Tackling Alzheimer’s Disease

I’m enjoying my iced tea a few weeks ago with a friend and her colleague on a sunny southern California day. My friend, Courtney Desoto, mentioned that June was Alzheimer’s Disease awareness month. She knows this because her firm serves and coordinates care for the elderly and dependent adults, many of which suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease. She shared with me what this disease looks like in a real life scenario. Desoto told me a true story about an elderly man who suffered just the beginning signs of the disease: change in personality and irrational behavior. This man’s family was unaware of the onset of the disease and the gentleman fell prey to a scam which convinced him he was the winner of a $30,000 car. The man was persuaded to handover $100,000 from his retirement in order to secure his “winnings.” By the time the bank caught on to the multiple bank transfers, there was nothing that could be done, because he did not have proper protection such as conservatorship or trust. This now frail elderly man, who had worked hard his whole life, was left without any savings and not able to make ends meet for basic living necessities. Courtney’s tender heart and intellect fuels her passion for her work. I asked, what I can do to help out since I missed Alzheimer’s Awareness month. Courtney encouraged me to buy a ticket to the local Alzheimer’s Association Blonde Vs Brunettes all-female flag football game this summer on July 18th. She put me in contact with the Brunette’s Team quarterback, Felicia Rueff, #3. 

I met with Felicia to get more information about what Blondes Vs Brunettes Football Game. Felicia enthusiastically shared that each member of both teams is required to raise a minimum of $500 for the Alzheimer’s Association which benefits the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association. Felicia mentioned that all of us know someone who is or was affected by the disease and that, as of yet, there is no cure. She said this friendly rivalry is also a fun way to get the community involved to settle the battle of who is superior…blondes or brunettes? Apparently, red-heads are a wild card who can play on either team. This event began in 2005 in Washington DC and has branched out to cities nationwide. This concept was designed to attract the spirit of young leaders in the community to get involved in a condition which primarily affects the elderly. The game will take place this Saturday, July 18 (11:00 a.m.) at the beautiful Santa Barbara Polo Club fields in Carpinteria, California. There will be a DJ along with promotional booths. There will be a tailgate party before the game and an after-party will ensue following the victory. For more information go online and visit Blondes Vs Brunettes act.alz.org . Let’s tackle Alzheimer’s Disease together!
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Taking a Shot at Photography: Professional vs Amateur

On a sunny Saturday in Southern California, I had a chance to meet up with a friend, Cherry Thomas, who was recently published in the Huffington Post. Thomas is a professional photographer who was honored with having taken one of the top photos in 2014 http://ow.ly/IEkOR. After congratulating her again, we both lamented that we had not been acquainted at the time of my wedding. We both laughed as I recounted the horror story of my wedding photographer who captured blurry pictures of the first dance, over exposed images of groomsmen, and stills of the wedding party with tree branches in their faces. I told her she can share my story whenever brides ask her, “Can I have a friend take my pictures?”

I then took our friendship to the next level and boldly asked, “So what exactly is the difference is between you and my friend who takes good pictures?” Thomas graciously answered my borderline rude inquiry, “Well, let’s look at the difference between hiring a friend, a photographer, or a photographer who specializes in weddings. Your wedding is a one-shot deal that you can’t recreate!” From experience, I had to agree with Thomas.

“Let’s look at the scenario where the hobbyist friend, with a nice camera happens to be in attendance.” Thomas began. “So why not have them take photos?”, I naively inquired. Thomas pointed out, “You’re expecting the person to show up and simply click the button. Have you discussed what you wanted captured? Did you let them know beforehand that there is a special detail/person/moment that they needed to capture? If you honestly don’t have any expectations for your photos and are fine with whatever they provide then this option is fine.”

Thomas then addressed the professional landscape/car/fashion/ food photographer and continued my ad hoc course in Photography 101. She enlightened me further saying, “All photographers and photography are not the same. Many studio photographers do studio photography because they like the controlled atmosphere, and they can spend as much time as they want setting up lights. Weddings don’t have that luxury; time is strict, and light is ever changing. Your photographer will be alternating between being a still/portraiture/photojournalist/ninja all day long. Not all photographers like to do that. Not all photographers are good at that.”

“Now, onto the friend who wants to shoot your wedding, and may actually do a great job. Great!” she exclaimed. “Understand the trade-offs. They’ll get potential portfolio photos and you’ll be happy. But, if you’re not happy with the photos will this affect your friendship? I have seen this happen a few times and it’s never worth it.”

Thomas went further, “Now compare the professional wedding photographer you’ve hired after proper due diligence. They will have consulted with you about images you want captured, family groupings decided, and locations will have been scouted. The photographer will arrive with backup equipment, the itinerary of the day, a vision of the photos, and ready to capture and anticipate moments; that is their sole responsibility that day. If you’re inviting a friend to your wedding, shouldn’t they be a part of the wedding and not experiencing it through the back of the camera?” Thomas pointed out. Couples who beckon their friends to “take photos but party with us are concocting a potential bad recipe”, she remarked. “When I have been the photographer for a friend, there is a specific cut-off time which is previously discussed. At that time, I touch base with the couple, and determine if there are any additional photos desired. If not, it is verbally agreed upon between us that coverage is over. And at that moment, my role as the guest begins!”

As if my first question was not brazen enough, I probed, “So how do I know if their price is fair?” and then pushed for insider’s tips on pricing. Thomas answered, “For most, keeping budget will be an issue. Don’t just look at price and make a decision from that. What’s the point of spending any money for photos you don’t like? Instead, ask yourself if you really love the photographer’s work. Look at their portfolio.” Thomas noted that many photographers are amenable when it comes to negotiating price and advised, “Many photographers are willing to be flexible with pricing if you let them know it’s out of your price range.” Thomas explained that rates for photographers can be less expensive depending on the time of year, day of the week, duration of shoot, and location (i.e.new venue they want to have in their portfolio, or better yet-a trip to the Bahamas!). And if you simply can not come to an agreement over cost with a photographer, ask them to refer you to someone else that they trust.

As if Thomas was not thorough enough in her responses, she sent me an article on a study conducted by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). The study found that viewers could decipher the difference between images taken by an amateur and images taken by a professional. The study further concluded that professional pictures were more memorable to viewers than their non-professional counterparts. In short, a pro can keeps your vision in focus, anticipates clicks, and make your memories stick.

Cherry Thomas is a professional photographer who is based out of Santa Barbara, California. In addition to being published in the Huffington Post, she has shot celebrity weddings and was the official photographer for Kim Phuc, who was featured in the Iconic Pulitzer prize winning photo, at the 40th anniversary of that photo.


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