092610 Weddings Weddings Weddings!

Terri and I spent a fantastic weekend shooting a wedding! Those photos will be up soon, until then, please enjoy some of these awesome photos from Tristin and Marci's wedding!

I love this image with the women blowing bubbles in the corner!

Tristin and Marcie had a bunch of awesome Mexican traditions at their wedding, including this tradition where the men at the wedding present Tristin as a corpse to the women at the wedding!

And then they throw the groom in the air for fun!

092610 Be an Assistant!

Over the week I managed to create some photographer assistant propaganda :)

Which is easy with the cool shots I take with Terri.

090410 Megan and Lou's Wedding!

This beautiful couple are Megan and Lou! Back two weeks ago, the next morning after photographing the beautiful wedding of Tristin and Marcie, Terri and I (with the video help of OJ Santiago) met up with the happy couple for their special day!

One of the most exciting moments was when Lou got to see Megan in her wedding dress for the very first time.


Their chosen sanctuary was the beautiful Bellarmine Chapel on Xavier's campus in Cincinnati.

All of the days preceding the wedding weekend had been in the 90s! But this day was in the low 70s, breezy, and perfect!

After the ceremony, OJ, Terri, and I escorted the newly weds around the campus for some quick but stunning portraits on Xavier's fantastically constructed campus! We even got to take some portraits in the coffee shop where they met!


It was a beautiful and magical evening! Thank you Megan and Lou for letting us hang out with you on your special day! (We'll it's more like stalking, but the results are way better :)

PS - Lou's brother can dance just like Michael Jackson!

090410 Your Next Event Host, Avious Jackson

Two weeks ago at the wedding of my friends Megan and Lou, Terri and I met Avious Jackson. Cool, collected, prepared, courteous, and best of all fun, Avious just might be my new favorite Cincinnati DJ.

We didn't even mention the music! From classy jazz to rock and roll, to bass thumping club music, this party was having a great time the entire time.

Check Avious out here at his website. Read some of the testimonials, you'll see I'm not the only one who recognizes talent. :)

The best part was the finale! I certainly didn't expect him to bust out a cover song in perfect pitch!

And I think that pretty much proves that everyone had a great time.
So if you are looking for a talented Music Coordinator and entertainer for your event or wedding and not just a DJ, I would strongly recommend Avious Jackson.


How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

So you find yourself needing a talented professional to document your big event… You’ve never done this before, but it’s REAL important to get it right. What do you need to know and what kinds of questions do you ask the candidates to find out who will be right for you? There are several things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer. A wedding is a unique situation with unique problems that a professional MUST be prepared for to get the best possible outcome in the least amount of time. Here are some things you may want to think about. (I’m supposing here that money is not an option and you like the style of the photographer.)

TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE: When you think of moments that you only get one chance to capture, your wedding day certainly is one. This is big-time important! The bride has 25-60 seconds of walking down the aisle with her father, that’s it. No do-overs. Once that moment is over, it’s over. For these important moments you need a person who is highly trained and experienced. You deserve an expert, not someone who is using your special moment for on-the-job training. During your search for a wedding photographer, inquire how they learned the art of event photography and how many weddings they have photographed. If they can’t give specifics… watch out!

1. Even if they won’t admit it, the learning curve for self-taught photographers is way longer than someone who has had the latest concepts, timelines, techniques, tips, and tricks-of-the-trade taught to them. It just saves so much time! As I said before, photography is an art and a science. With no formal training it is unlikely a painter will be painting the Mona Lisa anytime soon.

2. Who they learned from is also important! If a photographer learned the trade from a teacher that is inefficient or doesn’t understand lighting, chances are those characteristics will carry over into the student’s work. What about “I went to school for photography”? While colleges may teach theory, practice is a different animal when we are talking about events and weddings. Now I’m NOT trying to say teachers cannot educate you! What I’m saying is that there is a lot of real-life situations not covered in textbooks. The best education for event photography comes from someone who does it all the time. They know what to expect and prepare for at events.

3. How many have they photographed? Sure, you can practice and read, but there’s way more stress the day of the event, trust me. The first 10 weddings are the hardest for sure, the highest volume of mistakes will happen then.

TECHNIQUE: There’s good techniques and slow techniques at fast paced events like weddings. Photographers can get a lot of good technique from training. Ask the photographer what their techniques are. Good photographers should prepare you, the client, for how things will go at your event. (What he/she does, how he/she does it.)

Here’s some questions to ask:
1. What are your techniques? (General)

2. What kinds of images do you take at a wedding? (Are they all posed formals, PJ (photojournalistic), or a mix? What about scene setters?)

3. Do you use off camera flash/Do you use 2 or 3 point lighting? (It is my opinion that the 2 & 3 point lighting technique (demonstrated in my photography) is pretty cool, only 20% of photographers do it!)

4. Do you have an assistant? (Photographers with assistants can get way more done.)

5. How do you plan on photographing the wedding party/families quickly? (I employ a technique called Flow Posing where we efficiently and systematically photograph all the permutations of wedding party/family groups and still get the couple to the reception before the salads are finished! See, another benefit of good training!!)

6. How many times, and when in the process, does the photographer meet with the bride and groom for consultation and planning?

7. Does he/she visit the locations before you shoot there?

8. What unique services do you offer at events? (“The difference is the difference.” If they can give you light painting, special lighting, extreme wide angle, video clips, stop action gif animations, colored gels, or thousands of other “nice-to-haves” it sure is nice-to-have for your once in a life time event, and some of that stuff takes planning!)

9. What backup equipment do you bring to the event? (HUGE importance! Imagine if the camera breaks half way through!?! How are they guaranteeing your product?)

10. How do you ensure color quality and longevity of your prints?

11. What kind of post processing do you do?

POST PROCESSING: Ten years ago post processing was the print lab but now post processing is almost 50% of photography. In post processing the photographer can make all of your images balanced for brightness, color, crop, accentuate details, or remove unsightly elements! The better your photographer is at post production, the more opportunities to give you the best possible product open up. In my personal experience, great photos come out of the camera but amazing photos come out of photoshop!

Some areas to consider:

1. Does the photographer balance the images for density and color before you get to pick them out? (Whether or not an image has had a little processing can effect whether or not you select the image.)

2. Will the photographer balance the images when the images are selected or purchased?

3. Will the photographer retouch faces, eyeglasses, smooth skin, remove exit signs or beer bottles out of photographs, etc. (If you don’t think this is important, ask me for some examples of what this kind of retouching can bring to your images. Remember AMAZING photos come out of post production.)

4. How long does your post processing take?

SPEED: There are two prominent areas where you may want to find out how quickly your photographer operates. At the wedding, and how long it takes to get your product into your hands.

1. Wedding Day – No one wants to remember that the photos on your wedding day took FOREVER. Again, poor planning and lack of education can really slow down the process and the wedding day is not a day for the photographer to get it right at all costs. This day is about the bride and groom. A good way to judge speed on the wedding day is to ask how long the formal portraits will take and how many photographs the photographer will take during that time. (If the photographer says “It usually takes about 3 hours before the wedding and an hour after with the end result 30 images to choose from.” That’s not a good sign. If they say “Oh just about 15 min and you’ll see 200 amazing images.” That sounds fishy, too.

2. Where’s my stuff? – Ask what the timeline after the wedding looks like (Cause you’re not done yet). How long until I can see my images? How long after I order them will they be delivered? How long will it take to complete my album? Will I get to approve the design before it’s printed? (Don’t get stuck with nothing to show from your wedding for months! Know what to expect!)

UNDERSTANDING OF THE DAY: So everything above is pretty obvious, right. But don’t stop at the product. That isn’t the only service your photographer should be delivering on your special day (or after).

A good photographer has a respectful reverence for the solemnity of your special day. Your wedding is unique to you, but to the photographer it’s a common occurrence. We’ve all seen people who treat their job like boring work they “have to” do, and it shows. No matter how many times the photographer has photographed weddings, or weddings in the same church they should treat you, your family and friends, the church or sanctuary, and everyone else with the respect and enthusiasm that’s due on the special day. And it is a special day. This will be hard to measure since any conversation you’ll be having with the photographer he’ll essentially be “selling” to you. Ask for references (that aren’t related to the photographer!). If you can’t do that, listen to the way he/she talks about what they do. You can get a good sense of what they think by the way they describe answers to the questions like the ones above. Heck, ask him what he’ll do when uncle Harry steps in to take photos right in the middle of the formal portraits (‘cause he ALWAYS does).

A good photographer will:

 Understand his/her place in the wedding and not overstep his/her bounds.

 Dress better than the minimum standard for your event. (No shorts! NO flip-flops! No outlandish gear backpack, belt, or vest… this is a wedding not a safari! They should wear a suit and tie or a nice dress or pants suit for a woman.)

 Address and treat everyone like a foreign dignitary regardless of who they are. (Keep in mind if you hired this person they kind of represent you at your wedding.)

 Help out with non-photo related stuff if it’s needed. (Lets be real here, “That’s not my job.” is a crappy attitude.)

 Contact the religious person or efficient to ask about the rules of the sanctuary before the wedding.

 Communicate well, and communicate what is going on to people involved in the process.

 Find something to do to add value if there’s nothing else going on. (Don’t just stand there, take a picture of the ceiling, or the band, or details of the flowers or place settings, anything! They shouldn’t just stand there waiting to go home.)

So even if WE don’t work together, at least you will have a set of reference points to use to find photographic professionals.

I hope this helps!

Nicholas and Terri

091110 Misc

Check out this cool self portrait of me reflected in a fly!

And nature made a smiley face with a wig from the stem of a home grown red pepper!

090210 Seibert's School of Smashin' (G-Town)

As is customary when AJ Seibert and I get together, last Thursday night we broke stuff.

Andy had an ax to grind... of sorts.

Old man Viltrakis took in some bowling.

Here we have Andy cutting costs!

090310 Tristin and Marcie (Let Me Tell You About Labor Day)

This beautiful woman is Marcie, and she and her wonderful husband Tristin can corroborate the story that follows...

This is one of my greatest friends, the moog endorsed artist, Tristin Morin. He told me a while ago about his impending wedding and his desire to cram as much awesome into his special day as possible. Included details were, but not limited to, a bourbon fountain, The Cardome center in Georgetown Ky, Dave Ferris, and a tradition where he's carried around like the dead to tempt the women at the wedding! How could I say no?

I mean look at this cutie!

The day was windy but magical and fun with a couple of moments of suspense mixed in to keep everyone on their toes!

The only problem was that the original date of the wedding was to be thursday and had to be moved to Friday. And that was a problem because Terri and I already had a big wedding in Cincinnati to shoot on Saturday and this was Georgetown Ky (2 hours south)!

The evening couldn't have been better though. Careful planning and preparations guided Team Viltrakis through the amazing weekend! More on that next week!

Marcie was a beautiful bride and Tristin a handsome groom! There was a sea of family and friends to share the good times with too!

The day was perfect.
(More from this wedding next week also!)
We love you Tristin and Marcie!

090510 Portraits!

I've had the great fortune of meeting up with a lot of really great friends recently and I'd like to share some of the free portraits all of my victims... (I mean friends) took with me.

Firstly, Bam! Just today I was lucky enough to go to breakfast with Terri, my parents, and one of my closest friends, Melinda.

It was really awesome catching up on what has been going on, but once there was a lull in the conversation I, of course, whipped out the camera! And she looks great! Thank you for making time for us Melinda!

Last weekend we got to spend a few hours with the Faulkner family and our favorite twins, Aundreau and Brittany!

But Lilly stole the show!

Last, but certainly not least, Ms. Sheri joined Terri and I in beautiful Park Hills Ky for a quick shoot last week also! (we've been busy.)

Thank you all, my friends!