Saturday, January 07, 2012

2011 wrap-up

2011 was quite a year for Platinum Mix. We were busier then we’ve ever been. We were blessed with so many amazing clients. But the best part for me was watching many years of hard work FINALLY come together. It only took 10 years…. :)

That said, for 2012 we are going to slow down a bit. As a team we did 264 events in 2011. The DJs can handle that work load no problem, but I admit I over-booked our photography and videography teams. To be honest, we got dangerously close to being late on delivery a few times. I know I’m being paranoid. I could probably just lengthen our delivery time, but I really don’t want to do that. Its important to me to get people their finished product in a reasonable time frame (45-days guaranteed or your money back!). Working 16 hour days to get wedding photos, albums, and videos delivered on time just isn’t much fun for the editing team. The classic question: Live to work, or work to live? I’ve spent the last decade living to work. But now its time to try it the other way. So, I’m limiting my own personal bookings for the year, and slowing the photo and video team down to a more manageable workload. I’m looking forward to having time for more travel, lots of reading, long distance biking, and perhaps even a few more tango lessons…..

A couple highlights from 2011:


Bree and Andy’s vintage inspired winter wedding. We loved Bree’s handmade bouquet, and all the thought they put into the details. And I love the old camera Bree’s mom gave me. I have it on my fireplace now so I’ll never forget photographing Bree and Andy’s wedding.


The launch of DIY Uplighting. It really started as an experiment. More on this later.


My van getting stuck in a ditch at Melvin and Katie's wedding. Okay, this wasn't really a "highlight", more of an extremely embarrassing moment that will provide years of material for jokes about what a crappy driver I am. But. Making it a highlight for me personally was the fact that I wasn't worried at all about Melvin and Katie's photos because I knew my team was so strong that they would be well taken care of. As soon as I realized I was stuck, my first thought was "no problem, Evis is already at the reception, he can do the reception photos, and Eric can handle the video by himself until somebody shows up to tow me out of this ditch". This is the power of having a strong crew. Melvin's dad just happened to have a handy tractor laying around and I made it to the reception on time, so all ended well. :)

Meeting Rob and learning off-camera flash at Tom and Amy's wedding. There's what I call old school photographers, and there's new school photographers. In my opinion, new school photographers have the "cooler" style, but old school photographers have mad skill. Lighting skills, posing skills....these guys have been shooting professionally since before digital existed. They had to get it right in camera in a reasonable number of tries so they didn't waste film. My goal is to have old school skill, with a new school style. There is very few photographers with this ability. I'm still working on it. Meeting Rob and bringing him along to photograph Tom and Amy's wedding really gave me a jump on reception off-camera lighting though. I spent the rest of the year working on that.


Evis and Nertila's wedding! Always an honor to work the wedding of a fellow photographer, teammate, and friend. Evis and Nertila really are made for each other, and documenting their wedding was a pleasure.

After his own wedding, Evis and his beautiful new wife jetted off to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where they enjoyed a relaxing week together. On week two, I showed up to crash the party so we could work Karen and Christina's wedding. How awesome is it to shoot a wedding in Mexico? Awesome. Sooooo awesome. Somebody hire me so I can go back please?


Keisha and Larry's video marks the start of a new, more cinematic direction in our wedding video recap clips. This is all thanks to the artistic vision of Eric. Also known as "Cutmaster E". I used to make everyone edit at my house. I've found this to be the most efficient way of getting work done. Eric convinced me that he could do a better job from home. I've been blown away by the creativity and improvement in his work ever since.

Another favorite example from August: Chris and Sarah's wedding video.


Labor day weekend was the moment I realized I was doing way too much and I needed to slow Platinum Mix down a tad. This might have had to do with photographing a wedding Friday, another Saturday and then leaving the wedding Saturday night and driving 4 hours north to Bellaire, Michigan to be able to arrive in time to shoot Jenny and Jeff's wedding Sunday. I was actually downloading and backing up photo and video footage from Saturday's wedding while driving up north. I would pull over every 15 minutes to change the memory card and hit the copy button. It was totally worth it, Jenny and Jeffs wedding was amazing and I got some shots I'm proud of. I really love this one of Jenny while she was getting dressed:


DJing Homecomings kept us busy starting the end of September and throughout October. I'm also thrilled with the work we did for Ronnie and Meryl at their downtown Chicago wedding.

Also, congrats to Andrew (videographer) who had a baby boy! Isn't he a cutie?


We shot Candice and Ahmad's Love Story video in November. Our first attempt at creating a love story. Candice is a good friend, I've known her since the 9th grade. I remember when Ahmad started coming around when were about 18/19, and I am thrilled they are getting married. I'm pretty happy with the way the video came out: Love Story Video

Eric also headed out to LA to shoot a music video. Can't wait to show it off, he got some amazing shots!


I'm proud of the photography I did for Brittany and Nick's wedding, because all the work I did practicing with off-camera lighting is now starting to pay off. I shot their church formals at f/11 which was my goal. For the non-camera geeks, that makes all the faces in a big group of family members come out nice and sharp. Next thing to focus on is lighting the background just as nice as the foreground. Also, their video is awesome.

After Brittany and Nicks wedding, I took off to San Francisco. The launch of Platinum Mix SF is coming soon!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

cheers to a new year!

My last update to this blog was September 2010. Pathetic. I’d call that an epic fail. It’s a poor excuse, but I’ve just been so incredibly busy the past ummm.... 16 months. That’s my logical reason. The “real” excuse is……I guess you can say I lost interest in blogging. It was super exciting to me when nobody else was doing it. But then all my competitors started a blog. And when EVERYONE is doing something, well…I like to look for something different to do. So I switched to showing off our work on facebook. Quicker. Less writing. Easier for people to share. And now, [sigh] EVERYONE is doing that too. So to make sure I stay different, here I am back to blogging. But this time, instead of writing just about recent weddings we’ve done, I think I’m going to get a little more personal, maybe spread the topics out a bit to include other things I’m passionate about. This resolution might not last past January. We shall see. Till then, in the words of Oprah: “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right”.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

remember kids, do as i say. not as i do. how NOT to began your career as a mobile DJ.

December 1995. My 16th birthday. I lived with my father at the time who had a work hard and party even harder philosophy of life. This was an ideal living situation for my teenage years. I had recently purchased my first DJ mixer (a Gemini "ScratchMaster" for all you DJ nerds reading this - the ORIGINAL version, with the orange graffiti logo of course), and my first pair of Technic 1200 turntables. All my spare time was spent in my bedroom trying to figure out how to get two records to sound good together. My father had informed me that he was going to be out of town the week of my birthday, and so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to have a "little" party to show off my newly acquired DJ skills to my friends. The problem was that I only had like 4 friends. There was lots of kids that said hi to me in school, but I couldn't count on them to come to my birthday party and I was TERRIFIED that only my 4 actual friends would show up. Thus began my party promotion career.

Every day at school for the two weeks-ish I was planning this little gathering, I scribbled my home address down on notebook paper for all those random kids that said hi to me in the hallways, and invited them to my party. In addition, I recruited the help of my 4 friends, who invited all of their friends (early lessons in the power of social networking). Me, being my paranoid self, I decided that just to be safe, I would also invite people that came into my work. I was a waitress at Big Boy and our customer base included plenty of kids from the neighboring high schools. My friend Candice worked there with me. She was the hostess. She would seat tables of cute boys in my section and then I would work up the nerve to invite them to my party.

It didn't take long before my pager (ha! remember pagers?!), started blowing up with people beeping about when to show up for the party and "is the party still going on?". When I found out the entire football team was coming, I decided that maybe it was a good idea to bring in a more experienced DJ with a better sound system. DJ Eternal, DJ Tech-Nine, and DJ X-Factor volunteered. To this day, I am still grateful to those 3 guys for helping to get me on the right (or wrong? track...but thats another story.

Anyway, so my birthday arrives, and Eternal, Tech-Nine and X-Factor show up with a booming sound system and plenty of vinyl. I am now getting incredibly nervous as we all work on setting up my house for the party. Setting up consisted of hiding all the valuables, blocking off areas of the house by piling furniture up, and of course hooking up the DJ gear. Guests started to arrive. There's about 20 people hanging out and I decide its time for my very first public DJ set. I put on the headphones, put the needle down on the record, and mixed my first song in. I think I was pretty off-beat. In fact, I'm sure it sounded like a train-wreck. But it didn't matter to me - I was hooked. I don't remember how long that first set lasted, all I know was there was nothing going on when I started mixing, and when I passed the headphones on to the next DJ, my living room was packed full of gyrating, sweaty teenagers dancing and partying. I got completely lost in the music and I loved every minute of it.

So actually, I didn't voluntarily hand over the headphones. My sister interrupted me because apparently my guests had climbed over the furniture roadblocks and had taken over my dads house. I have no idea how many people showed up, but it was alot. Packed house - basement, ground floor and upstairs. There was so much smoke in the living room from people smoking cigarettes it was hard to breathe, and cars were actually parked on my dads front lawn and the lawn of the senior citizen building across the street. Chaos. This led to an infamous Sara G. temper-tantrum. First thing I did was call the police on my own party. 2nd thing I did was decide not to wait for the police, and just toss people out myself. After everyone had left, I walked around and surveyed the damage. Furniture - broken. Carpet - ruined. Silverware - missing? And then the phone rang....uh oh, it was Dad. "How's the party kid? Having a good time?" I think the neighbors called him. Either them or the police. I just braced myself for the old school ass-whooping I knew I was going to get as soon as he got home......

Ahhhh.....feeling so nostalgic tonight as I think about those early days. :)

P.S. I miss vinyl.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

photography updates

So we are still working on getting a new blog design that showcases photos bigger and better than this current one. Until then, if you were looking for the latest photography work, head on over to: Plenty of stuff is also posted at too.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Party Starters vs. Party Renegades

Got the best card in the mail today from a recent client. Thought it was brilliant, had to share:



Thanks Andrea and Scott! You made my day happy today!

What a great wedding it was too. Unbelievably AMAZING crowd. I want to hire some of Andrea and Scott's guests to come to my other jobs with me. They can work at Platinum Mix as official Party Starters. At every party, there is at least 1 "party starter". This person (or group of people), dances to every song and drags other people out to dance with them. They get the party going without the DJ having to be an annoying cheeseball. I've made an entire career out of identifying the party starter in every family early on and then making them my best-est buddy for the night. This all happens on the down low of course so I can take complete credit for being an awesome DJ. I've been a DJ for going on 15 years, and I have NEVER seen a wedding crowd like Scott and Andrea had. These people were so awesome, that I don't even think party-starters is an appropriate term. These folks were more like "party renegades". Nobody really needed any encouragement or help, they rocked that dance floor individually all on their own. For example, there was the traditional bride and groom dance scheduled but these wedding guests didn't feel like waiting around for the bride and groom to stop chitty-chatting around the tables and such - they just hit the dance floor and started grooving to my background music. "Background music" technically means people don't usually dance to this stuff. Not so much the case here. Dance floor was completely packed. So much so that Andrea said to just skip her dance with Scott. An hour or so into it, photographer about to leave, and I thought that potentially, after the wedding is over, and Andrea gets her wedding photos, she *might* wish she had a nice picture of her and Scott dancing together. So I opted to go into control freak DJ mode for a minute and cleared the dance floor for Andrea and Scott (of course I checked with them first...haha). This wedding was also memorable for featuring a surprise appearance from the guy that sings the fight song at Detroit Lions games. The tasty food courtesy of the Rattlesnake Club was pretty impressive too. And as a nice bonus, Robert Bruce was the photographer. Its always so much fun to work with him. On a side note, I've noticed that every time I work with Robert Bruce, I have an awesome wedding. So either Robert is good luck OR couples that hire Robert are awesome. Hmmm.....maybe I'll camp outside Robert's Studio and sneak Platinum Mix flyers on the cars of all the couples that come to hire him. ;)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Video Camera Upgrade Complete!

Its been almost a full year of testing, buying new equipment, figuring stuff out, and more testing but we're finally completed with our switchover to HDSLR video! This means that we are now using DSLR photo cameras to film weddings in HD. For those interested in the technical end of things, specifically we have switched to a combination of the Canon 5dmkII's and the Canon 7d cameras, along with a variety of Canon lenses. The quality difference is really amazing, not to mention the creative freedom of being able to change lenses so easily. And I also dig the ability to instantly play back what we have shot - no more tape capture! The integration now between our photo and video teams is almost seamless. I posted a comparison of the quality on our facebook page located here:

Anyway, here are the 2 latest recap chapters from the last 2 weddings we've done ->

Kara and Mike's Wedding Video Highlights! from Sara G. on Vimeo.


Molly and Danny's Wedding Video Highlights! from Sara G. on Vimeo.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Debbie and Mike's reception! 4 Points Sheraton, Ann Arbor, Michigan

I used to get so nervous before DJing. My hands used to shake every time I picked up the microphone to announce a bridal party. I accepted a long time ago that I'm not a "natural" MC. A few of the DJs I work with like Emmitt, Brendan, Garret, Joey....those guys can rock the mic. I'm always in awe of Emmitt when we work together. He has no plan. He can just pick up the mic, talk, and it sounds good. But not me. I have to plan what I'm going to say. And then I practice what I'm going to say. A thousand weddings later and I don't get nervous anymore. Now its become second nature. But even now, I still like to run through bridal party introductions a few times just to make sure I got it before I do it "live". This past Saturday for Debbie and Mike's wedding, I was nervous. They had a large bridal party and wanted each bridal party member announced individually to a specific song. I thought this was a fantastic idea. I've done this before, but for much smaller bridal parties. This one came to 16 song changes. This is challenging because typically it only takes about 10/20 seconds for each person to walk in. But that can vary alot depending on how far the door is from the final destination and how fast each person walks. So I figure I have about 20 seconds to stop the previous song, load the new song, figure out which person is next to announce, and announce new person. This may sound easy, but add to the fact the pressure of having 200 strangers staring at you, a videographer's bright light and huge camera pointed at you, oh and of course the big one - avoiding large gaps of silence, and this simple task suddenly gets more challenging. Brad was working with me. I was incredibly tempted to have Brad handle the music switching while I just announced, but I'm a control-freak/perfectionist and I wanted each announcement to be timed perfectly with the music. Unless we had rehearsed, there was no way he would know exactly when to hit the play button. Thankfully, luck was on my side and the door was a decent distance away from the dance floor. Even better, the bridal party was a blast and they danced their way in. All in all, it ended up being about a 30 second intro for each person...totally manageable! I thought it went well, and overall, I wish more couples did this for their introductions because I think it really personalizes them alot more and is tons of fun for everyone. :) The rest of the party was amazing...these people knew how to get their wedding on! Full dance floor + lots of requests + high-energy crowd = very happy dj. Brad got a couple quick pics and video clips from Debbie and Mikes awesome wedding reception! - ->>

Love the bride breakin' down some "footloose" in this first clip!

A couple more of a great "Shout" and of course, some party train action:

and of course - a cake shot:

and one of the happy couple:

A couple more of our newest team member, Brad:

this one has facebook profile shot written all over it:

A couple more pics we grabbed while behind the DJ table are here:

Great party! Congrats Mike and Debbie!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Go Tracie, Go Tracie, Go!

Our wedding planner friend, Tracie Morris from You're the Bride, sent me over an email with some information about a new package she has put together for day-of wedding coordination. I'm feeling really guilty about this, but I accidentally deleted the email with the actual special offer details. Sorry Tracie! However, I didn't want to have to bother her to re-send so I surfed on over to her website and took a look at her "Service Offerings" page. And was actually really surprised....Tracie has some really unique and cool packages put together for the bride and groom's seeking a little wedding planning help. She's got all your traditional wedding planner and day-of coordination packages, but she's also got this "Brainstorming Service" that I think sounds pretty cool, a "Powder Room Pampering" service (who doesn't want to be pampered right?), and even just a "Candy Buffet" service for folks looking for some help in just getting all that candy setup for their guests. The "E-Planning Ensemble" also seems like a solid deal for the computer savvy bride (and Tracie has always been super quick at responding to emails!). More guilt because I can't find the package labeled "Mini day of coordination", which is what I'm supposed to be posting about. Oh well, if you are looking for an awesome deal on a great wedding planner, click on over to Contact Tracie and tell her Platinum Mix sent ya, and she'll hook you up with the goods.

" DJ Hero on your Wii does not qualify you for this position"

Recruiting. Ugh. I think this is the hardest and most frustrating part of my job. Lots of wedding vendors I talk to hate doing the sales/business part of this job, but me, I love meeting potential clients. I'd rather get rejected by 10 couples planning their wedding then go through all these DJ applications and set up interviews with them any day. Hiring photographers is new to me and honestly I thought that was going to be easier. I was wrong. Photographers are worse. Okay, maybe all that was a bit dramatic. But seriously, what a pain. Now the people that do work with Platinum Mix, are some of my best friends in the world. I love each and every one of them, and have complete trust that they will do an awesome job. Its just so hard finding those people. And then after I find them, I have to get them to the point where I trust them with my client's weddings. Trust takes time to develop. A long time. No way am I risking my hard-earned reputation on some random dude who just bought a camera yesterday and is now calling himself a professional photographer. Or the kid with some loud speakers and an internet connection fast enough to download millions of songs just in time for his saturday job. Screw that. I've worked hard at this for 15 years, not giving away my rep that easy.

Recruiting makes me feel really bad for my clients. Honestly, if it were my wedding (and I wasn't in this business), it would be really stressful for me to pick vendors. Not because of so many good choices, more because its scary out there folks. Have you ever seen the show "The Riches"? Its fantastic. It got canceled. Maybe it scared people? It scared me, because I know how true it is that people believe way too easily. If you haven't seen the show its about how a family steals the life of another (much more wealthy) family. The father becomes a lawyer. No, he does not have a law degree. And no, he does not have any experience or know anything at all about practicing law. But he excels at his job, because he's got a gift for selling. He just said he's a lawyer, so people believe him. If you want to be a wedding DJ technically its super easy to get started. Buy some equipment, put up a website, print up some business cards and just like that - you are a "professional". Essentially, just announce to the world that you are now a wedding DJ, and people will believe you. And its true, you are now a wedding DJ. However you probably suck. And you are confusing your clients, who don't know how in the world to figure out why DJ option #1 is better than DJ option #433.

I dislike the recruiting process because I have to explain to these "wedding djs" why they need to participate in Platinum Mix's training program. Or why their equipment is not up to spec. Or convince them to do something different then how they have been doing it, because its not how we do it. And while I know there are many ways to do something, I have very high standards for how things are done here, and I insist those standards are met before I will book somebody for my jobs. I have an obligation to every single one of my clients to deliver talented, skilled, trained PROFESSIONALS for their events. Finding those people though, is the hard part of my job. What I really need is an HR department.....

If you're reading this and you are a DJ, photographer, videographer, graphic designer or editor, and you feel that you are a skilled professional please fill out the application located here:
We would love to hear from you!