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