I just returned from a nearly two-week vacation in Wisconsin, where my wife’s family covened to celebrate her grandparents’ 65th anniversary. This is always a tricky time of the year for someone in my business to take time away from work. In fact, halfway through the trip, I flew back to Indy to videotape another wedding before rejoining the in-laws the next day. It helps that this has been a relatively “quiet” July, with four weddings and two open weekends to help me avoid falling behind much with the editing. Tomorrow heralds the beginning of by far the busiest August I have ever seen with six weddings booked, and a seventh considering. As hot as it’s been lately, I hope for ours and our clients’ sakes that August is hotter than July only in the business sense this year!

The wedding I shot mid-trip on July 22 took place outdoors at the Eiteljorg Museum downtown. Rebecca Raymond of Event Fantastic, who referred the clients to me, kept the day running smoothly and everyone’s spirits upbeat, despite some heavy hearts due to the recent sudden passing of one of the groom’s relatives. Photographer Andreas Nemitsas, a talented and wonderful soul who lives in my neighborhood, captured the beauty of the day in his usual artful manner. Sarah Bean of the Eiteljorg was a picture of quiet efficiency behind the scenes the entire day, and the band Zannadoo kept the dance floor packed, including the longest horah (the traditional Jewish “chair dance”) I have ever seen – and I’ve seen many!

We made it through the busiest June we have ever experienced (and I’ve seen a lot of busy Junes) with the expectation that our two bookings in an unusally slow July would give me some time to stay on top of editing of all the June weddings. However, we received two last-minute bookings that have turned this month into a more “normal” July and put that effort to the test. So far, I have two June weddings remaining to complete, so our clients are still getting a great turnaround time compared to most quality videographers in the industry. The big test will come next week, when I’ll be leaving town for our annual summer visit to my wife Chris’ family in Wisconsin. Not much time for editing then. I will squeeze in a little work when I will fly back to Indy briefly on Saturday the 22nd (taking a vacation from my vacation) to videotape a wedding at the Eiteljorg Museum. Crazy, I know!

This past week I finished editing Leanne and Kyle’s 6/23/06 wedding and reception at the Omni Severin. I will post their highlight segment shortly. It was a relatively laid back Friday affair with no dancing, aside from a first dance under a perfectly aimed spotlight. They were a wonderful, spiritual couple, and it’s amazing how that inner beauty sometimes shines through to the surface sometimes, as it does throughout their video.

I also got a wonderful card from Nicki & Austin (6/16/06) that said the following: “We can’t thank you enough for your excellent work on our wedding video. You were by far the most professional one could be. I would highly recommend you to anyone. You are peaceful and calming. It really made our day to watch our video after all the hype was over. You are truly the best!” Thanks, guys!

Yesterday I shot a wedding and very animated reception at the Ritz Charles. Debbie and Mike are an “older” couple in their 40’s, but I haven’t seen a more youthful spirit in any couple yet this year. They were so easygoing and fun to work with, and it meant a lot to me that they thanked me in their welcome speech at the reception. (So much for being invisible!) They were referred to me by several vendors – Anne Clidence of the Ritz Charles, Dave Cohen of Jerry Goldberg Photography and Brandon & Cybil New of B&C Digital Media. (Thanks to all of you!) I was pleasantly surprised to see Jennifer Montoya of Majestic Events there, too, and then she reminded me that I had referred the couple to her! How quickly I forget. So obviously, the chapel and ballrooms were gorgeous – lots of white with elevated bursts of red roses. I had a great time working and chatting with Dave and DJ Brian Whitis, who did a superb job of keeping the dance floor packed with an older crowd while keeping things just slightly under control when, uh, shirts started coming off…

I just got this rave via e-mail from Courtney & Brian about the video of their 6/10/06 wedding in Columbus: “Bob, we wanted to thank you SO MUCH for the wedding video. It was beyond what we ever imagined it would be. We both absolutely love it as does every single person we’ve showed it to. You did a fantastic job and we will treasure it forever. We wanted to let you know how many compliments we have had on it and will gladly recommend everyone we know to you. I think ours is the best one on your site :), but I may be biased!! Thank you again so much!”

I also got this e-mail earlier from Kelly & Peter about the video from her
6/10/06 wedding at the Indianapolis Art Center: “We absolutely love it! I knew we would since we had seen your work, but it was really great to revisit the wedding from a different perspective. It made me cry more than the actual wedding day!” Someone also e-mailed me a link to a thread on The Knot that Kelly started. Apparently, her highlight clip has brought a lot of strangers to tears! She had started a funny thread prior to her wedding questioning her sanity for going outside her budget to hire us. Thankfully, a previous bride raved about us then, just as Kelly is now. The toughest sell about videography is that the importance of it is not always fully appreciated until after the wedding, by which time our clients (many of whom didn’t even initially want a video) believe that it was their best investment.

So here’s what been happenin’… After a long Fourth of July weekend during which I took the boys to King’s Island and later watched the fireworks downtown here, it was back to business as usual, and busy it has been. I finished editing the Aufmann wedding that I shot on 6/18/06 at the Ritz-Charles with consultant Tonya Shadoan of Circle City Planners and photographer Joe Defabis. I also mostly finished editing the Singleton wedding from 6/17/06 that took place at the State Capitol building and was the luxurious Conrad Hotel‘s first-ever wedding reception. The only thing I’m waiting on is a song choice for their highlight segment, though I’ll have to wait until the couple returns from their honeymoon in Africa for that.

Last night I shot a very memorable wedding and reception in South Bend. The sister of the groom, Kristen Leep, whose wedding I am booked to shoot on 7/7/07 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, called me on Wednesday “just in case” I might be available on short notice to cover her brother’s wedding, and I was! The wedding took place in a beautiful fountain area just outside the Morris Performing Arts Center downtown, and the reception was held in a grand ballroom in the adjacent Palais Royale. The event was about as extravagant as any I’ve seen in Indy, involving canine attendants, butterflies, umbrellas, apples, a very tall cake, and a former governor in attendance. I had a nice time working with Master Photographer Gary Mester, and it was a pleasant surprise to see Indy’s own Impalas bringing their brassy soul to the reception. But nothing topped the fun of simply observing the couple, Beth and Jim, who were about as wild and fun-loving a couple as I’ve ever seen. If this is how the Leep family rolls, then I’m even more excited about covering Kristen’s wedding next year!

I titled this post “Wandering Indiana” because yesterday’s wedding confirmed that that variation of our former state slogan should be my motto for the year. I’ve already shot weddings in Cincinnati (close enough), Fort Wayne, Columbus, Terre Haute and now South Bend, with more coming up in Bloomington, Muncie, Evansville, Bedford and Crawfordsville. While I hope the brides haven’t forgotten us in Indy, it’s definitely been a joy to branch out a bit. At least today I’ll be “staying home,” as I’m shooting a wedding and reception at the Omni Severin. (Thanks for the referral, Carrie!) This will be my fifth one there out of the last dozen I’ve shot. I’ll be working with the always-fun photographers Stacy and Mary, whom I just found out will be working at the aformentioned Leep wedding next year along with Jessica Strickland. The last time I worked with them, they had a wedding to shoot in South Bend the next day. Today, I’m returning from South Bend before working with them again. Coincidence?

The 8 weddings in 15 days finally passed without a hitch – well, aside from the 8 hitched couples, of course. Half the fun is working with people I already know, which is kind of like a family reunion every time. The other half the fun is getting to work with unfamiliar faces, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a lot of both in such a short amount of days. Ultimately, it’s all about the bride and groom, and I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch to be around on the best days of their lives.

I spent Friday covering Leann and Russ’ wedding and reception at the Omni Severin. Jim of Henri’s Photo in FortWayne and his assistants got some great shots of the bride in the bridal suite, which offered a stunning view of Lucas Oil Field under construction. The ceremony took place in front of a stately backdrop of Greek-style columns, giving the wedding an outdoor feel. The reception was fairly subdued by design, with maximum mingling (and chocolate) and minimal dancing, save for the couple’s first dance under a perfectly-pointed spotlight. I’m getting so used to working with Carrie at the Omni that I hope she isn’t getting too sick of me yet. She was also a guest at the reception I shot at the Conrad the previous weekend. She oversaw three simultaneous events this day without once breaking a sweat or losing that big smile. What a trooper! I’ll see her again in about a week.

My Saturday wedding took place at First Presbyterian in Terre Haute under the watchful eye of consultant Teddy Lenderman and her sharp staff, with Michael Colter snapping photos. The three of us have worked with each other quite a few times recently, and it showed in the way we smoothly shuffled Cathy and Bruce through the day’s formalities. The Terre Haute Country Club provided a scenic backdrop for some fun group photos, one of which I’m especially hoping Michael will let me share. Later that evening, the bride’s father was kind enough to publicly acknowledge me after playing the photomontage I put together for them. It’s always a surreal feeling when that happens, considering how hard I try to blend in and not call attention to myself. DJ Craig James of Ultimate Entertainment also made the trip from Indy, and he did a nice job of moving through a large number of formalities in quick succession without seeming rushed.

Meanwhile, Laurie shot a wedding and reception at the Regions Bank building with consultant Gloria Boyden. Kerri had wanted to book us for quite a long time before we finally became available, so we’ll do our best to make sure we were worth the wait. I don’t know too much about how that one went yet (no news is usually good news), but the bride apparently hit it off quite well with Laurie. They’re both interested in entering the bridal consulting business someday, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this isn’t the last time they’ll work together.

I’ve been hard at work at the studio trying to stay ahead of schedule in editing some of these weddings, hence the slowness in blogging and updating the website. The upside is that several of these couples have gotten the pleasant surprise of having their videos ready upon returning from their honeymoons. The feedback has been as superb as I could have hoped for, but I’ve been too busy plowing ahead to really sit back and appreciate it. Hopefully by the time I shoot my next wedding on July 8, I’ll have all but two of these June weddings edited. Here are the highlight segments for the Wright wedding at the Indianapolis Art Center and the Hammond wedding at the Montage.

I recently purchased a DVD publishing system that automatically copies and prints onto the finished DVDs, and this new toy is showing early signs of making quite an impact on our efficiency at the studio. I don’t have a wedding to shoot this weekend, so I’ll probably take the boys somewhere fun so Mommy can have a rare (for this time of year) weekend to herself.

My recent stretch of weddings on three consecutive days went about as smoothly as I could have hoped for. Nicki and Austin’s Friday wedding took place at the Montage, with Gene Huddleson providing the design and direction, Andrew Scalini photographing, Sunny Moon handling ceremony audio and reception music, and Joe Husar of Kahn’s Katering doing a splendid job of running the facility and food service. The 8:00 start time for the outdoor ceremony made the weather tolerable and provided a beautiful dusk light over the proceedings. Unfortunately, the couple wasn’t given a chance to exchange the vows they had written to each other, so I staged a private moment afterward on the terrace for them to do so in front of the setting sun. Despite their disappointment in not having the chance earlier, they felt the full emotion of every word they wrote, and the improvised moment was one they appreciated and will always remember.

On Saturday, the State Capitol was transformed by consultant Rayna Traylor and designer Tim Palmer into a gorgeous sea of white for Annie and Nick’s ceremony. The bride surprised the groom with a gospel choir outside the building after the recessional. Bruce Livingston and his staff at the new Conrad Hotel were well-prepared for the Conrad’s first-ever wedding reception, which was written up in the Star the next day. I was surprised by the ballroom’s bold, contemporary design, and Tim Brickley‘s orchestra set the proper mood during dinner before his rock band took over when the dance floor opened up. The words “photographer from New York” fill me anxiety for some reason, but it was a true joy working with down-to-earth photographer Danny Linossi throughout the evening.

Jennifer and Russ’ Father’s Day wedding at the Ritz Charles chapel was a relatively short and sweet affair, with an abbreviated reception minus the usual dancing. The groom’s brother wrote and performed a beautiful ballad for the couple during the ceremony. Overall it was a nice, relaxed atmosphere in which I got to hang briefly with consultant Tonya Shadoan and reconnect with photographer Joe DeFabis. Joe and I were booth neighbors at my first bridal show in 1994, and I hadn’t worked with him in over 10 years. He books a lot of weddings online, and he had some good insights on search engine optimization, which may motivate me to move this blog back to my website’s server.

During the week I finished editing Kelly and Peter’s wedding, which Laurie shot at the Indianapolis Art Center on 6/10/06. They had a great engagement story that involved Kelly flying to Tokyo to find out if her friend Peter might have feelings for her, only to return to the U.S. as his fiance! They shared so many loving glances – it was an editor’s dream. I also heard from Meg Searle, the mother of the bride whose wedding I had shot in Columbus on that same day. She was blown away by the video and has promised to bring me to Cleveland to cover her next two kids’ weddings. Love to travel!

Which brings me to the home stretch for June. Friday I’ll videotape a wedding and reception at the Omni Severin. Then on Saturday, I’ll be joining consultant Teddy Lenderman and photographer Michael Colter for a wedding in Terre Haute, while Laurie shoots a wedding and reception at the Regions Bank building with consultant Gloria Boyden. (Thanks for the referrals, Carrie, Teddy and Gloria!)

Finally, CONGRATULATIONS to photographer Angela Talley and buddy Rich Johnson, each of whom called me this morning with news of newborn babies! Both kids will definitely be in capable, loving hands.

I just completed editing the video of Courtney & Brian’s wedding, which I shot last weekend in Columbus. It was fun to go through the footage I taped at the photo shoot after the ceremony. Everyone had such a great time there. The bridesmaids did a Harlem Globetrotters routine and football play with their bouquets that cracked me up. It’s nice to have a video completed so soon after taping it, while every shot is fresh in my mind. I’ll try to get a headstart on the other June 10 wedding that we covered, but the one-week turnaround time will be a fond memory once I’m done taping 6 weddings in the next 9 days. Still, I’m happy that at our busiest, we’ve been able to stick to our “weeks instead of months” completion goal. I’m still trying to figure out how some studios take over a YEAR to get their videos done!

Friday I’ll be covering a wedding and reception at the Montage at Allison Pointe, right down the road from our studio. Andrew Scalini is their photographer, so I know they’ll have some stunning images and I’ll have a few laughs. Sunny Moon will be their DJ, so I anticipate a packed dance floor and a smooth flow of events. Someday just for kicks I’m going to count how many gigs we’ve done together since the early 90’s. (THANK YOU for referring them to us, Sunny!) And Joe Husar of Kahn’s Katering, whom I worked with Tuesday as well at the Eiteljorg, always takes good care of us vendors, which we appreciate! The couple should be a lot of fun. They look like a “rock and roll” couple, if that makes any sense. They got a little emotional when they viewed the photomontage I assembled for them, so hopefully there will be much more of that on Friday!

I’m also excited about Saturday’s wedding, as it will be the first ceremony I’ve shot at the State House since I did a Hilbert wedding there about 9 years ago. It gets better, as their reception will be the FIRST reception to take place at the new five-star Conrad Hotel! I haven’t worked with Bruce Livingston since his days at the Marriott downtown, so it’ll be nice to see how he likes his new job. This will be my first wedding with consultant Rayna Traylor, whom I haven’t seen since I was in one of her Conner Prairie bridal shows over 10 years ago. Fellow videographer John King referred her to me, since the poor guy will be vacationing in Mexico!

Finally on Sunday, I’ll be at the Ritz-Charles covering a ceremony in their chapel, followed by a brief reception in the main building. (THANK YOU for the referral, Ritz-Charles!) Tonya Shadoan of Circle City Planners is their consultant, but I don’t think either of us knew we were working on this one together until a few weeks ago. I always have a great time with her, and we have a few more weddings coming up together. As if this world weren’t small enough, one of my my assistant editors also happens to work with Tonya’s brother-in-law Jim Shadoan.

I just booked two weddings for the same date in April of 2007. That brings the total for next year up to ten, which is amazing for us so early in the year. I’m usually content to have that many bookings going into a new year! By comparison, last year I only had two bookings for 2006 at the beginning of October. (We’ll still finish 2006 with the usual 35 or so weddings.) I hope what that’s telling me is that I’m doing things the right way. It certainly motivates me to continue delivering the best product and providing the best service that I can for our clients.

Total sidebar, but “Cars” is an excellent movie! The themes are actually pretty adult, and the pace a little slow for kids, but it all truly moved me, and the animation is phenomenal!

Well, so far this potentially daunting stretch of 8 weddings in 15 days has gotten off to a smooth start. I spent Saturday in Columbus covering the wedding of police officers Courtney and Brian. Courtney saw my demo video at Gloria Boyden‘s booth at a Ritz-Charles bridal show, while her mother was referred to me by Flip Miller. I had a good time working once again with photographer Michael Colter – we go way back to when he was an assistant for Geno and my business was still called On the Spot Productions. Memories of the two of us chasing a bridal party around Woodland Country Club in a golf cart come to mind whenever I see him. I’m also looking forward to working with him again in Terre Haute in a couple of weeks.

After the ceremony, we stopped for some photo and video ops amid Columbus’ famous architecture, then settled in at the Holiday Inn Conference Center. I’ve taken my kids to that Holidome several times with no idea how ornate their ballroom facilities were. McNamara‘s Alan Thompson provided a towering floral design that perfectly complemented the room’s elegance, with some additional touches provided by Kay Krober’s Invitations and Celebrations. DJ Amy Whitis, whom I was happy to finally meet after hearing so many good things about her from Sunny Moon, introduced the newlywed cops to the tune of “Bad Boys,” and the party was on. After a few formalities, the couple showed a photomontage that I put together for them, mixing in video of their engagement. (Courtney had been surprised with a helicopter ride, which airlifted her to a proposal in lights – and her future groom – on the ground below.) A line of police doing the “Loco-Motion” with handheld loudspeakers tooting was another highlight.

Afterwards, I swung by the Indianapolis Arts Center to pick up gear from a wedding that my second videographer Laurie Buschmann was covering. That ceremony was supposed to take place in the outdoor portico, but got moved inside due to the heavy rain. Fortunately, both I and the clear sky arrived just in time for their sparkler send-off. By all accounts, the couple (who had booked us from Australia) were good sports about the change, and the indoor ceremony went beautifully, so I’m looking forward to putting together that footage. I’m completely caught up with edits for now, so I should be able to finish the wedding I shot by the time the Courtney and Brian return from their honeymoon. Then comes the toughest part of this stretch – weddings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

I just finished editing the last wedding of a relatively quiet spring wedding season for us. The ceremony and reception were both at the beautifully unique Eiteljorg Museum downtown. It’s always great to work with Sarah Bean and her staff, especially knowing how hard Sarah sells IndyVisual to her clients. Bruce Juntgen was the photographer, and it was ironically a DVD he showed to the father of the bride of a wedding we did together last year (also ironically at the Eiteljorg) that sold them on hiring us. It’s been nice to reconnect with Bruce recently after not working with him for years since he was an assistant for Geno. The band Maggie Speaks came down from Chicago and quite simply rocked the house from the minute they introduced Katie & Brandon to the tune of Tom Petty’s “American Girl.” I enjoyed chatting with their lead singer, who as it turns out, attended IU at the same time I did. (Shhh…don’t tell Sarah. She’s a Boilermaker!) Here’s the highlight segment from their video. Because of some scaffolding around the statue in front of the museum, I had to steal some exterior shots from the previously-mentioned DVD. Ah, the benefits of having been around awhile!

In a couple of days, the Ridge household will depart for our annual Cedar Point excursion, where we’ll stay at the new Castaway Bay indoor waterpark resort. If you haven’t been to Cedar Point, I’d very highly recommend a visit there. It’s been voted the country’s top amusement park for 7 or 8 straight years, and it has much more to offer than just roller coasters. Our kids love the beach, the ferry ride to Put-In-Bay island, Soak City and Camp Snoopy. I plan to enjoy every second of our trip, because once we return to Indy, I will be greeted with an unbelievable flurry of 8 weddings in 15 days! So I anticipate there will be much to report in the near future, if I can come up for air during that time.

IndyVisual goes high-def!

In keeping with our philosophy of never settling for simply being the best, IndyVisual is pleased to announce the recent purchase of new high-definition (HD) equipment that will allow us to become the first wedding videography studio in Indiana to videotape weddings in the spectacular HD format. The end result for the bride and groom is a stunning picture that will allow them to relive every precious detail and emotion of their special day with a clarity unsurpassed by any other studio in the state.

In addition to quadrupling the resolution of the highest-end professional DVCAM cameras (also used only by IndyVisual), our new cameras capture footage in the widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, providing 33% more picture information to fill every corner of the next generation of widescreen TVs. Also, by acquiring footage at the film industry standard 24 frames/second versus 30 fps for video, we’ve come a huge step closer towards achieving every videographer’s “holy grail” of making video look more like film.

Because the options for viewing HD recordings at home remain limited, IndyVisual will provide HD clients with their finished videos on standard DVDs (which will still look crisper than those shot on standard DV tape) until a consumer HD format is more firmly established later in the year, at which time the clients will receive HD versions of their wedding videos. Following a brief promotional period, HD versions of our packages will be available for an additional $1,000, while previously-booked clients may upgrade their packages for $500.

Breaking ground is nothing new for IndyVisual. In 1993, we were the first wedding videography studio in the state to videotape weddings with professional broadcast cameras. In 1994, we were the first to utilize non-linear editing equipment, giving us the creative flexibility to develop the “look” that has defined our studio. In 1999, we were the first to provide our clients with their finished videos on DVD. In 2000, we became and remain the only studio to use professional broadcast DVCAM (higher-end DV) cameras to capture footage.

Of course, we recognize that it takes much more than fancy equipment to create a wonderful experience for our valued clients. That is why we focus more heavily on promoting our service, experience, relationships and body of work. However, we hope that this technical leap forward reflects our continuing commitment to raising the bar in every aspect of our own business while setting new standards for our industry as a whole. It’s just one more way to ensure that our clients, who expect the very best, receive that and so much more!

I was getting ready to write yesterday about my wonderful weekend as a groomsman when I was sidetracked by an odd e-mail from someone supposedly seeking a videographer for his daughter’s wedding. The odd syntax and bad grammar almost had me convinced that it was a fraud, but the request for my service was so specific that I left the door slightly open and responded. But when his second e-mail to me proposed his sending me a check for double the package price, then my wiring him the difference, I realized it was a business-specific version of an old scam. I know about all the “Nigerian billionaires” who need my help, but a father of the bride seeking a videographer for a wedding? That could probably fool somebody like me, especially if the scammers brushed up on their grammar a bit!

My brother-in-law’s wedding weekend was everything I expected and more! The rehearsal dinner was at Buca Di Beppo’s, the ceremony was at St. Luke’s UMC, and the reception was at the Rathskeller. I could write a whole column about it, but let’s just say that it was the kind of wedding I would have loved to have videotaped. Both the bride and groom are deep, emotional and expressive people, so there were a lot of heartfelt moments and speeches throughout the weekend, and a lot of tears at the altar. It was an honor to stand up and witness those moments up close, and a relief to do so just once without a camera on my shoulder. It was also a kick to be on the other side of the fence, having the church coordinator I’ve worked with so many times pinning a boutenniere on me for a change, or having the photographer I worked with at a bar mitzvah just a month ago photographing me.

The best part for me personally was seeing my three boys experience the joy of a wedding day for themselves, knowing that Daddy gets to witness and preserve moments like these every weekend for a living. I was so proud of the job my oldest son Matthew did handing out programs, and dancing with him and his twin brothers all night at the reception at the Rathskellar was one of the highlights of my life. Having videotaped moments like that at over 500 weddings, there was a sense of life coming full circle for me to experience those moments myself, as nothing makes me happier than seeing my children so full of joy. I’m also glad that my multi-talented associate producer and friend Laurie Buschmann just happened to be the DJ’s guest, and was therefore able to help my wife Chris capture those moments on video.

I’ll post a few pictures soon, once I figure out this blogging thing a bit more. In the mean time, I’m putting the finishing touches on a wedding I recently shot in Fort Wayne and preparing for that BIG announcement about IndyVisual. Happy planning!