half expect that at any moment the dark space between the rubber strip on the edge of the dock and the boat held loosely by the rope will close and the sloshing of water, dock, and boat coming together will be audible.

Other favorites of mine are the photo of shoreline – the blue water, interrupted by a small wave crashing near shore and white foam sliding up along the latte sand.  A child in mid-air jumping off a lifeguard stand at dusk as another child on the lifeguard stand watches (Norman Rockwell eat your heart out) is another stand out.

The photograph of “Crystal Cove” hand painted on a piece of driftwood, hanging from a mint green wood trellis, covering two wooden weathered and lopsided picnic tables on the sand with the sea just beyond speaks to the old Newport, the sleepy little town of yesteryear.

For the car enthusiasts, there is an entire section of photos of old classic Woody cars.

Kate’s interest in photography began as a child when her grandmother gave her an instamatic Kodak camera.  Then when she was 13, someone left a 35mm Konica camera at our house after a party. No one ever came to claim it. That, Kate says is when, “I thought I had arrived.”

“That camera went all over Europe with me where I went to school for a year of college.”

Kate received a scholarship to study art and attended the University of Oregon where she soon realized she also had a passion for the life sciences. She earned a degree in biology, while developing her photography skills.  Upon graduating Kate worked with the internationally renowned photographer David Stoecklein and traveled extensively shooting photos before co-founding and managing a stock photo agency and building a personal photography business.

Kate, also an avid equestrian, lives in Newport Beach with her husband Jay and their two children.

Some  of the photographs from “Finding Newport Beach”  can be seen blown up and hanging inside of Haute Cakes in Newport Beach through the end of August.

“Finding Newport Beach” is a great value for $24.95 and is available at Martha’s Bookstore on Balboa Island, Lido Village Book Store, Where’s the Party on 17th Street in Costa Mesa and Shirley’s Heart and Heart of the Island – both on Balboa Island.

Kate will be signing copies of her book at Martha’s Bookstore on Saturday, Sept. 3, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Friday, Sept. 23, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Where’s the Party in Costa Mesa.

For more information about Kate Houlihan visit

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