Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Leather Album Option for 2006

Leather albums usually cost a lot more than vinyl albums... but not now! For 2006, I have a new option for my clients... choose between a 25 page (50 sides) vinyl album with removable pages or a 24 page (48 sides) deluxe library bound leather album for the same price!

The top photo is the leather album. Physically, it's slightly smaller than the removable page version because it does not need the flexible hinge section of the removable page and of course, it's one page less. The next two photos are of the removable page vinyl album. The key thing to note is that the library bound album is perfectly edged on all sides of the pages whereas the removable page album is not.

For years, I have been offering the removable page album and many have been very satisfied with it. But for 2006, an opportunity came up to offer the leather library bound album at the same price! So, you now have a choice.

The benefits of the removable page album is that you can always replace a page in the event of something spilling into your album and ruining the page. You can't do that with the library bound leather album. But in all these years, nobody's ever had to order a page from me because of this scenario. So, I suppose most people are very careful before viewing their albums (as they should be!)

The benefits of the library bound leather album is a more compact design, real leather, and a smooth look on all edges of the book.

By the way, the most popular option is shown above... black leather with a 4" square cutout on the cover and silver edged pages. Very cool and contemporary!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Want to ride in style? Here are some examples of the unique.

1. Horse & Carriage... elegant and classic.

2. Rolls Royce - Grey Poupon mustard comes immediately to mind. I believe the driver actually had a jar on the dashboard of this one.

3. Stretch Hummer - VERY COOL vehicle. This one was really decked out inside...

4. 1946 Ford Woody - This was a friend of the groom's personal vehicle. A throw back in time...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A "Knight" To Remember

"OK... which one of these guys is really the Knight in Shining Armor?"

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas - A day in advance!

I thought I'd say "Merry Christmas" a day in advance since I know I'll be spending time with family all day tomorrow and won't get a chance to post it on Christmas Day.

And to my Jewish friends, "Happy Hanukah"!

Have a great holiday everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Argus C3 Camera

The Argus C3 was made from 1939-1958 and is affectionately nicknamed "The Brick." That's because it weighs like a brick and is built like one too!

The one pictured above was my dad's and when I was a kid, I'd take that camera and my Kodak Brownie Bullet camera and run around the house taking "fake pictures" (no film) all the time. Now I run around the house and take digital pictures of my family all the time. Drives them crazy! :)

I still have the C3 pictured above. It had it's own flash unit, but that has since been lost. The C3 is a "Rangefinder" 35mm camera. It does not have a mirror system like a single lens reflex camera but rather focuses by looking through one of the two viewfinders and adjusting the lens so that the split image lined up on the top half of the image with the bottom half. It's a great camera and lots of people had one back in it's day...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Kodak Brownie Cameras

Kodak Brownie Cameras have been a part of camera history since 1900 and is quite varied. Often you'll hear people say, "I had a Kodak Brownie when I grew up!" But most people don't know that the Brownie Cameras had a lot of different models over the years!

My original Kodak Brownie was a Brownie Bullet model and is the last one pictured above. My camera was probably made around 1963 and 1964. But the one on the top was made between 1915 and 1926. It's a folding camera named the Vest Pocket Autographic Number 2.

Other models were simply a light-tight box with a shutter. And as it approached the 1940's, reflex models became popular (viewfinders were above the cameras and you looked down into the camera's reflex mirror).

Since my first post on October 19th about my old Kodak Brownie Bullet Camera, I went a little crazy and purchased all these cameras you see pictured above. Yes, I've started quite a collection of Kodak Brownie Cameras! It just made sense to do this as it really does show the history of American cameras and it's really not that expensive to buy! Most of these can be purchased from as low as $5 to $35 per camera! And they all work too!

To learn more about the history of Kodak Brownie Cameras, check out this site:

You'd better buy yours quick before I buy them all up!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mariachi Bands

I LOVE Mariachi Bands!

Back when I was shooting in San Diego, I'd see Mariachi bands all the time. It was almost expected! But here in the Chicago area, it only happens every now and then.

These guys are great. They get everybody in the mood for the festivities to come. It always amazes me that they can play acoustically and sing without microphones, yet you hear them throughout the hall.

And I absolutely love the acoustic bass that they use. Have you seen this? It's one huge guitar body on that thing! Where do they buy this? I've been to a lot of music stores in my time, but I've never seen this thing sold. Must be sold only at specialty shops that cater to Mariachi band members!

This fellow was photographed at a recent wedding in 2005. Typically the bands consist of the bass player, a guitar or two, at least one trumpet player (or more), some violins and sometimes an accordian player. They all share in the vocal responsibilities. Without microphones, they can wander around while playing and singing. It's great!

Friday, December 16, 2005

"Backdrops? We don't need no stinking backdrops!"

Here is a shot from a recent wedding. I think it's much more dynamic than shooting with a backdrop and studio lights!

Although I have the ability to bring backdrops and studio lights with me, I often tell my clients not to do it. Why? Because I'd rather use the natural settings of the reception hall to tell the story of where you had your reception. And, those backdrop shots just make it look like something you did at a local Sears or JC Penny!

This shot was taken at Meridian banquet hall in Rolling Meadows. It features a great natural backdrop! Don't ask me what it is that the bride is standing in front of. I have no clue what it's called! It's not a fountain, but sure looks like one. :)

By the way, what western movie was the famous line, "We don't need badges!" taken from? Everyone thinks the line is, "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!" But that's not the actual line from the movie!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Posting More During Winter Break

Since I have finished the last of my 2005 weddings, I might be posting a little more often. Mondays and Thursdays will be my main posting days, but as things occur to me, I may fill in with more posts between those days.

What will I be doing during my "Winter Break?"

Well, I'll be very busy this season. As usual, I'll continue meeting with new brides and grooms setting up 2006's wedding schedule. I've been very busy doing this lately. No complaints at all though! :) 2006 should be a great year for me.

Also, I'll be doing a lot of music recording. It seems other professional wedding photographers are in need of some good instrumental recordings to use on their DVD slideshow presentations. Many have encouraged me to compose and record some original material for their use (for my use too!) So, I'll be working on that a lot.

Lastly, I'll be testing out the new Nikon D200 cameras getting ready for the 2006 wedding season. Practice makes perfect!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Simple Can Be Better

Wow... two posts on the same day! A bonus! :)

Sometimes simple things can make a strong statement. I shot this simple image with my Fuji S3 while waiting for a bunch of fellow wedding photographers to show up at our quarterly dinner meeting to discuss our work. We help each other out in case there is a need due to illness or just even a need for a second photographer to help at a wedding.

Anyway, using just natural ambient lighting at the restaurant (it was fairly dark in there), I was able to capture a pretty decent shot of a table by the window. The intensity of the lighting outside was obviously more than the lighting inside the restaurant, but it only helps to create the mood of the dark atmosphere in the restaurant.

I took the color image and converted it to B&W. As you can see, it's just as powerful (if not more so) in B&W. By removing the color, the eye is actually more drawn to the main subject (the table and chairs) than the outside background. The point here? B&W can actually help improve an image's effectiveness by taking away the attention being drawn to objects that are in color. In this case, the only thing really interesting to look at in the B&W shot is the table and chairs... which is the main subject.

What are your thoughts on this? Comments welcomed!


Here's something you don't see at many weddings... bagpipes! This image was taken at a wedding I shot in November.

After mentioning the soft gentle music of the harp on a post recently, I thought I'd show you the other extreme. Ever hear bagpipes up close? Wow! These things are LOUD! Much louder than you'd expect.

I think this is just as cool as having a harp at a wedding. I suppose I just like seeing something different at weddings. It gets my creative juices flowing when I can shoot something different.

I wonder if this guy was a little cold being in that kilt in November? :)

If you want to see a cute picture of what can happen to a guy in a kilt, check out this site:

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Marathon Photoshop Session!

I pulled an "All-Nighter" last night and finished Photoshopping the images from one of the weddings I shot a few weeks ago.

For those who are not familiar with the term, an "All-Nighter" is where you stay up and work... or in the case of college students, it often means staying up cramming (studying) for finals all night.

Every now and then I do this. Not that I have to, but sometimes I get on a roll and just have to finish it. I keep telling myself, just one more image and I'll go to bed. But it never happens. It seems that one more becomes one dozen more or one hundred more. It never ends.

In this case it was something like four hundred more. :)

Well, it was getting near 5:30 AM when I finally finished so I figured I might as well just stay up and finish the CD labels and convert everything to Black and White as well. Besides, I had to meet a new potential client at 11:00 AM anyway.

Right now, I'm wiped out. It's not easy doing all-nighters! I'm actually nodding off as I'm sitting here typing this entry!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hasselblad - Medium Format Film Cameras

On my October 31, 2005 post, I mentioned that the Hasselblad cameras were "THE" cameras to use to capture weddings until digital arrived. It's true. People would clammer to photographers who used these cameras for wedding photography simply because they produced the finest images that film had to offer short of large studio view cameras. But they are still big and bulky compared to 35mm cameras and today's digital cameras. I think anyone who's ever watched a movie or TV show and have seen where a studio photographer is taking "fashion shots" of a model will recognize the Hasselblad. It's a very well known camera that only professionals used due to the high cost of the equipment. Hollywood knew that and they exploited it.

Pictured above are my Hasselblad cameras. I have two Hasselblads which can easily be used for wedding work today. But I prefer to shoot with my digital cameras because they offer superb image quality and handling flexibility for photojournalistic work. Can I still offer film today if you wanted it? Sure can. But why would you want it?

Today, digital offers a huge advantage at a cost savings as well. With digital, there's no film expense, development expense, proof print expense, negative retouching fees and most importantly, digital cameras allow me to move quicker and shoot faster! Plus with digital, I can upload images to the web for all your family and friends to see without having to "scan" film negatives (which is another expense!) Today, I can quickly shoot 2-3 times as many images as I could with a medium format camera at a lower cost as well.

So does the Hasselblad offer any distinct advantages today compared to today's digital cameras? Sure. If you intend to enlarge your images to say 30x40 or even 40x60 sizes... then perhaps you want to use a Hasselblad. But I'd say most clients don't do this. Most will only go to 8x10 or perhaps 11x14. Even 12x18 images are so good with digital that I dare anyone to be able to tell the difference between a digital shot and a medium format shot.

So, if you want lots of quality images at a fraction of the cost of using medium format equipment... go digital 100%. Most of my clients do just that. But if you have to have film, I've got you covered as well.


"Boardwalk! That will be $200 please!"

Did you know it's actually quite difficult to land on Boardwalk?

When I was still in grade school, my brother and I would play Monopoly all the time. And I mean ALL THE TIME! We once had a game that lasted days... maybe even a full week!

You see, we broke the rules and did not charge for rent sometimes, just to extend the game. We had our entire summer vacation to do whatever we wanted, so we played Monopoly. But even though the game was typically longer than most any other games we played, it wasn't long enough to keep us occupied all day. So we just "lengthened it." :)

After a while, we got so good at Monopoly that we could simply just roll the dice and instead of moving our token one space at a time, we'd just jump to the proper space. We could count it out that fast. Then we started to get serious and played by "strict rules." None of this "house rules" stuff for us. It was "strict rules, or no play" at our house. We took it seriously!

And, we played fast! Roll the dice and MOVE! The game is way too slow if you have to count out spaces. Roll and move... roll and move! My friend Steve once played with us and I think he said, "You guys take all the fun out of this!" Yes... we are serious when it comes to Monopoly.

There's actually a book out there that describes the various strategies of Monopoly. Yes! Monopoly can be played with strategy. Statistically, certain spaces are landed on more frequently than others. Don't think that buying higher priced properties equates to getting more rent for you on the long run.

Did you know that having three houses on each of the color-coordinated spaces is required before you can even purchase a single hotel on that colored group? And, did you know that if there are no more houses left (physically) for the bank to sell, you cannot buy more houses and you cannot buy a hotel either? So strategically, you could buy up all the houses in the set, place them all on the properties you own and your opponents cannot buy any houses! And if your opponent has three houses on each of his colored properties in his monopoly, he can't build a hotel either! You could strategically lock your opponent out of buying houses or hotels by just not giving up your houses for hotels! Keep them on your spaces!

Rent increases dramatically at three houses. Take a look at your property card the next time you play. So the goal is really to get to three houses. And, you need to build evenly. Meaning you cannot put three houses on one space and one house on each of the two other spaces! You have to spread out that third house on one of the other two properties first. And you can't keep moving the houses from spot to spot in your monopoly. Once you declare the space it is purchased for, it stays there!
And yes... Free Parking is just Free Parking. No "house money" gets placed there for someone to win if they land on Free Parking! Who made up THAT rule?!

Don't ever play Monopoly with me or with my brother. We'll take all the fun out of the game because we are dead serious about it. Humph! Now I'm all worked up thinking about Monopoly!
There's no mercy when we play Monopoly! :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Disasters" and Other "Fun" Occurances At Weddings

I'm often asked what weird things I have witnessed occuring at weddings.

Sometimes I wonder why anyone would want to know that, but I suppose it's because people are nervous that something similar might happen at their wedding! Well, I can honestly say that none of my weddings go off without a hitch! (I hope you got that pun...)

Here's a partial list of things that have occured that I have witnessed. Not all are spectacular, but it may cause you to double check on things to make sure it doesn't happen to you:

1. Hairdresser messes up and causes the bride to re-do her hair herself. It also makes her late for the pre-ceremony photos.

2. Limo shows up... but at the wrong site.

3. Bride begs relatives not to "fight" at her wedding (literally.)

4. Bridesmaids faint from heat exhaustion (very common.)

5. Best man delivers "x-rated" jokes during his toast to the bride and groom. Gets boo'ed by the guests because of these jokes, but doesn't know enough to stop telling them. Continues on for several more agonizing minutes with each joke receiving more boos.

6. Florist shows up late to set up flowers for the wedding which causes all the pre-wedding photos to be shot without the flowers. (Note: This happens at almost all weddings. It might be best to stretch the truth a little and tell the florist that the wedding is to start an hour sooner than it really is scheduled to start... just to get the flowers there on time.)

7. Everyone shows up early to the church to get photos taken... only to find it locked and nobody has the key.

8. Flowergirl or Ringbearer throws a tantrum and decides in the middle of walking down the aisle to start crying and run back up the aisle.

9. Ringbearer trips on his way to the alter and puts a huge rip into the runner... so he stops and tries to fix it before moving on. Makes it worse...

10. Groomsmen write "Help Me" on the soles of the Groom's shoes so that when he kneels at the alter, it's visible for all to see.

11. Groom goes under the brides dress to retreive the garter but comes up with a pair of panties instead... to the shock of the bride and everyone in the room.

12. Groom goes under the bride's dress to retrieve the garter only to find that the bride is wearing a pair of men's boxer shorts. She then flashes the whole room by lifting her dress to reveal the shorts... much to the dismay of the groom.

13. Cake is smashed into the bride's face or groom's face. The receipient of this act is not amused.

14. Limo driver opens the champagne bottle in the limo and the cork pops the groom in the eye. Luckily, it just misses the eye but hits him closer to his eye socket instead.

15. Best man forgets the brides name during the toast.

16. Best man toasts the bride and groom but confuses the groom's old girlfriend's name with the bride's name.

17. DJ accidentally pulls the chair out from under the bride as she prepares to sit down to have her garter removed. Bride ends up on the floor.

18. Two flowergirls are at the wedding. The first one goes down the aisle and tosses flower pedals onto the runner and makes it all the way down the aisle. The next flower girl starts down the aisle and decides instead of tossing her flower pedals onto the runner, it's better to pick up all the flower pedals that the first flowergirl has tossed. Amazingly, she makes it all the way down the aisle and now the runner has no flower pedals for the bride to walk through... much to the delight of the guests who are now laughing like crazy.

19. Pastor asks the bestman for the ring but he's forgotten to bring it. He substitutes his own wedding ring for the bride to use.

20. Flowers are the wrong color and the bride starts to cry. Photographer takes her aside and tells her to "grow up" and to stop crying... explaining that only she knows the flowers are wrong and that crying will only upset the rest of the guests. The shock of hearing the photographer tell her to "grow up" snaps her back into reality and she composes herself (with a five minute -"time out"). The rest of the wedding goes smoothly and the bride later thanks the photographer for saving her wedding day.

Of course I was the photographer in number 20! :)

Sometimes a photographer has to take over to get things back on track.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Gary Avery - San Diego Police Department

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

I just recently found out from Randy Gibson (former Evidence Technician and now the Questioned Documents Examiner for SDPD) that Gary Avery had passed away earlier this year. Gary was my supervisor at the San Diego Police Department when I worked in the field services unit (Evidence Technicians) of SDPD.

Gary was the person who interviewed me for my internship at SDPD and was the one who made the decision that I would join his department to learn from all the great evidence techs at SDPD. He allowed me to not only do standard intern work (like dust for fingerprints in the lab or take photos of evidence in the lab) but also to go out on as many homicide call outs that I could handle.

Gary gave me opportunities that many other interns did not have the opportunity to do. He always encouraged me to work alongside the technicians as much as I wanted. Even though he knew I had a very heavy school load of 21 credit hours or more per semester, he did not stop me from going to homicides even if that meant getting called out at 2:00 AM. Not many interns got opportunities like that. He even gave me a bullet-proof vest to use when I requested one. I don't think ANY interns ever get that!

When he found out that I played guitar and made recordings, he encouraged me to talk to Randy Gibson because Randy played music too. Eventually Randy and I worked on a song that Randy wrote called the "Evidence Tech Blues" which we recorded at my home. Gary loved that song so much that he played a cassette copy of it for everyone at the lab. He thought it was really cool that one of his technicians and his intern could produce a song that really parodied life as an Evidence Tech. (It WAS a cool song...)

When the time had come for me to graduate and my time as an intern was close to over, he went to police chief Bob Burgreen and had a special certificate made and signed by the chief of police to recognize me for the work I had done for the department. He told me that no other intern had ever had this type of recognition from the chief of police. I don't know if he was just saying that to make me feel good or if it was the truth, but it really meant a lot to me. Later he and all the evidence techs took me out for a special goodbye dinner and presented me with a SDPD plaque commemorating my time at the police department. That plaque was displayed on the wall of my home in San Diego and still hangs proudly on my wall in Mount Prospect today.

Eventually, Gary went on from being the Evidence Tech's supervisor to becoming the supervisor of the Latent Print department.

I last spoke with Gary a couple of years ago when I called him to see what was happening at SDPD. Ever helpful, he reminded me that if I ever needed his help in anything or perhaps a nice referral for any work I was after, I could always count on him. I knew he meant it because he helped me with a nice referral when I landed my position with the Chula Vista Police Department and with the San Diego District Attorney's Office.

He was a terrific guy who will always hold a special place in my heart. I have truly lost a great friend and mentor.

Here's to you Gary!

Friday, December 02, 2005

New Business Cards

Yes, I know... it's not Monday or Thursday, but I thought I'd share the latest business card design with everyone!

This is Irene and Matt, one of my 2005 clients. I had a great time at their wedding and they were kind enough to allow me to use one of their images to help promote my business. I'll be photographing the wedding of Irene's sister Mary and future brother-in-law Jason in 2006 as well as Mary and Jason's friends, Amy & Dustin's wedding in 2006.

Referrals are a key part of my business and I'm very lucky and appreciative to have these wonderful clients! Thanks for all the referrals!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"How Many Memory Cards Do You Have?"

Here's another question I get at most weddings.

Usually at weddings, I see a lot of camera-wielding guests. Most today have either a digital point & shoot camera or a disposable film camera. For these camera buffs, the sight of the big fancy digital SLR cameras I bring to weddings is just too much for their curiosity so it's just a matter of time before someone asks, "How many memory cards do you have?" The second question we've already covered in a past post, "How many megapixels is that camera?" :)

I carry a lot of memory cards with me. I try not to use cards that are too large too. It's better to keep changing cards than to fit lots of photos on one card. Why? For safety reasons. If something were to happen to one card, at least only some photos from the wedding is lost... not all photos from the wedding. New wedding photographers often make the mistake of getting huge cards and not changing them often. Or, to save money on buying cards, they will shoot the wedding on a lower resolution and lower size setting to get more images onto the card. Bad move, bad insurance and bad quality. It's much better to take the time to change cards often.

Film has a similar issue with possible image loss. A lab technician could accidentally overprocess the roll or at worst case, totally expose the roll to light losing all the images! I've never seen that happen (except in school a couple of times from some students), but the possibility is definitely there. I've never had a memory card go bad either, but why take chances! Actually, I think memory cards are safer than film on the long run. Deleted files can often be recovered. Exposed film can never be recovered.

For my 2005 weddings, I used 1 GB "Compact Flash" (CF) cards and 512 MB "xD" cards. But with the new D200 cameras coming soon, I recently purchased a few 2 GB cards because of the larger sized files the D200 is going to produce.

In all, I have eleven 1 GB CF cards, three 2 GB CF cards, four 512 GB xD cards and one 1 GB xD card. That totals 20 GB of cards! Will I use all that at a typical wedding? Yes... :)

File sizes are very large with big megapixel cameras. You can lower the resolution and size but you suffer image quality losses as well. I'd rather shoot at the largest size and resolution offered by my cameras to give the best quality. I expect a lot from my equipment and my clients expect a lot from me. So why bother with the inferior sizes?