Tuesday with the Pros: Jodi Harris

Tuesday with the Pros is an ongoing blog series featuring experts in the wedding and event industry.  Today's authority is Jodi, disc jockey and "CEO of Fun" at Sight & Sound Events in Las Vegas, NV.jodi harris at sight and sound las vegasLI: How would you describe what you do?Jodi: I see myself as a director.  I know I'm the event DJ and primarily considered responsible for the music, but I'm also responsible for the flow of the party, and moving people along, and setting them up for photography.  Nowadays everyone has an iPhone or a Walkman and can put 200 of the hottest hits on speakers for a raging bash, but an iPhone doesn't have the same charisma and personality that a professional party director does.  Imagine "American Idol" without Ryan Seacrest to keep things moving!  What I like to do is tell the couple that we're putting on a movie titled "Your Wedding Reception," and they're Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and I'm Academy-award winning director Kathryn Bigelow, telling them where to stand, where to look, and what to do next...it may sound easy, but unless they've been to 100 weddings themselves, most couples don't know what happens after they've finished cutting the cake or throwing the garter!  It's all up to the DJ!LI: What is Sight & Sound Events?Jodi: It's a full-service event planning company with award-winning in-house DJ, photography, videography, event planning, live entertainment, etc.  A client can come to us just for one service, like DJ, or multiple services like live entertainment, photography, and videography.LI: How is Sight & Sound unique from other event planning companies?Jodi: We are very hands-on; we offer ALL our clients personal design consultations with me, a head of the company, to ensure they are satisfied and confident with the service they'll be receiving.  We are all about organization and communication, and not so arrogant to think that even after 18 years we know it all.  Every year we invest in attending national conferences and joining organizations to expand our knowledge of the changing technology and methodology for both videography and party services.  80% of a party's success is dependent upon us, as entertainers...so we don't take our job lightly!LI: What started Sight & Sound?Jodi: Well, back in the day I was living in New York and working in broadcast television at ABC with Regis and Kathy Lee.  I met my husband Pat (now award-winning videographer and co-owner of Sight & Sound), during a trip to Los Angeles, where I also decided I liked the weather a bit more, and decided to move.  At that time Pat was a DJ entertainer, and he brought me along as an assistant for a few jobs....little by little my duties began accumulating until I knew what he wanted to play before he even asked for it!  So I caught on pretty quick and eventually we became a husband and wife DJ team.  When Pat got the video bug, I started DJing exclusively so he could focus on event videography.  So in a way, we flip-flopped: me from TV and video to DJ, and him from DJ to TV and video!  Although to this day, Pat is still very involved with training our DJ staff!LI: So what's the best thing about DJing an event?Jodi: Helping people to have a great time---really, I have the best job in the world.  I get paid to help people have fun!  And it's not all about me, either; if my client wants the chicken dance, I'll play the chicken dance, because it's all about their good time.  It makes the testimonials very rewarding.LI: Who are most of your clientele?Jodi: We do about half corporate events and half weddings.  I will say that about 97% of our wedding clientele come from out of state, however.  This is Las Vegas, after all!  We are usually acknowledged as the preferred DJ service by the catering departments of many of the hotels around here.LI: What would be a dream event to DJ?Jodi: I think it would be so cool to DJ a corporate party with a "Dancing with the Stars" theme.  Because then I could play some really different dance music, like salsa...and people would be there to dance, anyway!  Honestly, I'm still a TV person at heart, and I would leap at the chance to DJ an after-party for something like "American Idol" or "SYTYCD."  Plus then I'd get a chance to dance with Max!  I'm there!LI: Do you have any tips for the many clients out there looking to save some money on their event entertainment?Jodi: My number one tip is: DO NOT INVITE THE ENTIRE WORLD to your event!  We can have a rockin' party even if it's just a few close friends and family members, and because the guest count is under control you won't have to break the bank to get there---with fewer guests, you can better afford quality entertainment, and photography, and videography, and other event services.LI: Do you have any exciting events coming up soon?Jodi: I am looking forward to the NACE conference in Austin, TX.  I get to network with planners and other high-end professionals and meet fun people and sample some good foods!LI: What do YOU do (or where do you go) when you yourself want to party?Jodi: You'd expect me to refer you to a local club or something, but honestly I enjoy traveling in my free time.  Pat and I go to Southern California and hang out with friends there when we want to unwind and have a good time!LI: What's the best piece of advice you could impart to party-goers everywhere?Jodi: Communicate!  If you're planning a party, it's all about communication, so make sure you're in close contact with your photographer, DJ, videographer, planner, florist...ALL your vendors.  The more in the know everyone is, the more they'll be working together for one singular goal---an awesome event!For more on Jodi, Pat, and Sight & Sound, visit:The Sight & Sound Events websiteThe Sight & Sound Events blogSight & Sound on TwitterJodi's TwitterSight & Sound on Facebook

Las Vegas, NV: Nickell & Angel

Last week Matt & I drove to Vegas to celebrate with my good friend Nickell as she married her man Angel.  Nickell and I go WAY back, there was no way I was gonna miss it!  We had some fun too---normally when we're in Vegas it's during the mega photography event WPPI, so it was nice to relax, hang out in loose casual clothing, enjoy the humid heat and thunderstorms, and generally be Vegas tourists.

img_7247-copyOur hotel room on the 28th floor had a great view, especially during the lightning storm.  Can you guess which hotel we stayed in?

img_7355-copyNickell shows off the goods. When we first met as freshmen in college, I made a snide remark about the week-long freshmen orientation in front of her. Her response was, "Ah, sarcasm. How I've missed it during all these stupid 'ice-breaking' events." I knew then we'd be friends for LIFE, haha!

img_7436-copyNickell & Angel...happeh day!

img_7386-copyMatt bathed in the glow of glorious Vegaslight.

img_7328-copyPretty much how it is!

Wanted: Arm Candy for WPPI

Anyone out there going to WPPI next week?  If so, did you post this ad in Craigslist?

arm candy wanted

I am SO highly amused by it. I feel like laughing and giving you kudos at the same time. See you and your pampered young woman there!The original ad is here, though now that I've blasted it all over my photographer networks, I don't know how long it will stay up.  If anyone actually e-mails this person, you have to let me know!!

WPPI Con 2007

Directly following an early-morning marathon shoot for brightroom, Matt and I drove out to Las Vegas for "The [photography] industry's biggest convention and trade show," WPPI Con, which is annually held at Paris and Bally's.

Desert!

We took my car, but like a champ and a true gentleman, Matt chauffeured.  It might have had something to do with the fact that I'd been up since 5am and eventually fell asleep in the passenger seat.

Monday I was hoping to see Kevin Kubota and Doug Gordon divulge the "Top 50 Trade Secrets," but it filled to overcapacity very quickly, despite being held at 8:30am.  I count myself lucky because at least I've seen Kubota speak before, at a PPC show, he's excellent, and as a lover, user, and abuser of Photoshop I'm a HUUUUUUUGE fan of his actions. 

                                                

The Kubota Action Man! 

Just by using and experimenting with his actions and settings
I have actually learned a great deal about Photoshop itself. 
I aspire to be just like him one day, :D !

I missed his seminar, but I got one of his "I Got Action!" stickers
from his Image Tools trade show booth!

I wound up in Fran Reisner's "Keeping Your Passion" seminar, which was quite inspiring, and informative too.  She says that in order to charge "high-end prices" for photography services, a photographer must offer three things: Top (superior) quality, a unique style ('priceless' images), and excellent customer service.

I wandered around and took in all the lovely features of the trade show.  Gary Fong has unveiled a new flash diffuser called the WhaleTail based on improvements he's made to his famous Lightspheres (I admittedly own one, and yes, now I do want a WhaleTail, too).  Apparently he kept in mind all the online forum suggestions and complaints about his Lightsphere when designing the new diffuser.

In addition to publicly announcing the release of Creative Suite 3, Adobe demonstrated the superior batch processing and organizational functions of Lightroom.  As a LR user myself, I was thrilled to learn more about its capabilites at some of the trade show workshops right in the Adobe booth. 

BluDomain was selling all their website templates for a show-special of $400.  I'm rather hoping to win one via one of their blog contests, however :)

I also saw Bob Davis speak about photojournalism in wedding photography, but the session turned into more of a multiple-strobe tutorial, which was fine because it was something I needed to learn more about eventually.  He mounts one to two flash units on stands with Lightspheres attached and uses them as additional light sources when he shoots.  It's nothing entirely original, but as a shooter for TIME magazine and other non-bridal venues, it was interesting to hear about ways he utilized the method.  Another flash unit (the Nikon SB-800) is on my list.

There were also some fantastic images in the print competition gallery.  I took a couple photos of some with my phone, but they were all incredibly inspiring.  I have to say I was intrigued by the style of jesh de rox, whoever that is.  California portrait and wedding photo style is decidedly bright, clear, clean, crisp, and colorful, so it was refreshing to see the artistic antithesis of that in his washed-out, vintage-ish, almost cross-processed looking works.  I was duly impressed.

At last, I found myself in the WPPI Champagne Shootout, which involved "four pros, four shooting tracks, four big screens and four distinct points of view—plus ice cream sundaes ... Photographers: Mike Colón, Charles Maring, Kirk Voclain, and Yervant Zanazanian." 
I admired the pros' work, ate too much ice cream, and decided that thirteen hours in Paris and Bally's was enough and left.  Matt and I were staying at the Stratosphere...or rather, I should say Matt was staying at the Stratosphere, I just slept there.

Yesterday we drove back, encountering some bizarre weather including blasting wind, rain, and even snow in Nevada's high desert.


Desert blizzard up in the El Cajon Pass.


Rain

We made a pit stop in Barstow and there was a caboose sitting in a public park next to the gas station.  I thought the color would be great to get some texture shots to use with a little Photoshop "bleach":

Fun's over, now it's back to work.

en route to WPPI

Taking a breather in between shooting, editing, and driving--the bf & I are going to Vegas in an hour for WPPI Con...we'll be back Tuesday night.Today I realized I'm down to my final 35 business cards...time to design and print new ones! I'm excited, I love designing my own cards. I hope I find the time in the next week for that! The jellyfish picture on my current one is stunning, but just does not illustrate my photojournalistic style, or my most common subjects, like people, weddings, travel, etc. Time to change things up.Last night I saw Gilberto Gil live at UCLA's Royce Hall. The romantic bossa nova/tropicalismo sound that he practically invented is still there, and so are his fans! This was the first Royce Hall event (and as an eclectic/world music and arts lover, I've been to plenty) that I've seen people gathering at the foot of the stage to demand an encore and watch him perform it, like at an arena or something. I heard the show was sold out, and I suspect that a few 'celebrity' fans of his were there as well.Off to Nevada...drop me a note if you'll be there too!