Monday, March 9, 2015
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
We belong to several professional organizations, one of which is the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The annual meeting of PPA occurs at a conference that has been held annually dating back to 1880 (that's 1880, not 1980). This thing has been around almost since the beginning of photography itself.
The conference, Imaging USA, is being held in Phoenix, Arizona, this year and promises to be one of the best ever. In addition to the 3-day conference, classes, workshops and seminars are held for three days prior to the event. It is an amazing educational opportunity.
Strictly Art Photography is attending the conference this year and will be participating in multiple classes and seminars. As we have time, we plan to blog and post about our experiences there.
Stay tuned to this blog and to our Facebook page for live updates and reviews.
Friday, December 6, 2013
The dictionary entry would probably look something like:
ta-ble-scape [tey-buhl-skāp] - noun, verb
1. a collection of dining and drinking implements, including plates, platters, silverware, cutlery, glasses or goblets displayed on a table with linens and floral arrangements in a decorative fashion so as to demonstrate a particular theme or motif.
2. such a piece of furniture with implements and decorations used for serving food to those seated at it. verb
1. to enhance the ambiance of an event or meal, as by adding decorative items, implements, linens or floral arrangements to a table.
Used in a sentence - The wedding and event vendors in San Antonio can tablescape their asses off.
Such was the set up for the Second Annual International Special Events Society, San Antonio Chapter, Holiday Tablescape Contest held December 4th at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. ISES SA hosted the event which was attended by members and event professionals from across south Texas. The theme for the evening was Hollywood.
The participants selected their motifs and decorated their tables accordingly. The detail that went into the tables was amazing. The movies represented a wide genre of films - from classics to westerns, serious to whimsical.
The center table in the McNay Museum's banquet hall was a gorgeous piece representing the movie, Avatar, put together by Bisli Vasquez of Bisli Event Services. The centerpiece was fashioned after the Tree of Souls from the movie. Stunning in the spotlight, gold braids hung from arching wires creating a canopy over the roots of the tree which spread across the positions at the table. Strategically placed trays held dry ice which emitted its signature "fog" over the scene. Green and blue linens completed the other-worldly, yet earthy, look.
The entry from Lambermont Events represented the elegance of the stars from Malibu. A canvas-colored canopy hung over the square table which was adorned with driftwood, seashells and starfish. Candles and lanterns added understated lighting while a fisherman's net cast character across the scene. Lush, white cotton beach towels adorned the backs of each chair.
Dominating the corner of the hall was the impressive entry from Capers DMC of San Antonio. The classic movie, Shanghai Express, provided the inspiration. With red and gold linens from BBJ Linens of Austin, the table literally glistened in the spotlight. Asian-themed tableware accented the scene, and classic movie posters made it clear to even the uninitiated what movie was represented.
Western heroes made an appearance in the form of the tablescape put together by Barriba Cantina. The table's theme, The Alamo, was perfect for this San Antonio crowd. Rustic crates and barrels set the centerpiece high above the table with flowers contained in, what else but, a cowboy boot. Place cards were set out with the names of the heroes of the Alamo. Horseshoes and mason jars gave the table an authentic western look.
Not only did the McNay Art Museum provide the venue for the event, but they also entered a table into the competition. Dark and mysterious, their Nightmare Before Christmas themed table stood in stark contrast to the other bright, festive tables surrounding it. Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie and even a skeletal Santa Clause adorned the table. The pinnacle of the centerpiece was a black crow who kept a watchful eye on the evening's events.
One of the most amazing experiences of the evening, for me, was watching the Wizard of Oz tablescape come together. Event experts from The San Antonio Wedding Guide and Bridal Extravaganza designed a very creative homage to Oz with their towering round vases filled with emerald-colored water, flanked by smaller square vases filled with yellow-tinted water representing the famed yellow-brick-road. Ruby slippers marked each spot at the table, and the small flower baskets across the table would make Dorothy feel very welcome. A well-placed cardboard cut-out with signature characters from the movie gave the table a well-put together look.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…the table from Occasions by Karen used white china and matching accoutrements to set a winter scene. The shimmering silver table cloth gave the entire scene a look of new-fallen snow, while the white branches of the leafless trees brought the outdoors in.
Walt Disney himself would be proud of the design from Signature Catering of San Antonio. A Donald Duck themed entry helped keep the evening fun and light. Donald and his girl Daisy made multiple appearances across the table, while the centerpiece Donald glared with one of his signature scowls. Laid out with deep red and blue linens, the whole piece had a very Disney feel.
And last, but certainly not least, was the whimsical entry from Panache Event Group - A Griswold Family Christmas - straight from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Place cards included Clark and Ellen Griswold, and each spot at the table had its own "jelly-of-the-month" entry. I fully expected a squirrel to jump out of the greenery on the centerpiece.
At the end of the evening, after a delicious meal served by Heavenly Gourmet and drinks by Haute Cocktails, ISES SA awarded three trophies. Best design on a budget went to Barriba Cantina and their Alamo-themed table. The most creative design trophy was garnered by Bisli Vazquez for her Avatar-themed table, and the overall best design trophy went to Capers DMC for their Shanghai Express tablescape.
All-in-all, it was a spectacle which lived up to its Hollywood theme. And I learned a new word, worthy of inclusion in Webster's.
See more photos of the evening from Strictly Art Photography on our Facebook page.
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Sponsored by San Antonio Weddings magazine, the competition was open to wedding photographers throughout south Texas. Many entered, then the editors of the magazine whittled the field down to the top 25 entries. One image from each of the top photographers was sent to 100 brides who culled the list down to the top eight wedding photographers. These eight were the contestants in the Shootout.
On the day of the event, the photographers and their assistants gathered at the beautiful Hofmann Ranch wedding venue in Castroville, Texas. The magazine and the venue owners welcomed the photographers at a pre-competition briefing. The rules were laid out; then the competition was on.
The eight photographers and their assistants were divided into two groups of four. Each group rotated through four pre-determined shooting locations, with each photographer allotted six minutes to scout his or her location, find the right props, furniture and flowers and set the model or models into place and shoot. It was a daunting task in the south Texas heat, to say the least.
After the photographers each shot at the four pre-determined locations, a secret, fifth location was revealed. At this secret location, only the photographer could enter (no assistants on this one), and only one minute was allotted to select a model, pick the exact spot, pose the model and dial in the shot. Sixty seconds went by really, really quickly.
After the contest, each photographer submitted his or her favorite images of the day to the editors once more for another round of judging. The prize for the winning photographer was a cover of an upcoming issue of San Antonio Weddings magazine.
Strictly Art's submission for the cover image photo
In the end, our studio did not win the cover shot (a worthy competitor came out on top), but the experience was one we'll never forget. It was an honor to be selected by brides of San Antonio as one of their top eight wedding photographers. And it was a whole lot of fun running around Hofmann Ranch like an episode of Survivor meets The Amazing Race meets Ink Master.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
To maximize your time at the event, get a game plan together before you arrive. The first step should be to assess where you are in the wedding planning process. Some brides are just starting the adventure when they attend their first Extravaganza; others are well along the way in their planning and are just looking for another vendor or two to complete their dream wedding. Your position in the planning process should dictate how you move about the show floor. If you need everything, you could start at the entrance and just take it all in by moving through the rows; however, I don’t recommend this approach. You’ll likely just get jostled around, bouncing from one vendor to another (the event floor is not laid out in any order at all) and easily get overwhelmed. If you need everything, I recommend you first make a list. Start with the biggest items first…venue and caterer; then, work your way through the rest of the items, filling in to meet your needs as you go to stay organized. If you’re the bride who only needs one or two vendors to complete your plan, make a direct path to only those vendors you need. Browsing items you've already contracted for will only confuse things. So, to maximize your time, get a game plan together before you go.
Another tip to maximize your time at the Extravaganza is to talk face-to-face to the vendors with whom a personal relationship is important. The Extravaganza offers a unique opportunity for you to meet the actual people you will be working with during your wedding day. These vendors include primarily your planners, photographers and DJs. Some vendors will be important to you during the preparation, like your venue reps, your caterer, or the florist. Some vendors will be important to you afterwards, like the vacation specialists or the real estate agents, but there is a very short list of vendors who will be in your inner circle during the wedding day itself. Not even your officiant (minister, pastor, priest, etc.) will be with you more closely on the big day than your planner, your photographer or your DJ. The formal-wear reps will be at the Extravaganza; the vacation reps will be there; even the mortgage specialists will be represented; but, ask yourself – “which vendor will be in my inner circle on my biggest day?” Based on our years of experience, it’s your planner, your photographer and your DJ. Visit with the limousine guy and the honeymoon trip planner during the Extravaganza, but spend your time testing out the personalities of your planners, your photographer and your DJ. You’ll be glad you did.
Come to the event ready to book. Do your homework in advance – check out the list of vendors on the Extravaganza website and check them out BEFORE you attend. This technique will give you the best shot of getting your preferred vendors before they are booked, and it will likely net you a very good deal on the contract. Vendors love to book at these shows and are very likely to offer big discounts to potential clients to “seal the deal.” Not only are the vendors making good deals, but the event itself offers incentives for brides to book during the show. The Extravaganza offers “Bridal Bucks” coupons which can be redeemed with vendors during the show to get valuable discounts and add-ons. Also, this year, the Extravaganza is giving away $250 discounts to eight lucky brides who book with vendors during the show – a nice little incentive to come ready to book.
The Bridal Extravaganza is a lot of fun, but it can also be a zoo. If you follow my tips (get a game plan together before you come, talk face-to-face with the vendors with whom you’ll need a personal relationship, and come ready to book), you can tame the zoo and maximize your time at the event.
Monday, June 17, 2013
While it’s true the cameras of today can do much of the work of the photographer, there’s a big difference between snapping a picture and creating an image. Friends and family members with point-and-shoot cameras and smart phones are snapping pictures. I went to school to learn to use my camera, and I put it to use 30+ years ago as an aspiring young journalist. The techniques I learned in school and the experience I gained over time helped me hone my craft and become a full-time professional photographer. I create images. I don’t snap photos.
Wedding photography is the combination of a wide range of skills. The images I create combine elements of portrait and studio photography, event photography and photojournalism. I am there during crisis and triumph – when things go according to plan, and when they don’t. I am a technician, a story teller, an artist and sometimes counselor and confidant. I am a member of the inner circle around you on the biggest day of your life. An amateur photographer, family friend or relative with a camera simply doesn’t have the experience or expertise to make the images you, the bride, have in your head come to life.
Let me put it another way. You hire a professional DJ instead of plugging in your iPod because you want to make sure the entertainment goes according to plan. You hire a caterer instead of ordering in pizza because you want a memorable meal, not just food. It’s why you order a custom wedding cake instead of picking up cupcakes from Sam’s. Don’t get me wrong…the generic cupcakes are fun, but they’re no substitute for a custom wedding cake. Similarly, the snapshots from friends are fun, but you hire a professional photographer because you want artful images created of the day you’ve dreamed of all your life. There’s no substitute for professional images of your wedding.
With the advent of the point-and-shoot camera and the smart phone, cameras are everywhere today. Almost every cell phone has a camera, and almost everyone has a cell phone. Point-and-shoot cameras have become so lightweight and small, they’re almost unnoticeable. They’re in your pockets and your purses. They are with you in the car, at work and play, in your home and with you wherever you go. They’re inescapable. You very well may have been holding one in your hand while you read this article. But as I’ve said many times before – just because you’ve got a wrench, that doesn’t mean you’re a mechanic. Hire a professional photographer. The images you have of your wedding years from now will be worth it.