December 22, 2008

Making The Sale With Your Wedding Photography Clients

photo by from Flickr
photo by from Flickr

I guess the most critical time for a wedding photographer comes, not when you get an appointment, but at that final decision making time, when your client has to decide either to go with you or "keep looking" and how to encourage your wedding photography clients to close (with YOU) on the booking/sale.

So what are some good ways to "make the sale"? I'm going to share a few that I have learned but I'm really looking for you guys to help me with some good ideas so please leave me a comment or advice on how you would do it.

So, when you've shown your client all of your portfolios and have given your sales pitch, its down to your potential client making their final decision. I've been reading just some general sales articles and ideas that could apply to wedding photography, so try some of these:

  1. "Does this sound fair to you?" / use final closing phrases. Read this great article from the Missouri Small Business Development Centers for some great tips on closing a sale.

  2. Ask them which package they would be interested in. Giving them choices helps put them in the mindset of having already made the right choice of YOU!

  3. Offer to beat the price of any competition... even if its by $50 or $100. (I've gotten 2 wedding bookings this way!)

  4. Offer to add freebie's if the negotiation is going sour... (free or discounted engagement shoot, free 8x10, etc...)
  5. "Do you think that this (option) would be something that you would be interested in?"
  6. Know you client's potential "wants" as well as their needs. (ie. Brides want to look like models in a magazine, needs would be: Traditional group photos for grandma's picture window.)
  7. Don't be too anxious or nervous. People can smell desperation. Be yourself. Be honest. Let them know upfront what they are getting. Write out and practice some key selling points that you will talk about ahead of time if you are the nervous type.
  8. Finally, be prepared for the close. "Let's get this paperwork out of the way, so I won't waste any more of your time..." (actually have all the paperwork printed out so that its easy for the client to fill out and it answers all your questions about the "when" and "where")
In closing: Be organized, be yourself, know how to provide a solution to your client for their needs AND wants, then know and practice closing.

Please leave me a comment if you have any other good suggestions for closing a sale and I'll add them on here!

December 21, 2008

Essentials For Booking Weddings For Photographers

The other day, I got a surprise phone call for a wedding photography shoot in January. She was referred by a bride's mother from a wedding that I shot last year. Since I wasn't expecting any new business until Spring, I found myself a little rusty and unprepared on the business and sales side.

So I thought I would post a few tips for all you wedding photographers, to make sure you guys attract and KEEP your business rolling throughout the year, not just Spring and Summer.

Before meeting your potential client, be sure to have an answer for these questions (because I've been asked them hundreds of times):

How much do you charge?

This one may be tricky to determine, but it usually depends on your experience, the quality of your portfolio and if you came highly recommended. My advice start free... yes free, for your first wedding.
  1. Charge only for the price to develop or print out your photos and the price of the proof book. Put the best of the best from that shoot into your portfolio.
  2. Then, the next wedding start low-balling. I'm talking about ridiculous prices ($100 -$200). And explain to your client that you are "just starting out" and to give you a chance and you'll give them their money's worth and much more. Then give the client a full workup package (unlimited hours, six 8x10s, two 11x14s, etc...). Basically you won't make any money off of this shoot either... BUT now you have a GREAT looking portfolio and your client will be proclaiming your generosity to the world!
  3. Make sure you have pimped your name out to your first clients with extra business cards and freebies, asking them that, in exchange for your low price, would they mind giving a testimonial that you could quote and use in your marketing and to please pass my name around to anyone they know that has a wedding coming up.
  4. After 2 or 3 weddings like that, you'll have an AWESOME portfolio that will sell itself and you can slowly start charging "regular price" and putting together packages to maximize sales.
Why are you so expensive?
There should be several reasons that you can explain to your client the big WHY in wedding photography:
  • Intangible Artistry. Photography is a skill and an art. A professional doesn’t simply memorize what all the camera buttons do; you are able to capture the beauty and emotion of your client's day in a unique way. Good photos are more than just technically correct, they are the culmination of the skills you have learned and your creative "eye".

  • Like professionals in any other field, wedding photographers have worked out their pricing system for a reason, and it's not just to part your client from their money! Professional photographs are a wonderful way to capture memories. They are not essential, but they are priceless. A good photographer will provide the client with photos that are worthy of becoming part of their family's history.

  • Equipment. High quality camera bodies can cost $5,000. Lenses can cost $1,000 each. And at 2,000 to 3,000 frames per wedding, even a good camera will need to be replaced every couple of years not to mention flashes, light meters, tripods, camera bags, etc...
  • Hidden Work. Every meeting with potential clients is an investment of his time, whether you get the job or not. You will spend time with them before the wedding to go over your plan for the day, the shot list, and the design of any albums you may wish to purchase.

  • Once the wedding is shot, you will spend hours editing, retouching, and color-correcting hundreds of images and then creating an album and/or online gallery of the final wedding photos.

What do I (the client) get if I go with you?
This is up to you and how much you are charging. But make sure your client knows the answer to this up front.

How long will/can you work?
Make sure there is an hour limit or hourly rate in your contract (charging for overtime after a certain amount of time), or you'll be at the reception till the cow's come home... literally.

Do I get the (digital) negatives to make copies for myself?
According to federal law, images produced by a professional photographer are copyrighted the moment they are created. Federal law prohibits copying or reproducing copyrighted material without permission from the owner of the copyright, i.e., the photographer. If a client copies or scans your photos, the photographer should be paid just as if they were buying reprints. If you or your videographer transfer the proofs to videotape, the photographer should be paid just as if you were buying reprints.

BUT, photographers are free to negotiate and sell their negative rights away to the client for free or for a fee. I suggest negotiating a minimum fee for the rights that would be the same price as a client would spend purchasing reproductions or enlargements from you. That way you both come out ahead and the photographer doesn't lose enlargement sales.

What kind of packages do you have?
Be creative with this, but there are some standards. Have "Small, Medium and Premium" type packages and make the Premium package be a better deal for the client (give a slight discount for the individual items). Then they are more likely to buy the Premium.

Next time:
How to encourage your clients to close on the wedding booking/sale...

December 17, 2008

I'm Dreaming Of A Weird Christmas

You've all seen the normal Christmas decorations, now check out the weird side of Christmas... From wacky, yet mesmerizing Christmas light shows, to creepy Christmas ornaments, to nerdy Nativity scenes...

I know Christmas is supposed to be a time to remember Jesus' birth, but I think that the baby Jesus has a sense of humor as well. In that spirit, I bring you my Top 10


(brought to you by... The Internet. Open these in a new window or tab, so you can come back and enjoy all of them!)

  1. Creepiest Christmas ornament (A fetus soldier to adorn your tree this year. Very anti-choice, pro-military chic.)
  2. Krampus is the evil demon anti-Santa - from Birmingham's own Mental Floss Magazine.
  3. DIY Geeky Nativity Scenes - mostly lego, but how about the Simpsons, or mine ("All God's Creatures" edition)!
  4. BetaMaXmas - Kindof cool actually... for an 80's kid. Watch 80's Christmas sitcom clips and vintage commercials on a virtual TV. You can even adjust the antenna for better reception!!!
  5. Scary Santa Compilations - There's alot of these floating around, but this is the best compilation. Also check here and here for some good crying babys pics.
  6. The Ugliest Christmas lights - Some of the most hideous holiday decorations ever!
  7. 17 Jaw-Dropping Christmas Light Shows - the best of the best... really cool and weird.

  8. Seasons Greetings Machine Maze... Thingy - created by Roy Doty see if you can follow it all the way to the end.
  9. Robot Gift Guide - Robots... nuff said.
  10. Wierd and disturbing Christmas Cards
Well, that's it for now. Hope you guys enjoy these!
If you like this kind of thing, please consider subscribing via RSS or email!

Have you found anything funnier or weirder than these? Leave me a comment and I'll add them to the list.

December 15, 2008

Digital Camera Buying Advice For Christmas for Non-Geeks

How do I buy the right digital camera for my budget? Which brand is better? How many megapixels do I need. What the heck is a megapixel?

These are some of the questions that I will try to answer for you guys here on The Horse this holiday season.

A common problem that non-geeks have when buying a digital camera is the wide range of choice and brands available in point and shoot and DSLR cameras. Well, I'm going to help you out by giving you some definitions that you can use on your salesperson to sound (and actually become) more knowledgeable about digital cameras:

Point and Shoot: this is a still camera designed primarily for quick and simple operation. Most of them use an easy autofocus system for focus and automatic systems for exposure and whitebalance as well. Most are relatively inexpensive and manufacturers are adding more and more features as time goes by. These are very popular and a great buy for the casual photographer.

DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex): a digital camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. DSLRs are often preferred by professional still photographers because they allow an accurate preview of framing close to the moment of exposure, and because DSLRs allow the user to choose from a variety of interchangeable lenses. Most DSLRs also have a function that allows accurate preview of depth of field. (from Wikipedia)
Most of these bad boys are fairly expensive (start at around $500) but are well worth the trade-off in features and speed. More on these in a later post...

Optical Zoom: The ability to physically zoom the camera with the mechanics and glass of the lens. This amount is measured in "X" (ie. 4X Optical Zoom)

Digital Zoom: this type of zoom is actually a cropping of the sensor in your camera and the software interpolating the digital resolution of the cropped area. Because interpolation disturbs the original pixel layout of the image, as captured by the camera's image sensor, it is usually considered detrimental to image quality. Also measured in "X".

Josh's Camera advice: Digital=BAD, Optical=GOOD. You want more optical zoom on your point and shoot.

Flash Memory (and other storage media): this is the place where your pictures will be stored on your camera. Most are small cards, some less than one inch in length that are removable. Flash memory can be erased and programmed many times. Some types of flash memory are:
  • SD Flash (very common, comes in "Mini" and "Micro" versions)
  • Compact Flash (older but still used in some Nikon cameras)
  • Memory Stick (Sony proprietary)
  • xD (Olympus and Fuji proprietary)
Be sure to know what kind your new camera has and how to use it or transfer you pictures to a computer or printer.

Megapixel: A megapixel is 1 million pixels, and is a term used not only for the number of pixels in an image, but also to express the number of image sensor elements of digital cameras or the number of display elements of digital displays. For example, a camera with an array of 2048×1536 sensor elements is commonly said to have "3.1 megapixels" (2048 × 1536 = 3,145,728). (from Wikipedia)
This may sound nerdy, but basically, the more megapixels the camera is rated the higher resolution you can take pictures at. Of course there are downsides to a larger megapixel rating:
  • larger memory storage card needed (more expensive)
  • each picture takes up more room on you memory card
  • longer transfer times and slower shooting times on a P&S
What it boils down to is: Unless you are printing out 8x10's or larger, the normal consumer needs no more than 6-8 Megapixel sensor to print out very sharp 4x6 photos.

Josh's Camera advice: don't splurge on the bigger megapixel rating on a point and shoot. 6-8 Megapixels will be enough.

So, to finish off, some of the best new point and shoots for this season in my opinion are:
  1. Nikon Coolpix S series
  2. Canon PowerShot series
  3. Sony CyberShot series
Other great picks are: the Kodak EasyShare series and Fujifilm FinePix. But research your camera before you buy it using your new knowledge (above) and get the best features for the best price for your giftee (which may just happen to be yourself ;-)!

Enjoy, and I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas!
Remember the reason for the season...

December 13, 2008

Movie trailers for winter 2008 and summer 2009

~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button ~

I remember seeing a teaser for this during the Olympics. This is coming out Christmas day 2008. Adapted from the 1920s story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who is born in his eighties and ages backwards... right up my alley!

~ Angels & Demons ~

According to IMDB the official release date for the new Dan Brown movie based on the best seller is going to be May 15th 2009. As you all may know, I'm a HUGE DB fan and I've been anticipating this movie since the rumor started shortly after Da Vinci Code came out.

Super sneaky secret website! I heard a rumor about this so I investigated and found it. Apparently one of the trailers for A&D has the words "Altars Of Science" hidden in the Illuminati logo. If you Google that phrase you'll find a paid link (the first link) that will lead you to the hidden website. I'm not going to give you the link here because that would ruin the fun. But definitely go check it out if you're a fan to find a video feed.

Still no official word from Brown or Doubleday (Brown's publisher) about his new manuscript tentatively tittled The Solomon Key. The subject matter will deal with the history of the Freemasons and their influence on our founding fathers in the U.S. and possibly Skull and Bones or other secret societies. Robert Langdon will return as the main character as well.

~ Valkyrie ~

Also releasing Christmas Day 2008. This is going to be a tough choice. I'm also a huge Tom Cruise fan... and I love "based on a true story" movies. This looks great! Well acted, filmed and great production design and costuming.

Other upcoming films of interest to me are:

Terminator Salvation (Terminator 4)
Watchmen (based on the classic graphic novel)
(trailers by

December 9, 2008

Revolution Pictures releases Jake Owen - "Don't Think I Can't Love You" music video.

(the link for the video above is here: Jake Owen - Don't Think I Can't Love You
YouTube has disabled embedding for this video)

Revolution Pictures has released the music video for Jake Owen "Don't Think I Can't Love You" to the internet (YouTube) and their website, The video was shot on 35mm film earlier this year in the parking lot behind the Alabama Theater and in the top floors of Playhouse (the best costume and props shop in Birmingham). I worked crew for the video as a PA (Production Assistant) and driver. It was a long day but we got it all done in one day. Revolution Pictures is out of Nashville, TN and usually puts up their crew in a hotel for the night. This time the crew ate at The Cheesecake Factory the night before and I happened to be working so it was a strange coincidence.

Apparently you can now catch the video on CMT and the other top Country cable stations, but I bring it to you here... right from The Horse's mouth... (...via YouTube) ;-)

December 5, 2008

New Short Story Blog from Josh. Your new Soap Opera on the web.

I just started my new short story writing blog on WordPress. com called Storycrafter. Its a little experiment I’m doing to get my creative writing juices flowing again.

The other day I started this blog so that I could write a few short stories of mine chapter by chapter and my readers could follow along, soap opera style as I write more each day. I have a poll where I am taking suggestions of what to write about. All of the choices are ideas that have interested me recently, so I just need to pick one and start doing it. Help me out peeps!

Storycrafter - http://joshself. wordpress. com/

December 3, 2008

Top 10 Christmas Songs you love to hate while shopping and eating

<---(This is our Nativity Scene this year with all God's creatures!)

It always happens around this time of year. This year it started 3 days before Thanksgiving. You know what I'm talking about... Those darn Christmas songs. Especially the songs that you are forced to listen to as you are out shopping and eating in restaurants. I am especially sensitive to this because I work in a restaurant and am blasted with the same 10 - 20 songs ALL DAY! Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Scrooge or a hater and I'm all about singing praises to the Lord about the birth of His Son Jesus, just mix it up a little! So, in that spirit here is a list of my top 10 most annoying Christmas songs:

  1. Jingle Bells - Barbara Strisand (the caffeinated version)
  2. Hey Santa - Wilson Phillips (uhhggh! I hear this at least 7 times a day!)
  3. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt
  4. Baby, It's Cold Outside (Vanessa Williams' version) - Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer (I agree with everyone who calls it the Christmas date-rape song)
  5. Rockin' Around The Chirstmas Tree - Brenda Lee (1958) (Nobody "rocks" around the Christmas tree... what does that even mean? Annoying nonsense)
  6. Happy Holiday - Bing Crosby (1942) (More annoying nonsense: "whoop di doop and dickery dock..." nuff said)
  7. Wonderful Christmastime - Paul McCartney (I just hate this song because of bad song doesn't have a chorus. Just "Siiiimply haaaaaaving a wonderful Christmas time" over and over...)
  8. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause - Jimmy Boyd (1952) (from Wikipedia) The song was commissioned by Neiman Marcus to promote their Christmas card for the year, which featured an original sketch by artist Perry Barlow, who drew for the New Yorker magazines for many decades. Jimmy Boyd's record was actually condemned by the Catholic Church in Boston when it was first released on the grounds it mixed sex with Christmas.[citation needed] Boyd, aged thirteen, was widely photographed meeting with the Archdiocese to explain the song.
  9. Marshmallow World - Darlene Love(?) (more nonsense that has nothing to do with Christmas)
  10. My Favorite Things - The Von Trap Family (I actually like this song but, is this really a Christmas song?)
What are some of your "love to hate" Christmas songs? Lets see if we can get some more interesting ones. Also comment on a few that are your favorites!

November 28, 2008

Josh's New Writing Blog (on

I just started my new short story writing blog on called Storycrafter.

Its a little experiment I'm doing to get my creative writing juices flowing again. I've got a list of my writing ideas posted, and I would really appreciate it if you guys would just go vote for the story that you think I should write. They may all sound lame, but just help me pick one to start out with. Its free to vote and you don't have to sign up for anything. Just go to the link above and read about my story ideas, then vote for your favorite (or least crappy) idea.

Thanks alot! More soon...


November 26, 2008

Speeding Ticket Fail

I was just playing around on and this one was AWESOME! You just gotta watch it all the way through...

Useless sign:
fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

November 25, 2008

Making a FavIcon, Widgets galore, Blogger hacks (Part 1)

This post is going to be a little more geeky than normal but that's what I'm all about! I promised great geek and tech tips and tricks, so here's some random stuff I've learned recently. You could call this a tutorial or a "get yo learn on".

(Note: All these hacks and customizations are so easy, a monkey's uncle could do them. They require little to no coding experience. If you can customize your MySpace page, you can add these to your blog. So don't label me an expert (yet). I'm just going to show you where I found them and the steps that I took to install them on a Blogger hosted blog. I don't know if they work with WordPress or any other blog hosting sites, but I don't see why they wouldn't...)

Here are a few cool things I have done to THE HORSE recently:

My own FavIcon!
Do a Google search for "Icons" or "Favicon" and you'll find 3 billion sites that make or host these. I personally use's HTML-Kit FavIcon from Pics for my own hosted sites and I use IconJ for hosting for Blogger. Both do a great job of creating icons from any square image that you upload and IconJ hosts it and gives the the code right from their site!

Basically, just grab the code that IconJ gives you and the trick is to post it in your HTML or CSS template to just after the ]]></b:skin> and just before the </head> statement. Preview it and if everything looks all right, save your template. Then view your new FavIcon in a new reloaded tab! Coolness huh? I did my little old school Suction Horse logo for my FavIcon on THE HORSE (Check it out in your address bar!).

Create a Facebook Badge for your blog
(or MySpace!) Joshua Self's Facebook profile
This one is super easy. Just log on to your Facebook profile and go to your "Profile" page. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and look at the bottom left. There should be a link that says "Create Profile Badge" follow the instructions to customize. Then get the code and paste away! Be careful how much of your private info you want to give away to public readers though. I like it because I can update my profile pic on both Facebook and THE HORSE at the same time plus there's a link to my FB page right there!

Are there any cool blog widgets that you've discovered that I don't have? Let me know! I collect them all! The trick is to use them in good taste on your blog. I use things that help my readers and point them to interesting content and I use widgets that keep me and my readers informed about the stats of THE HORSE and my personal social media sites...


Next time: Twitter gadgets, Flickr Widgets, and a cool keyword cloud for your posts!

Ahh... Engagement, wedding planning and getting "serious".

Well, I finally decided to get up early this past Sunday and go take our engagement pictures. I think the wedding planning website (The Knot) that my fiance Andrea is using said that we were "not on schedule" with the engagement pictures, so I needed to appease the website!

We actually had a really fun day. We played hookie from church and went to Cheesecake Factory (why in the world would I want to go to work, you may ask?) for brunch. I love our brunch and I never work Sundays so I figured it couldn't hurt. We got the French Toast Napoleon (Three Slices of our Grilled Brioche French Toast Stacked with Strawberries, Pecans and Chantilly Cream) and split it with a side of scrambled eggs and hash browns. Its pretty huge just like everything else there.

After that we headed out to my favorite filming and picture taking place, Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham. We took some shots at the famous Peanut Depot then down the street in front of the red caboose where "The Station" club is.
After that we raced down to Hoover's Aldridge Gardens to take some in a more nature type setting. Needless to say, all of them turned out really good considering they were all taken with a tripod and a timer on the camera. I was sweating from running back and forth so much when we finally left.
(Sappiness Alert below!)
I've been really enjoying this whole engagement and wedding planning thing and I've really loved getting to know my awesome, kind, forgiving, and pretty darn hot fiance Andrea. I love her a ton and she's the best thing that's ever happened to me. She keeps me in line, makes sure I don't become a slob, she loves me even when I'm an annoying nerd that won't stop talking about computers and blogs and Star Wars. She even likes to cook and clean! (She is Miss Organization!) What else could a guy ask for? I just know we're going to have a great life together and just looking at these pictures confirm that for me. Now onto the fun part! The next 6 months are going to start getting crazy but I think we can handle it. She's already got her dress, the flowers are ordered, and we've decided on a bunch of little stuff. Today I just ordered our "Save The Date / Christmas Cards" from VistaPrint which some of you may be receiving shortly. So, as you can see, its getting "serious" now, and its going to stay serious for the rest of our lives.
(Shoutout alert below:)
I love you Andrea! I'm so happy we're together! Let start our adventure together...

(To be continued...)

November 21, 2008

Family Christmas lists with Cloud Computing!

I had been reading about cloud computing a little this past month, so I thought I would test it out. The guinea pigs? MY FAMILY!

So, basically what I decided to do is put our family's Christmas wish list in a central place so everyone can access it anytime they need it. In the old days you would create a mass email and just keep "Replying to all" everytime someone added something or had a question. This could be done more easily with a web page on the internet, but then each person had to:
  • know HTML
  • have access to the FTP site
  • have an FTP program
  • know the password and login for the FTP site
etc, etc... which was fine for me, but there's no way my Luddite dad or my mom (who's still learning but getting there ;-) could ever do anything like that without a long list of procedures and hours of training. So, first I decided to try it on Facebook by creating a Group. BUT, my mom hates social networking sites. She doesn't have time for them and "stalkers will jump you on a street corner and beat you senseless" if you have a profile on MySpace. But she DOES check her email and visits webpages for news and photography. SO...

...introducing Cloud Computing and Google Docs. I created a simple Google Docs word processing document and saved it in the Google "cloud". Then I gave each family member sharing privilages so each person can type in what they want for Christmas and even put a link to a store where others can buy their gift, making it easy for everyone to buy something fun instead of the same ole same ole, underware, ties and giftcard to Wal-Mart.

Needless to say... IT WORKED! As of today everyone finished their wish list and we can all go shopping for Christmas... with money we don't have...
We're actually keeping it pretty conservative this year (under $20 or a handmade "Crafty" item).

Try it out next time you have a wishlist for multiple people. There are other cloud document platforms you can use besides Google Docs but I like Google Docs because all you have to have to sign in is your Google password. (Which everyone? has).

What do you guys think about this solution? Can you improve it? Suggestions? Please comment!

Twitter Ho

I just thought this was funny. You'll get it if you're on Twitter... If you're not then move along to dilbert below...

November 20, 2008


This article was sent using my Viigo.
For a free download, go to

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

November 19, 2008

Arrrgh! Pirates in deez waters!

According to BBC News, Pirates are on the loose! No, its not Johnny next door downloading the latest "Tropic Thunder" bit torrent to burn and sell to you, nor is it Stacie making you a copy of her iTunes library with the latest Britney and T-Pain tracks. Its actual pirates... with ships and weapons taking over middle eastern and Indian merchant ships.

It is now being reported that an Indian navy warship has fired on and sank one of the pirate motherships after it refused to stop for investigation.

Some of the pirates have recently held a Saudi-Arabian supertanker hostage and are reported to have collected more than $30m in ransoms this year.

Excuse me while I grab my parrot. Shiver me timbers! I realize that its a serious political issue but I like reading about pirates. Just thought it was interesting. Now you know the kindof nerd I AM...


November 15, 2008

The Terminal getting a facelift?

Birmingham's own The Terminal blog hosted a meet-up today at O'kafé Coffee in Pepper place from 10am - 2pm to discuss changes, improvements, and brainstorm new ideas for Birmingham's most popular independent local blog. According to

The Terminal is a web publication that focuses on Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding region. We get our name and identity from the old Birmingham Terminal Station . In its heyday the station was arguably one of the major social hubs for Birmingham while serving as a link to the outside world and information.

This site serves as a source of information for and about Birmingham, Alabama and provides a link into the world of the Magic City not just for those currently living in the region, but for those that have moved elsewhere or those considering relocating here. The Terminal hopes to make you think more about issues that are affecting the region and know more about what’s going on.

In attendance were: Andre Natta (Editor in-Chief / Managing Editor of The Terminal and local social media guru), Courtney Echols (creator and editor of UrbanUpscale blog) and Josh Self (of Suction Horse Productions and creator and editor of The Horse blog).

Some of the topics included:

(edited for secrecy ;-)

Natta said that he would like to make some changes to the blog before the end of December and had a goal of implementing some more important improvements by March with a goal of advertising and attracting more readers by then. He also expressed a need for volunteer help in any area of interest for the blog including contributing articles, advertisement, networking and PR work for the blog to increase readers and expose Birmingham to the existance of The Terminal.

To volunteer or inquire about a media internship with The Terminal, contact Andre Natta.

November 14, 2008

Kelly Clarkson sighted at Cheesecake Factory

Hot medium-rare celebrity gossip coming from The Horse today!

Original American Idol winner and super diva rock star Kelly Clarkson was sighted at The Cheesecake Factory this afternoon as she was out shopping with her "posse" at the Summit in Birmingham, AL. According to, Clarkson and Reba McEntire will play Birmingham's BJCC tonight (probably as I'm writing the blog) as part of McEntire's "2 Worlds 2 Voices" tour.
As a noteworthy detail, Clarkson left (my friend) Matt a $50 tip, a very noble gesture and Clarkson gets top rank in my books as "nicest celebrity". (She's hot too! :-)

Most of you know that I work at The Cheesecake Factory and we are known as somewhat of a hub for celebrities when they come into our humble town. Not to brag too hard or anything but, anyone who's anybody comes to eat at Cheesecake. The reasons why are technical and I won't go into it here but, we have been mentioned on more than a few sitcoms. Ones that I know of are: Big Bang Theory, Friends, and King of Queens. Oprah Winfrey regularly visits our Chicago store and raves about our food.

Cheescake Dulles, VA
photo by Josh Self, Dullas, VA featured on

I have personally hosted and waited on John Cena, Kenny Chesney and members of the Washington Redskins. We also get locals like Charles Barkley, Mayor Langford and Representative and Obama staff shortlister Artur Davis is a regular. (He's in at least twice a week).

So, stop by for lunch one day... You never know who you might be eating with!


November 13, 2008

Fog at the Summit, Netflix movies and Robot Chicken Season 3

Fog at the Summit
Originally uploaded by Josh Self
One of the pics I snapped at work this morning. Whats up with the fog? Don't get me wrong, I like it. It puts me in a good mood. This is coming from Flickr so... update in a minute...

Ok, so what exciting things did I do today... I cross trained in the bakery at work. Just one more step toward trying to know everything I can about my job, so I can impress people... I guess? So, I got certified to work the bakery today and I'm teaching the next "Train The Trainer" class by myself next month.

I went out and bought Robot Chicken Season 3 tonight at Target, cuz I was bored and my fiance is out of town with her family for a wedding for the next few days. So, I told myself I needed something to entertain myself. Just some mindless laughs, and politically incorrect skits with toys... Lots of funny stuff on these 2 disks.

I also got "Lawrence of Arabia" from Netflix but I didn't realize that it is 3 Hourse and 37 minutes long! Holy Scimitars Batman! I've never seen it before and I wanted to see a young Alec Guinness at his peak. I also heard the movie was "epic amazing" and all film making types should watch it. Here's some stats from Wikipedia:

The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 1962, and won seven, including Best Picture.

Lawrence of Arabia won 7 Oscars

* Academy Award for Best Picture — Sam Spiegel
* Academy Award for Best Director — David Lean
* Academy Award for Best Art Direction — John Box
* Academy Award for Best Cinematography — Freddie Young
* Academy Award for Original Music Score — Maurice Jarre
* Academy Award for Film Editing — Ann V. Coates
* Academy Award for Sound — John Cox

It was nominated for

* Academy Award for Best Actor — Peter O'Toole
* Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor — Omar Sharif
* Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay — Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson

[edit] BAFTA Awards

Lawrence of Arabia won four BAFTA Awards

* BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source — Sam Spiegel, David Lean
* BAFTA Award for Best British Film — Sam Spiegel, David Lean
* BAFTA Award for Best British Actor — Peter O'Toole
* BAFTA Award for Best British Screenplay — Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson

It was nominated for

* BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actor — Anthony Quinn

So, I'll get around to watching that some time this week or I may just pop in Speed Racer (original anime series) Disk 3 before the fiance gets home and complains about it. I've been on a Speed Racer kick ever since I saw the new Wachowski Brothers remake a few weeks ago. I used to get up at 6am every Saturday morning to watch Speed Racer when I was little. I guess that explains my obsession with Anime now.

So, what do you guys think about my obsessions?

November 10, 2008

Verizon Wireless Blackberry Storm commercial

I saw it last night on Fox. Release date: TBA
I'm hearing through the grapevine ( forums) that the release is anywhere from November 14th to the day before Thanksgiving.

For those of you out there reading, yes, you MAY get me one of these for Christmas. I give you permission. ;-)

New Vector Art for The Horse and Facebook

Wow... I really spent all night till 3AM on this!?!

I got inspired to do some art in Illustrator CS3 tonight for a new profile picture and this is what came out. Please critique and leave a comment. It actually got pretty complicated because I was combining rasterized photos with vector art, but I learned how to do it with the help of Photoshop. If you guys want details of how to create something like this, leave me a comment and I'll go through it best I can.

Ok, I'm gonna be crazy tired tomorrow... Dang it!

November 9, 2008

You know me, I love free crap!

And this stuff is worth it!
I found these on
digg today and thought I would share with you guys:
If you are into gr
aphic design and you want some awesome free vectors, there's a great compilation here: 30 Awesome free vector samplers

And... 30 grea
t Firefox Add-ons

Firefox is one browser that offers you thousands of extensions and add-ons to get the job done without wasting any time. Here's a list of the 30 best Firefox adds that will help you speed up your blogging.

Firefox Addons from TechCityInc.

November 6, 2008

Remembering Michael Crichton

November 6, 2008 by Michael Hickerson

Best-selling writer Michael Crichton has passed away at the age of 66 according to the Associated Press. Crichton had been privately battling cancer according to his family.

Crichton wrote a string of New York Times best-selling novels including "Jurassic Park," "The Andromeda Strain," "Sphere," and "Timeline." Many of Crichton's novels were turned into movies with several of them being huge hits. "Jurassic Park" and "Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World" are among the most succesful films in Hollywood history and spawned a franchise for Universal Pictures.

Crichton also helped create the long-running televison series, "ER."

"Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand," his family said in a statement.

"While the world knew him as a great storyteller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us — and entertained us all while doing so — his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes."

He's even had a dinosaur named for him, Crichton's ankylosaur.

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of `Jurassic Park,'" said "Jurassic Park" director Steven Spielberg, a friend of Crichton's for 40 years. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place."

John Wells, executive producer of "ER" called the author "an extraordinary man. Brilliant, funny, erudite, gracious, exceptionally inquisitive and always thoughtful.

"No lunch with Michael lasted less than three hours and no subject was too prosaic or obscure to attract his interest. Sexual politics, medical and scientific ethics, anthropology, archaeology, economics, astronomy, astrology, quantum physics, and molecular biology were all regular topics of conversation."

Crichton's novels were designed to spark debate and controversy, from his exploration of sexual politics in "Disclosure" to his examination of global warming in "State of Fear." Crichton was working on a final novel that was scheduled for publication next month by Harper Collins. At this time, the book has been postponed.

Crichton was married five times and had one child. A private funeral is planned.


Crichton was probably the author I read the most in my lifetime and will continue to read until I've read everything he's written. His books were intelligent, scientifically accurate, well written, entertaining, intriguing, and he wrote characters that made us think that he was talking about real people! As a bonus, his books always made me investigate and question things. Now that he's gone... the world will be missing that careful blend of sci-fi, true science, storytelling and that eternal "what if" that he seemed to inject into each story. Needless to say, this geek will miss you sir...


PS. Crichton books I have read so far: Jurassic Park (2 times), The Lost World, Congo, and Timeline...

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November 5, 2008

An apology and clarification from THE HORSE's mouth

I feel I am guilty of posting an angry blog last night and I apologized today. (See that post's comments) We've got to do the best we can with our new president and respect his authority just like any other president. One of my personal policies is, I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt. And like you said, I have no reason to doubt him when he said that he would do a good job and work together for ALL America. I just hope he keeps his word. That seems to be hard for ANY politician to do in Washington. So, for now... President Obama, you are starting with a clean slate for me!

(Original post comment below):

I realized this morning that this post came more from anger and disappointment rather than spoken tactfully and compassionately. I was very disappointed and tired and angry. So, please forgive the tone of the blog. As my fiance reminded me today. You can be right and have proof and speak the proven truth till you're red in the face, but if you don't speak with tact, compassion and love, no one will listen to you or even care about your "truth". So, thanks to all you guys for actually reading and I love you all. Thanks for putting up with me.


In closing, let us always strive for:

The Horse Neighs (about the election)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Yea, I kindof feel like crying, laughing and sleeping all at the same time.

I'm crying for our country and the HUGE step we just took in a direction of a large Paleozoic / political and moral tar pit that we won't realize that we've stepped in until a few months down the road when we've been eaten by the T-Rex called Socialism. I'm crying for the ignorant who voted without investigating and fact checking their "Savior", who may turn out to be a Wizard of Oz type "man behind the curtain". I can really feel this lady's pain as she see's our country headed off into oblivion...

I'm just laughing at all the people that were doing goofy stuff, like: crying and screaming over... a politician?!?! (Yea, I guess I'm sounding insensitive but convince me otherwise...) Do some of you have Tigerbeat posters on your walls of Obama and kiss them every night before you go to bed? Because I saw some grown ass people acting like teeny boppers at an NSYNC conc(AP Photo/Rob Griffith)ert... This is the most emotional crowd that I have ever seen for a politician in my life. I must say, "well played Obama". Emotions = response in humans. The democrats finally figured out that connection and played it to its fullest.

I'm laughing at the people who think this is concert. And that when they go home at the end of the night, they can just go back to their lives the next day like nothing happened... Get ready America, things are about to change. I hope that one night of emotional fun and good warm fuzzy feelings on November 4th will last you through the cold 4 years to follow when we find out what Obama's policies and character really do to not only the backbone of our country but each of us as individuals. Less choices, less oportunities, less "change" in our pockets... I guess its not so funny anymore... I'll go to the next one...

I feel like sleeping... Hoo hum... socialism just makes me sleepy... I don't really have to try that hard any more. I don't have to bust my ass and make something of myself. I don't have to be creative and find new and innovative ways to improve myself and provide for my family... The government will take care of that now.
Nationalized health care... bring it on! Government spending on pork barrel projects that we don't really need. Nyehh... why should I really care. And if I'm really poor at the bottom. The government will give me tons of money and I can hang around the house all day playing some sweet Gears of War 2 on my tricked out XBox 360,000 that I bought with all the money that the government gave me for being po'. Its a new concept called "trickle UP" economics. What? You didn't learn about it in school? In your college economics classes? Well, its kindof a new concept, it was just invented. Not alot of people know about it. See you give poor people money, THEN, they go out and buy a nice keg of beer and some chicken wings and throw a party one night. THEN they wake up with a huge hangover the next day, call in to work for a day or two, and finally decide to show back up at McDonald's a few days later just to try to keep the lights on. Where did the money "Trickle UP" to you may ask? You're local Walmart got the sale of the beer and chicken wings, but since they have been so heavily taxed because they were a "BIG EVIL CORPORATION" they passed the "savings" onto the consumer, so they barely make a profit. Meanwhile the net gain for the economy is lost when your poor party man, skips work for a few days / weeks / or maybe just never goes back to work. So we've lost productivity and motivation in our blue collar work force and basically the middle man makes a small profit on disposable goods and quick sell items. The economy slumps. No real tangable raw product is required or produced by business, or industry. We become a country of beer-drinking-chicken-eaters.

Ok, my above example is a little oversimplified and you'll probably find a hole in the logic if you look hard enough, but its just an example of the poor economic situation we will have in the future for our kids and their kids... As Yoda said "Once you start down that road, forever will it dominate your destiny..."

So, tomorrow I'll try to be optimistic and hope that Obama has something up his sleave that makes me smile like a magician makes the kids at the birthday party smile (Cuz he talks so funny and makes me laugh and feel warm inside). But the day is coming when that magician is going to take MY piece of birthday cake and give 3/4 of it to Suzie's little bratty brother who cries alot because he was running around with his cake and it fell on the ground. Then I'm going to be steaming mad and may do something slightly underhanded to get back my share. (Just kidding, I would never do anything "slightly" underhanded...)

But, I'm just glad that its over. I'm tired of politics for a while. I'll give it a few months and I'll be back... Now I can get back to fun stuff like Graphic Design and Photography, maybe even a little screenplay writing for my next short film. Stay tuned on THE HORSE for more creative stuff soon!

Thanks for listening,

November 4, 2008

What you don't know about Barack Obama Black liberation theology, birthplace, religion still remain question marks

By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Obama and top fundraiser Tony Rezko, a business partner and close friend of Auchi

NEW YORK – Birthplace, religion, black liberation theology, passport, Pakistan, school expenses and records, house deal, friends, mentors and clients.

These are among the questions that despite months of campaigning for the presidency, thousands of hours in front of reporters and cameras, and hundreds of members of a massive campaign staff, the public still doesn't have fully answered about Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.

Click on the above link for more... SO much more....

Voting Intimidation By Black Panthers In Philadelphia

Voter Intimidation... Investigation by Fox News. Hot off the press!

EJ Exclusive - Police Respond to Intimidation

next episode...

Black Panther's with nightsticks!

notice how the black panther guy won't answer his question. Apparently one of these guys have been escorted away by police as of a few hours ago.

November 2, 2008

All hail Obama!

In the spirit of fair play and sarcasm here are my favorite Obama spoofs right now.

Obama as St. Francis Assisi here to bring us into harmony with nature, global warming, climate change, and peace with EVERYONE. Hail Obama!

This is a video that Glenn Beck put together that pretty much tells it like it is... More informative and truth telling videos on YouTube on "GlennBeckVideos". Election day is in a few days people, be sure to get out and vote and win back our country!

November 1, 2008

I'm so sad! King Of The Hill leaving Fox

Hank Hill and the residents of Arlen, Texas are headed for retirement.  According to Variety, Fox will not order any new episodes of the animated series "King of the Hill."

"Hill" is the second-longest running animated series of all-time, behind "The Simpsons." "Hill" has been on Fox for 13 years, though it has faced cancellation several times in the past several years.

"We've been here before," exec producer John Altschuler told Variety. "When it's time for King of the Hill to go, it will go. But I think with the ratings this good, and with the quality that doesn't seem to be diminishing, it would be very odd for King of the Hill not to keep going."

Because of the long lead time required for animated series, Fox is calling a halt to "Hill" now and the final episode is expected to air sometime next year.

Meanwhile, Fox is ordering a fifth season of "American Dad." The animated series is currently in its fourth season on Fox.

"It was one of our goals going into the summer to make sure their services were secured," said 20th Century Fox TV chairman Dana Walden. "The show has evolved creatively under their leadership. And when you find a tentpole player like Seth, one of the critical elements in supporting their companies is locking up the services of the people they depend on, they trust."

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This series was probably one of my favorite animation shows of all time. Classic, sometimes edgy but not nasty, you always learned a lesson at the end. Kind of an Andy Griffith with a modern twist. I will be sad to see the Hill's, the Gribbles, and the Souphanousinphones leave my neighborhood. They were the best neighbors that I've had throughout our 13 year friendship and they kept me laughing the whole time....

:: the sun sets over the Arlen City water tank as we fade to black ::

PS. Mike Judge is my hero!

October 27, 2008

Summit Construction

The new construction phase at the Summit next to Cheesecake. This is supposed to be done before Christmas... we'll see.

Friends at my Bday Party

Some of you may have heard, I had an extra crazy Birthday party this year. This is probably the only picture to survive. I found it on my Berry a few days later. That's Samantha, my hot fiance Andrea and Lauren. Thanks for all of you that came out to celebrate me getting "old as the hills". Next year is gonna be a secret...

I want this!

I want to learn Illustrator REALLY BAD! Buy this for me!

September 28, 2008

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel
Originally uploaded by Josh Self
Not from my cell phone but some new pics I took at the Alabama State Fair this week. Check em out!

July 14, 2008

Far from home...

I found this little guy wandering the aisles today at Wal-Mart, looking for his home. He was in the heat pump filter isle... I gave him some directions back to toyland... I hope he made it ok!

July 13, 2008

You are so hot... pink!

Goodies closing...
More half-manaquins in great fluorescent colors! Only $50!!!

All the Manaquins in a row...

Goodies in Hoover was closing and selling everything in the store. I kindof wanted a creepy hot girl naked manaquin for $100, but this picture had to suffice...

Smart Car of America - Smart ForTwo Passion

July 11, 2008

My dream smart ForTwo Passion

My dream car; the new 2008 smart ForTwo Passion by Daimler-Chrysler/Mercedes.
I'm actually going to reserve one this month for delivery next year. So, I'll have saved up a big down payment.
This little thing has a cool 5-Speed Automatic Manual trany with paddle shifters on your steering wheel and gets 34/40 (City/Highway)! Some have even claimed up to 46 Highway! Read more about it at my link above.

This one was at Cheesecake the other day. It only took up half a parking space.
I'm liking either the black with silver or the blue metallic with silver. I'll keep everyone updated as time goes on.

June 10, 2008

Construction in the sky

Construction at the Summit.
Phase 4 of the Summit Shopping Complex started this month. There are supposedly going to be a whole new row of shops, some office spaces and a parking deck on the other side of the Cheesecake Factory parking lot.

I thought that the Komatsu shovel sitting on top of the little dirt mountain looked cool with the sky behind it.

March 20, 2008

All is quiet...

Before opening. Cheesecake Factory, 10:15AM. I love the iron scrollwork by the bathrooms. That's Arturo, one of our bussers, on the way to set up your table for the day...

February 29, 2008

Small Mixer at Mountaintop

This was my wallpaper on my cell phone for a few months. Its a small mixer in the media room at Mountaintop Community Church. (where I go to church). I also run our crane camera for the TV show on ABC 33/40. Check us out Thursday nights and Sunday Mornings.