Creative Spotlight: Menna Riley of Parlour Room Events

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"The uniquely inspired ideas we come up for each client are a direct result of all our experience combined with bold ambition and an ability to tap into a constant stream of creativity whenever and wherever we choose.  That and boat-load of confidence.  Oh, and unicorns." - Menna Riley, Parlour Room Events

Hey Peeps,
This creative edition is with Menna Riley, founder of Parlour Room Events in Halifax, NS.
After working with Menna, I have to say that the words ambitious, driven and fun describe her well.  I appreciate her taking the time to answer some of my questions - in record time no less - another attribute of hers;  she gets things done. 
Thanks again Menna.

1. Parlour Room Events has been in business for a number of years now. Can you tell me how the event industry has changed since your beginnings?

Starting out (way back in the 1900s), Event Planning wasn’t even a recognized industry. Now, with the proven results events have delivered over the years as the number one way to engage your clients and deliver your company’s brand as an experience – the entire industry has flourished. 

2. Does your business have a specialty when it comes to particular events?

Parlour Room Events specializes in running high-end promotional/launch events for companies promoting a new product or service, or celebrating a milestone such as an anniversary, award, or new digs. We cater specifically to the corporate market delivering strategic event solutions for employee recognition, industry awards, golf tournaments, and even create one-of-a-kind signature events to help our clients and the charities they care about achieve their goals.

Our mission is to raise the bar, and therefore our client’s and their guests’ expectations of what an event is and can be by exploring creative ways to tackle strategic challenges.  With our dynamic mix of PR, marketing and event management prowess, we aim to elevate all events to their highest possible potential.

3. What does Parlour Room Events do that makes it a favorite and memorable go-to for clients?

Our tagline – The Science of Unforgettable - says it all. We examine our client’s needs, we shop around for the best suppliers, we strategize and then plan and execute on strategy – we do all the things our competitors do – but then we add our own special combination of intrigue, inspired and unique ideas, and wonder.

4. Being a highly social business, I assume that you work with and promote non-profits and charities. Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement?

Throughout the years we are proud to be able to have been involved with so many charities on a local, national, and international level. While our firm doesn’t offer discounts on services, we do sponsor one charity per year with event services. We select this charity based on contacts we receive throughout the year and the timing of the charity event in question.

5. What would you say your method is for giving each event its own uniqueness and originality?

This is one of those “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you” questions…  Basically, it’s simple: We were born to do this. The uniquely inspired ideas we come up for each client are a direct result of all our experience combined with bold ambition and an ability to tap into a constant stream of creativity whenever and wherever we choose.  That and boat-load of confidence.  Oh, and unicorns.

6. What was the most memorable event for you in 2012?

That would have to be a tie between the Night for Progress fundraising event at The Halifax Club and the Masqueraid at the Museum event at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.  A Night for Progress raised the roof and much-needed funds for the Progress Centre for Early Intervention, and the Masqueraid at the Museum raised funds for Bust A Move, a Breast Health fundraiser.  The only thing I’d change about these events is the dates: they occurred within a week of each other (can you say busy)?

7. What current/future plans does Parlour Room Events have that have you excited?

Being named one of the ten CYBF's High Fliers has meant dedicated time devoted to improving and working on my business.  What has us excited?  EVERYTHING!  Excited to grow, excited to hone some and expand on other business service offerings, to see what the next year has in store – 2013, bring it on!

8. In five years, where will we see Menna Riley and Parlour Room Events?

Untouchable. And maybe, just maybe, on vacation.

Thank you again Menna for those great answers and a look into your business and industry.  Have a great holiday and a prosperous 2013!!

Michael Carty

Michael Carty Website

Labs, Prints & Products: Q&A with Allen Sutherland of Atlantic Photo Supply

By tangentpath in photography halifax atlantic photo supply allen sutherland interviews

Hey Peeps,

I think one of the most important things - and the most overlooked, in photography has to do with labs.

Most new photographers stick with giving/selling their digital images and leave a lot of cash, customer service and free marketing on the table.

I had the great fortune of asking Allen Sutherland of Atlantic Photo Supply a few questions from his point of view on the importance of labs in today's digitized age.


Michael: How important are physical prints/products in a photography business?
Allen: In the digital age, prints are still something physical and tangible that stand visible through time.  Prints and products can be considered a value add to the Artist,always there for their client to see. The Photographer - to be successful, should be like any business; always willing to add new products to their wagon. The saying goes, you can't sell with a empty wagon. 
Michael:What sets APS apart from other labs?
Allen: I think the big thing that sets APS apart is the dedication of the staff. I often look at the way they try to resolve problems. Like any human, they are capable of making mistakes. The difference with my coworkers is that they learn from that and often put procedures in place to try and prevent it from happening again.  We have the same equipment as many labs, but a whole set of different procedures that help keep the quality and service high. 
Michael: What would you say contributes to the success of APS when other vendors have slipped away?
Allen:  I hate to repeat myself, but the success of APS has a lot to do with the last question. On top of our people, we also practice strict accounting and purchasing principals. Buying smart and growing at a pace that keeps the bottom line in the black instead of the red.  Being involved with the community at large is important as well.  Just because you have been in business since 1942 does not give you the right to ignore how you survived.

Michael: What should a photographer initially look for in a lab?
Allen: I think quality service first. Then I would also look at the products they offer.  Price would be my last choice.
Michael: What are the majority of problems that photographers bring to you to solve?
Allen: The biggest problems go straight to color management.  A lot of people have difficulty getting files to look the same on their monitor as they do in print.  My job is often to look deeper into their workflow to try and resolve those issues.
Michael: Do you find the photographers who utilize printing services gain more work and success than ones who exclusively use digital means?
Allen: I think the true success of any photographer is how well he markets his talent.  Many artists are very creative but poor on the marketing and fiscal discipline side.  Prints are part of a product offering.  How you weave them into your business plan will determine the success.  Like any business, you get back what you put into it.
Michael: You have recently moved locations last month, can you tell me a little bit about that and how this will effect the photography community?
Allen: We are almost complete in our move. Our new store on Brownlow in Dartmouth will open September 10th. The big thing about the expansion for the lab is more efficiency, Everything on one floor, instead of 2 and 1/2. All departments from front to back have a better work space and better climate control.  Having a more efficient lab helps with service and quality.  Having two locations helps to serve our community better from a physical perspective.  A lot of our out of town clients don't have to fight traffic to get to our Dartmouth store.  We are able to have more inventory because we have more storage.  New products and services.  Someone has to keep Henry's in check.
Michael: Is there any pertinent knowledge you believe photographers should be aware of regarding prints, labs, etc?
Allen: I say to everyone new and old in the business: take time to understand the basic concepts of photography.  The golden triangle, so to speak.  Once you conquered that then work with your lab on the color side of things.  Build a relationship.  Take time to get to know them.  Do your home work.  Take a course and go to seminars.

I'd like to thank Allen for his unique insight into the industry in this interview.  You can check out their website here:   http://atlanticphotosupply.com.

Sorry it has been a while, busy things going on but that just makes more material to get right?


Michael Carty


Meeting Dane Sanders and Shooting for Lust Boys

By tangentpath in photography dane sanders halifax personal fun times album art lust boyz

Hey Peeps,

This month I was asked by fellow photographer Dawn Melanson if I wanted to attend a talk sponsored by Atlantic Photo Supply being held at Studio 2540 in Halifax(thank you soooo much Dawn!!).The speakers were Dane Saunders, James Van Hees, Steve Richard, and Eric Boutlier-Brown.

These guys were all so great to listen to, they were down-to-earth, professional, friendly, approachable and had a focus towards their individual visions that was inspiring and refreshing.

It was a wonderful day of diverse perception, work ethics and giant cookies - delicious!

The highlight of my day was actually meeting an speaking with Dane about his book Fast Track Photographer, and his recent publication The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan(which I'm reading now).  They are a definite read for anyone seriously determined to turn their photography into a profession without burning them out, frustrating them to hell or make them give up photography altogether with a hate for it.  Both are terrific reads, with great insight and simplistic(but not necessarily easy) questions to ask oneself about who you are as a photographer.  Using these answers, you can better steer yourself towards the photographic career that you are uniquely designed for.  Needless to say, Dawn got a few shots of the day(it was a photography-based event right?)

 Well this is not the best image of me, but it was excellent pizza!
And of course, the ultrafan in me had to get a shot of Dane and I together, lol.

I also got the chance to shoot with two of my long-term models Victoria(who was just signed with a modeling agency) and Sharon, on a special project for some band art for Lust Boys.  We went to 3 different locations, 2 of which worked well.  The following is from the first location(the second will be posted in the next blog.)

We had a great time shooting these(as always, *pat on back*), and I can't wait to see how the rest turn out, they are(as I have explained to my wife) a little more "riskay-er" than anything that I have shot previously, but they do tend to go with the flavor of the band.

Anywho, again I suggest checking out Dane's books if you are serious about your photography business and all of the links in this blog for great artwork, artists, businesses and models.

Chat you later,

Michael Carty
Michael Carty Photography