Just checking in from Cancun to say that we’re having a wonderful time here on our kids’ spring break. I’m surprised at how accessible this piece of paradise is to Indiana, and we’ve run into an unusually large number of Hoosiers who apparently feel the same way. Our highlights so far have included swimming with dolphins, viewing the huge barrier reef from a submarine, enjoying the all-inclusive food and amenities of the Great Parnassus Resort and Omni Cancun (the photo above is from our villa), and basking in the beautiful weather and hospitality of the Mexican people. My mom and her friend Maew joined us for a few days from Thailand, which makes any trip even more special.

It’s a bummer to have to leave tomorrow, but I’ll have plenty to look forward to at home this month. In addition to a few more days of spring break, we have birthdays for each of the boys coming up, along with three weddings, including one in St. Kitts (have I mentioned that one yet?) and one for a groom who will be sporting a shiny new Super Bowl ring to go with his new wedding ring!

I had a wonderful time covering Kacie & Don’s wedding and reception in HD at the Omni Severin Hotel last night. The couple was very laid back, and the bride was beautiful! I told photographers Stacy and Mary (who provided the photo above) that I thought she resembled Michelle Branch. The most challenging part of the day was getting accustomed to a whole bunch of new accessories I acquired to work better with our HD cameras, but I had a good handle on it all by the end of the night, and I’m quite happy with the purchases I made. One tweak here and there, and I may end up preferring to cover all our weddings with this gear, which is possible because the HD cameras will also shoot in our customary DVCAM format. The best part of the day was getting to work with my good friends Stacy & Mary, and the Omni’s Amanda Coffey, all of whom referred this couple to me. I also got to work with Jeremy Gearries of DJs Direct for the first time, so I appreciate his letting me use his equipment to test my new audio gear. I can’t wait to start editing this video, as the whole event looked gorgeous in the widescreen format, but it may have to wait until we get back from our vacation. We’re leaving for Cancun on Wednesday!

Update: Stacy & Mary just added more images and info from this wedding on their blog

I’ve just spent the past few days moving and consolidating five room’s worth of stuff into two to make room for a new tenant, and boy I am exhausted! That’s a LOT of furniture, equipment, books, etc., and I’m not exactly Mr. Universe. Hopefully, I’ll have enough energy to get through the wedding tomorrow in one piece. So if you happen to drop in on me, do note that I am now in the back of the suite instead of the front. Don’t worry, I haven’t skipped town and your wedding masters haven’t disappeared forever! My address is still the same as well. One really cool thing about this move is that for the first time in 10 years, I’ve been able to organize my studio from the ground up in a way that makes sense for the business’ current structure and workflow. I can’t wait to show it off once everything is organized.

Just in case one of the 2.5 readers of this blog happens to know someone who might be interested, I have a beautiful 1134 s.f. five-room suite for rent right next door. Windows in every room, kitchenette, great part of town, and an awesome landlord! 😉 Just putting it out there…

I did some videotaping yesterday for one of the cutest couples I’ve gotten to know in recent years. They’re not married, engaged or even dating – in fact, that would be kind of icky. They’re Tiffany Stoner and Nate Rowe, sibling partners of Nathanial Edmunds Photography. We were working on a video intro for their new website, and I’m not sure how much “fun” it was for them to be on camera, but they sure had ME on the verge of cracking up the entire time! The way that they bicker and complete each other’s sentences, it’s no wonder many people (like me a few years ago) initially assume they’re married. Tiff wrote a neat story on their blog recently that sums them up really well. I can’t wait to piece together what we shot, especially the outtakes! Tiff also brought me the sweetest “thank-you” gift today. I’m looking forward to a doing a couple more family-related things with them coming up – I wonder if that could include swapping twins?

This coming week is going to be a challenging one at the studio, as I will be moving my entire business out of its three rooms in my five-room suite and into the other two. I’m making room to sublease to a new tenant, Gene Voss of First Security Insurance Services, which will be the first time I’ve had regular company here for a few years. It does get lonely sometimes, and just having another person around has always helped keep me motivated. Until that time, however, I will have much painting, carpet cleaning, utility switching, moving and organizing to look forward to. Thank goodness I’m all caught up with the wedding edits!

And by the way – GO HOOSIERS!

Are there any sensations in life more invigorating than that first feeling of spring in the air? I was fortunate to have a couple of fun things lined up to get me out of the studio on this gorgeous day. First I went to Ami Gallery and Photography Studio to tape a couple of talking head shots for two of their photographers. Lois Wyant plans to use these and several previously shot videos to allow visitors to “get to know” the photographers represented by the studio. Cool idea! After Jim Wyant nailed an unrehearsed yet eloquent on-camera presentation in one take, he shared with me a heartbreakingly beautiful album of his recent mission trip to India. This work earned him a rare perfect 100 score by the Professional Photographers of Indiana (PPI), a feat made all the more impressive when you consider that only five perfect scores have ever been given in Indiana, and Jim has earned THREE of them!

Then I met up with my good friend, photographer Angela Talley, who treated me to a delicious lunch at Chappie’s in the Village Center at WestClay. We were joined of course by her ridiculously perfect little girl Lucia, who has got to be the easiest baby to get a smile out of. The weather was perfect for strolling with Lucia to and from Angela’s beautiful home and studio a few blocks away. I just love that area and wish we had a good excuse to move there!

It was icing on the cake to return to the studio and learn that we just got hired to cover the wedding of developer Bob Lauth’s daughter Leigh Ann this spring. This represents a feeling of coming full circle for me, as it will be the first wedding we have covered with international Gala Award-winning event designer Gary Bravard in about seven years, and with 600 guests at Second Presbyteran Church and the Indiana Roof Ballroom, this has all the earmarks of a classic Bravard event. Also, Leigh Ann’s mother Robin hired me eight years ago to cover her daughter’s Park Tudor graduation weekend, which ironically also included a ceremony and reception at the same two venues. I’ll never forget the great performance that night by The Why Store, or the sight of Colts owner Jim Irsay hamming it up for me on the dance floor, which might make some handy blackmail footage someday!

The kids and I just spent a fun weekend at the Omni Severin Hotel to give Mommy a little breather. I’ve covered many events there over the years, but this was my first chance to experience their four-diamond hospitality from a guest’s perspective, and they did not disappoint. (Not that they could have disappointed us anyway, since our stay was on the house!) We took full advantage of their pool, movies, video games, gift shop and excellent food. Despite my failed efforts to prank call Carrie Logie soon after check-in, she was kind enough to surprise us with cookies and milk delivered to our room. I can’t thank Carrie and her staff enough for accomodating us, and for being so good to IndyVisual in general.

When we weren’t racking up incidentals in the hotel, we strolled around Circle Center Mall, goofed off at Pan Am Plaza, took a trip to the top of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, enjoyed the boys’ first horse-carriage ride (even spotting photographer Erin Hession and company along the way), and made the mandatory stop at the kids’ favorite store, Downtown Comics. All in all, a perfect weekend with the boys on one of my last remaining free ones before the April weddings hit.

I also need to give thanks to videographer John King for a spontaneous and enjoyable dinner on Thursday. John was the most established videographer in town as I was getting started, and we first met oddly enough at a convention in Orlando. The first lunch we had there ended up being one of the most impactful moments of my career, as John unselfishly passed along to me a lot of wisdom and insight that immediately helped me take this business to the next level. He continues to groom tomorrow’s media professionals as an instructor at the J. Everett Light Career Center, and I have been honored to serve on his advisory committee there ever since.

Bridal show at the Conrad

I had one of my more enjoyable marketing and networking experiences last night at the Platinum Wedding Gala presented by the Perfect Wedding Guide and the Conrad Hotel. I knew there would be a lot of high-quality vendors there, along with some wonderful bridal prospects, but I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful and synergistic a night it turned out to be for everyone.

For starters, the ballroom was beautiful! The way that designer Gene Huddleson of Detail + Design, Gloria Boyden of Events by Design and Teresa Gift of Eventfull Planning among others transformed an already remarkable space was visually inspiring. Tonya Shadoan of Circle City Planners was there earlier, lending a hand and ribbing me for not working out and tanning yet for our April destination wedding in St. Kitts. It was great to see Gary Bravard, whose extravaganzas I had covered about a dozen times in the 90’s, back in his element helping Gene out as well. Here’s what the room looked like, courtesy of photographer Andrew Scalini:

Fellow videographers Ryan McKeever of Magic Hour Productions and Jason Girt of Creative Eye Productions were there, so it was fun to catch up with them before the show started. Ryan’s doing some amazing things in the corporate video world in addition to the great work he does with events, and Jason’s family is now in the honeymoon business with a newly purchased condo in Maui! Jason invited us to fly out there together sometime and have a creative powwow. Twist our arms, Jason! 😉

Once the brides showed up, we all had a chance to mingle and market at a much calmer pace than the typical bridal show parade. The way the vendors, all of whom had worked with each other often, were able to vouch for each other made for a higher-quality impression on each bride. For example, at least in my corner of the room, when a bride would stop to admire photographer Jessica Strickland‘s images at Eventfull Planning’s table next to me, I would “conveniently” have a video from that same wedding playing on my plasma screen, and Teresa suddenly had a nice multimedia presentation. Or when a bride asked about a date that I was booked, I could just point to Ryan’s table and send her there. Or if a bride asked DJ Sunny Moon on the other side of me about a video she enjoyed on his display, he could just pat me on the back and say, “Here’s the guy who shot it right here!” There was a nice moment was when a bride was asking the Conrad’s Liz Mok and Sunny about how a wedding and reception might look in a certain layout in that ballroom, and I just said, “Here, take a look,” and played Sara & Alex’s highlight video from 1/6/07 (see below) for her. Interestingly, she had long ago booked about four or five of the vendors who ended up in that corner of the room including myself, so she must have been pleasantly surprised to see us all there in one place.

The brides sat down for about an hour to enjoy a presentation, first by Gene, who did a great job despite learning just hours earlier that he would be speaking. Then nationally reknowned bridal consultant Susan Southerland of Just Marry! in Orlando shared some creative ways to incorporate visual inspiration into an event without breaking the budget. My favorite image that she showed was of an already existing multi-million dollar bridge made of ice on which the couple exchanged vows for their winter-themed wedding. Capping it all off was “Project Runway” designer Austin Scarlett, who got the biggest superstar reception and showed off some of his latest bridal fashions, this one captured again by Andrew:

The presentation was followed by more high-quality face time between vendors and brides, and much chocolate. What made the night even sweeter was some unexpected visits throughout by friends like Carrie Sprague, Amanda Coffey and Maureen Boulanger from the Omni Severin, Monica Richards from the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and consultant Leslie Jones. It was great to see all of you there, and if I can book a bride or two from the show as well, that’ll be the icing on the cake!

I was planning to complete most of the remaining work on Elizabeth and Jonathan’s 2/17/07 wedding video today. However, the laid-back nature of this time of our year, along with my general fatigue from finishing the website update, made me vulnerable to procrastination. Stacy Newgent of Stacy and Mary Photography dangled the first carrot by inviting me to their new studio to try out an experimental portrait approach that they explained on their blog much better than I can here. Though I generally dislike how I look in pictures, I was intrigued by the prospect of being a lab rat in the name of art. Unfortunately, Stacy and I couldn’t resist just gabbing the whole time before I had to leave. Anyway, it was great to see their cool studio. Maybe next time, gals!

Then my friend and neighbor, DJ Jim Cerone, treated me to lunch at the Nickel Plate Bar & Grill in Fishers for great food (thanks for suggesting the buffalo chicken wrap, Stacy!) and a nice long chat. We’ve known each other for over a dozen years, and our boys have become classmates and friends at school, but this is the first time we’ve ever really had a chance to sit down and talk without either our kids or wedding festivities distracting us.

I got back to the studio just in time to take a call from a potential client (thanks to Rebecca Raymond and Tracy Heine for the referral!) who unknowingly made my day by telling me she really enjoyed the video clips on our website. You see, she’s a Mac user, the likes of whom had often had trouble viewing our sample videos in their Windows Media format, hence the big website overhaul. It’s so nice to get such quick feedback that the Flash video clips are succeeding in giving our website better cross-platform compatibility.

Well, it took a couple of weeks longer than I had planned, but I finally uploaded our “new” website over the weekend! I put “new” in quotes because it’s still essentially the same website with a few nice tweaks on each page. But what I’m most excited about is the new method of letting visitors view our video samples, which I completely redesigned from the ground up. My main objective was to allow the videos to be embedded within the page as Flash video clips, as hinted at from my experiments with Google Video and YouTube. Ultimately, to be able to show things exactly the way I wanted, I knew that I would have to author the site (with much help from Cathy Gerlach) and host the clips myself, hence the extra time. It was a huge yet very educational challenge, and I’ve learned more about coding than I ever expected to know in a lifetime.

As rewarding as it has been to finally see how our videos work within the site, it’s the silly little stuff I figured out that I’m proudest of. Like the new Google map on our contact page, whose satellite imaging will make it easier to direct people to our specific building. Or the DVD simulation – getting a “hotspot” within another image to highlight while the cursor changes to a pointing hand? Probably straightforward for most techies, but a year in the works for me! Having our e-mail links work yet become unreadable to most e-mail harvesters should greatly reduce the spam that I get. Even something as simple as having our logo include transparent layers is something I should have learned long ago. There are some minor tweaks to come, but otherwise, it’s better than good – it’s DONE! Hopefully the result is a slicker, smoother viewing experience for our prospective clients. What do you think? Check it out at www.indyvisual.com.