headed to modesto!

In just a few minutes I'm leaving for the airport to head to Modesto, CA to shoot my friend Amy's wedding on Saturday! I'm super-excited to see her again. Amy is one of my roommates from college and last year this time we were just getting back from a cruise around the Caribbean together. The above photo is one of my favorites from that trip. We were in Cozumel and Amy really enjoyed having a huge lizard on her shoulders as you can tell :). I probably won't have much time to blog while I'm there this weekend, but if you're like me and are now WISHING you were going on a cruise to the Caribbean, you can relive our trip here, here, here and here.

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Favorite Vendors

Favorite Vendor Spotlight: Ray the DJ

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and personable vendors and wedding consultants in the wedding industry. I love to refer my clients to professionals I have worked with who I truly believe will do an amazing job for them. I have a blog post dedicated to my favorite vendors, but I wanted to also occasionally spotlight each of them more in depth.

Today meet Ray the DJ. I've worked a number of weddings with this guy and he is one of the classiest DJs around. I love that he is super-kind and doesn't have the cheese-factor that you find in many DJs. He runs receptions in a way that you feel like he's hardly there but everything goes SO smoothly. He's definitely one of the best in the business and the only DJ I recommend to my brides.

Here's some Q & A to help us get to know Ray better. Read his answers below each question:

How long have you been in the wedding business?

I am in my 29th year of helping make wedding dreams come true.

What got you interested in being a disc jockey at weddings?

I grew up attending the weddings of my very large, extended family. To me, a wedding means fun, family, and friends. As a DJ, I help create lifelong memories while simultaneously eliciting my own wonderful wedding memories.

Understandably, if a bride and groom were making a choice between hiring a DJ and a live band, you would recommend the DJ route. If you could give them only one reason to do so, what would it be?

Unlimited choice in music. A DJ can play any genre of music that you desire.

What is your favorite thing about working weddings?

I love being in control of the awesome power that music has to enchance and enrich this most special day.

What would you say makes you different than other DJs out there?

I truly listen to and respect the desires of each bride & groom. I make careful notes of what music is requested to be played, and equally important, what music is not to be played. I am very sensitive to the varied emotions that are so much an integral part of the wedding.

What type of clients do you typically find yourself working with?

People who understand how important music is. People who appreciate the best quality and value in every part of their life.

You've worked so many weddings---are there any particular suggestions you give your clients when you meet with them that would help other brides & grooms who might be planning their receptions?

Be ready to share your vision of your wedding, and trust your experienced DJ to help make that vision come alive.

What else should we know about Ray---the man behind the music?

I like to swim, golf, and enjoy trying to keep up with my lovely and talented wife on the dance floor. We have 3 beautiful daughters and I look forward to, at some point in the future, being the "Father of the Bride"--love that movie!

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Weddings by MJ

Greg & Megan

Greg and Megan were married on Saturday at the Desert Botanical Gardens on an absolutely picture-perfect day in Arizona. This couple was so laid back and fun to work with. They both have amazing family and friends and the whole day was one big celebration full of plenty of laughs.

In addition to working with amazing clients, I also got to work with an amazing team of vendors. Jamie Delaine came along to second shoot with me and knocked it out of the park. A few of the images I am going to share here are hers--thanks Jamie! Greg and Megan's wedding was a huge success thanks to this team:

Consultant: Victoria Canada Weddings & Events
Wedding Dress & Veil: Destiny's Bride
Suits: Mr. Formal
Make-up: Corinna Cooke
Florist: Table Tops Etc.
Lighting: Sound and Lighting FX
Linens: Cloth Connection
Paper Products: Page & Mason
Reception Accessories: Bright Event Gallery
Rentals: TriRentals
Catering: Santa Barbara Catering
Cake: Tammie Coe Cakes
Cupcakes: Sprinkles Cupcakes
Videographer: Serendipity Videography

The day started out with some preparation time with the girls:

Greg and Megan saw each other before the ceremony which gave us plenty of time to walk around the gardens and take some fun portraits. This is Megan as she walks up to meet her groom:

The Botanical Gardens has a special exhibit taking place this spring called Chihuly: The Nature of Glass. Megan loved the brightly colored glass sculptures throughout the park so I tried to incorporate them in the photography as much as possible:

Megan's dress, besides being absolutely stunning, was extra-cool because it had POCKETS!! So fun. Here's both Greg and Megan working their pockets:

More pocket-modeling:

A few more favorite portraits:

The details at this wedding were killer. As you know, I'm a fan of red. So I was in heaven. But I also loved how they paired it with chocolate brown and bright green moss accents:

Megan's dad walked her down the aisle:

I love this shot of Greg's parents and relatives during the ceremony:

Megan's sister Jessica was the maid of honor:

Megan couldn't have been more excited to get Greg's ring on his finger:

Greg showed off his new ring to his grandma during the ceremony after giving her a rose:


The unbelievable reception decor:

A favorite shot during the toasts:

And one last shot of some guests enjoying the s'mores bar out on the back patio:

What an amazing way to kick off the Spring wedding season! Thanks Greg and Megan for the honor of being a part of your day!

If you'd like to see even more photos of this fabulous wedding, including some of the rehearsal dinner the night before, click here!

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MJ's Camera Bag

For Photographers

f.a.q. -- DVD of images: to give or not to give

I've been asked by many photographers if I give my clients a DVD of all the images at high resolution. The answer is: I don't GIVE it to them but I do let them BUY IT. For $1,000.

Every professional photographer has a different philosophy on offering the digital negatives. Here's mine. We live in the age of digital photography. While the photographer should retain the copyright to use their own artwork as they see fit, the reality is that brides and grooms also want access to the images. If I were a bride, I know I would. So as photographers, I believe it's good business practice and just makes good sense to offer the product that is in high demand.

I've heard fear in the voices of many photographers when they talk about letting the images go outside of their control. They are afraid that others will mess with their art or have their images printed on low-quality paper at Walgreens. If we offer the DVD, this is a possibility. I've had a bride take one of her wedding images and use interesting Photoshop actions on it and then post it on her Facebook profile. I do cringe a bit, but she's happy and does it really end up hurting me? I don't think so. The damage that may be done by people taking liberty with my images or printing them on low-quality paper is outweighed by the advantages of pleasing the client and the powers for good that come with the internet and the digital age. I've chosen to embrace these powers--the more my images are out there, the more marketing I get. I'm not afraid of my images being spread out, passed along and used apart from my control--the more they are, the more people know about me.

While I do offer the DVD to my clients as an available product, I also believe it is extremely valuable. Clients get all 600-800 of their fully-edited high resolution images on the disc and can print as many prints as they'd like from it. When I sell the DVD of all the images, I figure I'm probably not going to have as many print sales as I would if the client didn't purchase the DVD. That's why I've chosen such a high price point on my DVD--it's extremely valuable to the client and it must replace what I would hope to earn through print sales. Even with the high price point, though, 90% of my clients still include the DVD in their package.

Some photographers don't sell the DVD up front but let the client have it after their album has been created and shipped. They mostly do this in hopes that the client won't be able to wait to get prints made and will end up buying the majority of their prints through the photographer. Giving the DVD at this late date then, mostly serves archive purposes. If this works well for other photographers--that's great! I've chosen to set a high price on the DVD and offer it immediately after the images are edited and put online. Clients are willing to pay for it and I'm happy with forfeiting print sales profits because of the price-point of the DVD. I do however, try to educate my clients on lab settings and print quality in order to dissuade them from printing my images at Walgreens or on their ink jet printers. They are already paying so much for quality photography; they really shouldn't print professional images with low-quality materials.

Every photographer is different and many of you may disagree with me, but this is the philosophy I've chosen to embrace with digital negatives. Comments, questions or snide remarks are welcome below!

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101 in 1001


1. Print & hang photos in my upstairs living space

Yay! Another one checked off the list! I moved into my current home three and a half years ago and can you believe I lived with nothing hung on the walls for that entire time!? Craziness. I was immobilized by indecision. I don't know about other photographers out there, but for me it's SO HARD to decide what photos I want to live with in my own space. Decorating my office is one thing--I can pretty easily pick out some of my favorite wedding images. But choosing photos for my living space is an entirely different feat.

I love to take photos when I travel and the 4 images I ended up picking were some from my trips to Flagstaff, Portland and Omaha. I love how it all turned out!

I've had some questions in the past about whether or not I offer some of my travel/fine art photography for sale. The answer is....it's coming soon!

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