Greener_M_10082011_NickEmilyWedding_1966-950x630

Stumbled across this gem in a news feed recently. Glamour Magazine nails it on the head for a good wedding toast advice formula.

“Introduce yourself + funny story about your friend and why you love her + why the spouse is such a great match + larger sentimental thought + “Cheers!” + a hug for the couple = a truly killer wedding toast.

I thought it was really good food for thought. I would add with all of that to just be genuine and keep it short and sweet. Check out the full list of tips here. -M

Happy 2014 everybody! What a year!  I feel very fortunate. Rounding off my second year being based back in Bozeman, Montana, I feel like I have really come into my own on many fronts – creatively, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Most importantly it was a year for me to realize just how much I love doing what I do. I had the great fortune to photograph weddings in Charleston, South Carolina, Vail, Colorado, and through out Montana. A big thank you to all of my wedding clients from this past 2013 wedding season. Wish you guys all the best and thank you for letting Greener Visuals Wedding Photography be apart of your wedding day celebration. Here are a few of my favorite wedding images from the past year. Looking forward to the new smiles and faces I’ll meet and photograph this year. Stay tuned! -Mike Greener

Hot off the presses, I just got some copies of the brand new 2013/14 A Montana Wedding Magazine wedding planner. I’m pretty excited about it because it is just littered with my wedding photography. If you are looking for some Montana inspiration for your wedding day, this wedding planner guide will be a great resource for ideas, tips and info to find top notch Montana wedding vendors. I’d be happy to send any of you a copy. Shoot me an email if you are interested. I have extras. I was really pleased that the editors of the magazine just ran wild (and BIG) with my storytelling wedding images. It’s the quickest way to bring a smile to this photographer’s face. As you can see they made full use of photographs. I highlighted a couple above but there are so many more to see. I went big myself and invested in a three-page advertisement for my wedding photography business. I think it will be a great boost to get the word out around Montana and beyond that Greener Visuals Wedding Photography is open for business and accepting bookings for the 2014 wedding season. Psyched. If you or a friend you know is in need of some kick ass wedding photography, I know this great guy they should talk to. I look forward to hearing from you. -M

Good news! I found out recently that a couple of my photographs were recognized in a national wedding photo contest. I’ve been a member of the Wedding Photojournalism Association, a national organization of professional wedding photojournalists, for a couple years now and every quarter they hold a contest to honor the talents of its members. It’s always fun to see how you stack up again other talented peers in the industry. There was a lot of inspiring work that was awarded and I was excited to learn I was amongst them. I won 3rd Place in the Reflections category and then won 17th Place in the Great Natural Light category. I’m pretty stoked! I had a lot of fun shooting Michele and Brian’s Wedding and Melissa and Brendan’s Wedding where these award winners were made. Click on their names to check out their fun wedding photos! Thanks for the support everyone! I’m looking forward to making many more award winners for my upcoming wedding season. I’ll be a traveling man. Headed to Oregon, Colorado, South Carolina and all over Montana this summer. There’s always room for more. I’d love to hear about yours or a friends wedding day plans and tell you how Greener Visuals Wedding Photography can help capture the fun. Talk to you soon, -M

Just found out my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography photo shoot from last spring’s Lavish and Fabulous Couture Bridal Event was just blogged about from my friends at Real Weddings Magazine. Behold the awesome colors of the Moroccan Lounge. What a fun event. If you are in the Sacramento area next spring be sure to check the event out. You can view their blog post here. Cheers, -M

I’m happy to announce that one of my go to wedding photo assistants and long time friend Brad Zweerink just found out that a photo of his from our coverage of Gillian and Jeff’s Wedding last May won and is a finalist in the Photo District News (PDN) “Top Knots” wedding photography competition. We had such a fun time photographing these two. The winning photo is of Gillian being hoisted up on a chair during the horah dance of their Jewish wedding. Gillian had a great surprise reaction on her face that I think really adds to the success of the image. It’s a big, national photo competition and I’m thrilled for his good news. Way to go Brad!

Well, this is always a fun email to wake up to. I found out the other day that a photo I made at Christina and Ryan’s wedding last summer placed in the the most recent Wedding Photojournalism Association quarterly photo contest. It’s a shot I made of Christina’s grandmother giving her toast. What a sweetheart. There is an incredible amount of talented wedding photojournalists in the organization and I’m thrilled that my work was able to stand out  amongst them. My first wedding of 2012 is one week from today! I’m getting excited. Sonoma, California here I come!

God…I love what comes across your path on the internet. I found this great unique wedding toast the other day and wanted to share it with all of you. I hope my friends are this creative when it comes to my wedding day. So awesome! Give it a second to load then watch it all the way through. Too funny. I’m getting excited to start my 2012 wedding photography season. If you know of anyone looking to hire a fun, talented wedding photographer, send them my way! All the best, -M

For those of you who might not know, when I’m not making images of brides, I am a full time photojournalist at a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper. I wanted to share a recent story I had the pleasure of covering at my staff newspaper job in Fairfield, CA. I don’t tend to share many blog post between my wedding business and journalism website but this story was too good not to share. Also, Greener Visuals Wedding Photography is happy to announce that we are now accepting bookings for the 2012 wedding season! We would love to be apart of your wedding day. Once the end of the year celebrations subside, we would love to hear from you. Give us a call. Happy Holidays everyone! -M

Yesterday evening I covered a tear jerker of a story for my newspaper. We found out late in the day that a Travis Air Force Base military dad was going to be surprising his 4-year-old daughter and wife by coming home early and show up at the daughter’s dance recital here in downtown Fairfield. His plan was to sneak into her recital and then once she finished, he would walk out from the crowd and go to her on stage. I decided to camp out behind the curtains stage left and then when the moment came, rush out onto the stage to make my frame. It was pretty special to watch the daughter finish dancing then see her eyes grow big and tear up as she yelled out “Daddy!” and ran to hug him. Soon after, wife came up on stage too and there was a great family moment with the crowd applauding. I knew going into it what side of the stage he would likely walk up so I set up a strobe on the overhead balcony shooting down to the steps. I was thinking the moment could happen either on stage or down in the crowd. I compensated by aiming my flash so it would hit both. I got lucky that they were facing away from the audience and towards me. I think it worked out pretty well. I like how I can see the crowd in this image. The first image in this post is from when the daughter stopped her initial hug to look her father in the eyes. I think she was a bit stunned. Rightly so. It ran big on the front page of our paper this morning. You can read the accompanying article here. The local broadcast stations covered it as well. The rest are some other images from the event that I liked. It’s times like this that I feel really lucky to be working as a journalist. It warms the soul to see a young military family like this getting to spend Christmas together. Happy Holidays everyone! -M

After all of the excitement is photographed on the wedding day, the long hours editing and the careful attention to make each photo look it’s best, there comes the point in the process of hiring Greener Visuals Wedding Photography that brings the experience full circle…the delivery of the photos to the bride and groom. For the longest time I would send my clients their DVD of images in a simple, paper based disc holder. My wedding photography business redesign offered me a chance to ferment on how I was operating things throughout my business and a chance for me to improve on them. I knew I wanted to make my presentation from start to finish stand out. I want my clients to be proud of their wedding photography and be able to show it off to friends and family whenever they want. I knew I needed to raise the bar. I found my answer in Jewelboxing cases. These high quality cases are durable, have a sleek, modern look and are beautifully designed. They are a perfect way to preserve my clients wedding memories for decades to come. I’m thrilled to have them as a new standard for my Greener Visuals Wedding Photography clients.

When my wedding planner friend Catrina, of Catrina Maria Designs asked me to speak about green wedding photography at last week’s monthly meeting of the Sacramento NACE (National Association of Catering Executives) I was both excited at the proposition and a bit panicked. It has been many moons since I last made a big public presentation and the thought of it made me pause. But the idea of “going green” has been on my mind for years now and this was a great opportunity to think about how I could make my wedding photography business even more sustainable. So…What makes a green photography business?

From film to digital and how it has changed photographer’s workflow. A very brief history.

Back in the days of film there was substantial waste. The whole photography workflow was comprised of a wide variety of chemicals used in film development and print processing. There was a lot of waste ranging from spent developing chemicals that usually found their way down a drain to scrape photo paper emulsions being tossed in the trash. It was the chemicals (developing baths, stop baths, fixing baths, and rinse steps) themselves that were the most problematic. Many of them had limited shelf life and also could be hazardous to your health over extended periods of time.

These days most photographers have gone digital both from an ecological and economical standpoint. Digital photography offers a paperless and chemical-free way to capture an event, including being able to view online proofs before deciding which ones to print if at all. The transition from film to digital has greatly diminished the amount of waste produced from professional photographers.

In many ways you can say that the professional photography realm has naturally progressed towards many of the practices the green movement. But what business practices make up a green photographer? In other words, how can one make their photography business greener?

Making your wedding business greener?

It comes down to a self-evaluation of how your business operates and identifying things that can be improved on. Start at the core of the green movement with the 3 R’s –Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The following is a list of things you can use to help green up your business.

Printing less stuff equals having less paper waste

You can help reduce this waste by using as little paper as possible, and being smart about the paper you do use. If paper is a necessity, using recycled paper can help. Evaluate your workflow and figure out how you use paper products. Is printing out emails and other documents pertinent to your productivity? Try keeping your digital files organized in their digital format. You can keep emails in your inbox but organize them in a way that makes them easier to find and reference. Many online email providers like gmail.com have made this step nearly effortless. It’s always a good idea to make back-up copies of important files and emails but instead of storing boxes of paper files, consider keeping them on an external hard drive. When you do need to print important documents, make sure you use a sustainable paper, and set your printer or copier to print on both sides of the page.

With unlimited storage online and the concepts of cloud storage system it is easier than ever to go digital with your documents and photography by merging that information into your online presence.

I try to have as much information on my website as possible. I have purposely chosen not to have my website based in Flash and instead have it based off of a WordPress CSS based blog format from Graph Paper Press. The open source code allows for faster load times and uses a fraction of energy consumption of Flash sites. Flash based websites consume a ton of energy to upload, are slow and worse of all they are invisible to search engine optimization algorithms like Google.

A great way to reduce paper use and get contracts and documents signed more quickly is to use electronic signatures programs. I am sold on ShootQ.com and I am slowly integrating it into my workflow. It’s a virtual studio manager that assisting me from the moment a prospective client contacts me through my website to the delivery of the photos. The program helps you manage the workload, stay organized, it provides a place for your packages and rates to be password protected online until the final images are delivered. Your entire business workflow is online with minimum to no paper waste.

The digital workflow also allows me to post the entire digital wedding take online for proofing instead of printing out a bunch of proof sheets for my clients. There are plenty of online photo archival sites that let clients search my full wedding take. It allows them to make print purchases, and/or download low-res images purchases for social media purposes instantly online. I use online photography photo storage company called Photoshelter but there are others like Pictage that can be good options.

Some other practices I’m integrating into my business are…

-Using rechargeable batteries in strobes to offset the waste of used batteries going into land fills. I’ve started using Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. They have a higher price tag than alkaline batteries up front but the price is offset by the amount you can use them. They can be recycled hundreds of times. This fact can take the cost down to less than couple cents per energy cell over time. Sure, it costs some money for the power to charge them. But that is minor compared to the cost of replacing an alkaline batteries over time.

-I’m printing my business cards on 100% recycled paper from a great business card company called Moo.com. For a less expensive option check out PSPrint.com

-I buy more energy efficient hard drives for storing photos

-I try to buy used camera gear when possible if it’s in good condition like my new, used Nikon D3 pictured above.

-I strive to keep all of my equipment clean and free from dust. This helps my electronics run more efficiently. This also saves me a ton of time having to photoshop out dust spots on my images.

I have all of my electronics – computer, printer, external hard drive, and other office gadgets plugged into one power strip. By turning it off you can ensure that none of your appliances are secretly robbing energy. I was surprised to learn through my research that cell phone chargers left plugged into a wall when you’re not using them still draw energy, regardless of whether there’s anything plugged into them.

So…in conclusion, how can you sell your clients on green photography practices?

-Encourage brides to buy prints of only the photos they really want.

-Offer your brides an option to buy digital wedding albums or if they want a physical wedding album have green album options made from recycled material. Plenty of great choices out there like Wild Magnolia Design Albums

-Offer the option of them receiving their images on flash drives for photo delivery instead of DVDs. They are reusable and double as a cool promo for your business. There are numerous companies out there that can do this like FlashBay

-If brides insist on a DVD, (which most do) design it so that it will be something they will cherish. I use Jewelboxing.com cases that allow me to create beautiful high quality jewel display cases. They are durable, they look fantastic and with the right design can really make an impression on your clients.

-Eliminate the need for lots of camera flash use by encouraging your wedding clients to have their ceremony/reception in naturally lit areas for the wedding which could also mean just having their wedding earlier in the day (having a venue with lots of windows saves energy and creates beautiful soft light for photos).

Remember that becoming green is not about being perfect on day one. Making a commitment to the environment is an ongoing process. Take it in small steps. It can be easier than you think. All the best. Go Green.

 



The second part of my duties as the NACE event photographer focused more on the hard work of the other vendors. Like I mentioned in my last post, the monthly events are a time for the vendors to educate on topics but also show off their strengths in what that particular vendor does. Here are some of the scenery images I made of the green layout and concepts from Catrina Maria Designs. I asked Catrina, who specializes in sustainable event planning to explain a bit about what she was striving to accomplish with her beautiful green table inspirations pictured above.

“The table inspirations where done in a variety of four looks. We were inspired by the traditional and expected ‘green’ look that we called ‘hippy/earthy.’ We dressed each table up a bit from there to cover your softer and more elaborate side of the earthy look, your urban look, and finally, a soft, more romantic feel that many brides can relate to.
1. Earthy table-woods and touch of kiwi green. All eco-friendly elements on the reclaimed wood tables. Recycled pots with succulents, and herbs.
2. Rustic table-woods, pewter, clay (brunt orange) and kiwi
Clay pots nestled in grapevine heart. Mix of organic flowers in burnt orange and cream with herbs and succulent accents.
3. Urban Square table- Grey and kiwi patterned linen, other natural elements in a modern feel (wicker, glass…). Gray cinderblock “vases” filled with organic flowers and organic greenery.
4. Romantic oval tables- Natural ekru and ivory hemstitch, rustic metals, glass Tablescape of Burnt orange recycled glass containers and metal accent containers. Ivory flowers and green accents. Add recycled ribbon accents.
5. Cocktail Tables – recycled paper flowers by Beatnik Artist. Made from old books that have recycled into art. Soy candles throughout
Lounge furniture through Classic party Rentals. Their eco line is made from recycled stuffing/padding and flax exterior in burnt orange and kiwi green.”

As the saying goes…the devil lies within the details. It was great to see all of the clever, sustainable concepts that everyone brought to the event. There were the staple green items like using organic produce but also the not so common items like bowls and plates made from compostable bamboo. It’s those little things that make the difference. I was impressed.  So much creativity and so many great ideas to build off of. Again, thanks to all of the vendors who went all out with the May NACE Green event including Ambience Floral Designs, Jackson Catering & Events, Sugar & Spice Specialty Deserts, Classic Party Rentals, Pamela Pamperin, Harpist and Extreme Productions for all of their hard work. -M

 

Last Tuesday was the annual monthly meet up of the Sacramento chapter of the National Association of Catering Professionals. The group is a hodgepodge of wedding planners, florists, DJ’s, photographers and all of the other types of vendors that cater to couples getting married. It has been a great place to network and establish relationships with other wedding vendors throughout the Sacramento area. I feel like I’ve learned so much already. I am brand new to the organization but I have quickly made connections and have met some great people in the organization.

Every monthly meeting is used to help the member vendors get to see a select few vendors to their thing. Each NACE meeting is a professional catered event complete with the goal of educating NACE members on the latest trends, styles and cuisine. It’s like a competition and participating vendors go all out to showcase what they do best. It works two fold. First, it allows you to show others what services you can provide for your mutual clients and second it lets them learn more about you as a person. In business, it’s all about who you know and the system NACE has laid out is perfect for this by creating business friendships. Everyone from all corners of the wedding market working together towards the same goal of having satisfied wedding clients. Brilliant.

This past Tuesday had a green wedding theme and a wedding planner friend Catrina, of Catrina Maria Designs, asked me a month back if I would not only photograph the event but also talk about green wedding photography practices. I accepted her invite and spent the better part of the month researching how I could make my business more green. I wanted to share some of the photos I made from the members that were there. I’ll post my green photography methods in another blog post. It was a fun filled evening at the Beatnik Studios in Sacramento. I loved it. Plenty of big windows, great light and a overall cool space for an event. Thanks to all of the vendors including Ambience Floral Designs, Jackson Catering & Events, Sugar & Spice Specialty Deserts, Classic Party Rentals, Pamela Pamperin, Harpist and Extreme Productions for all of their hard work. Congrats on a beautiful fun May NACE event. I was proud to be apart of it. I’m looking forward to the next one. -M


I’m happy to announce that Greener Visuals Wedding Photography is the newest member of the Sacramento chapter of the National Association of Catering Professionals. NACE is the oldest and largest professional association that addresses all aspects of the catering industry. According to their mission statement their goal is to provide catering and event professionals superior education, networking & resources to enhance career success and deliver excellence to clients. The group is a collection of some of the best wedding professionals in the Sacramento area including wedding planners, florists, caterers, photographers and high-end wedding venues. It has quickly become a great resource for inspiration, education and networking. I feel it will be the perfect resource to create a network of solid wedding professionals whose services I can extend to my clients. The members I have met so far have been incredibly outgoing, gracious and welcoming. So much that they recently asked me to speak this upcoming Tuesday during the group’s monthly meeting about applying green/eco-friendly practices revolving around green wedding photography. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m proud to be apart of this prestigious organization. -M

It is a very humbling experience for me when my photography is recognized by my photographic peers. On Sunday evening at Scott’s restaurant in Oakland, California, a couple of images I made last year at my position as a staff photojournalist at the Daily Republic newspaper in Fairfield, California were honored at this year’s San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographer’s Association awards banquet at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Jack London Square in downtown Oakland, California. I won first place in the Spot News category for an image I made from a school shooting, third place for Best Mini-Doc Multimedia Package from a multimedia story I did on a local skateboard maker (I am particularly excited about this one) and I won an award of excellence in General News category from a candlelight vigil earlier last year. This was a pretty cool honor. There is so much photojournalistic talent in the Bay Area from Pulitzer Prize winners to National Photographers of the Year.  It was great to have my photography honored in a room filled with such exceptional storytellers. Congrats to all of the winners, congrats and thank you to my colleague Robinson Kuntz and a big thank you to my photo editor Brad Zweerink for all of the support and constructive criticism you’ve given to help further my photographic career. In all, the Daily Republic photo staff took home five awards. It was a great night.

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of attending my first Sacramento Swop Meet attended by of all of the local wedding vendors from around the Sacramento area. The event, a bi-monthly social mix-up, was hosted by the editorial staff of Sacramento Bride and Groom magazine at the beautiful Lake Natoma Inn in Folsom, CA. I saw the gathering as the perfect opportunity to introduce myself and my business, Greener Visuals Wedding Photography, to all of the wedding planners, florists, DJs, venue managers and other photographers in my area. I’m quickly learning that so much of what makes a business great is who you know and your willingness to help out others. I found the whole experience a really inviting one. From the moment I walked in the door, SacBride.com publisher Tami Miller and saleswoman Lisa Duncan took turns showing me around and introducing me to the other vendors. I spent the evening mingling, enjoying the complimentary drinks and appetizers while learning about my fellow wedding vendors. I met a lot of great, friendly people who were anxious to tell me about their businesses. I was struck by the stories they related to me about how they became involved in the wedding industry. No two people had the same story as to how they got involved in weddings, but it was clear that each was passionate about their specialized area. Everyone I spoke with was so generous with their time and knowledge. For a young up-and-coming wedding photographer like myself, I was very impressed with the sense of community the event provided. How great is it that these professionals gather together to network, make friends, all sharing the common goal of creating a better experience for potential wedding couples. It was immediately apparent that everyone was on the same page. I’m already looking forward to the next meet-up.

Greener Visuals featured on Blurb.com

I have to say one of the best complements I can receive for my wedding photography is when others recognize my work, especially if it’s a national book making company like Blurb.com. I just found out that I am a featured photographer on their new wedding book website. I got a call from the folks at Blurb a couple weeks ago complementing me on the creativity of the numerous wedding albums that I have designed for my wedding couples and they wanted to know why I chose to use their services for my wedding business After using Blurb to publish my first book “Shopping for Dynamite – A Brotherly Adventure to South America,” I was sold. I found the quality of the books to be top tier. Everything from the color reproduction to the thickness of the paper to the look and feel of their ImageWrap book covers.

The San Francisco based company has taken notice of all the great impressions their custom made books are making on people, myself included, and are now actively marketing to professional wedding photographers. And they should. This isn’t your grand parents dusty wedding album. Their wedding albums go above and beyond the typical wedding mementos. I started using them for my wedding albums soon after my first book and they have been a big hit with my brides ever since. I couldn’t be happier with them and I’m flattered that Blurb.com has chosen to feature me on their wedding book website.

Happy Holidays everybody! I opened my email yesterday to find out that I have been accepted as a member of the Wedding Photojournalist Association. It’s a pretty big deal for me. They are the elite, industry standard of wedding photojournalism. To quote their website, ” Leading the way in Wedding Photojournalism, WPJA represents the most discriminating talent around the world technically, creatively and visually. Qualified members hold industry-leading standards, skills and business integrity.”

It’s great to be associated with such a top notch organization aimed at maintaining quality wedding photojournalism. I’m proud to be apart of it and I wanted to share with all of you. For brides-to-be, now is a great time to book your wedding photographer. I still have plenty of dates open but they are starting to fill up fast. Always a good thing. I’m really looking forward to the new wedding season but for now I’ll enjoy the winter holidays. Happy New Year everyone!