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Category Archives: the events

Details at Serra Plaza (Part 3)

I always thought I was a detail oriented person. After all, an uber type A, Asian female with control issues, an organization neurosis and obsessive compulsive tendencies *should* be fairly detail oriented right? Um, not really.

Which is why when I decided 10 years ago to take care of all the “little” details of my wedding all by myself, someone, ANYONE, should have grabbed me by by shoulders, shook me and firmly told me, “NO.” I kinda had a vision of what I wanted for my wedding day and I kinda knew how to put it together and I kinda had some time the morning of the wedding to attend to all these details…

Picture this: The morning of my wedding day, 2 o’clock in the morning to be precise, I get a phone call from my husband-to-be that the person responsible to hang 1,001 hand folded (only took me a year to fold all those stupid cranes) couldn’t do it, because they (stupidly) thought that it could be done in an hour or so. I’M.NOT.BITTER…

Or, me, fully made up with the veil on, hours before the ceremony, in the reception hall standing on a stack of chairs, hanging lanterns with my poor bridesmaids, none of which got any sleep the night before…

Or, the bridesmaids and I trying to get goldfish into a cylinder container without having the glass jars shatter…

Or, getting my eyelash caught in my veil when my new husband lifted it to give me my first kiss…

Or, lugging a truckload of wedding crap into my Maid of Honor’s truck after the wedding, after all the guests had left and my parents had to leave for their flight, in my wedding dress, a massive headache brewing…

Someone, ANYONE, should have told me to HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER/EVENT STYLIST! I mean, seriously, the DIY wedding is a lot of work to pull off and I don’t have the skill set to do DIY. I also thought that the venue coordinator and my Maid of Honor could handle it all. (Flaw: the ceremony and reception were at two different venues. So, the venue coordinator was only at the ceremony, not the reception)

So, what’s the difference between a Wedding Planner and an Event Stylist? Some planners do both, but some specialize. Basically, a planner, plans. She/He coordinates all your vendors, contracts, handles pesky logistics like a ripped dress, broken shoe, the DJ getting lost or an errant eyelash, handles all aspects of your big day and all the stuff leading up to it, makes sure everyone is where they need to be and when, etc, etc. An Event Stylist/Designer makes the dream wedding I’ve had since I was a little girl with pigtails and my folder of wedding magazine clippings into a reality. They make sure that if you envision 1001 paper cranes hanging from the ceiling, your centerpieces will match that theme, as well as your invites, favors, decor, etc all has the same feel and look. In essence, what you see in bridal magazines, that’s the work of a Event Stylist.

If I could do things over again…

At the SoCal Photog Shootout, I was fortunate enough to work with a team of awesome stylists.

Hope Stanley – Bridal Stylist (I’m working with her again in a few weeks for something SPECIAL. I can’t wait).

Sussanna Davidson for French Buckets Florist– (An Event Stylist works closely with the florist to create amazing-ness and Sussanna is extra talented in the floral department).

Mary Lallande for Jay’s Catering and Serra Plaza

Pegy Rizzuto for Premiere Events Group -  Sweets Tables (Planner AND Stylist)

Here are some of their fabulous creations from the Shootout.


The sweets table had an entirely different feel to it…designed by a different designer of course.

Serra Plaza just launched their gorgeous new website! Check it out HERE.

You Are Invited…

Some of the most common questions I get from photographers just starting out in the business are “I am not sure where to even start. I want to second shoot, but I really don’t know anyone that will let me shoot with them. How do you know so many people?”

I was lucky. I had an awesome wedding photographer, whom I looked up on MySpace (remember that social media site??)  and weaseled my way in for an invite to shoot with him. Then I tried my best to knock his socks off so he would invite me back and teach me everything he knew. (Thanks, Cean!) I also went to every photography event I could wrangle an invite to, had the money to pay for or could crash without being too conspicuous. And while I was at these events, I forced the butterflies in my tummy to stop fluttering so much, switched on my extrovert face, while pushing shut the paralyzing self doubt and said hi to people.  Instead of passing out my business card to every person that would take it or “cold call” emailing random photographers (nothing wrong with either, but chances that you’ll get a response are slim), I met and started building friendships. We hung out. I’d see the same people at other events. We’d Facebook. I’d ask them about their dog, whom I saw photos of on their blog. I commented on blogs. I joined communities like The [b] school. I’d invite my new friends to go shooting. I was everywhere and made sure I didn’t sit in the corner, a la junior high prom. That’s how I started. In a nutshell, I made friends.

Where should you start if you are a new photographer? Find other photographers and latch on (in a totally cool, non clingy way). Ask them questions. Go out shooting for fun or practice. Get together a small group of like-minded people and share. Share your heart and soul, your struggles, your doubts, your victories, your self doubts, your questions, your opinions, your camera settings…just share. My business group has seen me at my best and my worst. I’m sure Matthew Saville can show you pages of self doubting, woe is me, emails, but he won’t cause I’d kill him, he’s a good friend. I know I can count on Michelle Cunningham to crunch numbers for my new pricing sheet or tell me to suck it up since I signed up for this life. If I ever need my images critiqued or a studio to hang out in, I can call up Garrett Davis.

I am a blessed woman because I have friends I can count on and who will put up with me. Like Tamara Young who threw me a surprise birthday party because she knew I needed some TLC. And Mary Lallande, that will put in countless hours of work for free just because. And Sussanna of French Buckets who will throw together any floral arrangement at her own cost,  because I asked for it. Like Joe and Mirta Barnet, who give me advice about my business, spend hours explaining things to me via email or phone, take time to invest in me. So many more people have helped me on my journey…all because I showed up and talked to people. And they all know they can count on me if they ever needed anything.

So, my best advice for new photographers –go somewhere, meet people, build relationships, give back. Let me help you with the first one.

Two upcoming events I would love to meet you at:

April’s OC SmugMug User Group

Speakers Joe and Mirta Barnet ~ “Attract The High End Bride To Your Home Based Studio”

Thursday, April 28, 2011 ~ 6:30 PM

Outdoor Education Center at Irvine Regional Park

2 Irvine Park Road Orange, CA

Cost: FREE

IMPORTANT: don’t pay the parking fee. use the gate code. there are 2 keypads by the gate look for the small silver one and enter #0404 … follow the road till you see the SMALL signs to Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center.

Professional photographers, Joe and Mirta Barnet, are known for their powerful images that portray the chery, love and playfulness of every couple they photograph.

Enjoy a fast-paced, informative program in which Joe and Mirta will share their secrets of how to promote, book and sell in the high-end market.  They will present ways you can establish relationships with venues and wedding professionals, how to get your work featured in bridal magazines and how to design and up-sell wedding albums.

This delightful couple will demonstrate quick posing and lighting shortcuts that will allow you to work more quickly. You will learn why a home studio is a plus with high-budget clients. Joe and Mirta will also share how they are able to live and work together in the same place without driving each other crazy.

For more information about Joe and Mirta, their workshops and classes, click here: http://www.barnetworkshops.com/rancho/

A SMUG is a place where you can learn, teach and meet up with other photographers who share your passion. It’s also how we can tell you what’s happening in our world and discover what’s happening in yours. SMUGs are a great way to connect with other photographers and add a few weapons to your creative arsenal. OPEN TO ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A SMUGMUG MEMBER. NO CHARGE.

Break It Down with Roberto Valenzuela

June 14th, 2011 in Los Angeles

Cost: $399 (early bird price, ends June 1st)

A full day 12 hour workshop, full of hands-on training, a day time and night time photo shoot with models, a critique session round table and there’s a money back guarantee! Roberto spoke at one of our Smug Meetings last year (and this is coming from someone who HATES to sit and learn) and not only was I engaged for the entire 2 hours he spoke, I learned so much content that I still use today.

Break it down is a practical program designed by Roberto Valenzuela to serve as a guide to breaking down the challenges and harnessing the hidden opportunities presented by any location or pose. For every challenging situation, there are many opportunities hidden beneath. This workshop will help you find just that. During the program, Roberto will show you how you can break down poses and locations based on colors, geometric shapes, balance, angles, symmetry, converging lines, and overall impact value. Never run out of ideas again! And there will be time to put everything you’ve learned into practice!

Roberto is a 50-time International award winning photographer, 3-time 1st place winner, and a WPPI print competition judge. Roberto just got listed by Junebug Weddings as one of the top wedding photographers in the world. Find out more about Roberto Valenzuela at http://www.robertovalenzuelaphotography.com/
Hope to see you at either event! Make sure you come up and introduce yourself:)
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