Jeannette Kaplun of Todobebe taken with Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9
Ever wondered what it would like to live like a rock star for a day? I had the chance to experience a little of the star-treatment just before the BlogHer Conference this year, courtesy of Sony Electronics. I was one of about fifteen lucky bloggers invited to attend a special event hosted by vlogger Kimberly Clayton-Blaine of The Go-To Mom fame. When she invited me, I had not idea what to expect, and was surprised to find what they had in store for us.
When I was first invited, all that I knew was that we would be given a Sony Cybershot camera to test out and we would have our pictures taken by world-renowned celebrity photographer Brian Smith. What I didn't know was that we would be wined, dined, pampered, primped and photographed like we were rock stars. They had me at "camera".
I arrived at the San Diego Airport and was greeted by a rep from Sony who escorted me to a car to take me to the Hard Rock Hotel. Arriving at the Hard Rock, I was greeted by another Sony representative, who helped me get checked in. Even though it was early in the morning, my room was ready and I was able to unpack and get settled in prior to the evenings festivities. All I needed was an entourage to carry my purse and drive me around in a Hummer, and I would have fit right in there.
I met up with my fellow rock star mombloggers in the lobby for dinner, and found that some were longtime friends like Beth Blecherman of Techmama and Sheila Dowd of Xiaolinmama and some I had met before like Michele of Scraps of My Geek Life and Heidi of Coast to Coast Mom. I got to meet a few bloggers that I hadn't met before and had only known through Twitter. It was a lively, fun group. We all boarded a bus that was more like a luxury limo inside, with plush leather seats and a bar set-up.
The limo-bus whisked us off to Anthology restaurant, where we were served wine, appetizers, and some kind of pink watermelon mojito that was quite tasty. The restaurant features live music nightly. When we were seated for dinner, we each received a gift bag with a camera and some accessories inside, and some basic instruction from Kate from Sony. Then we were free to snap away.
One of the features the camera boasts is a "Soft Skin" mode that slightly blurs faces to create a Barbara Walters soft-focus effect. Here, I tested it out on Rebecca of Beccarama and Blogging Angels, and Sheila of Xiaolinmama and Clever Girls Collective. I probably could have dialed it down a notch or two, since neither of these ladies is old enough to need a soft focus and have lovely, wrinkle-free faces anyway. If your mom is a little camera-shy, this might be just the thing to get her back in front of the camera, without any unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
Rebecca of Beccarama & Brian Smith
The following day, Sony treated us to more fine food and a very special treat: a session on photography with Brian Smith. Brian is famous for his celebrity portraits, and has a book being released soon called Art and Soul. In his book, Brian features portraits of celebrities young and old, with handwritten notes about what art means to them. A portion of the book's proceeds will go towards advocacy for the arts and art education through the Creative Coalition.
Brian showed us some of his work, and gave us some pointers on taking better photos, regardless of the type of camera you use. He talked about point of view, and how getting down low to the ground can dramatically change the look and feel of the photo. He said that your best tool in photography are your feet, so use them to walk around, get closer, and see how the light hits the subject from different vantage points. He then led us on a walk around the San Diego Marina, pointing out interesting architectural features and showing us how to better frame photos. The Sony reps guided us through some of the special features of the camera, including a panorama setting and video recording.
The lovely Heather of Rookie Moms
After our walk, we went back to the penthouse suite at the Hard Rock Hotel for lunch. When we arrived, there were teams of hair and make-up artists on hand to do our make up and hair for a photo session with Brian. I'm not normally the "glam" type, so when the make-up artist asked me what I wanted done, I said, "Knock yourself out. Whatever you want."
One of the other moms told me that she watched as the make-up artist, Ashley, proceeded to erase my facial features and then draw them back in, only more colorful and bolder. I misplaced my camera at this point, so I don't think I got a photo of me "after". I'll have to wait for Brian's professional photo and share it with you. It was a pretty amazing day over all, and the folks at Sony outdid themselves in giving us the superstar treatment. Thanks, Sony!
I've had the camera for a few weeks now, and have carried it in my purse everywhere. I particularly like the "Gourmet" setting, which allows you to take photos of food in low-light with brilliant effect. I don't always write about food, but I like to have pictures in case I want to do a review of a restaurant. My phone camera does not always give the quality I'd like, especially in low-light. The DSLR is way to bulky to haul into every restaurant we go to, so this is the perfect solution for me. The photo of Duke's Hula Pie in Maui above was taken with little more than candlelight and no flash. The photo of Duke's Hula Pie in Maui above was taken with little more than candlelight and no flash.
Our family has gone through more cameras that I can remember, from low-end pocket cameras that my son loses on a fairly regular basis to some sophisticated DSLRs with multiple lenses. As a travel blogger, I try to capture as much as I can about a place, from food to plants to landscapes to people we encounter. Sometimes, the DSLR and the attendant gear are just too much to lug around. I would like something I can just carry in my purse that is suitable for any occasion. Thanks to Sony, I think I've found it.
Oh, and as for being a rock star, it's a nice life for a day, but I think I'll go back to just being a mom with a camera and my kid's personal paparazzi.
Disclosure: I received a Sony Cybershot camera, hotel accommodations, meals, spa and beauty services, and was photographed compliments of Sony. This post reflects my honest opinion of the event and the camera. I did not receive any additional monetary compensation to write this review. The contents of this post do not reflect the opinions of the Sony Corporation or any of its affiliated companies.
Photos: All photos were taken by me using the Sony Cybershot DSC-WX9