Category Archives: Opinon

America’s Best Wedding Photographers – The Unofficial Guide

It’s no secret that I spent more time and energy searching for a wedding photographer than many people spend searching for a bride. I easily screened 100 portfolios before I narrowed the field to a handfull of ¬†favorites.

Why so much trouble? Of all the things you buy for your wedding, the photos are the only thing that lasts. So I was a little (ok, a lot) picky about choosing a great photographer.

Since the Great American Wedding Photographer Hunt, I’ve had a few friends ask for ¬†recommendations. So, I figured I’d share some of my favorites.

First – a disclaimer. My criteria was: an eye for photojournalism, a range of talent (from macro details to sweeping wide angle views, from black and white, to vivid color) and a willingness to travel to Baltimore. Because of that last requirement, most of these photographers are based in the North East, although I did stumble across a few other great photographers from further West.

Without further adieu, here are my favorites:

Susan Stripling, New York

I can’t possibly recommend Susan enough. Her images are stunning, her colors are vibrant, and she was a joy to spend our wedding day with. (Don’t underestimate the importance of this last point. You spend a LOT of your day with your photographer, so make sure your personalities are a good match). If you’d like a reference for Susan, I’d be happy to answer any questions.

(in no particular order)

Punam Bean, New York

Cliff Mautner, Philadelphia

Shane Carpenter, Baltimore

Kevin Hulett, Utah

Kevin shot my friend Helen’s wedding in Paris. He did a great job, and he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet.

Pen / Carlson, Chicago

LemonLime Photography, Kansas City

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Best Buy: User Experience Fail.

Today, while searching on the Internet, I found a magic iPhone transmitter thingy that claims that it will play my iPhone music on the car stereo, using tiny invisible radio waves.

This is a device that I need.

I searched some more and discovered the lowest price for the magic transmitter on Best Buy was offering the device on sale for $59.99.

This was $2.39 cheaper than

“Perfect,” I thought. “After work, I’ll make a special trip to my local Best Buy store to buy the magic iPhone transmitter.”

And so, I did.

I was in luck. My local Best Buy store had the $59.99 magic iPhone transmitter in stock. Only, there was something different about this transmitter. Namely, the price tag:

$99.99, plus tax.

“That’s odd.” I thought.

So I pulled out my trusty iPhone, activated the web browser and, again, located the device on the Best Buy website. Sure enough, $59.99.

“Maybe it’s a mistake?” I removed the transmitter from the rack, and brought it across the store to the Customer Service Desk.

“May I help you?” said the Customer Service Desk Lady.


And then, I asked one of the stranger questions I’ve ever had to ask in a store.

“On the website, this transmitter is $40 cheaper. Would Best Buy be willing to match Best Buy’s price on this magic iPhone transmitter device?”

It seems that, with Circuit City out of the picture, Best Buy is now engaging in a heated price war with itself.

The Customer Service Desk Lady took the transmitter device, typed the name into to verify the sale, and pulled up the listing.


Then, she turned to me and frowned.

“I’m sorry.” She said. “This is an Online Only Sale.” She pointed to the screen, where, sure enough, there in the corner, it said “On Sale” and then, below it, “On Sale – Online Only.”

“So let me get this straight.” I said. “Best Buy is selling this product for $59.99.”


“I want to buy this product from Best Buy right now. In person. Cash.”


“But Best Buy is not willing to match prices…with Best Buy.”

“I’m sorry. It’s Online Only.”

And so, for the hassle of driving to Best Buy, paying $1.00 to park on the street, searching the aisles for the device, and standing in line at customer service only to leave the store empty-handed, I went home and immediately bought the magic iPhone transmitter device from for $62.38 with Free Super Saver Shipping and no tax.

You’re welcome, But don’t thank me. Thank Best Buy.

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The clothes make the brand.

photo courtesy of

Sarah Palin’s brand is in trouble.

The news of her $150,000 wardrobe shopping spree is a marketer’s worst

The trouble is, Sarah Palin has built her entire campaign around her
persona. Her brand IS her approach to the issues. Ask how she is going
to address the problems of our nation and Palin will tell you that
she’s going to be a Washington outsider and she’s going to stand up
for Wasilla Main Street.

And so far, that’s been a successful positioning. Since she was
introduced in August, Palin’s brand has been selling remarkably well.
Through consistent messaging and repetition, tone and manner, catch
phrases and taglines, we can all rattle off the attributes of Palin’s
product. She’s Joe Six-pack. The little guy. The hockey mom. The hard
working everyman.

That’s where the trouble with the wardrobe comes in.

As any marketer will tell you, the packaging can be as much a part of
the brand as the product itself. So this $150,000 wardrobe is a crisis
for Sarah Palin, because it contradicts her positioning and
undermines her brand’s credibility.

You can’t stand in front of a crowd of factory workers while cloaked
in fabrics that cost more than college tuition and say, “I’m one of

You can’t be Joe Six-pack, struggling to pay the bills and make ends
meet when your outfit costs more than a year’s worth of healthcare

You can’t browbeat the Democrats for “reckless spending” during times
of economic crisis when your wardrobe costs as much as the average
small town American house.

It’s like addressing a PETA rally wearing a mink coat and alligator
wing tips. Seventy five thousand dollars at Neiman Marcus spits square
in the eye of Main Street.

You can’t say you’re blue collar in a Valentino jacket.

With this wardrobe issue, Palin has created a degree of cognitive
dissonance that few brands are able to overcome. The information has
to give even Joe the Plumber pause. Barack Obama was supposed to be
the elitist. Sarah Palin was supposed to be the one who “got us.”

As with any case of cognitive dissonance, Some Palin supporters will
dismiss the information as unimportant or trivial, or try to
rationalize it as being sexist that her appearance is even under

But for the Palin brand, the bigger problem is with those who have no
stake in her campaign. The critical undecideds whose self concepts are
unaffected by the cognitive dissonance that Pain has created.

Chances are, they’ll react the way people tend to do when a brand
loses its credibility.

They’ll simply stop buying it.

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