Those who know me know I'm not really a very good housekeeper. I do a reasonable job of keeping the studio presentable, but my office at home, well, it would take Hercules and a navigable river to clean it properly. Therefore, it should be no surprise that I lost the instructions for updating my website. Since I couldn't sleep last night, I ended up taking the photos in the site, and figuring out in Photoshop exactly what sizes everything was supposed to be and such.
Long story short, for the first time in 9 months, the main website for my studio is actually up to date. Three of the galleries feature new weddings, and gallery 5 includes engagement photos as well.
At every point in the process, if you asked either of us what Kristina's first pregnancy was, we would have told you we both felt it would be a girl. Caroline Grace proved us right.
This time, from the very beginning, we have both felt we were looking at a boy and a girl. In fact, Caroline always said she wanted a brother AND a sister. Well, we're getting pretty good at this prediction thing.
The lower child (who will be born first if delivered naturally) is a son, and the upper one is a daughter. We're overjoyed.
Now all we have to do is agree on our son's name... (See last post.)
When Kristina and I were expecting our little Caroline Grace, the name was a state secret. Even though we knew she was a girl, the potential boy's name (since discarded) was closely held.
I don't have that luxury this time. We definitely have a 1st choice girls name. No problems there. But we have very different ideas about boys' names, and she's told me in no uncertain terms, that she needs to know that my first choice name for a boy is not too outlandish for words. Even if it's going to be one of a pair of twin boys.
As you can tell, I don't have the most common name in the world. I like it that way. I know that when someone calls out, "Hey Ian!", they're talking to me. I want that for a potential son. I also like Irish and Scottish names. No matter what we pick, you can be assured that all of the names we are discussing come from either Ireland or Great Britain.
While we are not Catholic, my first choice name is a saint's name, and it means "full of goodness", although there is also an alternate meaning out there of "man of prayer." I like both qualities.
Depending on whether or not the other twin is a boy or a girl, we have two major options on the middle name to go with it:
Declan Samuel (other twin is a girl) Declan Spencer (other twin is a boy)
Please share your thoughts in the comments. Kristina and I both really would like to know what you think.
..."What compact digital camera should I get so-and-so for the holidays?"
And the sad truth is, I don't know. The funny thing is that even though it's my profession, most photographers I know don't use point and shoot cameras a lot in real life. My walk around camera when I'm not toting my Canon 5D... is the iPhone. I'm probably more qualified to give you a recommendation on something I use regularly, like a GPS (I couldn't work without my Garmin Nuvi 360 with the bluetooth and the voice prompts with street names).
We have two digicams in the house. My wife has a Canon Powershot SD600 I got for her for her first Mother's Day, and we also have a Leica D-Lux 3, which is a little on the pricey side and isn't exactly a great value, to be honest.
And what do we use those digicams for? Video. My Leica has less motor noise than my camcorder, and I can put it in my pocket, so that's what I do with it. (This is the part where you're supposed to roll your eyes.)
All that said, I can give you a few pointers on buying a camera these days:
1. You really don't need all those megapixels. No, really. In fact, we're now getting to the point on digicams where some of them (I'm looking at that Leica on the shelf right now) have too many for their own good. Because they're trying to pack so many pixels on these itty bitty sensors, image quality is actually deteriorating on some of the newer models. If you're not going to print bigger than 8x10 (and most of you will never print bigger than 4x6), there's no need for more than 8MP.
2. Smaller is better. You know what makes a camera useful? When you carry it with you. If it's too big to bring somewhere, what good is it? Most people are best off with a camera no bigger than a deck of cards.
3. Look for simple. Now that I think about it, I end up having to help buy one digicam a year. You see, my father ends up replacing his annually. It's not that he's a gear geek or anything-- he ends up giving one away about once a year when he goes overseas on medical missions trips that he leads. Dad happens to take great pictures completely on instinct. He doesn't know an f-stop from a bus stop and he has no idea what the rule of thirds is, but he knows what looks good. He's looking for something that he can focus and shoot with. For Dad, face recognition technology is great, because he gets the focus right nearly all of the time. The Olympus cameras he prefers also have a little menu where he can look up what he wants to do, and tells him how to set the camera up for that type of shot.
4. SD cards rule. Dad actually got away from the Olympus cameras this time because he found out the hard way that the xD cards that Olympus and Fuji like are hard to find, and as a result, pricey. Sony's Memory sticks are a little easier to find, but nothing beats the good old SD card for being cheap and easy to find. Especially good when you're on a trip and need to run to Target or worse yet, some store in a foreign country. It's better to have more cards than you think you need than to run out of space during a once in a lifetime trip like your honeymoon.
5. CNET.com has great camera reviews. They're written for normal people, and many of them even include video to illustrate their points.
"OK, but what if I'm buying a camera for someone a little more advanced, you know, a camera that looks like yours, Ian?"
We've finally gotten to the point where DSLR's (the cameras with the interchangeable lenses where you can look right through the lens) are getting affordable. Like between $500 and $750. And the two big manufacturers (Nikon and Canon) both make great cameras where you'll get great features at low prices. Sony has also made some interesting cameras that work with old Minolta lenses, too.
If you had a SLR film camera made in the last 15 years, you might want to stay with the same brand of camera. The lenses will probably work on a new DSLR from the same company. I use lenses from my old Rebel G film camera on my newer Canon equipment all the time.
One of the best investments you can make, by the way is an external flash. The pop-up flash built into your low-end DSLR's is hardly better than the one built into a point and shoot. Anything that will let you point the flash at the ceiling makes a world of difference.
The most common question I get in my e-mails off the website is about package pricing. Of course, I have a natural aversion to the idea that someone like me should be telling you what your needs are. You know better than I do what items are most important to you and your family.
Today, I talked to a bride who had a modest budget-- not an overly small budget, but not the type where money is no object, either. In short, she's like a lot of people. She didn't think that it was going to fit, but one thing I knew from previous phone conversations is that she really liked my work a lot, and I really want to help someone like that out.
So, first off, I laid out what the items we'd talked about would cost a la carte from my pricelist:
Shooting fee: $1500 9.5 x 13 inch album, 30 sides: $1200 11 x 14 print: $56 2 8x10's: $50 Assorted smaller prints and wallets: $75-100 (All prints in a package are added up to one lump sum print credit)
Basically, we were looking at $2900 or so. A little on the high side for her. But she wanted to make up a pre-paid package, and since I'm getting paid up front on that, I can work out a discount of 10%. That got us down to $2610... still a touch high.
Now if you've gone to http://www.ianlozada.com/pricelist.pdf recently, you know that the pricelist expires on Saturday of this week. The only major change I'm anticipating is that I'm adding one smaller sized Graphistudio album, at 8x12 inches. We're going to slot that in at $900 for 30 sides, with limited choices on covers and paper style.
We swapped that in for the medium sized album (with an additional discount for prepackaging) and we were able to make the numbers work. In fact, I was able to show her that if she asked people to give her Pictage gift certificates as wedding gifts, she could drop the print credits and get a gallery wrapped canvas instead and still end up in her budgeted range.
The point I'm getting at is that I want to work with you to help you get the things you want within the constraints of your budget, but I also want you to have the freedom to make your package fit you, not what I say you should want.
So enough of you have commented on my recent lack of blogging that I felt shamed enough to get back to it. Actually, my attention has been commandeered a lot as of late by our two upcoming arrivals. I have a roll of sonogram prints next to me from my wife's last 3D sonogram-- those two little 'uns have cute little faces! Just no names. Partly because we don't know genders yet (Dec. 6th is the big day!), but mainly because we can only agree on one girl's name. Everything else is... difficult.
With that in mind, maybe it's best that I go back to showing you wedding photos instead. In fact, it's time to unveil some from my first Bluegrass area wedding, a couple of weeks ago in Georgetown. Heather and Patrick got married on the family horse farm, and you could not have asked for a nicer setting.
One of my favorite moments is that one where it suddenly hits the bride that this is really happening...
Many thanks to Mackenzie Spalding of One Fine Day Wedding Consultation and her staff for all their help!
I just put up my new fall pricelist, good for weddings booked by November 30th. You can see it at http://www.ianlozada.com/pricelist.pdf . The most significant change you need to know about is that we've dramatically lowered our prices on gallery wrapped canvas prints, the type that really define a wall space in your new home. The vendor who prints them came out with new pricing for pros that significantly lower my costs, so I wanted to make sure you get the benefit of that.
In addition, I'm honoring this price for anyone who had booked under the previous pricing plan. I'm really excited about this, because I think this is far and away the best way to display in your home that one image that says everything about your wedding.
Well, kinda sorta. Let's just say that I have the power to end central Kentucky's drought woes. All I have to do is reschedule Heather and Patrick's engagement session enough days in a row to refill the reservoirs. Because so far, we've tried twice to get their engagement pictures done, and twice all we've had to show for it is thunderstorms and downed tree branches.
In the meantime, all the local farmers can make their checks out to Ian Lozada Wedding Photography...
New pricelist coming out next week-- one of my vendors lowered their prices on gallery wrapped photo canvas printing, and as a result, I can offer some significant price cuts. More on this on Monday.
Since my talents don't extend to web design, I use a template to run the IanLozada.com website. Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to change all of the content tabs. Until I figure out how to change the "raves" tab to "pricing", I've just uploaded a copy of my pricelist in the background files to the website.
Long story short, you can find my current pricelist at http://www.ianlozada.com/pricelist.pdf at anytime. Or at least until I figure out how to alter that template.
As a select few people know, Kristina and I found out that we were expecting at the beginning of August. Well, we've had a bit of a wild ride since then.
About nine days ago, we went in for Kristina's first sonogram. At the time, we believed her to be about 9-10 weeks along. What they told us was that they found two sacs in her uterus, but one appeared to be empty, and the other had fetal tissue, but was showing no heartbeat. Clearly, this was not good. They ordered some blood tests, and told us that the levels of pregnancy hormone would tell us if we still had reason to believe that the pregnancy was still continuing. They also said that in many cases, people conceive two, and only one survives the initial few weeks, but until sonogram technology got to a certain point, most people knew nothing of the other child. In other words, we were iffy to have even the one child out of this pregnancy at this point. The one hope we clung to was that the original physical examination had us much further along than we anticipated, and perhaps they had the wrong conception date down, and the increased uterus size was from the fact there were two embryos. It wasn't a lot of hope, but my, how we clung to it.
We did a LOT of praying over the next 24 hours. The hormone levels kept going up, so they were cautiously optimistic, and scheduled us for another sono, this afternoon. Kristina had some familiar symptoms from when she was pregnant with Caroline, so we were hopeful to see one pregnancy continuing, but we were still praying hard for both children.
Kristina didn't want to look at the screen this time, so that was my job. I didn't say anything, but immediately, I saw some familiar shapes in both sacs. Sure enough, the sono tech changed the number of fetal pregnancies on the machine from 1 to 2. Soon afterward, the sono tech told our midwife, "I hear two heartbeats."
Sometimes, God rewards your faith and your prayers in an amazing way.
When Caroline was born, we put a Bible verse on her birth announcements, and it's pretty appropriate right now:
"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."--Psalm 126.3