Photographer: Events, Weddings, Portraits – Austin, Texas

Archive for May, 2011

1st Meeting with a Photographer

So, during your event or wedding planning you’ve collected a few names of photographers that you plan to meet with. Perhaps you talked with friends or performed a Google search to find the Austin photographer that will ultimately be responsible for photographing your big event. It’s time to set up the meeting and you want to be prepared to make the most out of your appointment. How do you prepare?

The primary purpose of meeting, from the viewpoint of the client (you), is to determine if the photographer that you meet with is the right one for your upcoming event. Are they qualified? Are they experienced? Do you like their work? Do they fit into your photography budget? All of these and more are reasonable questions to ask, even if not worded so directly.

20 Questions to Ask a Photographer. As a professional photographer here in Austin, Texas, I’ve met with dozens of brides and heard just about every possible question that a new client might ask. From that experience, I’ve created a Q&A from the viewpoint of a new bride, i.e., what questions a bride asks a wedding photojournalist (link above). Although the questions are geared more towards weddings, many of the questions are universal for any event and can be applied to screening different kinds of events and professionals. The questions were developed by speaking with brides and doing research into what clients are looking for in a photographer. I’ve formulated the answers based on how I would answer the questions myself.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend asking a vendor every question that I’ve presented; instead, I recommend that clients look at the list of questions and see which ones seem relevant and important to their event. And those will be the questions that you will want to focus on during your photographer meeting.

So what happens when I meet with a bride and what does the typical bride do when meeting with Austin Americana Photography? Most clients I meet with know 2 essential things:

- when their event is; and

- have a general idea of what they want.

But brides are frequently so overwhelmed by wedding planning stress that they may be a little unclear about what questions to ask and the details.

driftwood wedding

Bride at Driftwood Winery Wedding, Driftwood, Texas

Austin Americana makes it easy for brides, by providing them with:

-a packet of information, including a copy of my answers to typical questions a bride might ask;

-an example of our wedding day schedule;

- pricing/package list; and

-a copy of our contract.

And all of which are discussed in our 15-20 meeting. One thing I don’t like is pressuring people, so my object when meeting with a bride/client is to ask them what they need, present them with some basic information about what Austin Americana Photography does and let them decide. And this kind of transparency in business has been (and I predict will remain) a successful strategy.

Feel free to contact me personally by email if you have questions about this blog:

Martin Whitton is a wedding photojournalist in Austin, Texas. He blogs on the subject of weddings, photographs Austin events and provides business consulting services to small business owners in the greater Austin area, where he resides with his family.

Build a Compost Bin!

compost bin

Top View of Compost Bin with Mesh Wire Divider

Last week I posted a “teaser” blog about the compost bin that I had built, so this week I’m posting photos of the composter, along with some directions how to build it and the supplies you may need. I should say that I just researched the topic a little and simply modified some other composter designs, and I’m no expert. I advise you to find a design out there that meets your needs and go with that one. My design is not necessarily the best for every situation.

Some features that we wanted in our compost bin were:

- control of compost (moisture, odor, access by animals, etc.);

- convenience/easy access (for us, not rodents!);

- sturdy design;

- recycled materials

I was able to achieve most of these goals, although the compost bin is not entirely built of recycled materials. But it’s sturdy, we can control the moisture and odor in our compost bin and it is conveniently located near our home with an easy access, hinged lid on top.

inside of compost bin

Removable 1X4 Planks at End of Compost Bin

The dimensions of the composter are approximately 4′ wide X 2.5′ deep X 3′ tall. I don’t think the dimensions are all that important, and you can build it any size. I used mostly 2X4 planks, along with plywood for the sides and bottom. I created a side panel that contains removable 1X4 planks. I used mesh wire to divide the entire composter into 2 separate compartments, since you’ll probably have multiple piles of composting material becoming ready to use at varying times.

I made the lid with 2X4 inch planks and corrugated clear plastic sheets. I added hinges onto the lid so that it would open and close easily. And if you build the lid to fit tightly on the composter, you theoretically won’t have any problems with rodents.

One other feature that I’ve added that may or may not get used: I put a small strip of mesh wire on one end of the composter that would allow compost tea to drip out of the composter into a drip pan (for use on the garden). Not sure if this will actually be useful or not, since this entire undertaking is somewhat experimental.

List of Materials Needed to Build Your Composter:

- 2X4 planks;

-1X4 planks;

- 1/4 or 1/2 inch plywood;

- small mesh wire;

- plastic corrugated sheet;

- wood screws (1.5 – 3.0 inch)

Side View of Compost Bin

Side View of Compost BinClear Corrugated Material Keeps Compost DryTop View of Compost Bin with Mesh Wire Divider

Gardening, Tomatoes and More (Fun Friday Fotos)!

We’re still doing our best to make plants grow in our backyard, and at least the tomato plants have been a success, so far. We’re also hoping to have some squash, peppers and some peaches in the near future. There’s nothing like home grown vegetables!

My son Roman just love to touch and grab things, and the tomatoes are not safe from his little fingers, even while being photographed.


Roman examines some seedlings

Squash plant

Blooming Squash Plant

Green tomatoes Little hands grab tomato

The Bridal Session: It’s all about the Bride!

In June I’m going to post a beautiful series of bridal photos that Austin Americana captured this weekend while on location at one of Austin’s most beautiful wedding venues: Laguna Gloria. And each time that I photograph a bride for her special bridal session I remember how important it is to remind her that the bridal photo is all about her! It’s not only the bride’s big day to shine in her new wedding gown, but the attitude that she has will inevitably show up in the photos that the wedding photographer captures. When she feels confident and happy, her photos show it – which makes my job much easier and enjoyable.

I must say that the sun room/parlor inside the villa at Laguna Gloria is one of my favorite places to photograph in Austin. The room is a rich alternating pattern of green and white, complemented by a restored, victorian-looking couch – all bathed in beautiful, natural sunlight. It’s a photographer’s dream come true (or at least mine). More photos coming in a few weeks…

Bridal Photo at Laguna Gloria

Silhouette of Bride at Laguna Gloria in Austin, TX

Wedding Planning Stress Tips

Getting engaged to be married can be an intoxicating and stimulating experience for a bride. Just think of all the excitement around planning a wedding – selecting the perfect dress, choosing a wedding venue, decorating, re-uniting with old friends and family. Yet somewhere in the process of all the joy and excitement, a bride can feel overwhelmed by the stress of the upcoming wedding. Questions arise related to logistics, relationships and money – how many people will come to the wedding? How do we separate feuding relatives? How do we pay for everything?

So in the midst of the chaos don’t let the wedding planning stress overcome you. Here are some tips for reducing wedding stress and making your wedding experience more rewarding and relaxing.

General Tips:

1. Don’t be a Bridezilla. Allow yourself time to relax and rejuvenate.

2. Your friends and family want to influence your wedding. Let them know that it’s your day.

3. A wedding precipitates strong feelings and some doubts. Remember that being married is a journey and a process, not a final destination.

People that might stress you out (that you may want to limit contact with):

-Wedding vendors

- family members/divorced


- bride/groom

Bride Chasing Groom Cake

You Can Take Steps To Reduce Stress

Some basic things to remember from Wednet:

  • Remember that no wedding is perfect.
  • Remember that you can’t please everybody.
  • Be willing to compromise.
  • Delegate responsibility where possible.
  • Remain calm and rational when faced with stress.
  • Communicate effectively (without anger).
  • People are unpredictable
  • You are not to blame for problems that your guests have.
  • Be honest with yourself and your guests.
  • You don’t need to be a mediator between guests.
  • There are some things that you cannot control.
  • A wedding takes a long time to plan.
  • A variety of emotions are normal during the planning process.
  • Take time out for yourself.
  • Take time out for your relationship.

-         Source:

Specific things known for their relaxation properties:

Lavender has long been known for it’s ability to promote mind and body relaxation through its powerfully calming aroma. When combined with bath salts relaxation effects are amplified through vapors and direct skin contact.

Getting enough rest can improve your body’s ability to fight off sickness and help you feel better and more relaxed. If you are not getting enough sleep, try a natural herb to aid in sleeping, such as valerian root or melatonin.

Cocktails. Having a bad day where nothing seems to go right? End the day early with a happy hour with your friends. A cocktail or two will help you forget about the stress of the day and your friends can be there to support you when you need it most. Just remember that if you drink, do it in moderation and be safe.

Not relaxed yet? Register to win a “Zen Bride” package (includes a book on reducing stress and lavender products like bath salts/candle, etc.)

Email us at: – include your name and upcoming wedding date.

We’ll give away 3 of the Zen Wedding packages starting June 1st, 2011.

Pflugerville Sunset

Every now and then I tinker around with capturing a sunset photo. The thing about the elusive sunset is that it happens quickly and is gone before you know it. Each one is different and you never know if it will be a good one or not; all you really can do is sit and wait, which requires a lot of time – which for me has been in short supply lately. I took this shot a few weeks ago here in Pflugerville near my home. There was a storm moving into town at the time, so I just grabbed a camera and rushed out the door with my son to see what we could capture. Enjoy!

Sunset in Pflugerville, TX

Sun setting on Pflugerville, Texas

Getting The Shot and Still Making Time for the Family (and other stuff).

I recently attended a training class about managing time and priorities. Essentially it was an organizational class teaching students how to be more efficient by eliminating or speeding up the normal tasks we perform every day. It was a helpful class and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs that kind of training. The reason it comes to mind is that sitting here at 9pm on a Sunday night I’m feeling exhausted and wondering how  (or why) I decided to fit so many things into my calendar this weekend.

In my time management class the instructor told us that we should have no more than three (3) major events or projects going on at one time, either professional or social (combined). For example a person might be juggling their career, their family and be a member of a soccer league. Those three things, according to our instructor, make up a complete schedule of things to do or for which to be responsible. Anything more would mean that your life balance might break down and essentially something would get “short-changed”.

This weekend felt like I exceeded my threshold for things to do, between family time, personal commitments and shooting a wedding and a bridal photography session. Just being on the road caused enough challenges. On Saturday alone, I bounced from Austin to Pflugerville, to Lockhart and Dripping Springs, sometimes in different cars and including wardrobe changes.  But I have to say, other than the weather being hot and humid, I still feel blessed to have the opportunity to participate and be a part of so many people’s lives in so many facets.

Later this week I hope to blog a little more about a new wedding venue just outside Austin (new to me). It’s a vineyard called Driftwood Winery and it’s a wonderful place to have a wedding. Imagine sitting atop the highest hill you can imagine in the hill country, sipping on local texas wine and looking down upon dozens of acres of grapes. It’s a pretty fulfilling and relaxing experience just enjoying the ambience of such a place, even without all the pomp and excitement of a wedding. More to come on that later…

Driftwood Vineyard Pavillion

Wedding Pavillion at Driftwood Estate Winery

Building in the Backyard (Fun Friday Fotos)

This week my son Roman has taken a special interest in my work tools. It seems like no matter what I’m working with in the backyard to complete a project, he wants to be working with the same tool at the same time. For example, if I’m hammering some nails, then he needs the hammer; and if I’m measuring lumber with the tape measure, then that is also what he needs at the moment – although the tape measure appears to be one of his favorite carpentry tools. I suppose it makes me a little proud, to see that Daddy’s little builder likes to help. And he is pretty darn cute trying to wield a large tape measure and a hammer!

Roman Unwinds the Tape Measure in Our Backyard

Reduce Your Wedding Planning Stress With Free Wedding Stuff!

I’ve been working on a blog with tips for brides on how to deal with wedding planning stress and I’ve decided to give away 3 Zen Bride packs to help some stressed brides reduce their wedding stress. The package includes Nora Cabrera’s book which details how to become more Zen-like during the stressful days of wedding planning, lavender bath salts, aromatherapy candle, mist and silky sleep mask. The author says that lavender not only energize and relax, but it will “rejuvenate and inspire a tired soul.”

More details to come on how I’ll be giving away these 3 Zen Bride wedding packages…

Austin Wedding Photographer Calendar

For the past few years I’ve been posting Austin Americana Wedding Photography’s availability on my Google Calendar. But now WordPress has made it even easier to find by allowing me to add it to the home page. The purpose of the calendar is to make it easier for brides and other potential clients who need a wedding photographer or event photographer in Austin to see our availability without having to pick up the phone or email. We try to be as transparent and helpful as possible, and this is just one more way of doing that! You can view the Austin Americana Photography Calendar by simply scrolling down  (below) and clicking on the white calendar. Are we available to photograph your wedding or event? Just take a look for yourself!

Later this week I’ll add our calendar to the tabs portion on the main page for continuous easy access.

Finding Zen in Backyard Work

This weekend I did some work in the backyard, which is something I don’t frequently have the opportunity to devote time to doing. I built a compost bin, which I’ll post photos of at a later time. It required quite a bit of labor, like sawing lumber, drilling, lifting and other physical energy. But in the end it felt very satisfying and rewarding to finish (well, almost!) a project that will be soon put to good use by creating organic, fertile soil for our garden.

Oddly enough, physical work using our hands, our back and our legs (like heavy lifting, swinging a hammer, etc.) has become almost obsolete for many of us. I watched a documentary this weekend with my wife about peak oil and one topic that really piqued my interest was that of how energy is derived. The documentary basically said that in the early 1900s something like 80% of our nation’s energy came from human work (imagine a logger sawing a tree by hand or farmer hoeing crops). Yet today, the fossil fuels that we use (substitute a chainsaw for the logger saw and a tractor for the farmer’s hoe) make up such a large portion of fuel used in creating energy that the human portion input is almost non-existent.

In this new, westernized world that we’ve created we expect to train and specialize in one particular job (usually something that relates to providing a service), creating an income that will theoretically pay enough to cover the cost of everything else we might need, like buying a home, car, groceries, etc. And this huge idea hinges upon one thing: cheap fossil fuel, the supply of which has likely already peaked and won’t likely be able to keep up with increasing world demand.

Growing Tomatoes in our backyard

Growing Tomatoes in our backyard

For the past 10 years or so, like many other Americans, I’ve been an office dweller. We sit at a desk in front of our computer and process things, electronically. There are frequently days when I end my day thinking that today was the same as yesterday and I wonder if I actually accomplished anything. Sure, I may have completed some widgets, sent some emails or spoken to other professionals over the phone. But the sense of accomplishment or an end point is frequently missing. Sure, when I complete shooting a wedding or other event is gratifying, but not like physical labor, getting your hands dirty.

And if you’re wondering about the exciting life of a national geographic photographer who travels all over the world and photographs people and events, well, my job as a photographer isn’t always as romantic and exciting. I more often than not find myself in front of my computer (like right now) corresponding by email with brides, planning events, editing images, and a menagerie of other tasks. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining. I’m simply making an observation about our western lifestyle and how things have changed from the time that our grandparents were our age.

But all that office baggage didn’t exist last night when I went to bed tired and feeling accomplished. My body was fatigued, but in the place where defeat might exist, I instead had a continued and lasting sense of purpose and accomplishment. I felt at peace and connected to nature somehow. I suppose that down deep, I felt that building a composter for my family would ultimately help us grow a healthy, organic garden (using composted materials) to nourish our bodies and reduce our carbon footprint on the earth. The project had an established beginning and end, which also helped in feeling that something had been achieved which was measurable.

Don’t believe me? Get outside and get your hands dirty! Listen to the birds sing, the crickets chirping and the sounds of nature as you sweat. For me, it doesn’t get much more Zen than that! :)

Austin Corporate Event Photo

Lately it seems like I don’t have much time to blog, at least as much as I’d like to. And it seems that with every passing year of my life I find myself busier and busier with personal life commitments and professional obligations related to photography. Between meeting with brides, photographing events, spending time with family, martial arts and other commitments, my schedule has become full. And it didn’t used to be that way. I can remember just 5 or 6 years ago when I was single and not doing as much photography I found myself bored at times. Once upon a time I was even a committed volunteer with a number of local philanthropy organizations like Habitat for Humanity (which by the way, if you’re interested in learning how to build and giving back to your community and those that are less fortunate, is a wonderful endeavor!). At any rate, I digress…

Recently I photographed a corporate event here in Austin at the Austin Convention Center that was a fun diversion from the standard wedding and engagement photography that I frequently do. And I wanted to share a sort of benign, anonymous photo from that event in my blog. I blog about most events that I photograph and this one won’t be an exception, except I’ll only post one photograph (for privacy sake). Shooting a different kind of event like this one creates new challenges for me and that’s something that keeps me coming back for more photography gigs, because it’s rewarding when I get it right. I look forward to photographing more corporate events like this one!

Corporate event at Austin Convention Center

Corporate Event at Austin Convention Center

Random Photo: James The Train (Fun Friday Fotos)

Sometimes I enjoy just posting a random photo. I’ve got tons of photos that I’ve taken around the house or on the road that just don’t seem to fit anywhere. Yet, I still like the photo and feel the need to share it. So, needing no introduction, here is Friday’s random fun foto: “James.”  James looks much like Thomas the Train, if you know your children’s shows. However, James is red (that’s the only difference I can detect)!  I snapped this photo on our front porch while my son was playing with his grandmother.

Thomas and Friends: James

James, from Thomas And Friends TV Show

What Camera Is Best For Beginners?

It seems like lately I’ve been asked if I could recommend a good “all-around” camera. Now, it’s tough to know exactly what all around means and there are lots of cameras for lots of scenarios, but normally I think I understand what is being said (without being said). What is being asked is if there is a simple camera that takes high quality images for someone who is a photo novice and who doesn’t want to buy a bunch of complicated, expensive equipment? And my answer to that question is “yes!” As a professional photographer, I know a little more than average about cameras and the photo industry. If you visit your local book store or a large store that carries a magazine section you’ll find a whole group of photo magazines that are raving about the latest offerings from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Kodak, etc. Now I’m not one to criticize technology; I love my digital photography gear, but I can honestly say that there is an unbelievable amount of hype behind the sale of new camera equipment. And the bottom line is that the average “Jane” or “Joe” doesn’t need to run down to Precision Camera and buy the newest, most expensive model of camera available.

So what camera do I recommend to a person who is a beginner photographer? I recommend the Canon G12, available on for around $500. Why? Well first of all, based on what I’ve read and talking to others, it takes great photos, which should be pretty high on the priority list. But what I really like about it is that it’s small and much more simple than a digital SLR. When I prepare to head off to photograph a bride and groom at a wedding, I pack 2 containers full of photo gear, including 2 large cameras, flashes, batteries, 4 lenses and lots of ancillary photo equipment. When I arrive, I unpack the two cameras, and attach 2 of the heaviest medium-sized zoom lenses in the industry and attach them to the cameras. By the end of the day, my hands, wrists, neck, shoulders and back are exhausted from lugging around these two monster. If I could get away with shooting weddings with the Canon G12 I would, but I can’t – but you (the novice) can!

I’m not the only professional photographer here in Austin who makes honest recommendations about cameras. You can also check out Kirk Tuck’s blog for his favorite point and shoot cameras (he likes the Olympus EPL2 better).

Disclaimer: I don’t work for or receive any compensation from Canon.

Falling In Love: Is Your Body Playing Tricks On You?

My wife and I were watching a movie last night where one character talked poetically about the beauty of falling in love, only to be criticized by their counterpart who said love was just a chemical reaction in the body and was not “real”. It got me thinking about all the many beliefs we adopt about love, whether it be from William Shakespeare’s writings or from a romantic story on TV. Is love at first sight a real phenomenon, and if so, what causes it and how much of it is metaphysical and how much of it is biological? All you have to do is perform a Google search on this topic, and like many subjects, a fountain of information appears at your fingertips. I stumbled onto this great love article which might give my readers some more insight and a starting point for investigating what is “falling in love”.

Oddly enough, a number of researchers and thinkers believe that love at first sight or the concept of falling in love may happen in less than a second when two people encounter one another. However, there are differing opinions on exactly what happens in the body and brain to cause the reactions we have. Don’t believe it? Think back to a moment in your past when you might have encountered someone who “swept you off your feet”. You may have had an instantaneous biological reaction, such as sweating, rapid heart beat, dilated pupils, confusion, lost concept of time (even if only briefly), nervousness, and more. Or maybe you can think back to when you first met someone who later became very close to you. Didn’t that person seem perfect and exceptional in every way, whether it was their appearance, intelligence, attitude or whatever? And yet later (once the “pink cloud” had faded) perhaps you began to notice that in fact the one you thought to be perfect, wasn’t quite as exceptional as your initial assessment.

It’s an interesting topic and fun to think about. Happy reading!

couple engagement mount bonnell

Engagement Photo at Mount Bonnell, Austin

Central Christian Church Austin Wedding Photos

Red Roses at Church

Central Christian Church of Austin, Texas is one of the oldest churches within the City of Austin. It also boasts being one of the most centrally located churches in Austin, located downtown at 1110 Guadalupe Street, just a stone’s throw from the Texas Capitol.

Central Christian Church is built in an architectural style that is meant to pay tribute to a cathedral in Florence, Italy. It was constructed in the early 1900s to meet the needs of a group of Christians who had been meeting and worshipping together since at least the late 1800s in Austin.

I’ve photographed several weddings there and Central Christian Church always makes for spectacular wedding photography, with its high ceilings, post-renaissance Italian architecture, balcony seating and historical significance.

The Texas Historical Commission Plaque which stands outside of Central Christian Church summarizes the history of the church:

“In 1847, eight years after the City of Austin was platted, ten members of the Disciples of Christ Brotherhood met to organize this congregation. Although early records of the church are scarce, it is known that regular worship services were being held in a local school building by 1852. The Christian Church of Christ of Austin, as the congregation originally was known, acquired its first property at Eighth and Colorado Streets and worshipped at that site until moving to this location in 1929. An early dispute over theological and procedural matters split the congregation in 1888. Until 1896, when the Rev. S.D. Dutcher was appointed pastor, leader of the church were selected from among the laity. The fellowship adopted its current name during the early years of the twentieth century. After other disciples of Christ congregations had been organized in Austin. Although much growth has occurred in the outlying sections of the city. Central Christian Church has remained a vital force in the downtown area. Its ministry has included the establishment of several other congregations. As one of the oldest churches in Austin, Central Christian has provided the city with significant service and leadership.”

Find more up to date information on Central Christian Church on their website, which includes info on the recent renovations, a calendar of events and contact information.

Red Roses at Church

Bridal Party at Central Christian Church

Austin Architectural Photographer

Night Photo of Wedding Venue

Mayfield Cottage Home Austin

Home at Mayfield Park

I was just looking back at all the events that i’ve photographed over the past 4-5 years and realized that I have quite a collection of architectural photography. Although being an architectural photographer is not my specialty, like many other photographers, I find myself having experience and expertise in more than one kind of photographic specialization.

Many of the architectural photos that I’ve collected were from wedding events that I’ve shot. And I find that deep down, I really enjoy photographing buildings, campuses and structures – both inside and out. In fact, one of the first photography classes I enrolled in at the University of Texas was a landscaping photography class. Here are some of my favorite photos from my architectural collection…

Renaissance Hotel Austin, TX

View From Inside The Hotel Of The Elevators

Downtown Austin, TX

Downtown Austin, Looking West On 6th Street @ The Driskill Hotel

Green Pastures

Green Pastures Mansion at Night

Inside of Hotel Valencia

Central Christian Church

Architectural Photo of Chateau Bellevue

Chateau Bellevue

Austin Birthday Party Photos (Fun Friday Fotos)

Not too long ago I had the opportunity and pleasure to photograph a child’s birthday party. So, as a part of the fun friday foto segment of this blog, I’m sharing a few of those photos. Some of the features of the birthday party were lots of color, an inflated full-sized jumping castle, tons of cupcakes, a fantastic balloon artist, food, candy as far as the eye can see and tons of party people. My only wish was that I had more time to stay and enjoy the party!

How To Get a Free AT&T Phone Charger (and a free backup battery)

I wanted to blog about my recent experience of trying to get AT&T to fix or replace my phone and share the frustration I felt. But I also thought that it would be fun to make lemonade out of lemons by sharing what I learned. Although it was not really helpful for me, it might help you get a FREE phone charger (and maybe a battery). Here’s how…

I normally write about my experience as a wedding and event photographer, but this blog is sort of off topic. Like many photographers, my work phone is a cell phone – meaning that the phone number that I depend upon for business needs (i.e., new photography clientele) is attached to a cell phone – and only works when the battery in the phone works. Lately, my cell phone has been on the blink, so I went to AT&T (my service provider) for help.

I purchased a new, basic (non-smart) phone about 6 months ago, to simplify my life and to have a dependable, yet simple, (see my blog about simplicity and smart phones) cell phone for communicating with photo clients. Unfortunately, in the past week my cell phone lost its ability to charge, which can mean lost business opportunities for Austin Americana Photography. I contacted the AT&T representatives via their 800 number and was transferred to the warranty department. They told me I needed to go to a brick-and-mortar AT&T store, and they gave me the address where to go here in Austin. So I visited the recommended AT&T store, and the representative basically blew me off (there was an attractive female that required help from both male reps at the time, which left me twittling my thumbs – but who could blame them, right?!).

cell phone photo of bride

Bride at Wedding Being Photographed with Cell Phone Camera

The less-than-helpful rep quickly ushered me off to the AT&T device support center, which was about 10 miles away. This is where the free charger part of the story starts. I told the new AT&T rep that when I plug my phone into the wall to charge, the phone display shows the phone is charging. But after hours of waiting for it to charge, the phone battery, in fact, does NOT charge and actually drops in charge. She quickly looked at my phone and told me that they didn’t have batteries or chargers for my phone onsite and that she would arrange for AT&T to mail a new (free) charger to my home. She indicated that I could also request a new battery if the charger didn’t work.

Now the bad news for me is that I’m still walking around with a cheap phone that won’t charge. And after speaking with 4 different AT&T representatives and driving to 2 separate locations in Austin, I still don’t have a working phone. I searched online for the replacement battery and charger specifically for my phone and found the charger costs around $4.99 and the replacement battery costs only $10.99 (plush S&H). Now you might ask, well why don’t you just purchase the replacement parts yourself? And to that I would ask why I have to purchase replacement parts on a 6-month old phone that is still under warranty and has been well cared for.

I suppose it’s the principle of the matter. I’ll wait for my new phone charger to arrive and go from there. So when did life get so complicated?! All I want is a basic cell phone that works. I guess sometimes we just have to admit that we don’t have the power to affect change for the day. We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

Some important AT&T Phone Numbers:

AT&T Customer Service: 800-331-0500

AT&T Warranty Service Center: 800-801-1101

AT&T Phone Insurance (Asurion): 888-562-8662

A Royal Wedding

I didn’t really take much notice of the royal wedding that occurred last week between the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Catherine Middleton), at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011. I had many things going on during the wedding so I didn’t have time to watch the ceremony, but it was widely reported by international news and covered at every angle. Now, I must admit that I’m not really a big follower of the royal family or the British Crown; I’ve noticed that many people are, however – so perhaps I’m alone in lacking a desire to follow the royal family’s sagas. In fact, last time I visited my own grandparents home I noticed that even they have a special Princess Diana decorative plate sitting atop their mantle. So I guess everyone but me is into royalty!

So I figured I should see what all the fuss was about and I took a look at some of the royal wedding images. I must admit that I kind of enjoyed seeing the royal wedding photos. They are really colorful and perhaps most royal weddings offer such great pomp and amazing color, so I was impressed. I kind of wondered what it would be like to photograph the royal wedding. I’ve never photographed any royal weddings (I pretty much stick to the commoner, american weddings) but perhaps it would’ve been fun to photograph the royal family!

At any rate, the official wedding photographer for the royal wedding was Hugo Burnand, and you can view some of the official photographs from the wedding at his website. According to this article, Mr. Burnand had only 26 minutes to capture the wedding images! I can tell you from experience that 26 minutes is not very long in wedding photographer terms, so he must have been snapping away! The trick to being a decent wedding photographer is anticipating what will happen next, which he must be pretty good at, otherwise the Royal Family probably wouldn’t have hired him for such a prestigious event. There aren’t as many photos available as I’d imagined in this new digital world that we live in, but you can sort of put the pieces together. Just do a Google search for “Royal Wedding” or “William and Kate Wedding” and then select “images at the top of the browser. There are photos on many different pages. Enjoy!

Royal Wedding Photo

AP Photo of Royal Wedding

Austin Capitol and Downtown Engagement Photos

capitol engagement photoMany times couples ask for suggestions of where to take their engagement photos in Austin. I have a detailed list of about 20 locations in and around Austin that I think make great locations for engagement, bridal and portrait photography. A number of the photo shoot locations in the downtown Austin area are walking distance from one another, and I give my photo clients the option to shoot more than one location during the photo session.

Early in 2011 I was contacted by a young, newly-engaged couple living in Austin to be their engagement photographer both on 6th street and at the capitol in Austin. The couple were from out of state, but while falling in love with each other had also fallen in love with the City of Austin, with its weirdness, busy night life and friendly population. Although their wedding would be held back in their home state, they insisted that their engagement photo session be photographed downtown.

Downtown is one of my favorite places to photograph couples because of the variety and spontaneity that urban Austin provides. There are downtown Austin elements such as historic buildings, painted murals, beautiful landmarks and an energy that you just don’t find anywhere else in Texas – all adding to the mystique and individuality of the photos.

Now more than ever, when I photograph a couple I try to get to know the bride and groom to be. I’m always curious to know the special story that brought two people who are in love together. But I also find that the intimate conversation that I have with my engaged clients allows them to express their feelings about one another, which brings about the wonderful feelings they harbor for one another, something that ultimately gets captured in their photos. They enjoy being the “celebrity” for the day, as their personal photographer follows them around snapping photos. And I get to be there, capturing the passion and the love that they have for one another, documenting it with my camera. Being a photographer is not a bad job; in fact, most days it is a joy and a pleasure! :)

Engagement Photo Downtown Austinaustin couple jumping downtown

Austin Event Calendar: May 2011

As usual, more than enough events happening in May 2011 for Austinites to enjoy. I’ve cherry picked a few that sounded fun, but there’s pretty much something going down every day. When I was listening to KUT radio the other day, one of the programs mentioned “hipsters chasing the cool”. I thought that was funny, but perhaps a little true. So if you’re an Austin hipster and you’re chasing “the cool” events, then you should have no problem reaching the hipster quota! Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo Family Festival

Univision again throws the biggest Cinco soiree in town with live music from Tierra Cali, Duelo, and others; carnival rides and games for the kids; and much more Mexican heritage hoopla. Who doesn’t want to celebrate a beat down of the French? 11am-6pm. Free.

Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker, 854-4900

Poetry on the Plaza: Singers and Songwriters READING WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, NOON

The Harry Ransom Center presents the Poetry on the Plaza event Singers and Songwriters on Wednesday, May 4, at noon.

Performers include Austin musicians Jonathan Meiburg, Amy Annelle, and Brian Beattie. Meiburg is the lead singer and songwriter of Shearwater and is a former member of Okkervil River. Annelle is a singer-songwriter whose most recent album, The Cimarron Banks, was released in 2010. Beattie, who recorded with Annelle on that album, is also a member of the band Glass Eye and has produced records by the Dead Milkmen, Daniel Johnston, Shearwater, and Okkervil River.

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men BOOK DISCUSSION WEDNESDAY, MAY 11, 6:30 P.M.

The Austin Public Library Friends Foundation and Ransom Center host a discussion of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s All the President’s Men in conjunction with the exhibition Culture Unbound: Collecting in the Twenty-First Century. A screening of the film follows.


Postcards from America PHOTOGRAPHY DISCUSSION FRIDAY, MAY 13, 7 P.M.

As part of their “Postcards from America” tour, five Magnum photographers discuss photography and ways to picture America on Friday, May 13, at 7 p.m. in Jessen Auditorium in Homer Rainey Hall.

In the first of a series of trips around America, five Magnum photographers and one writer will be travelling from San Antonio, Texas, to Oakland, California, between May 12 and May 26, 2011. Meet photographers Christopher Anderson, Jim Goldberg, Susan Meiselas, Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotzky, and writer Ginger Strand on the plaza in front of the Ransom Center the from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. before their discussion on May 13.

The Magnum Photos archive currently resides at the Ransom Center.

Ms. Lauryn Hill

5/1/2011 Sunday 7:00pm

Stubb’s Bar-B-Q and Waller Creek Amphitheatre, Austin TX

Pecan Street Festival – May 7, 2011

The Pecan Street Festival is a free arts and crafts festival held on 6th Street.

For more information on the city of Austin’s permitted special ROW events, see the Special Events Portal. For a map of this month’s events, see the Street Closure Maps page.

Starts at: 11:00 AM
Length: 2 days

Fleet Foxes – 5/10/2011 Tuesday 7:00p Stubbs Bbq Outdoor Stage

Eastside Movie in the Park – May 3, 2011

Eastside Movie in the Park – sponsored by the Expedition School and the Austin Parks Foundation. The Expedition School has partnered with the Austin Parks Foundation to bring you Eastside Movies in the Park. The Expedition School is committed to being part of the community and wants you to join in the fun! Join us for this 7-part series every first Tuesday of the month for a FREE movie and learn about some of the fabulous non-profit organizations in our community. Go Green – the City of Austin encourages carpooling use of mass transit when attending all events. Many events provide bike rack or a designated bike parking area on site. Please see the event website for specific opportunities provided.

For more information, please visit website or contact Kimery Duda at 512-626-6282.

Starts at: 6:00 PM
Ends at: 10:45 PM

Movie: Whale Rider, Running Time: 101 minutes

Place: Fiesta Gardens

Address: 2100 Jesse E. Segovia St. Austin, TX 78702

Zilker Hillside Theater – Austin Shakespeare Festival’s “Love’s Labours Lost” – May 5, 2011

Austin Shakespeare Festival’s “Love’s Labours Lost”

Fore more information, please visit website or call (512)477-5335.

Starts at: 8:00 PM
Length: 3 days

Place: Zilker Hillside Theatre

Address: 2201 Barton Springs Road Austin, TX 78704

Inside Austin Garden Tour – May 14, 2011

The Travis County Master Gardeners Association, in cooperation with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service of Travis County, will host the Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2011 on Saturday, May 14, 2011, from 9am until 4pm. This year, the tour focuses on water-wise gardening. Gardening through a Central Texas summer can be trying. At the same time, escalating water rates and mandatory restrictions have made a water-sapping plant palette or a grass lawn a luxury or an impossibility for many. Increasingly, Central Texas gardeners are turning to water-wise techniques, native and adapted plant selections, and various principles of xeriscaping. The Inside Austin Gardens Tour 2011 will include gardens that feature rain-water collection systems, drip irrigation, xeric and native plant selections, rain gardens, shade gardens, and water-conserving practices. Each garden will feature educational sessions throughout the day.

Tickets can be purchased at each garden on the event date at $10 for the entire tour ticket or $5 for a single garden entry. Please, no dogs. Consult for information. Save the date for a day-long look at what other gardeners are doing to weather the heat and conserve water. You’ll be glad you did.

Starts at: 9:00 AM
Ends at: 4:00 PM

SFC Farmers Market – May 7, 2011

For more information on the city of Austin’s permitted special ROW events, see the Special Events Portal. For a map of this month’s events, see the Street Closure Maps page.

Starts at: 9:00 AM
Ends at: 1:00 PM

Komen Austin Ride for the Cure®

When Saturday, May 14, 2011, 7am – 12pm
Franklin Family Ranch (Blanco, TX)

Arte en la Charrería The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture

April – June 5, 2011 – Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum


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