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Designer Spotlight: La Lune Creative

[designerSpotlightHeader designer_slug=”la-lune-creative” alt_bio=”http://www.prophoto.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/lalunethumb.png”]

Although they aren’t employees, Matt and Crystal have been a part of ProPhoto since our earliest days.  Both as a beta-tester and as the first member of our designer network, LaLune Creative has always been a great source of input for us (both inspiration and constructive criticism).  We’re happy to happy to call Matt and Crystal clients, partners, and friends.  Here is an interview we did with Matt…

(be sure to check out LaLune’s latest additions to our design store at the bottom of this post)

PP: First off, where you are located?

LL: Ruston, Louisiana.

PP: Tell us a bit about yourself and Crystal.

LL: Crystal and I are happily married and work as a team.  Crystal handles all the behind-the-scenes and business aspects of La Lune while also working as a cosmetologist at a local hair salon.  Right now our children are our two chihuahuas, but in the future we hope to adopt!

PP: What’s up with “La Lune” — what’s the inspiration for the name?

LL: A couple of years ago we decided that it would be best if we consolidated everything under one roof.  The name has significance to both me and Crystal.  As a child, the idea of exploring the stars and the ocean was a big dream of mine. I wanted to implement that somehow into our new brand. Crystal’s idea was to name it after one of our chihuahuas, Luna, which was funny because her name idea connected with the same idea I had!  Luna is just another word for the Moon, and so I thought, why not just do the French word for moon?  That’s how our brand came to be — La Lune is “The Moon” in French.  In the future, we plan to open a studio with salon under the same name. We’ll be an all-in-one creative design, photography, stylist and cosmetology service.

“I love clean, simple design. I believe design should be easy and accommodating to the user, while still being attractive and functional at the same time.”

PP: Tell us about your design experience.  How long have you been designing?  What schooling, if any, have you had?

LL: I have been interested in art since a young age.  In 2000, I started playing with Photoshop and have been hooked ever since!  I moved to Mobile, AL, for a while to study Graphic Design at the University of South Alabama , and then moved back home to study at Louisiana Tech University for two more years but had to give that up due to health reasons. Crystal has two years of design experience at Louisiana Tech and was majoring in Graphic Design as well, but then found a passion in styling and cosmetology instead.  I was a portrait and wedding photographer from 2006 to 2012.

PP: How would you describe your design style?

LL: Very minimal.  I love clean, simple design. I believe design should be easy and accommodating to the user, while still being attractive and functional at the same time. I also try to create designs that with a few simple changes can look pretty in any color or brand.

PP: When did you first start using ProPhoto, and what do you enjoy most about using ProPhoto as a designer?

LL: I can’t believe how long it’s been, but the very first custom client I ever did a design for was with ProPhoto 1.  When ProPhoto 2 came out, a client purchased it for me as payment for the design. From there I was sucked in!  I participated in all of ProPhoto’s beta testing and one day I called up Jared and asked what he thought about me creating designs and selling them as templates using the export feature they added into 2.  The export process originally was meant to be for backup purposes, but I saw some potential in it. We were the first ones to create and sell ProPhoto templates in our own store.  A few months later, Jared contacted me to beta test a design store they were working on and create some designs for them for the ProPhoto 3 release!

PP: So on a personal note, we’ve known you since the early ProPhoto days and know that you’ve struggled with health problems.  Can you talk to us a bit about that – how does this affect what you can and can’t do as a designer and photographer?

LL: Looking at me you wouldn’t know it, but I was born with a terminal disease called Cystic Fibrosis — a genetic lung disease which eventually clogs your airways and causes you to stop breathing.  There’s no cure, and there are several other health issues related to CF that come along with it. I have Arthritis, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (a circulatory problem), Osteoporosis, and Sinus Disease. I am also allergic to nearly all the antibiotics out there, which is unfortunate because with CF I have a low immune system.

I had to eventually quit shooting weddings because I was having major issues with pain standing for 8 hours at a time, and breathing became difficult carrying the equipment for that long.  Even hiring assistants wasn’t enough.  Eventually my health issues, shooting portraits, and doing design work began to overlap too much and both businesses began to suffer. That’s when we decided that I take a long break, and then I made the decision to stop shooting and concentrate on something I could do at home at my own pace and time.

At home, I can still do what I love and not be out in public as much. I’m not a shut-in, but I have to be careful — getting sick from anyone means 2-3 weeks of hospital stays/home care and having to take antibiotics (which I need to use as little as possible because of my allergies to them).  There are several advantages to being able to do what I love from home, and it’s been a blessing that the path that’s been set out for me has been very accommodating for my CF as I’ve grown into an adult.  On that note, I’m very, VERY blessed. I’m 28 years old and I’ve lived way past my life expectancy already. I can’t ask for anything other than what God has already given me, which is a great life and a happy wife!  I’m completely happy with that and wouldn’t change a thing!

PP: You’ve mentioned before that you have a bucket list going, right?  I remember you talking about being an extra in a movie recently as part of your list.  What was that like, and what other kinds of things do you have on there? (see here if you don’t know what a bucket list is…)

LL: With having CF and so many health problems, the last couple of years have really made me push to get some of my bucket list items squared away so I’ve been looking for opportunities to try new things from my list. Last year I got to be many different types of extras in the movie Olympus has Fallen. Being on screen for a movie was a big deal for me so that was fun! This year I got to be in a new horror movie coming out, called The Town That Dreaded Sundown as a Sheriff, that movie releases next year.

Let’s see, In September I’m getting to see a live acoustic show of one of my favorite bands, Yellowcard but the best part is I got VIP passes so I get to meet the guys. I completed a 5k mud run last year, that was REALLY hard for me to do, and I was pretty proud of myself for making it through to the end on that one.  The latest one I’ve been able to accomplish is that I got my Motorcycle license and Crystal bought me a Triumph Bonneville to ride on. It’s one of my favorite things to do now, and I love riding, you get a sense of freedom I feel like you can’t get anywhere else.

I have some bigger things to accomplish coming up, but I think we’re going to try to figure out a way to make it to DisneyWorld and Universal at some point, that will probably be the next big one for us. Some other things include getting to race around a car track, scuba diving, sailing, lots of traveling and some other personal accomplishments.

PP: I find that really inspiring. Gotta’ make myself one of those lists…

PP: So looking back on you time as a designer, is there a favorite design project that you’ve done, or a recognition that you’ve received that stands out?  Something you’re particularly proud of?

LL: Back when we were H2 Blogs instead of La Lune we were still taking custom design projects using ProPhoto. I had several favorite client designs, but I got some heavy recognition for a design I did for a video game company. They wanted someone to do a blog design for them in a contest, and so I created the design and built it using ProPhoto. In the end they decided not to go with the ProPhoto system (unfortunate for them!) but they loved the design. You can see the blog post about it here: http://www.lalunecreative.com/bioware-project-mass-effect/.  It really shows how diverse you can get with ProPhoto, I think.

PP: I remember that project, very cool.  You have officially gone public with your nerd-ness with that one.

LL: Totally ok with being a nerd, haha.

[designList designer_slug=”la-lune-creative” designs=”oxford|paris”]

P4 Auto-update details, build #1382

Today we’re pushing a free auto-update to ProPhoto4 for users on auto-upgrade-capable web hosts. This update is a maintenance update, primarily with a pile of small bug fixes for rare configurations, plus a few small improvements and enhancements. If you’re interested in the gory details, read the changelog below.

-GOTCHA- If your host doesn’t do auto-updates, you can download the latest build from within your admin area under ProPhoto => Customize => Site Settings => Misc => ProPhoto Updates. Tutorial for updating from downloaded zip can be found here.-/-

Changelog

  • fix rare bug in mobile sites that caused menu popups to fail after multiple ajax page loads in certain situations
  • fix incorrectly initializing random-ordered masthead slideshows
  • strip tags from Facebook meta, for rare circumstances where users put HTML in post titles
  • fix isolated font live-previews in admin area that were not previewing correctly
  • improve readability of Maxwell design lightbox text
  • fix rare issue where multi-line menu text overlapped itself
  • prevent deletion of slideshow music when music not found caused by rare server configuration plus site access through wrong scheme (usually by search engine spiders)
  • add functionality to remove all ProPhoto-modified (downsized or watermarked) imgs – with (pp_* file name pattern
  • add class-based exclusions for image dropshadow, rounded corners, and borders: .no-shadow, .no-border, .no-rounded-corners
  • add “img-as-is” class for totally skipping gdModify, lazyload, and image right-click protect
  • fix rare bug from previous build which could produce many unused inactive widgets
  • delete ProPhoto generated imgs (downsized, watermarked) when deleting an image through WP admin. this will prevent mixups if later an image us uploaded with exact same file name
  • try to prevent fatal errors caused by plugins prefixing classes with “Wp” and wrapping in class_exists() without setting $autoload = false
  • fix filehash for one of the included design webfonts, causing repeated attempts to download
  • switch centering of menu items to pure CSS, instead of javascript
  • switch to header.php, index.php, footer.php convention for better compatibility with plugins, especially Woo Commerce
  • handle font uploading erros caused by doubled “-webfont” filename fragment in situations where webfont files are not in root of unzipped zip file
  • workaround rare javascript problem caused by webhost where preg_match of newlines needs \r instead of \n
  • ensure that empty alt tags are preserved by NrImgTag, and add some empty alt tags where appropriate, to decrease HTML validation errors
  • ensure that post image borders, dropshadows, and corner rounding also apply on mobile
  • change language in post excerpts option to read ‘blog pages’ instead of ‘home pages’ for clarity
  • add two more classes which are loopholes for img protection right-clicking: “allow-right-click”, and “psp-active”
  • fix incorrect display of slideshow gallery thumbnails when controls displayed vertically
  • add quasi-body classes (prefixed with “mbc-“) to inner mobile wrapping div so that we can target these for page-specific mobile tweaks, since the body classes never actually change when ajax-loading
  • switch internally coded URLs in ProPhoto from http://www.prophotoblogs.com/ to http://www.prophoto.com/ to reflect our new primary domain
  • make sure we don’t image protect slideshow logos or buttons, as it can screw up splash screen spacing
  • have IE10 use html5 music player instead of flash, since support is good
  • fix rare bug with Android 4.2.x mobile devices causing overlay grids to not work correctly
  • fix temporary logic bug in contact form anti-spam question/answer processing
  • workaround weird issue where totally empty menu items with empty string ids were breaking menu admin area
  • be more careful to validate just contact form form and not other forms, preventing javascript errors when widgets containing HTML forms were used in the contact form area
  • prevent duplication of title attributes in grid item links
  • fix lightbox galleries that failed to init properly after mobile device ajax load
  • fix problem with new design form iframe where iframe body was not scrolling properly, making it impossible to see “save changes” btn
  • remove CSS files that have been pulled into designer admin plugin
  • add mechanism for completely disabling “issues” for troublesome servers where the process of handling issues causes weird, hard to troubleshoot errors
  • strip html tags before counting length of SEO meta desc, so that we get longer, fuller descriptions
  • send nocache headers for admin-ajax.php requests, preventing rare ajax issues, especially (for who knows why) on certain polish servers

Designer Spotlight: Design Aglow

[designerSpotlightHeader designer_slug=”design-aglow” alt_bio=”http://www.prophoto.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/lena-bio1.jpg”]

We’re very excited to announce the latest addition to our designer network, Design Aglow. Over the last several years, Design Aglow has become a go-to spot on the web for Photographers looking to start or grow their business.  From stunning design kits to brilliant photography guides, their resources achieve a level of excellence that have carved them a prominent place in the photography industry.  We’re happy to be a part of their latest offering, full site designs utilizing the ProPhoto theme.

We’re kicking off this new partnership with a Designer Spotlight interview below, and by launching 3 new Design Aglow designs in our store that will be available at special introductory pricing for our first week: 15% off all Design Aglow designs for ProPhoto. Valid Monday, June 10th through Sunday June 16th at Midnight EST. (Introductory price is $85, regular price is $100.)  Included in the 3 is a “Project Life 365” design that is specifically set up as a photo-a-day blog design.  See more info about the new designs at the bottom of this post.

PP: Where are you based out of?

DA: West Palm Beach, Florida.

PP: Tell us a bit about yourself.  Are you married, do you have kids?

DA: I am an artist, entrepreneur, wife, mom, and traveler! I have a background in art education and I am truly a teacher at heart. I have been a portrait photographer for 15+ years now and 7 years ago I co-founded Design Aglow, which was the first online resource of its type for professional wedding and portrait photographers. I am passionate about helping photographers achieve a higher level of success and preserving the integrity of our industry. I work about 60 hours a week, so I reward myself with several great family trips per year  where we can make memories together….and take lots of photographs!

PP: How did Design Aglow start out and how has it evolved since?

DA: We started out in 2006 with the Design Aglow Magazine, which was filled with solid business-building content and creative inspiration for photographers. Four years later we brought in a line of fantastic business tools in addition to the design templates we were becoming well-known for.  We now employ 10 of the best employees on the planet, as well as involving writers, industry leaders, business consultants, and attorneys in our detailed product creation process to make sure everything we do is the absolute best in our field.

“We never want to follow the trends in our field…we want to create them! Our customers feel the same way and appreciate our efforts to make them look their best.”

PP: How would you describe your design style?  From where do you draw your inspiration?

DA: Our style is clean, modern, and always aims to enhance a photographer’s imagery rather than compete with it. We are inspired by fine art, fashion, film, and travel! We never want to follow the trends in our field…we want to create them! Our customers feel the same way and appreciate our efforts to make them look their best.

PP: Is there a favorite design project that you’ve done, or a recognition that you’ve received that stands out, something you’re particularly proud of?

DA: We are so proud to have been the first at so many things that are now standard in the industry, from multi-sided card templates, marketing suites, wall gallery templates, studio magazines, and posing cards. A few years ago, we were approached by Random House to create two books based on our popular posing guides. I am proud to announce that Design Aglow’s Portrait Posing Guide for Family Portrait Photography launches internationally this August and the companion, Design Aglow Posing Guide for Wedding Photography, will be released in December!  Along with simple and modern posing how-to’s, both books will feature the imagery of some of the best photographers in our industry including the likes of Elizabeth Messina, Jose Villa, and Anna Kuperberg.  Very exciting!

PP: Can you tell me a bit more about Design Aglow’s values?

DA: At Design Aglow, it is our mission to elevate the industry of professional photography by providing empowering education and expert design tools to help photographers achieve success.  We believe in preserving the artistry of the profession, and are dedicated to offering materials that develop effective business practices and raise industry standards. I think this philosophy has contributed to our long-term success and to our reputation in the business.

PP: What’s your favorite thing about your job… and/or about partnering with ProPhoto? 😉

DA: We always love to connect with like-minded companies and individuals in our industry and ProPhoto is no exception! We are excited to bring our designs to life in ProPhoto’s popular platform and to see what photographers do with technology we were never able to offer before…until now!

And speaking of that…. we would LOVE for photographers to send in their Design Aglow ProPhoto site URL’s to us so we can share and inspire our community at DesignAglow.com/blog – look for the “share” link!

[designList designer_slug=”design-aglow” designs=”modern-minimalist|typographic|my-project-life-365-blog”]

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