Tuesday, September 17, 2013

6 tips for a great photo shoot

Getting the right photo for you.

You have finally finished that one special act or routine and now you want publicity photos for it.  Here are some suggestions that should help you get the best photo possible, before you run to the nearest photo studio.    
1) Research. Look through photo books, magazines, anything with pictures or even paintings. Another good place to look for photo ideas is also on the internet. You want to have an idea in your head before you get to the studio and start taking photos, time is valuable. I am constantly ripping or downloading ads out of magazines to show the photographer. This way I come in with an exact idea of what I want from the photo.                                                                                                                

Final photograph

Inspiration photograph

2) Call around. Call for prices and make an appointment to look at different photographers work. Even thought they might be the best photographer in the world, if they don’t shoot the style you are looking for then odds are you will not be happy with the photograph. You also want to see if you even get along with that person before you book time with them. Ask them questions that are important to you. Do they shoot in B&W, Color, digital? If it is digital do you get a disc? Will they print a photo right there? How long do you have to wait for photos? Do they manipulate the photos? Can they fix imperfections like acne in the photo? Ask as many questions as you need, the photographer is there to make you look good for your promotional materials. Pricing is important too, but remember that the shoot is one day for the photographer, and the photo is years of future work for you.                                  

3) Hair and Make-up. Are you good with make-up or hair??? If not you really might want to spend a little extra on a make-up artist. Make-up for photos is different than stage or street wear. A good make-up artist will normally stay for the whole shoot to do touch ups. They also have a good eye that sometimes catches a flipped collar on the costume or a stray hair during the shoot.                                                                                          

4) Time. Make sure that you have enough time. Photo shoots always take a little longer than people think. You will get the best results if you are relaxed and not rushed or thinking about all the other appointments you have to do that day.                        

5) A check list. Make a check list the night before the shoot. This way you will not forget anything that you need at home. It also means that you will not forget anything at the studio.                                                                                                      

6) The look.  If you are going with a special look or facial expression practice it in front of the mirror. Get a feel for the way your body or face needs to be. This way it will make it easy for you to recreate it in the studio.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Magic As A Family Business

Have you ever noticed those girls at dance recitals or pageants with all their friends and family? You know, the popular one? The one that everyone admires, fawns over? She is the one who usually wins every trophy. The It Girl. The Star.

I believe that there is a reason for this and it also converts into the magic world.

That little girl has a large support group that is broken down into many parts. Every family member and friend have their tasks and they perform them unthinkingly, much like a magic act or show. The Magician is the axis around which this support system revolves, the central focus, the Star. The Agent/Manager is much like the father working out details big and small. The Costumer is a stage mother making sure that the costumes fit just right before you go out on stage. The Stage Hands are like siblings, holding the props or a bottle of water right before it is needed. The Dancers are the friends who tell you how perfect the show is going to be and not to worry. They are there to back you up, your emotional support system. Personal Assistants, like that aunt/uncle/family friend on the periphery, are there to manage those annoying everyday details that can be so distracting, making sure the little things are tended to. Imagine if you had all that support behind you... Wouldn't you feel like a winner, the It Person, The Star?

But you DO have all those people in your life!

Where? Look around you....
Look to your friends, your family, both real and emotional, your mentors. Look to everyone involved in your life big and small. They are all there to help. I have two costume people, a mature woman who loves to keep busy, and a dancer who loves to sew. My dancers keep me on track and think about the success of the show.  My mentor still works with me to make sure the magic is perfect, he even comes in to help stage the larger shows. I have a writer friend who knows the stories I try to tell and he crafts the words I say beautifully. I have a stage hand friend who is willing to push around the big props so that I don’t have to. He says it makes me look better in the client’s eyes, and he is right.  He also knows my limitations and has the unique ability to compensate for them. The dancers I can’t do without, because I know that if something goes wrong on stage they will provide the misdirection and fix it so the trick either works well, or we move on and the audience never knows the difference. These are all people that I have found over the years that truly believe in me and in return I believe they are the only reason I have gotten to where I am today. They are my show family, my support system. It is because of them I feel like the little Star.

So go, find your Magic Family. You'll be amazed how it can change your life.
I couldn't have my show without all the people involved making me look great.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Walking Dead

I am a fan of the TV series, The Walking Dead. There is something about that show I find riveting. I know that the writing, acting and directing, etc all contribute to making the show great, but this one is exceptional on all levels. It leaves me wondering what I would do if I to was living in that apocalyptic zombie future. Who would I be? Would I still be alive or would I be among the living dead?

I know that this zombie show and others like it are also a comment on modern society. At a certain point we are all walking through life like zombies. We get up, go to our jobs, run errands and perform a multitude of mindless tasks that can leave even the most vibrant among us walking through their day in a zombie-like haze. Hopefully, these type of days are few and we all appreciate how precious life is, without being pursued by a legion of the undead just to put things in focus.  I find the characters on the show to be very relatable and this makes me feel deeply invested in their survival. Through their portrayals I see myself and my own family and friends, and I empathize with the impossible situation they find themselves in.

I would like to believe that I would be one of the survivors. That I would rise to the occasion and help others to survive. Together as a group we'd beat the odds and thrive. This hopefulness carries over into my real life as well. I think it is the people we chose to surround ourselves with that make us stronger or tear us down. Helping friends to reach their goals brings us closer to the fruition of our own dreams because we are more powerful as a community of positive, like-minded individuals than alone.

Fortunately we don't have to contend with a world populated by brain munching zombies, we only have to avoid negativity, stay focused on our goals and take persistent action in the direction of our dreams.  That is how to be truly alive.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Truth about my Blog

My show is called Secrets, because thats what Magicians do... Keep Secrets. But we all keep little secrets. My blog has two secrets, but I will get to that in a moment. I write my blog when I see, do or think things that I think might be interesting to write about. I was never very good in English class and spell check quite often refuses to acknowledge my version of a word. I still feel like I have something to say, and blogging gives me that opportunity. So I have two secret weapons; Bruce Gold or Kamala Frazo.

I write the blogs and send them to either Bruce or Kamala, where grammar, spelling and sometimes sentence structure is fixed. They are more than copy editors as they make my blogs sound great. Bruce has an amazing way with words and can take  the essence of what I write and make it so much more comprehensible. He brings what I feel and humor to the printed word, which is a magical skill that I do not have. Kamala has the unique skill to breath life into my otherwise dull word choices. She knows exactly what to leave in and what to remove. I could not nor would not post my blogs with out these two wonderful people.

My Show Secrets is like my blog, it is filled with secret weapons. As a performer it is hard to give over control, but when I see the final product, I know I have made the right decision. I have the best magic consultant, whom I love and trust implicitly. There is a choreographer that takes the vision In my head and creates it with my incredible dancers. I have a Prop builder and  airbrush artist who make my props unique. Bruce who fixes my blog, also writes my dialog for the stage. It is only because of all these people that I have a show. There are many people I have behind me who make me look great and because of this I am the luckiest girl in the world.

I wrote this one without a net and hope it meets with your approval.

A candid shot, for a candid blog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I love magic. I feel at home when I am on stage performing a magic trick.

Some might think that is an odd statement coming from a woman, but its true. I feel comfortable on stage. More to the point, I am happy when I am on stage. I enjoy the rush right before I step out in front of an audience and that silent moment during a steal when I know what is about to come. The gasp from the audience, the applause and the occasion outbursts if explicit language when the bird is suddenly revealed. All of it makes me feel complete and that I am right where I should be in life.

The creative process can sometimes take weeks or even years, but it brings me such satisfaction when I finally see new effects come to fruition on stage. The fact the I can come up with an idea, find the perfect song and costumes that carry through with the theme, decorate the props and get the lighting just right makes me feel proud, especially when my efforts are rewarded with applause. Bringing it all together through the editing process and creating a product that causes people to respond in a positive way is what drives me to perform magic. Who else but a magician has a job description that includes making the impossible into reality, live on stage?

As much as I love performing I hate auditions. They seem to have a way of sapping the joy I feel as a performer and turning it into nervousness, because often these auditions are for an audience of one, someone who has the ability to decide my fate. Ok! Maybe I’m giving up too much power in the situation, but I feel like I don't just want that person to like me, I want them to LOVE me. Love all my flaws and my quirks as well as my skills. I want them to see the joy I have for performing, yet that is often the first thing to leave me when I feel the scrutiny of judgement. If only I didn't care what that one person thought and only worried about being the entertainer I know I am, then maybe I wouldn't be so nervous. Magic is made for dreamers and being judged brings me back to reality.
Perhaps I need to change my focus and remember its the love and joy of magic that got me the audition.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Magic Outlaws

I am so happy to say I had something to do with this television show. No, I'm not on camera, but I did have a hand in casting it.

The Magic Outlaws

My friends at the production company called me last year with an urgent request. They only had a couple weeks to cast a television show for the Travel Channel and the only magician they knew was me. It was great timing, as I would be in LA soon and I know a lot of magicians. But I wanted to do this right so that everyone involved would be happy.

The production company had a list of specific requirements for the magicians they were looking to cast. Those requirements helped to narrow my own huge list down. They had checked out magic videos online and already knew the styles they liked and didn't like. That helped narrow my list even more. I wound up submitting a short list of 8 really great magicians, who would be perfect for any TV show. I believe that variety is the spice of life, and I wanted the production company to see they could have three completely different individuals. They made a wonderful decision with Chris Korn, Ben Seidman, and David Minkin. They are all so different in appearance, personal style and magic presentation.  Now I have to admit that I knew all three of these people, but not personally. Chris I knew would be savvy with presenting himself and his style on TV as he has done so many TV shows. He is inventive and entertaining comes easily to him. David while an engaging magician, did not meet the initial requirements from the production company. (David's website and videos have him very clean cut and not the street magic type at all.) Bruce Gold said "No, Minkin is perfect!" So I talked to the production company, had them meet David and once they met him they were sold too. Lastly there was Ben... We knew some of the same people but I did not actually know him personally. I was at a gathering of magicians for lunch at the farmers market in LA the week of casting. Ben was there with a couple other people I had suggested for the show. I called a friend to ask about him and quickly added him to my short list. Ben is funny, personable and a clever performer. If you Google them you will see they are all solid stars in their own right with amazing lists of credits. Together they make the "Magic Outlaws" and I am so happy that I could help make this happen... Even if it was just in the casting department.

The show airs March 10th at 9pm EST on the Travel Channel.
Here is a video link to the shows trailer:  http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lC70Lf7PDis

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The President's Inaugural Ball

The President's Inaugural Ball

Recently I was truly honored to have been invited to Washington DC to perform for the President’s 2013 Inaugural Ball. There I had the opportunity to meet and entertain several Recipients of the Medal of Honor. All of them had endured incredible hardships and triumphed over insurmountable odds, yet they were all remarkably humble and happy people with a profound sense of gratitude for life. It reminded me that the challenges we battle must never silence our prayers of thanks because real happiness is an expression of gratitude. -written by Bruce Gold for me-

It was an amazing three day whirlwind. Alan Nu called me up and asked if I would like to be apart of this auspicious event in November. How could I say NO? How often does a chance like this come along? Ok! For some, every 4 years. But for a performer like myself this was something I will be offered only once or twice. I booked a flight, packed three different outfits for the one event and was off.

Let me just say Washington is cold that time of year.

Alan picked me up at the airport and took me to a house where they were having a get together with some of the other performers. We were sideswiped on our way there. The car didn't stop so we pursued it on the freeway. The cars were moving so I could not get a clear photo of the bump and runner. Needless to say while pursuing Alan called the police and they didn't seem happy we were following the guy. I guess police cars are the only ones allowed to have high speed car chases.

After the Performers' After Party I so was exhausted that I made it all of the way to the house of Karen Beriss's parents before I realized I had left my iPhone at the party. Alan was still there and brought my phone to the Ball the next day (he even charged it for me). By the time I got up it was one o'clock in the afternoon (which in Vegas time is 10:00am PST), right on time! Karen and I went to lunch, then back to the Beriss house to get ready for the Inagural Ball. A short car ride, followed by a subway ride into town and a two block walk in 3-inch heels and we were there. They gathered up everyone for photos, then we went downstairs. I had the pleasure of two dignitaries stopping me to take a photo with me. They must have thought I was someone special.

Some of my fellow performers.
The event was filled with Medal of Honor recipients, a truly amazing crowd. I am so glad that Alan had arranged a photographer for his group, because the event photographer only took one photo of me. It was a group photo with the other performers. We were all squeezing in and he asked me what I did, I said magic. To which he replied, "Oh, you must be the girl who jumps out of the cake, because you look good enough to eat up!". There was an audible gasp from the other performers. He later apologized, but took no other photos of me.

The event itself was memorable, the people fascinating. To meet so many Metal of Honor recipients was a profound experience. My magic was a hit, and in the end that was the most important part of me being there. I love to entertain at parties, and this was the ultimate party... to be the entertainment.
Three amazing Metal of Honor recipients. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's a New Day in a New Year!

Well it is the start of a new year and I am ready for it. Or at least I think I am ready for it. I have some projects that I worked on last year that I am very proud of and some sitting on my butt I am not so proud of. This year has no resolutions, only decisions that needed to be made. And I have realized that matters really do need to be taken into one's hands if you want to see them done. I have been dealing with this one producer who keeps letting things slide. Well, no more, I called him up today, laid out a plan and what was required of him with a time frame. If he can't do it, then I will find someone else who can. Funny thing is he loved the idea, totally got the concept of what I was talking about and will be on board in two weeks. So, I will see what happens in two weeks. Either he will still be excited or he will drop the ball and I will have to move on.

I have several meetings coming up, but that's just what they are, meetings. I still get excited with the possibility those meetings bring, but it's the final outcome I have become more interested in. The meetings are fun, but they don't pay the bills. In fact most meetings send me on a roller coaster ride. I get a thrilling high of anticipation, filled with the what ifs and the low when the ride/meeting is over and the outcome is not what I expected. The truth is I am tired of the let downs, I'm tired of people waisting my time. I am sure if you are a performer, you know what I mean.

I actually had a great meeting a couple days prior to the New Year. The people were upfront and honest. They did not promise me the world. Instead they said, "we will see what we can do". What more can you ask of people than seeing what they can do. I enjoy helping other performers. When I am offered a gig I can't do, I always send it along to someone I know who can do it. Why? It makes that performer and myself look good. It also helps the client find an act that is perfect for them which encourages them to come back to me in the future with other work. I find a lot of acts will turn down a gig and leave the client wandering lost and alone in a sea of performers. It is good karma to help both sides and it makes me happy. A young magician friend of mine needed contacts when he first started out. I gave him my list. Why? Because I felt he was a good act who has only gotten better with time. These contacts are going to book someone, if it wasn't me then I would be thrilled to find out it was him. More people should learn to share information and others should learn to ask nicely. I believe the more we get together and help each other the more success we will all find in our future.

It's a new world if you want it to be and I'm making changes, are you?