Monthly archives: June 2012

Six things to consider when hiring a magician – part two

This is the third in a number of posts I am writing about hiring magicians for events. The other posts are available here, and here.

Last week I discussed the importance of whether you want a close-up or a stand-up magician, how long you should hire a magician for and whether or not you need to hire a specialised children’s entertainer. This week I’ve got three more things you should consider if you want to get the best out of your magician.

This list, as with last weeks, is as applicable to weddings, corporate events, Christmas parties, birthday parties or any event you’re considering hiring a magician for. There’ll even be some relevance if you’re booking any other kind of wedding entertainment.

What Else is Going On

Before you book a magician you need to consider when you want them to perform; at the drinks reception or the meal? After the meal? Or at any other stage throughout the event. It’s  important to think about what else will be going on at the same time. If you want the magician to perform during the meal then it’s important to know that most magicians don’t actually perform when people are eating – the audience is just too distracted by the food and the waiters aren’t impressed at the added obstacle! Instead, they tend to perform for a table or two between the courses. This dramatically reduces the number of guests the magician can get round in the time given. What I’ve found is that I tend to be able to perform to two tables after the guests sit but before the starter is served, one table between the starter and main course, one table between the main and the dessert and any remaining tables after that.

Another big thing to consider is whether there will be a band or DJ on at the same time. While some magicians just perform magic silently, the best have well scripted routines that include lots of humour and byplay with the audience. If there’s loud music or a band encouraging people to get up and dance then it becomes difficult for people to properly engage with the magician. Also, if the tables are large then it becomes nearly impossible for the magician to entertain the whole table at once without resorting to shouting – doubling the time it takes to get around all the guests. It might be worth considering having the magician earlier in the event – that way you’ll get the best out of the magician and the guests will appreciate the entertainment more.

Price VS Quality

With magic you often get what you pay for. If you get a price quoted for an event from five different magicians you could well get five different prices! Often, one or two will be far far lower than the rest. While you might luck out and get an excellent magician, you are more likely to be unsatisfied with the quality of the service. That’s not to say you should instantly hire the most expensive magician, you will get a variety of good magicians for different prices – for example, I’m far from the priciest magician you can hire but I have always left my clients happy. My advice is to hire the magician that fits your budget best. If you are looking for a top tier entertainer with decades of experience you will have to pay for it, but if you are just looking for a magician to add something special to your event there’s no need to go overboard and spend several grand! Just be wary of those who offer their services at suspiciously low prices.

Enjoy the Performance

You’ve booked a magician, great move! You’re guests are going to see something totally different. Make sure you see it too. If you’ve gone to the effort of hiring someone, take the time to see them in action. So many event organisers get caught up with making sure everything runs perfectly on the day that they forget to sit back, enjoy the food and wine, and see all their hard work pay off.

Most magicians also have special “top table” tricks that require a lot more effort to perform that they reserve for the person who’s hired them and the group they are with – don’t miss out on it!

Well that concludes the second set of things to consider when hiring a magician. If you feel I’ve missed anything please add it to the comments! Another post on hiring magicians will be up in the near future. To know as soon as the it’s up you, follow me on facebook or twitter.

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Business, Magic

A few more good photos – the Eva edition

Most of the time when I am out with the DSLR I am also out with my girlfriend Eva so she is often the subject of my photographic assault. She’s already appeared in photos here, here and here, but I thought I’d include three of my favourites, that I haven’t already used, as one post.

The first photo was taken as we climbed up the East Mountain (bit of an exaggerated name) in Howth. I got Eva to scramble on ahead up a reasonably steep and rocky bit. I took photos of her the whole way up and my favourite was this one of her almost just about to crest. I really like how she is walking towards nothing and how little of the frame she, or the land occupies.

This photo was taken at a pond about 200 metres from the house I grew up in. I vaguely remember going there as a kid. The pond itself is fairly stagnant and murky but there’s some lovely greenery around and it’s just off a very quiet road. Eva had wandered round to the other side of the pond and was framed by the two bushes and the overhanging tree. I took at the camera and took a few photos all the while wishing for a telephoto lens! I really like this photo regardless, I think the framing really works and I love how Eva almost blends into the nature in the background.

Eva Across the PondThe final photo was taken at Malahide Castle, in the forest there. We went off the main path and into the trees and I took this reverse-portrait of Eva. I really like this style of photo, my computer has at least four or five variations of this photo on it though I think this is my favourite of them.

Eva

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Photography

EyePhone by Al Smith – Review

As I mentioned about last week, my ability to take interesting photos with my iPhone was really influenced by eyePhone by Al Smith. I said I’d do a review of it, so here it is!

eyePhone: Making stronger photographs with your camera phone by Al Smith, and released by Craft & Vision, describes Al’s theories for taking pictures with his iPhone. A professional photographer, Al never gave his phone’s camera a seconds consideration until caught with an eight-year old who wanted his photo taken on a swing and not even a point-and-shoot. His son pointed out that he could just use his phone and so reluctantly Al took it out, lined up a difficult shot that, with a DSLR, would have taken considerable thought and embarrassed that he – a professional photographer – was using a gimmicky phone camera, started to take the pictures. Instead of the noisy mess he was expecting, Al managed to capture a picture that he liked – and at that point he fell in love with his phone’s camera.

Al goes on to describe the limitations of the iPhone’s camera: fixed focal length and aperture; limited ISO range and shutter speed; only shoots in JPEGs with a tiny sensor; and it’s as “ergonomic as a slippery brick”. For anyone who doesn’t really know cameras, the English translation is that the iPhone, compared to a DSLR, is severely limited. However, Al suggests embracing these limitations as you would a theme or a project title. This is the first key point I took away from the book: that the trick to capturing great pictures with your camera phone is to run with it. You know that everything in your photos will always be in focus and that shooting at night is going to be about as successful as shooting underwater – but once you know that, you can deal with it. If everything is going to be in-focus, don’t try for perfect macro shots; if shooting at night isn’t an option, there’s always that other time of day – day time.

The second major point I took away was to develop a different style for your phone photos. No matter how hard you try, Al points out, your iPhone will never be able to take the kind of pictures your DSLR with a nice lens, a tripod and total control over the minutia of the shot will. However, where the iPhone comes out ahead of a DSLR is it’s portability, omnipresence and it’s ability to take and edit and share your pictures. Post-processing DSLR images is a time consuming task that requires expensive software and a good computer; post-processing iPhone images requires as little as five seconds and a 79 cent app. This point really resonated with me, when I shoot with my E500 I tend to shoot very realistic photos and convert a lot of them to black and white, it’s just what appeals to me. With my iPhone I’ve gone the opposite direction and have started shooting surreal, high contrast, high saturation images. If you check out some of my best DSLR photos (here and here) and compare them to some of my best iPhone photos (here) then the difference in style is obvious. It’s also obvious in the photos at the bottom of this post.

Al highlights a few apps that, for feck-all money, give your iPhone a complete photographic workflow. Despite the scorn that gets heaped down on Instagram, Al highlights it’s ability to quickly and easily share photos as the secret to its success. He recommends not using Instagram’s built-in filters, as they’re so recognisable, but using ones from other apps and then sharing the images through it. He also suggest replacing your go-to camera app with Camera+ (something I’d done ages ago!) as it gives you more control. Snapseed is also recommended for image editing – it has filters that go far beyond anything Instagram offers and gives you the ability to control there implementation. Al lists a few other apps but really recommends that you go out and find the ones that work for you.

For $5 eyePhone is a great buy. It’s short, at only 46 PDF pages, but the information and pictures in it make it more than worth the low price. Anyone with even a passing interest in making their camera phone photos look that much better should pick it up. I always have my phone with me and after reading eyePhone I feel I can now really get the best out of it. For comparison, below are some camera phone photos I took before reading eyePhone and after reading it. While I am still happy with the ones from before eyePhone, they are far more similar to my DSLR style and suffer in comparison to pictures taken by it. There’s also a few Instagram cliches. After eyePhone, the pictures have their own style that would be far harder and take a lot of time in Photoshop to replicate. Also, the reason they are all square is that they were all shared through Instagram.

Before eyePhone

Barge

Fishing Boat being destroyed

After eyePhone

Eva Surreal

Surreal Sunset

Surreal Ceiling

B&W River

Flat Tyre

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Photography, Review

Six things to consider when hiring a magician – part one

This is the second in a number of posts I am writing about hiring magicians for events. The other posts are available here, and here.

You’re thinking about hiring a magician for your event; good move! But there’s a few things you should consider before booking one, here’s three, if you see anything you feel I’ve missed, say so in the comments. I’ll be posting a second set next week.

This list is as applicable to weddings, corporate events, Christmas parties, birthday parties or any event you’re considering hiring a magician for. There’ll even be some relevance if you’re booking any other kind of wedding entertainment.

Close-Up or Stand-Up

As I mentioned in the previous post, when you hire a magician to perform at an event, they’re likely to either be performing close-up, wandering around between groups of guests or else be standing up on stage performing to all the guests at once. I mainly perform close-up so this post is going to be a little biased towards that but if you have your heart set on a stand-up magician you should still find a few helpful hints. The big difference between close-up and stand-up, other than the obvious, is the attention required to watch it. Close-up magicians tend to spend less than ten minutes with each group of guests while stand-up magicians often perform for thirty or forty-five minutes. Especially if the event is a wedding where groups of people haven’t seen each other for a while and want to catch up, watching a magician for forty-five minutes is a big ask! In general, unless other things are happening on a stage – prize ceremonies, speeches, that sort of thing – your guests will probably appreciate a close-up magician more. Close-up is usually a bit cheaper too!

The Number of Guests

The number of people you’re having to your event is a huge factor in hiring a magician; if you’re hiring a stand-up magician the number of guests is much less important – as long as the microphone and stage are up to scratch you should be okay – but if you’re hiring a close-up magician and there’s too many people for them to get to everyone some guests will be a bit put out. Any good magician will do their absolute best to get around to everyone – however, we’re only human (despite pretending, and sometimes looking, otherwise); if you’re having a thousand guests, booking a single magician for an hour isn’t going to cut it – likewise, hiring three magicians for four hours when you only have sixty guests isn’t exactly right either.

When I’m performing I try to spend six to eight minutes with each group I entertain. With the time to walk around between groups, reset things or being asked to do “just one more”, I find I end up entertaining between eight and ten groups an hour. Now how big are groups? Anything from three to twenty plus people; but about five or six is average. That means that approximately sixty people see me each hour that I’m performing – or roughly a person a minute. If the guests are seated in tables of eight or ten then I’ll entertain slightly more people – ninety or so at the high end. While I can speed up my performance and often stay a little later at gigs just so I can get around to the last few people it’s not an ideal situation for anyone – if you’re booking a magician and want them to get around everyone, hire them for a minute per guest and you won’t be disappointed.

The Big Guests or the Little Guests

While not so much a feature at corporate events, children are often very important guests at weddings. If you want someone to distract the children for an hour or two, your best bet is to hire a professional children’s entertainer, I’d recommend Kaboom. However if you mainly want the magician to entertain the adult guests, face-painting and balloon animals probably require an unacceptable bar tab. Most magicians are more than happy to spend a few minutes performing to the children – my personal preference is to actually teach the kids a simple magic trick that they can then perform for their parents, it always goes down a treat! Basically, if you want the children entertained for longer than ten or fifteen minutes, a specialist is the way to go, but if you just want them to get in on the magical action for a short while, most magicians are more than capable.

The second set of things to consider when hiring a magician will be up on the blog next week, be sure to check back then. To know as soon as the post’s up you can follow me on facebook or twitter. And if you feel I’ve missed anything please add it to the comments.

The second part of this post is now online here.

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.
Posted in Business, Magic

Another three of my best photos – iPhone edition

A lot of my best photos are taken with my Olympus DSLR while most of my photos are actually taken with my iPhone. As Chase Jarvis often says “the best camera is the one that’s with you” and given how good the camera has gotten in the iPhone 4 and 4S (and some Android phone’s too), it’s no wonder that I’m starting to get some shots I’m happy with from my iPhone. What really tipped me over the edge with “iPhonography” was Al Smith’s book EyePhone which I’ll review soon; it really showed me just how easy it was to take great photos with your phone if you went about it in the right way. My biggest take away, was that it’s important to have a different style with your phone camera – it is inferior to a SDLR in every major respect, however, it’s still good enough to take great pictures as long as you aren’t trying to take the same style of pictures as you’d take with a DSLR.

The first photo was taken a few weeks back, my car got a flat tyre as I was driving back from town with Eva. I seized the opportunity to try and take an interesting photo. Something that Al Humphreys had said about changing the angle you take a photograph at to make it more interesting stuck in my head so I got down really low and took this shot. Obviously, it didn’t initially look like this, I used Camera+ as both the camera and the first stage of editing and then used Snapseed to finish up. I’m really satisfied with how this picture turned out.

Flat TyreThis picture of Eva was actually taken a few days before the one of the flat tyre, just after I read EyePhone. I really took the ‘different styles’ to an extreme and ramped up the surrealism. I really like how it turned out and I think the over-sharpness actually looks great. This is the photo that really made me understand how I could use my phone, as well as my DSLR, to take great, interesting pictures.

Surreal Eva

The final picture was taken on the same day as the surreal picture with Instagram and using the filter Inkwell. As cliched as Instagram is, it’s still possible to get some really nice photos with it and it is really great as a sharing tool. I really love how white the daisies look as well as how they totally fill the centre of the frame. This was another of those cases where I saw an opportunity for a photo that I wouldn’t have seen six months ago.

Daisies

Harry Guinness is a professional magician based in Dublin, to hire him, or for more information, go to www.HarryTheMagician.ie.

All links to amazon in this blog are affiliate links, I have to pay webhosting somehow! However, that in no way changes my opinion of the product. If I wanted to make money off affiliate links, I wouldn't write really long review of €5.00 books.

Posted in Photography