Tuesday With the Pros: DJ Dennis Jones

Tuesday with the Pros is an ongoing blog series featuring experts in the wedding and event industry. Today's authority is Dennis Jones, DJ and owner of Creative Music DJs.Dennis JonesLI: Tell us about Creative Music DJs.Dennis: I started on the club scene in '87 with vinyl turntables, and I always had this mindset of having to know everything about music.  Who plays that song? Where can I get it? How can I use it?  After a while I took a break from DJing and went back to school, where I got my Bachelor's Degree in computer science and my Master's in business, so I'm not only an educated DJ, I also have a firm grasp on technology and computers which is really what it's all about these days.  A few years ago I began spinning wedding events and joined up with the ADJA and within a year I was the Vice President of the San Diego branch.  Creative Music DJs is also a full production service offering dancefloor lighting and unique uplighting to enhance the atmosphere of the event space.Image by MattLI: What are some of your favorite things about DJing events?Dennis: Being able to make a client's night special in a way that I don't know many other entertainers can...like being able to give them this party that they and their guests are going to talk about forever. I also work with couples in a way that helps them to "brand" their wedding so all the music and effects during the reception support their type of event as well as their personalities.  A good DJ experiments a lot with their set list, playing songs that give them an idea what the crowd wants to hear and maybe what they're not so into, and being careful not to burn through all the hits at the beginning of the night!LI: What would be a really exciting event to DJ in your opinion?Dennis: It would be a huge club or celebrity event experience, like with several thousand guests, like a stadium event featuring multiple DJs.  Themed events are also really fun because then I can be creative in figuring out apt music to play that supports the theme.  I like being able to work with my clients to help implement their visions instead of just being the backroom hired help.LI: As an event professional, what advice do you have for clients and couples out there looking to save money on their events?Dennis: Talk to other couples who have been in the same situation and ask them now that it's over, what they would have done differently, or spent more or less on.LI: Do you have any events that you're looking forward to that may be coming up?Dennis: I always get excited when I get to do something different that I haven't done before.  For example, recently I designed a custom monogrammed gobo for a wedding couple this November and we are going to backlight the cake tablecloth with it.  It looks so cool (pictured) and it is so different from the normal gobo wash across the dancefloor or projection on the wall.  It is a great solution for the space, which does not have any place to project it otherwise.lit cake tableLI: Where do you go to get down on the dancefloor?Dennis: I have been wanting to check out Fluxx in San Diego, but normally....Las Vegas.For more about Dennis and Creative Music DJs, visit:Creative Music DJs official websiteDennis' official blogCreative Music DJs official Facebook pageDennis' FacebookDennis' Twitter

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

Band promotional imagery

A promotional photo I took for the band Opus Dai is now being seen worldwide!  ...And by "worldwide," I mean Japan (heh heh).  The following is a promotional poster for the band's Japan tour with my photo on the far right:l_571c6cd58a514b8b93a2e64be3fb2976A pre-poster-ized version of the picture:l_fd90040799fc403983337a725207e1ae

Coldplay: Strawberry Swing

I'm a huge Coldplay fan, but I haven't found most of their music videos too intriguing lately. Until yesterday, when they released the official vid for "Strawberry Swing" off their latest album Viva La Vida, which came out last year.To be honest, after viewing this video I can see why it took a whole year...I can't imagine how long it took to make it. We're talking chalk-drawing animation starring a live-action Chris Martin. Honestly, the visual effects have to be seen to be believed. I won't even post a wee little YouTube preview because it's an insult to the artistry. You have to watch the real thing in all its large screen glory here.coldplay-video-strawberry-swim_210x

My "band"!

I don't normally post memes on this blog because memes are SO 2003, but this one was fun!coomonteThe rules are:1. Go to "wikipedia." Hit "random article" or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:RandomThe first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.2. Go to "Random quotations" or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.3. Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7daysThird picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.4. Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.5. Post it up!If you're curious, Coomonte is "a municipality located in the province of Zamora, Castile and León, Spain."  The quotation I used was from The Dhammapada, which is "Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone."  The photograph is "Skylight" by Stewart Ayrey.I think it's perfect. I love travel.

[3] band portraits

Yesterday I shot some portraits guerrilla-style of Opus Dai, out near Pasadena. The guys are headed out on a tour of the Southwest today, and I wish them good health and good luck!

This setup was the band's concept. I thought it was appropriate that they envision at least one shot as they know themselves, their style, and their music better than anyone.* * * * *
I am very, very excited about Barack Obama's victory on Tuesday. Charles Ogletree said Tuesday on the Daily Show that "two skinny guys from Illinois have made a difference: Abe Lincoln and Barack Obama." Obama has a tall order to fill, but I've never felt more confident about any other American leader. It will be tough, but he'll be great.

Featured Link: "Gobbledigook" music video

Sigur Rós has just released the music video for the single "Gobbledigook", from their latest album. The video is basically a frantic, naked, handheld romp through the woods. Literally.It's inspired by photographer Ryan McGinley's project "I Know Where the Summer Goes," which I find fascinating and beautiful because despite being shot in recent years, both hearken to the nudist colonies and washed out film days of the 70s. So awesomely vintage.I already liked Sigur Rós's music, but while watching this video, for the first time I saw what I could never see in dozens of classic nude statues and paintings that inevitably hang in every museum and gallery. What all those artists, sculptors, and photographers had strove to capture but I never understood when I saw their work: the beauty of the naked human form. Amazingly, it wasn't until I saw the subjects in this video (and McGinley's project) relaxing, acting naturally, and moving comfortably despite their nudity that I began to also notice the beautiful ways that people could move. The smooth skin stretched over lithe muscle, the natural shapes and curves. This isn't glamorous posing and dramatically-lit nude portraiture---it's playful, celebratory dancing.It's AWESOME!!Catchy music, too.PS, if you hadn't noticed (duh), both links contain artistic nudity. Click at your own discretion.

Checking in with Stacy Clark

On Sunday I was fortunate to go one-on-one with the incredibly talented singer/songwriter Stacy Clark. Not only is she is as lovely as the songs she writes, she's really, REALLY fun. We had some adventures, to say the least.

Additionally, I have been searching high and low online for a barter agreement template, and thus far I've only turned up one (free) document that can be somewhat easily used by photographers. So I downloaded it, modified it for photography, and now I am hosting it online for the remainder of May anyone to download and copy for themselves, should they need a photography barter agreement....remember, you should get everything in writing! Enjoy!

Violet Scripkus photoshoot

Saturday I did a shoot for a band discovered by Matt via Myspace called Violet Scripkus (view the band's profile/listen to them here).I found an old abandoned elementary school a few years ago when scouting out film shoot locations for school, and we used it as a backdrop. I must say, it was spooky-spooky at times, since some of the the facilities we saw and used look as if they could date anywhere from 1940s to the 1990s. Perfect place for deformed psychotics and ghosts. Didn't see any, though.Chaise, Roberto, and Marvin are a bunch of really funny, goofy kids, and I had a great time. The sky was perfectly amazing for an outdoor shoot, too...a clear day with plentiful, defined clouds. These kids lucked out, to the max.

Chaise, guitar and lead vocals.Roberto, keyboards and synth. And backup vocals, I think?Marvin, drums

Obviously a lot of the images look pretty spiffy. It recently dawned on me that a lot of the successful photographers I know and know of rely heavily...and I mean heavily...on Photoshop and Photoshop actions to make their pictures absolutely stupendous, so now I have NO shame and utilize my little digital darkroom freely.