Photo Contest: Win a trip for two to Los Angeles!

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Okay, folks… this is kind of an emergency.  You have FIVE… yes, 5 days to enter this photo contest that ends on April 16. We just received an email about it, and we think one our OUR customers should win because y’all are amazing. We see your stuff… you are amazing.

Look at this Grand Prize and tell me you don’t want to enter:

Win a trip for two to The Big Photo Show Los Angeles 2014, including round trip airfare from anywhere in the contiguous United States, accommodations in The Big Photo Show host hotel for up to three nights, and admission to The Big Photo Show Los Angeles, a Canon Rebel T3i kit and Pixma printer, and a deluxe frame job from On the Wall Gallery & Frames.

Okay, so here’s what you have to do according to their website:

Enter this photo challenge and help us to explore all of the fun you can have with photography.  What is the most fun thing to capture with photography? You tell us with your entries! Is it people interacting, emotions, animals, the world around you, sunsets, sports? We cannot wait to find out!

It’s easy to enter. Click here to enter online or email them your entry (one entry per email, please). Use subject line “Seriously Fun Photography”. Enter today for your chance at great prizes and to see your images displayed at The Big Photo Show Los Angeles, May 17-18, 2014, and on The Big Photo Show website.  And be sure to tell them you’re a Calagaz customer… you might get some brownie points :)

Submission deadline is April 16, 2014 so don’t delay! This photo challenge will award prizes for both popular choice and judging by professional photographers. Open to all photo enthusiasts but winners must be in the US for some prizes. Find the full challenge rules here.

Oh wait. There’s more… the other prizes for the Professionally Judged entries aren’t too shabby either. Check it out below.  Oh, and if you want to size-up the competition… the entries are all on this website!

2nd Place: Pentax K-50 camera, $100 certificate from Nations Photo Lab, Metallic print from Fullerton Photographics, LumiQuest Strobist Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
3rd Place: Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM lens, Creative Kit by Macphun Software, LumiQuest Strobist Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
4th Place: Sony a3000 camera with 18-55mm lens, LumiQuest Strobist Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
5th Place: Erin Manning Home Studio Lighting Kit by Westcott and Sunpak Ultra Pro 423 Carbon Fiber Tripod

Popular choice winners:

1st Popular Choice: Panasonic Lumix ZS30 camera, Westcott 304 5-in-1 Reflector Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
2nd Popular Choice: Tamron SP 70-300 Di VC USD zoom lens, Macphun Creative Kit, and a mini flash umbrella
3rd Popular Choice: Tabelz laptop table and Macphun Creative Kit software

Now get out there and shoot this weekend!  We need to represent the Gulf Coast, people!

Our Favorite Things…

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I don’t know about you, but I love to read reviews and take people’s recommendations. When I go out to eat, I ask the server what their favorite item on the menu is because I know when I was a server, I ate at my place of employment like… Every. Single. Day.

I mean, who would know what’s awesome better than the employee, right?  So I got to thinking… we (Calagaz employees) look at and use the stuff in our store ALL the time. Our store is huge and probably super intimidating when you walk in the first, second and maybe third time. So its likely that you’ve missed some of the really awesome stuff we have sitting around here. Or maybe… you haven’t ventured to the BACK of our store where we have a few little gems hidden in our classroom. (Yeah… we have a classroom!)

So we’re going to start posting some of our favorite things that aren’t so obvious like the newest camera with WiFi – we’re going to show you the obscure little items that are a little inexpensive nugget of awesomeness that you would have never noticed otherwise.

So since I just came up with this random idea and haven’t consulted with our sales team yet (hehehe! My evil plan!) I’m going to use one of the newest ProMaster YouTube videos as my first post. This one is about the go-anywhere, super compact and multi-colored pop-up background. You’ll see in this video and hear from a real photographer about how awesome and versatile this little guy is. In the meantime, I’ll be scanning the Thesaurus for a synonym for the word “awesome.” :)

Nugget of Awesomeness #1: ProMaster Pop-Up Background

A Colorful Weekend for some of Calagaz Photo’s finest…

Calagaz Photo's Finest Color Run Crowd

In case you missed it, this weekend marked the 2nd year for The Color Run in Orange Beach at The Wharf. Two of our employees, Jessika Kirkland and Bailey Chastang, were part of the crew documenting the entire event for all who participated – and they’re sharing their experience with us!

So, how was it?  Was the weather beautiful down in Orange Beach? 
JK: We had a blast, except we were drenched and covered in colors! I mean, its been two days and my toes are STILL blue!

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It was raining the whole time?  What did you do about your camera? 
JK: Well, luckily I had my ProMaster Rain Jacket that covered all my equipment. Living in Mobile, and knowing it could rain every afternoon, I never leave home without it… and this weekend, the rain jacket didn’t just protect my camera from the weather… but from flying colors too!

What did you take pictures of while you were there?  What was the most challenging part of photographing this event? 
JK: I was inside the running course, set-up at the purple station called “Purple People Eater” – it was so much fun capturing people’s expressions as they’re being bombed with purple powder! The kids would run through, and then run back to get bombed again… it was really funny. It was so challenging though!  I was constantly having to change my exposure settings due to it being overcast at times, and then sun peeking back out… all while trying to keep a high enough shutter speed to catch the action. Last year when I photographed The Color Me Rad Run in Mobile, I learned that I should have brought a monopod or a tripod. But, with all the constant movement, a monopod would be ideal. So, you bet this year I didn’t forget it!  I like the ProMaster XC525C because its a lightweight, carbon-fiber tripod, but also includes a monopod by unscrewing one of the legs so its perfect for events like this because its so compact and versatile.

Bailey's Photo Booth Area

BC: I did the studio part, or the “photo booth” with the Color Run backdrop. Sometimes working a photo booth can get monotonous, so I just tried to keep things fun and interesting the whole time.  I asked people to jump in the air, throw their colors, make goofy faces… doing basically whatever they wanted. I feel like I really captured how fun the moment and the event was, which is really what’s most important.  I would say the most challenging thing was the number of people!  The line was probably a football field long, so we didn’t have that much time to get posed so I just had to stay on my toes and come up with creative ideas on the fly. The most difficult thing would be changing the shutter speed based on what the runners were doing. For instance, if they decided to jump in the air, I would need to raise the shutter speed and still be in-sync with my lights. Or, if they decided to throw color, I might need to drop or raise my exposure depending on how much color they threw and how bright it was compared to my lights.

What was the craziest thing that happened? 
BC: Well, the WHOLE THING was crazy!  But, for me… having a 6-year old attempt to chunk a large amount of paint directly at my camera was definitely a memorable experience for BOTH of us!  I freaked out at the moment, but afterwards realized that it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal because not only did I have my rain jacket on my camera, but I also had a ProMaster HGX Filter on my lens, which means that the paint would have come off very easily with a lens cleaning cloth. So, no need to see a cardiologist this week!

There are more 5k runs involving this color mess if you want to check it out… The Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds is hosting the Color Me Rad Run on May 3 and if you use the promo code “RONALD” you’ll save 10% on your registration, and a portion of your registration fee will benefit The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile!

Why Printing Your Memories Matters

Keeping photos is keeping memories, and an opportunity to leave a tangible legacy for your children and family members. These days, a lot of people use cell phones to take pictures, and that technology along with social media and storage devices are destroying the way we’re recording history for future generations.

There are still ways to print and store your memories to ensure they’re not lost forever, so we invite you to watch our first appearance on Studio 10′s “Picture Perfect” segment and perhaps you’ll be inspired to do something with your pictures.

Every other week, we’ll have a new Studio10 segment which will allow us to share our ideas and keep you informed of the best, most creative ways to print, create and share the pictures you take of your family — and yes, even the ones on your cell phone!

If you have a great idea on how you are preserving your memories for generations to come, share it with us and we may use it in one of our upcoming segments! We’re looking for crafts, custom framing, wall groupings, photo book & album ideas… you get the idea.

New Year Resolutions

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Everyone can make a resolution.  But, can you make a resolution that you can actually stick to?  How many times have you said, “I really need to convert my old VHS tapes” or every time you drop your cell phone you think “Whew! Thank goodness nothing bad happened… I would hate to lose all my pictures.”

We hear you. In fact, we’ve heard from many of you who weren’t so lucky!  So, Calagaz has compiled a list of some resolutions that are very much attainable (and special deals to help you along), and will give you a great feeling of accomplishment!

Resolution #1 – Catch Up On All My Photo Printing. 
We realize that you’re a creature of habit, and you take pictures with your cell phone. We all do!  (Heck, even Leo Calagaz was guilty of snapping the first picture of his newborn granddaughter with his handy little iPhone!)

The problem is, we don’t print those photos and many times the photos on your cell phone are the most cherished because they are spontaneous moments in everyday life.  Inevitably, you will get another cell phone one day.  For what reason is uncertain.  If you’re lucky, you will get a new phone because you just want a new one. But more than likely, something will happen to your phone and force you into getting a new one.  Guess what: If you haven’t printed those photos – they’re gone.  Forever.

So, to help out with this first resolution, now until January 16, all Digital 5×7 Prints are only 99¢ (normally $3.49), and our Photo Calendars are Buy 1, Get 1 Free until February 1!  No excuses, folks!  Start printing here.

Keep an eye out for our e-mail blasts which will highlight each of our resolutions every week this month with a special deal.  Below is a sneak peek of what’s to come!

Resolution #2 – Organize, Restore & Archive My Family’s Old Memories
Our most popular special is coming back!  Shoebox Scans are on sale again, so be sure to keep an eye out for this one!  We’ll also be offering some great deals on slide scanning and video transfers.

Resolution #3 – Make Sure Future Generations Can See My Family’s History
This week will focus on making sure that the photos you take today will be around for generations to come.  Watch for major deals on Photo Books, Canvas Prints, Frames & Albums.  Custom Framing orders this week will also see some deep discounts.  You won’t want to miss this one!

Resolution #4 – Learn Something New
Calagaz offers many classes, workshops and photo-taking outings.  We’ll be announcing new class dates and what’s to come for the year ahead of us.

If you’re not signed up to receive our e-mail blasts, you can do that here. We do some pretty awesome stuff from time to time.  :)

Confessions of a Camera Store Employee

Lindsey, Calagaz Photo's Marketing DirectorFor many enthusiast, hobbyist and novice photographers… I have the dream job.  I work in a place where I have all the coolest and newest camera technology at my fingertips, photography workshops and classes at my disposal, and employee pricing on whatever images I want to print to decorate my home or office.

For any type of photographer, beginner to advanced, this place is awesome – and I don’t use it.  Ever. 

My name is Lindsey, I’m the marketing director here at Calagaz Photo.  I’m the one who creates all the TV commercials and newspaper flyers you see in the Sunday paper, among many other things where I am promoting something that is pretty much foreign to me and my skill sets – photography.  Nope, contrary to what everyone else “lives, breathes and loves” at Calagaz, I am not a photographer… but I at least like to think that I fake it pretty well!

As far as I’m concerned, I’m a disgrace to the company I work for.  I do a really good job at what I do here, but I don’t take pictures, and the ones I do take, I don’t print.  I don’t practice what I preach, and I’ve decided I’m going to change that.  Today.  My New Year’s Resolution is this: I am going to utilize everything that Calagaz has to offer, and learn how to be an awesome photographer like many of our customers.

I invite you to follow me on my journey as I embark on a true challenge for myself.  This is going to be a lifestyle change for me, and a great learning experience.  I hope that as you follow my progress, perhaps we can teach each other some things.  I am going to post everything that I have learned in hopes that you, the reader, will find new information to help you with your photography endeavors.  And please, feel free to comment on my posts about anything that you feel you would have done differently, or any tips and tricks that would be fun to share with me and the rest of my readers.

So, who’s excited about our new blog??  I am!!