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Snuggie: The Blanket With Sleeves (That Solves All Life’s Problems)

This post comes with a story, so please bear with me.

Among other things I do, I (J.P.) teach Rhetoric. Rhetoric, simply, is the art of persuasive speech.  In my class, the students primarily study Aristotle’s aptly-named Rhetoric, but sometimes I want to share with them something a little more contemporary, something that truly speaks to their generation. I think that infomercials are one of the best modern examples of persuasive communication and it’s for this reason I introduced them to the Snuggie: the blanket with sleeves.

The students seemed to appreciate the simple structure of the commercial:

1) Present a problem: “You want to stay warm without raising your heating bill and you are incapable of performing mundane tasks like answering the phone while entombed in the shroud-like confines of a blanket. Also, for some reason, everything is in black and white.”
2) Offer a solution while footage switches to color and peppy music begins: “Now, you can own a Snuggie! You’ll be able to stay warm while enjoying a wide range of activities!”
3) Show how the benefits of the solution makes life amazing!

Little did I know how much they had appreciated it…

Two days after my birthday, just as I was getting ready to begin Rhetoric, our headmaster called me down to his office to help him with a computer problem. I asked a student to tell the rest of the class what the day’s assignment was and to have them begin on it, and followed the headmaster. After talking with me for a few minutes, the headmaster walked with me back to my classroom so I could retrieve a USB drive that contained some diagnostic utilities. When I got back to the room, the lights were off, the kids had their heads down on their desks and I was led by the headmaster to the far side of the room.

What followed was nothing less than amazing. My students has remixed and personalized the Snuggie commercial for me: “Mr. Stephens, do you find it miserable teaching in a freezing cold classroom? Do you find it difficult to write on the board when your hands have frostbite on them?”  After presenting the problem, the lights came on, the music started (“Wannabe” by the Spice Girls), and the dancing and singing began. Oh yeah, and one student burst from the closet skating on a scooter while wearing a leopard-print Snuggie.

They didn’t skimp on the benefits of the solution, either. “Mr. Stephens, with your new Snuggie, you’ll be healthier, taller, stronger, more athletic, smarter…your hands will be nice and warm and you’ll be able to give us all A’s!” “You could even make it the official costume of Lunch Money!” At this point the students all dropped to their knees (approximating Lunch Money fan height) and waved their hands in the air while screaming “I love Lunch Money!”

In the end, I was presented with an awesome card, my new Snuggie…

My leopard print snuggie

…a DVD copy of The Iron Giant (they may have felt sorry for me after I showed them my copy on VHS)…

J.P. with The Iron Giant

…a handmade Snuggie user’s guide…

Snuggie User's Guide

(Note the chart.)

…and a cookie as big as my head!

Cookie as big as my head

At this point, it’s probably gratuitous to say that I have the greatest Rhetoric class ever. That’s one thing about Rhetoric, if the suck up this well, then they’re obviously getting the idea! As a small thank you to them, I will now conclude with a photo that I hope captures the magnificence of my birthday celebration, my students, and of course, my Snuggie.

Behold the Snuggie

P.S.- If any potential clients are reading this and you’re interested in a Snuggie-themed engagement shoot please contact us–we are definitely the photographers for you!

P.P.S.- After lecturing my students about copyright, I should probably mention that the first, second, and fourth pictures were taken by students and they retain all rights to them.

La Ville en Rose

(Today’s post is light on photography-talk; if you’d like to look at gorgeous brides you have some options. Hopefully, though, when you choose your wedding photographers, you’ll seek out folks who are multi-talented, like my gorgeous wife, to whom I’ll now hand the mic…or keyboard. -J.P.)

I enjoy pointing out how freeing it is to draw on the wall of one’s home. It’s the kind of art that lets you feel like a kid again. J.P. and I have built in the wall-drawing experience at our house by coating one of ours in that wonderful invention called chalkboard paint. My advice: Do use chalkboard paint; do not use magnetic primer, and do not neglect to sand your wall sufficiently. Ours is a little gritty in places, but despite a few scuffed up fingers, I still enjoy it.

Here’s a time-lapse video of my latest wall art created for submission to the Michaels Springtime in Paris contest. If you’re familiar with the expression “la vie en rose,” which is usually used to talk about seeing life through rose-colored glasses, you will notice that in my project title, “vie” has been changed to “ville.” In springtime, the city of Paris is adorned with pink cherry blossoms which only enhance its elegance and allure.

La ville en rose:

Finally, the finished product:

Chalk mural of Paris in the spring

7 Reasons to Love Halloween

I’m not going to say that Halloween is the best holiday–but here at Lumos Studio, Wendy and I are very, very fond of it. In light of this fact, here are 7 reasons that you should love it, too.

1) You learn new things about your friends

On Halloween, people often show a side of themselves that they otherwise wouldn’t. Maybe it’s their inner bloodthirsty cannibal, or maybe it’s that they still have Soundgarden t-shirts and flannels that they’ve been stashing since the 90’s. Whatever, man, it’s Halloween, let your freak flag fly.

This Halloween I learned that my wife looks fantastic in green…like, a lot of green.

My wife looks great in greenEat your heart out, Chris Pratt.

J.P. in his Star Lord costume

I also learned that if you wear a Star Lord costume, the most impressive part to men of a certain age will be that you have an actual, functioning Walkman.

Star Lord and Gamora

2) It’s crafty

Let’s start with the most obvious. At Halloween, it’s not only accepted, but expected that you’ll take a fruit, cut a hole in it, scoop out its guts (parts of which you may or may not toast and eat), then carve its flesh into the likeness of a person, place, or thing, then set a fire in it, and place it in front of your house.

We bucked tradition this year by running out of time for all that carving stuff, and instead Wendy drew a mural on our kitchen wall. (What, you didn’t do that?)

Halloween muralThe light switch symbolizes man’s dual nature, ever flipping between light and darkness…

3. Adorable kids

On Halloween super-cute kids just show up on your doorstep without any expectation that you’ll clothe them, teach them right from wrong, or pay for a college education. All they want is candy–a small price to pay for not having to change diapers.

Cute little princess

Tigger

Pumpkin

 

And speaking of candy…

4. There’s candy

I would have taken a picture of Halloween candy to include here but, um, I, uh, handed it all out. Yeah…the children ate it. That’s what I’m going with.

5. You get to be someone else for a night

Sometimes life can get a little humdrum. People have expectations of you and if you don’t live up to them, well, there are social ramifications. But on Halloween, you don’t have to be you, you can be someone else…

Tye-dyed freak
Super-Family isn’t afraid to mix DC and Marvel heroes!

Super family6. We get to mock our fears

Sometimes it seems like our whole culture runs on fear: fear that we’re getting older, fear that we’re not as successful as we ought to be, fear that other people have more friends than us, are better looking than us, are having more fun than us, fear that we’ll get toxins in our non-GMO cereal and that people whose political beliefs are different from our own are going to destroy the planet…
Sometimes we need to look at all that crap, own it, and just laugh.

Sweetest zombie hunter ever

Day of the dead loversDay of the dapper dead.

7) Fellowship with friends & neighbors

Finally, as we become more and more insulated as a culture, I’m glad there’s still a holiday where we’re encouraged to wander around our neighborhood and knock on our neighbors’ doors. For a lot of us, it’s the only time we’ll see most of our neighbors face to face all year. Also, Halloween is a great chance to hang out with friends and take photos of their kids.

You could have a multi-generational meetup, such as Padme and Princess Leia. (Do you see the family resemblance?)

Padme and Princess Leia

You might also run into Tim Tebow and a trucker…who has lost his hat…and his radio. Look, it’s a long road–let’s just be glad he’s awake.

Tim Tebow and a Trucker

You might encounter Marceline the Vampire Queen and…her masked friend.

Marceline the Vampire Queen and...friend

 

We would also be remiss if we didn’t thank this lovely fairy who helped make all these photos possible.

Butterfly

But as fantastic as Halloween is, please  celebrate responsibly, because when the Valkyrie and the intergalactic assassin throw down, you don’t want to miss it.

Gamora vs Brunhilde

Happy Halloween!

The World Languages Department 2014-2015 Season

The World Languages Department – SVH – Weekdays 8:40am-3:33pm

With the fall season upon us, audiences are sure to be thrilled by the return of SVH’s The World Languages Department.

Frequent viewers of The World Languages Department are bound to be excited by the kick-off of this season with the return of everyone’s favorite cast members. Of course, last season began with the cast travelling to a magical realm in the unforgettable episode “Madame Stephens’s Adventures in World Language Land” and ended with Mrs. Ham and Mr. Grantham preparing to head off for an action-packed trip to Europe while Mrs. Schwarzbauer took a brief hiatus from her performance to introduce a brand new character, Baby Kyle.

(Click here for an exclusive sneak peek at Baby Kyle!)

Math, science, history–they’d all be very hard to learn about without language, so for those readers who have yet to experience the joy that is The World Languages Department, here’s a brief introduction to the cast, pictured below (left to right):

Spring Valley's World Languages Department as the cast of The Big Bang Theory

Bernadette (played by Mrs. Schwarzbauer), the bright and bubbly biologist who harbors the ability to unleash a tide of fury belied by her diminutive size. She’s married to

Howard (Mrs. Ham), the engineer with a truly dazzling fashion sense and only member of the gang to have travelled to space.

Leonard (Mr. Grantham) Self-deprecating and neurotic, but unquestionably the core of the group, Leonard is willing to step out and engage with the world, as long as the world isn’t wielding lactose.

Penny (Mrs. Stephens) The wild card of the group, Penny may not be a genius, but she is beautiful, fun, and outgoing. While her acting career hasn’t yet taken off, she has found great friends among these misfits.

Sheldon (Mr. Ugro) Brilliant, impatient with the mental shortcomings of others, and from a far off land (Texas), Sheldon would like to be left in peace so that he can advance the world of science, provided someone will drive him to the office (and the train store).

Amy (Mrs. Hernandez) A neuroscientist who still struggles to understand the complexities of human interaction, Amy is a devoted friend who has a lab full of cocaine-addicted monkeys with nothing to lose.

Raj (Mrs. Nazario) Howard’s best friend, Raj has a sweet heart and a gift for party planning (as well as astronomy). Named one of People Magazine’s “30 Under 30 to Watch”, he’s sure to eventually sweep the right woman off her feet (provided he can bring himself to speak to her).

 Like all fans of The World Languages Department, I have my favorite. Personally, I love Mrs. Stephens–I mean, I’d marry her in a heartbeat! (Have you seen her in Breaking Bad? Amazing!) That said, every one of these characters brings something great to the table and this is, above all, a magnificent ensemble production. Check out this promotional still from the 2012-13 season.

The Cast of The World Languages Department from Vanity Fair

So tune in to SVH Monday through Friday at 8:40am for laughs and lots of language learning.

 

P.S. – If you’re a student who wants your senior photos to be anywhere near as cool as your Spanish, French, or Latin teacher’s latest picture, get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do.

Cuteness Abounds

Our neighbors Toxie and Robert have two dogs…correction: they had two dogs–Baby and Storm. Baby and Storm being a boy and a girl, though, things happened…cuddly things…adorable things…

Boxer puppy with boxing glove(Welcome to the worst advertisement ever for having your pets spayed or neutered.)

Let me begin by saying that Wendy and I are not pet photographers. We’re both pretty allergic to cats and dogs, but sometimes the cuddlyness is just freakin’ worth it. You suck it up, take a Claritin, and take some pictures. That’s what happened here.

Also, if you decide that you need one of the puppies to come and live with you, keep reading to the bottom, because three of these puppies are still unspoken-for.

Yawning boxer puppy(Yawning puppies…that’s what it’s come to.)

These are the boys of the litter. Yoda, JoJo, and Nitrate. (Note: names most likely don’t correspond to puppy order.)

Puppy butts(And puppy butts.)

Two boxer puppies in a bucket

These are the ladies, Frankie and Pink. (Wendy says Pink is the one with the smaller head. Please note the pink ribbon.)

Boxer puppy resting his head on a boxing glovePuppy: “Come on, man! A boxer puppy on a boxing glove–isn’t that a little cliché?”
Me: “Do you want to get adopted into a loving home with people who will rub your belly and feed you treats?”
Puppy:”Yeah…”
Me: “Then quit your yappin’ and look adorable.”

What are you looking at?“Do you think it will help if I make eye contact with the camera?”

A boxer puppy with a boxing glove“No, wait…this is my good side.”

(Okay, that’s actually three different puppies, but we’re going with the narrative, okay?)

 

A nice yawn

Puppy: “All this photography is tiring!”
Me: “Then go to sleep. There’s not much cuter than a sleeping puppy.”

Sleepy puppy

Me: “Okay, yeah, that’s pretty stinkin’ cute. Is there anything else you could do that’s super, insanely cute so people will just absolutely have to adopt you?”

The Tao of PuppiesPuppy: “How ’bout this?”

So yeah, if you’d like to take one of these little guys (or girls) home with you, send an email to… (Sorry, they’re all adopted!)

If you’re looking for a cat or a less pugilistic puppy, I strongly suggest paying a visit to Pets Inc, a rescue shelter  here in Columbia that has a great mission and a lot of wonderful animals who are looking for homes.  Finally, all joking aside, these puppies were planned and are loved and taken care of, but far too many pets aren’t. Bob Barker is right–spay or neuter your pets.

Babies and Bug-Vacuums

We have a new niece!

In May, our sister and brother-in-law Betsy and Loren welcomed a new little girl into their family. We’re delighted to introduce Lydia:

Columbia newborn photography

(She’s pleased to meet you.)

In case you’re new to this blog, Lydia is baby sister to Brooke

Little girl in a pink tutu(I swear we did not pose her. This is just what she does in front of a camera.)

Little girl in a pink tutu

…and Ethan.

Little boy missing teeth

IMG_8230

Brooke and Ethan are loving this adorable new addition to their family. Specifically, when Wendy asked Ethan what he enjoyed most about his new sister he replied, “I like it when she’s awake and isn’t crying.” (I imagine that’s a sentiment a lot of new parents can identify with, too.)

Mother and baby

As far as we can tell, so far Lydia’s favorite things are eating, her brother and sister (Teachers, feel free to use this sentence as an example of the importance of proper comma placement.), and the bass line to Chic’s 1979 hit “Good Times”.

You might also recognize that as the bass line from The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, but Wendy went with the closest approximation with which she was familiar: Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”. (On that alone I nominate her for coolest and, simultaneously, most kid-inappropriate aunt.)

Obviously, we had to get some photos of our precious new niece.

Baby with tongue out

Baby

Betsy and Lydia

Wendy also just finished painting a series of canvases for Lydia’s room to, I guess, remind her parents which kid lives in there. Wendy constantly amazes me; despite not having painted in years, she picked up her acrylics and brought these little faeries to life. (I’m a big fan of the one with the ‘A’.)

Canvas baby name

While we were visiting, we also gave Brooke and Ethan one of the coolest toys I’ve seen: hand-held bug-vacuums. (Don’t worry, folks, no bugs were harmed in the making of this blog post (well, maybe a couple of mosquitoes), and all the fireflies were released.) Basically, they’re clear plastic tubes with a gentle vacuum attached that pulls bugs in and then lets you observe them up close through a magnifying glass. The kids loved them. They also caught a lot of fireflies.

      Little boy

IMG_8542

Loren and Brooke

Yes, Wendy actually captured an illuminated firefly sitting on Brooke’s fingers. Also, Brooke poses like a champ.

Little girl with lightning bug

Keep and eye out for more photos of Lydia (and Brooke and Ethan, of course), as we predict years of escalating cuteness!