Amazing Hispanic Wedding and Quinceañera Videography – Why Knowing The Traditions Matters

Insights from a 35 Year Veteran Los Angeles Videographer

Video para quinceañeras y bodas hispanas y bautizos en Los Ángeles – videógrafo profesional bilingüe

videographer Marc Gold with camera

Quinceañera videographer, Marc Gold

The more your event videographer knows about culturally unique traditions and how they’re orchestrated, the better his or her chances of successfully recording them. This informative article defines some of the most popular Hispanic wedding and quinceañera traditions that videographers encounter with some observations on how to finesse those shots. (If you enjoy this article, please SUBSCRIBE to our future posts).

Familiarity: What does the video pro have that permits him to finesse complex shots like the lazo and the arras? (explained below in detail). In two wordsExperience and technique. He or she has recorded them before and knows how they’re staged. He recognizes them by their Spanish names like familiar friends, intuitively fine-tuning his shot while the event is in progress, his hands adeptly managing the focus and iris, the pan, the tilt and the zoom nearly simultaneously while remaining in perfect sync with the action, never jeopardizing the shot by lagging behind.

The video pro mentality: The pro has developed habits that help him succeed. It’s unlikely he’ll ever be in the wrong place at the wrong time because he’s memorized (or carries a copy of) the itinerary. He’s learned to be vigilant, focused, and very aware of what’s going on around him. He’s built a rapport with the MC and wedding coordinator at the beginning of the event. He’s placed his audio pickups well ahead of time. His intimate familiarity with Hispanic wedding and quinceañera traditions help him avoid typical amateur video catastrophies and ever having to disappoint his clients. He’s prepared. He has a back-up camera, light, mics, memory and plenty of batteries, perhaps some special tools like a slider, monopod, steadicam or a jib, and a fluid head tripod instead of a clunky mechanical one is indispensable.

At the end of the article please enjoy some great highlights in a short quinceañera demo. OK, let’s get into it.

In Latin American cultures, quinceañeras (the celebration marking a 15 year old Hispanic girl’s transition from childhood to young adulthood), and weddings are two events that are filled with symbolism and time-honored traditions.

Placing the Lazo

Placing the Lazo

The lazo (cord): Placing the lazo, or cord, is a tradition that takes place during the Hispanic wedding ceremony. Two of the guests will come up to the bride and groom with a figure eight-shaped cord or a rosary in hand, a symbol of unity, to place over the couple’s heads. (Two other guests may precede them to drape a decorative cloth over the couple’s shoulders). The challenge for the solo videographer is in staying in perfect sync with the action from the moment the guests stand up to the time they return to their seat. The amateur may struggle with this sequence of events, handicapped by the slow, shot-crippling process of first having to take notice of what’s going on, then deciding what to do with the camera and eventually, reacting. By that time he’s fallen behind the shot. That’s when you begin to see out-of-control zooms, abrupt camera movements and sudden focusing adjustments throughout the segment, the result of a series of knee-jerk reactions while trying to keep up with an unfamiliar event. (It’s nice to have more than one camera taping from different positions to avoid having only one shot to use during ceremonies).

hispanic wedding ceremony

The Arras

The arrasAnother tradition in Latin wedding ceremonies is the “arras”, the thirteen gold coins representing the Christ and his 12 apostles, given to the bride by the groom as a symbol of trust, security and stability in the relationship. As with the lazo there’s a specific sequence of actions that the videographer should be aware of. A prayer is made by the priest over the coins and words may be spoken by the bride and groom as the coins are passed from the priest to the groom, from the groom to the bride, then back to the groom and the priest. Knowing this sequence, appropriate decisions for covering the shot can be made. If there are two cameras present, one close up on the hands exchanging coins and the other on the three-shot is effective.

The gifts: Objects of special interest to the videographer during the quinceañera ceremony include the traditional ceremony gifts: “The Tiara” symbolizing a princess’ passage from childhood into the challenges of life; the Bible and rosary which will become the quince’s family heirlooms, the scepter and the cross. Gifts are often sponsored (purchased) and given to the quinceañera by close family members or friends. The sponsors are known as padrinos and madrinas. The gifts are treasured objects that should be documented in the video. Any omissions can result in an unhappy client.

The processional: It’s worth noting that a quinceañera processional can have a lot more participants walking down the aisle than the videographer may be accustomed to. Traditionally the quinceañera may select as many as 14 girls and 14 young men (chambelanes) as part of her “corte de honor” (court of honor), as well as a close friend to be her personal escort, each couple representing another year in the quinceañera’s life. (Fewer than 14 couples is also very common). The corte de honor as well as the padrinos and madrinas  may all be included in the processional at the start of the church ceremony, as well as their introduction into the reception hall. The challenge to the videographer is to be in a position where he cannot be blocked by reception guests standing up at their tables.

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Hip Hop Group Dance

The waltz: The quinceañera will have spent weeks, if not months, rehearsing the waltz that she and her court will perform at the reception. The event is often professionally choreographed and is considered one of the most important focal points of the reception. Videotaping a waltz involving as many as 15 couples is a challenge as there are many decisions that the videographer will have to make ahead of time regarding positioning and following the action. (This is another place where more than one camera would be helpful). Variations on the waltz theme may include other types of dance ranging from swing to hip-hop, literally anything the quinceañera decides to do.

The father-daughter dance: Another highlight of the reception is the father-daughter dance which may occur as the first dance of the party, although that’s not a given. The dance is another symbol of the quinceañera’s transition to young adulthood by sharing the dance with the first man in her life.  It’s a very emotional part of the celebration that can reveal a lot about the relationship the quinceañera shares with her father. Some well framed close-ups would work well here. It’s in the eyes.

quinceanera reception

Father-Daughter Dance

The toasts: Toasting (“brindis“) is another centerpiece activity at receptions and is a time where the parents extol their daughter’s merits and accomplishments. The videographer should be alert to this event and well-positioned ahead of time, (by listening to the DJ’s announcements of upcoming events), having made advanced preparations for proper audio acquisition either by direct feed from the DJ or band’s sound system or by ‘dirty miking’ one of the speakers in the room (placing a wireless hand-held mic on a mic stand in front of one of the DJ’s speakers). Relying on ambient audio through the air is risky. People may not speak in a voice loud enough for the camera mic to pick up clearly, a very irritating problem for viewers of the finished video.

quinceanera reception

Changing Shoes

The shoes and candles: One tradition that I’ve not seen at any other type of event is the changing of the shoes in which one or both of the parents replaces the quince’s shoes with her first pair of high heels, again, symbolizing passage into adulthood. There may also be an elaborate candle lighting ceremony resembling those sometimes seen at bar and bat mitzvahs in the Jewish tradition in which friends and relatives may be called upon to light a candle in their honor. Appropriate strategies by the videographer for good, but unobtrusive positioning and clear audio should be in place as dedications to each honoree may be read aloud.  An experienced videographer has forseen and planned for this before guests come into the room.

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The Quince at Mary’s Altar

Mary’s Altar: The quince’s prayer at Mary’s altar is one of the most sensitive moments of the mass, and one of the most challenging to record depending on the location of the altar relative to the camera position. There’s danger that the congregation may stand up and suddenly block this shot, or the altar may be around a corner out of sight of the camera. The videographer should anticipate what complications could arise and be prepared to quickly dismount the camera and move to a better location (if the church permits). A second camera comes in handy in this situation also.

The first (or last) doll: This is another symbolic ceremony in which the parents present the quince with the first doll she was given as a young child, a symbol of her past. In some traditions it may be the last doll given to her. There’s a popular song often used for this ceremony called “La última muñeca” (the last doll) that talks about her ‘last toy’. In either case, it’s a special father-daughter moment symbolic of her transition into adulthood. The exact orchestration of this tradition can vary from the doll simply sitting on a table, to promenading around the dance floor with the doll in hand. In the video below the quinceañera proudly displays her doll to her guests by walking around the dance floor with it.

Know the program: While many event co-ordinators are worth their weight in gold, I’ve found in my own recording of special events, the videographer should rely on his own sense of what’s going on around him. He should have a printed copy of the itinerary in his pocket to refer to, and should be alert to the DJ’s announcements of pending events for his cues to what’s coming up next in the program.

quinceanera reception

The First Doll

Expect the unexpected: During the course of the reception there will often be a meal, the cutting of an elaborate cake, perhaps a dessert or candy bar and lots of dancing to the DJ or band’s music, not much different than many other types of receptions. For the duration of the event, good videographic technique, lighting, audio and positioning still apply. The videographer must ramain alert, ready in advance for every event on the program, and always prepared for the unexpected. (Few events ever go exactly as planned).

Con mucho gusto le atendemos en español – video para quinceañeras y bodas hispanas en Los Ángeles – videógrafo profesional.

Enjoy these brief quinceañera video highlights from one of my recent events.

Video production services for Hispanic weddings, anniversaries, quinceañeras, bautizos (baptisms) and memorials by veteran Los Angeles  & Orange County bilingual videographer, Marc Gold, of 24KT Sound & Video, San Pedro, CA. More videos in our video gallery. Be our guest!

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So You Think Live Performance Videography is Easy? Recording Theater and Dance in Los Angeles

live performance videographer

Live performance videographer, Marc Gold

When it comes to recording live performances in L.A. whether it’s theater, ballet, concerts or recitals, the same considerations apply as with any other genre of videography:  Focusing, following, framing and exposing. What’s different in this type of work, and more challenging, are the ever-changing recording conditions on stage that require a very high level of proficiency behind the camera.

The risk factor: Few things are technically more challenging than trying to maintain a close-up of a performer moving across a stage. Close-ups of moving subjects run the risk of falling off target and creating a distraction in the finished product. The more zoomed-in and the faster the movement of the subject, the greater the risk of miscalculating the shot, particularly if the subject takes a sudden jog to the right or left, or suddenly stops as frequently happens on stage. Whether or not this type of shot comes off correctly depends on the skill and the equipment of the videographer. Much less risky (but not nearly as much fun) is to compose a wider shot, or to use a second camera locked down with a medium-to-wide safety shot as a backup so that a poorly executed close-up isn’t the only shot available. Finally, another way to reduce the risks associated with close-up videography is to attend a full dress rehearsal to become more familiar with the show. This may give the videographer a head’s up as to what’s in store, but it doesn’t help much with lack of experience and poor technique.

Pushing the limits: In my own opinion, as a videographer who records live performances throughout the Los Angeles and Orange County area each year, there’s little satisfaction in playing it safe using nothing but wide shots for an entire show (unless directed to do so). The joy of recording live shows is in finessing the more difficult shots, pushing the limits of one’s talent for the greater production value of the recording. Why risk it? Because good close-up technique (in conjunction with medium and wide shots) makes for a better viewing experience, more like being at the live performance itself. What it comes down to is this: Recording live performances requires a high level of technical skill, sharp powers of observation, an eagle’s eye for detail, a steady hand and a lot of experience with this specific type of videography in order to produce exceptional results in an environment that’s constantly changing. (See the short demo clip below).

An interesting aside: If you ever have the chance to closely observe a skilled videographer in action, it’s an amazingly well-orchestrated performance in and of itself…one finger on the iris, another on the focus ring, one eye on the monitor, the other eye on the stage, earphones monitoring audio, one hand on the tripod and the zoom control.

A 6th sense: To consistently pull-off a well-followed close-up, the videographer has to be able to sense where the performer is headed ahead of time in order to remain perfectly in sync for the duration of the shot. The trick is to sense it slightly ahead of the action instead of reacting to it. In the latter case the performer is more likely to fall out of frame.  This type of work is challenging for novices and experts alike; it takes a very intense level of concentration as well as seamless hand-to-eye coordination. It’s definitely not a situation where the videographer can afford a lapse in focus during the show. Performance videography, much like wedding videography, has no forgiveness for lapses. There are no re-do’s. (I have to admit as a dancer-turned-videographer, I  have an advantage in anticipating a performer’s movement on stage, having been there myself, so, following the action close up feels very natural).

Clunky equipment: You just can’t expect a clunky tripod to afford the videographer the kind of smooth camera control I’m referring to.  Finessing close-ups is dependent upon the fluidity of the tripod head and its ability to smoothly overcome the inertia of beginning to pan to the right or left without a noticeable ‘bump’ at the start of the pan. Because the camera may be in constant motion during a show, a videographer using the wrong kind of tripod is going to be fighting that tripod for the whole performance and the recording will show it.

The right lens: Because camera location can wind up at the far back of the theater, I use a 2X extender lens to get the kind of close-ups I’ve been mentioning. Mine is made by Century Optics, a very heavy piece of glass that fits over the fixed camera lens of my Sony PMW EX-1R, but high in quality, with no image distortion. The only caveat is that once it’s on the camera, it’s only good for close-ups. Zooming back even 20% causes a vignette which can’t be used in the finished product. In other words, you pretty much have to stay on close-ups for the whole show, or try to find a time to remove the extender lens. I record performances with 3 cameras, a wide, locked-down safety shot, a medium shot and the close up with the extender lens, so no change in lenses is necessary.

A suggestion: If you’re planning to have a live performance recorded professionally, particularly if you’re intending to sell copies of the show (which should have a professional look to them), plan ahead to hire a videographer skilled in this demanding genre of videography. You’ll be amply rewarded with outstanding results.

(I’ve just finished recording and editing a run of productions: “Shrek The Musical”, “Oliver” and “Hairspray” for Encore Entertainers, an outstanding theater production company out of Redondo Beach, California, and the ballet  “Coppelia” for Peninsula School of Performing Arts (www.pspadance.com; (31)0 375-1398) at the Norris Theater in Palos Verdes).  Here’s a short highlight from “Coppelia”.

More videos can be seen in our video gallery. Enjoy!




Los Angeles Videographer Pays Back Favors In Big Way

videographer Marc Gold with camera

Marc Gold, 24KT Sound & Video

Sometimes saying thanks is just not enough.

As a small business owner, when someone goes the extra mile to help me with my video production company, as in giving me a high value referral that results in a booking, I see it as a golden opportunity to reciprocate and strengthen a relationship. In my case, as a professional videographer who values referrals, I’m in the perfect position to make them a video that they can use for their own marketing. The only criterion is working the same event together so I have a chance to record what they’re doing. With the popularity of videos on websites and in the social media, and the exposure they can create, a marketing video is something that can be used to generate income. It may be as simple as shooting and editing a little extra footage of their work on display at the event that they referred me to. Here are a few of the thank you videos I’ve made for people who have helped me.

Shooting a little extra footage of Redondo Beach caterers, Critics Choice, while setting up for a gala 75th birthday reception at the Norris Pavilion in Palos Verdes is is what I’m talking about.

In addition to appearing in this blog, it’s also seen in the wedding and special events video gallery on my website, on youtube.com, and vimeo.com, where it’s fully optimized for maximum exposure and happily ‘going social’.

My DJ friend, John “Jazzy” Jackson has sent me many video clients over the years. Here’s a great demo of  DJ Jazzy performing at Noah’s extraordinary bar mitzvah reception in Orange County, happily given to Jazzy for all his help and steadfast friendship.

Ron and Anouka of West Coast Catering in Torrance, CA. have sent me several beautiful weddings at both their Torrance Woman’s Club facility as well as their San Pedro Harbor Lodge. I made this “thank you” video for them which they use very successfully as a corporate marketing video. That beautiful wedding gazebo, by the way, is by my friend Demetra Cunningham of SBD Events.

My dear friend, Addie, at the Cheesecake Factory in Redondo Beach recently sent us this event, a celebration of life for a local family who lost a loved one, although this highlight doesn’t focus on that aspect of the event, but rather on the services of the CK Factory.

 

With our Southern California studio in the city of San Pedro, our video productions bring us frequently to the surrounding South Bay Cities for corporate and special event videography:

Carson, CA corporate video for The Letterhead Factory

Torrance, CA instructional video for the Phenomenex Corporation and a corporate identity video for Southbay LeTip networking association

Redondo Beach, CA theater production video for Encore Entertainers, “Shrek the Musical”, “Oliver”, and “Hairspray”

Palos Verdes, CA Wayfarers Chapel wedding and baptism videography

Palos Verdes, CA dance production video for Peninsula School of Performing Arts, ballet and dance recitals

Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, CA Chamber of Commerce corporate event, Spring Mixer

Marina del Rey, CA for Lisa’s 40th birthday bash on board the Fantasea II yacht

 

Watch these videos and more in our corporate video gallery and our wedding and special event video gallery

 

 

 

 




Mom Gets Ill at Wedding – Day Saved by Alert Wedding Videographer

videographer Marc Gold with camera

Marc Gold, 24KT Sound & Video

Veteran Los Angeles Wedding Videographer Recounts Wedding Day Nightmares.

Months before her wedding, when bride, Lisa, decided that she didn’t want an established, professional videographer to record the event, her mother, Alexandra, had a feeling that she was making a mistake and begged her daughter to hire one. Cut to the wedding day…At the wedding reception, mom, sick with a cold and three days into her antibiotics and cough medicine, disappeared without telling anyone and missed the bouquet and garter tosses as well as the cake cutting.  She was understandably distraught over having missed so much of her daughter’s reception, that is, right up until the minute she was able to watch everything on the wedding video made by the professional videographer her daughter thought she didn’t need. Fortunately for mom, her daughter had taken her advice before the wedding.

The subject of wedding videography came up during my physical therapy session this week and my therapist told me that at her own wedding a cousin with little or no videography experience volunteered to record the event for her. At the precise moment the bride’s two cute little nieces were walking down the aisle, the amateur videographer was mesmerized by the guitar player’s fingers strumming the guitar, and that was the shot he recorded. I think you can guess the rest of the story. Too bad. He lost one of the most video-worthy moments of the day!

Close up of bride and groom on wedding day

Jaime and Darrin. Image from video.

I think the saddest story I’ve heard in 35 years as a full time wedding videographer is from another bride and groom who decided not to have anyone record their wedding. (A money issue, most likely). A short time after the wedding the bride’s brother was killed in an car accident. There was no video of him at the wedding for the bride to remember him by. Her loss (and regrets) were profound. Too late. There are no re-do’s, and unless you’re able to see into the future, you just won’t know what’s going to happen. A wise decision needs to be made from the start. The hard, cold fact is that you can’t go back in time to do it again once the wedding is over.

Amateur mistake causes irreplaceable memorial footage to be lost: A friend of mine told me that he had recently attended the memorial service of a close relative which was video taped as a favor by another family member who had come from out of town for the service. The amateur videographer diligently recorded all the testimonials and the prayers, as well as the guests reunited to witness the final farewell. The video, intended to be a lifelong rememberance, was accidently left in the relative’s rental car along with the camera and never recovered. End of story…and of the video.

To avoid being added to my list of wedding nightmares, here are a couple of insightful suggestions from my website article, “Finding The Right Videographer…Busting The Myths:”

Annette and Patrick. Image from video.

Annette and Patrick. Image from video.

“What you deny yourself today you won’t have when you want it tomorrow.” The people who don’t have a video made of a once-in-a-lifetime event, are the same ones who most regret not having the foresight to make one. You only have one opportunity to record your wedding day. Don’t be “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish”. Remember: “No Re-Do’s”

A Thought to Ponder: Get out of the moment and think ahead. There are few things more enjoyable than to look back 10 or 20 years to see how everyone looked back then. Remember, your video is not only for you and it’s not only for now. Consider it your magical connection to the past…forever.”

Need Assistance? Access our contact form or call (310) 547-4702 for more information, or watch a video right now in our Wedding Video Gallery.

Check out this short wedding ceremony highlight to see a sample of our work:

 

 

 




Amateur Wedding Videographer Misses Shot, Ruins Wedding

videographer Marc Gold with camera Wayfarers Chapel

Marc Gold, 24KT Sound & Video

Selecting A Wedding Videographer – The Power of Experience

It seems to have become more and more an economic necessity for some brides and grooms to recruit a friend or family member to record their wedding ceremony and reception.

There’s an old British expression that says: “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish”. It’s used to describe situations like the one above, involving people who are very careful about unimportant matters and careless about important ones. (referring originally to British currency, pence and pounds). That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try to cut costs and save money. Just be smart about it and think of the future consequences, which, when it comes to wedding videography, can mean the difference between enjoying the results for a lifetime…or not.

A Personal Story: Restricted by a very small budget when I got married, I had a friend record my own wedding (before I was in the business) and there were no shots of the cake cutting or garter toss. I did the same thing with the photographer, also to save some money, and there were no photos of my sister.

Couple about to kiss at Wayfarers Chapel wedding

Image from video

Sad but True Story: An amateur wedding videographer (the bride’s cousin) who was so transfixed by the guitar players fingers strumming his guitar that he missed the shot of the bride’s two nieces (the flower girls) walking down the aisle, making for a very disappointed bride.

Bride kissing groom during their wedding, scene from video

Image from video

The Gift That Doesn’t Keep on Giving: Unless they’re a wedding video professional, accept a friend or relative’s well-meaning ‘gift’ of a video with caution knowing that it will likely have flaws and omissions that a professional video won’t have. A pro has a keen sense of his (or her) surroundings and what’s coming next purely from the experience of having recorded countless events before yours. He or she is disciplined to look everywhere, see everything, and has the crucial skill and foresight to be in the right place at the right time. He can anticipate and address issues before they become problems that attract guests’ attention.

Advice from a Veteran Los Angeles Wedding Videographer: While applying the ‘shop for the lowest price’ strategy may be fine for buying a car, it can be a path to disappointment when looking for a videographer. A car is a product, videography is a service provided by an individual with a background that presumably will serve you well. Not all videographers are alike. They vary in experience, technique, people skills, attitude, style and customer service (in the event there’s ever an issue). Then again, even the same model car at different dealerships may offer different features, some of which may make that particular car more to your liking in the long run. (Read the entire article“How to Find a Good Videographer)

joyful bride and groom at their wedding reception

Image from video

Approach extremely low prices with a lot of caution.There’s a reason (that you may not be aware of) that a videographer isn’t charging what others are.

Keep in mind that a good image with bad sound doesn’t make for a very enjoyable video. This is another instance where experience really matters.

Recommendation: Shop value, not price. Price is what something costs. Value is how much it’s worth to you. Something of value, like a good video, will increase in value over time not only because of the importance of the occasion, but because your video allows you to recollect the loved-ones who were there to celebrate with you who may not be with you forever. 

Please feel welcome to contact me directly for more information: marc@24ktsound.com or contact form. Watch a video right now in our wedding & special events video gallery.

Click to watch a cute video about hiring a wedding videographer.

 




Los Angeles Wedding Videographer Re-discovers Long Lost Clients – Hits the Lottery!

scene from Shrek The Musical with Shrek and Donkey

Shrek & Donkey from “Shrek the Musical

We All Suddenly Realized That I Was Their Wedding Videographer 15 Years Ago!  Of the many different kinds of events that I enjoy recording, live theater, dance and ballet are high on my list simply for the technical challenge they present. Fortunately, there are a lot of opportunities in Los Angeles for a videographer like myself to record those kinds of productions that pop up in local theatres in L.A. and the South Bay throughout the year. My unexpected re-acquaintance with former wedding clients, Summer Cacciagioni, artistic director of Encore Entertainers in Redondo Beach, CA, and her husband, Marcello, resulted in a summer-full of marvelous experiences recording six of their shows at the Warner Grand in San Pedro and Redondo Union High School auditorium. An enjoyable excerpt from “Shrek The Musical” follows below:

Three Fionas from Shrek The Musical

The three Fiona’s from “Shrek The Musical”

I can say for a fact that reconnecting with Summer and Marcello definitely qualifies as a genuine OMG moment. When I responded to their search for a local videographer to record their upcoming shows in Redondo Beach, San Pedro and Palos Verdes, and met with them at their office in Torrance to discuss the job, it wasn’t long before we all realized that I was their wedding videographer 15 years ago!

The dragon scene from Shrek the Musical

The dragon from “Shrek The Musical”

They agreed to have me record performances of “Shrek The Musical”, “Oliver,” and “Hairspray”, most of which were three camera productions. I brought in colleagues Lon Andre from West Los Angeles, and Chris Babbit from Laguna Niguel to help with the camera work. The finished productions were fabulous and turned around in record time much to Summer’s satisfaction after having been made to wait up to 18 months by their former video production company. Happy client + happy videographer = more shows coming in January and February. Check out more video demos on my website at www.24ktsound.com in the wedding and special event video gallery or the corporate video gallery.




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24KT is based in San Pedro, CA, where we’ve provided expert video production services since 1979. We produce commercial videos for businesses and websites and document weddings and special events and can assisit you in English or Spanish by calling (310) 547 - 4702 or by email. We gladly collaborate with out-of-town production companies and agencies.

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