Smart Meetings “Smart Mart” at the Seattle Fairmont Olympic ~ Photographs by Nationwide Corporate Event Photographer Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography

Summer had yet to make an appearance in Seattle when Smart Meetings hosted its Smart Mart at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The ambiance in the Fairmont’s Spanish Foyer amply made up for the lack of sunshine outside by providing a musically upbeat, florally vibrant, and tropical-hued welcome reception for the event planners and destination sponsors who flew in from locales around the nation to attend this one-day event.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Nationwide Corporate Event Photography

As waiters circulated the lobby with foamy watermelon coolers topped with springs of mint, planners mingled with suppliers and attendees buzzed about the mini food stands bursting with bounty from local suppliers like Trophy Cupcakes. A stilt-walker welcomed guests with a nod and occasional handshake, while attendees sampled mouth-watering teriyaki chicken satay and caprese salad from the catering kitchen at the Fairmont. Kieran Worrell, the Fairmont’s conference services manager, was a quirky sight in her bee-keeper’s hood as she educated attendees about the hotel’s honeybee population that is housed on the roof of the building.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Nationwide Corporate Event Photography

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Nationwide Corporate Event Photography

Following the half-hour welcome reception, guests moved downstairs to The Metropole room to be officially welcomed by Smart Meeting publisher, Marin Bright. Bright and her support staff love attending and coordinating Smart Mart events and they are encouraged by the positive responses they hear year after year from event attendees. Over the past four years, Smart Mart events like this one in Seattle have resulted in millions of dollars in bookings that have originated from the one- and three-day events.

After viewing destination videos from event sponsors, Keppler Speakers invited Leonard Brody to speak to the day’s attendees about how the Web and social media have made human interaction and behavior virtually unrecognizable. Brody posited that where we will be in 365 days is hard to forecast, especially when looking back to where we have come from as recently as 730 days ago. Could anyone imagine the growth of sites like Pinterest and continued presence of Twitter and Facebook in our personal and professional lives? When historians look at the 200-year span between the Industrial Revolution to the time of the 20th-century world wars, they note that the period was a time of amazing human advancement. Brody points out that the “pixilated revolution,” which began around 1996 in the Internet’s nascent years, has resulted in human advancement that eclipses (in a mere 16 years) that previous span from approximately 1745 to 1945.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Nationwide Corporate Event Photography

We are a sharing culture and Brody points to what he sees as two versions of ourselves: the online one and the present one that engages with people in real time. As the Internet continues to infiltrate our lives and the lives of our youth, we are becoming more trusting of what we share on the Internet. People buy shoes, book trips, and date online. This is not a good or bad phenomenon, it is merely a multi-faceted, dynamic way to look at how you conduct yourself in person and online. Your “present” self will remember the people you meet and feelings associated with attending the Smart Mart event and your virtual self will read blogs like this one and engage on Twitter and Facebook with fellow attendees.

At the close of the educational session, guests moved back upstairs to the Spanish Ballroom to enjoy three hours of one-on-one, pre-planned appointments. This portion of the day is the crux of why, year after year, Smart Mart events draw a wider audience and appeal to so many planners and destination suppliers.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Nationwide Corporate Event Photography

Rows of tables filled the ballroom as attendees sat down to view destination videos and chat with destination representatives. The energy in the room was palpable and people were clearly making some great connections via in-person engagement. The Smart Meetings program had a convenient note portion with pictures of the destination and contact person so planners could jot down ideas and quotes that would facilitate future planning.

The day of activity was capped by a “Secret Garden” networking dinner where attendees shared tips and notes over more delectable food from the Fairmont Hotel. Spinach salad, a cheese buffet, fried asparagus, and an abundance of fresh seafood satiated guests while they sipped delicious Northwest wines and beer. A peacock stilt-water clucked and strutted while Ian Dobson performed and Luna Deni sat in a quiet corner “reading lips”, fortune-teller style for guests. Fun Frames photo booth offered attendees a chance to don funny glasses and costumes and go home with a fun photo memento.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Nationwide Corporate Event Photography

At Fire Eyes, it was our pleasure to attend and document this engaging event for the second year in a row. We are available for event photography, as well as social media and blogging support surrounding all corporate and special events. We hope to see you at next year’s Smart Meeting event!

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Photographs of Dr. Steven Hawking ~ The Pacific Science Center Luminaries Series Event

© Fire Eyes Photography ~ Dr. Steven Hawking ~ Pacific Science Center Luminaries Series Event

Famed theoretical physicist Dr. Steven Hawking was in Seattle this month for the Pacific Science Center Luminaries Series, which included a dinner and talk attended by VIP patrons of the Center.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Dr. Steven Hawking ~ Event @ the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle ~ Dr. Hawking with his son Robert, who lives in Seattle, in lower right corner photo.

His talk on evolution at the Paramount Theater was the Saturday after this dinner, held in his honor. The theater event included talks by:

  • Dr. Jack Horner, famed paleontologist who found the first clear evidence that some dinosaurs cared for their young. Dr. Horner also served as the technical advisor for all of the Jurassic Park films.
  • Dr. Leroy Hood, a renowned biologist, inventor, and entrepreneur. His prize-winning research is responsible for automating DNA sequencing, which revolutionized biomedicine and forensic science. His research has helped to unlock much of the mystery of human biology by helping decode the genome.

(Descriptions from the Pacific Science Center Luminaries Series event website.)

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ famed Theoretical Physicist Dr. Steven Hawking ~ He thoroughly enjoys making his audience laugh! ~ Pacific Science Center Luminaries Series

Dr. Hawking flew out from the UK with his assistants. It was truly wonderful to hear him share what it is like to use the “mechanical voice” provided by Intel-derived technology and how it became a tool for him. Dr. Hawking thoroughly enjoyed making us laugh as he told a few jokes. His humor, humility, and brillance were plain as day and I know we all appreciated that he spoke about his life and his work on a level that each and every one of us could understand. Some great information about his work and career can be found here on Wikipedia!

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon & his wife, author Mackenzie Bezos meet Dr. Steven Hawking

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and his wife, american novelist Mackenzie Bezos, were also in attendance to have the unique opportunity to meet the famed physicist. The evening was a great experience for the Seattleites in attendance, me included.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ VIP guests enjoyed meeting Dr. Steven Hawking ~ Pacific Science Center Luminaries Series Event

Thanks to the Pacific Science Center (@PacSci), the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle (@FSSeattle), the Paramount Theater and supporters of this phenomenal series.

Photographs & article by Trishann Couvillion ~ Corporate Event Photographer of Fire Eyes Photography (@fire_eyes)

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MPI Seattle’s “Strictly Social” June Event at Wine World

Last Thursday, MPI Washington held their monthly “Strictly Social” event at Wine World. This was a fabulous way to taste Washington wines and “wines of the world” while meeting some amazing fellow event professionals.

We started the night comparing various Washington whites to whites from Italy, France, and Germany. The best way to truly notice variations in wine is to drink them side by side. You quickly find the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle differences between the wines. Sommelier David LeClaire is the owner of Wine World and he was also on hand to guide the tasting and talk about the specific regions of wines that we would be tasting.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Wine World owner David LeClaire

As a first-time attendee at and MPI Seattle event, I really enjoyed meeting new colleagues and catching up with a few I had worked with for years. Being a part of the professional community in Seattle is phenomenal and one of my favorite activities is growing my event photography business in a personal and face-to-face way.

One of the first people I spoke with was Justin Ver Burg (@funny_dummy), a comedian, ventriloquist, and corporate entertainer with Funny Dummy.  He shared his experience with MPI over the last year and surprised me when he told me he had driven down from Bellingham to attend this event and usually does for MPI’s monthly events. This fact gave me a good indication as to how great the quality of MPI events and professionals must be.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

As we moved on to the pairing the Washington reds up against European powerhouse reds, I had a chance to catch up with Brianna Mark of SH Worldwide. She has been in her new position as a Meetings & Event Manager for just a few months and raved about how the job was a perfect fit for her. So many people in the events industry truly love their work and I feel the same way every time I hear this! It’s an industry of constant growth, challenge, and learning to keep life interesting and serve clients well.

© Fire Eyes Photography ~ MPI Seattle Chapter President Becky Williams speaking

Thank you to Becky Williams CMP, with Catering for McCormick & Schmick’s, for a great conversation and for taking the time to welcome me. MPI holds monthly meetings mainly in Seattle, but also periodically in other cities throughout Washington State. If you’re in the events industry, I encourage you to check out MPI … I know I’ll be back!

Also, special thanks to David LeClaire and Wine World! Another great thing about having ALL that wonderful wine in one place is … NOW they can have liquor on their shelves! Woohoo … check ’em out here! For me, Purple Teeth Cellars was a noteworthy red of the night and given the price point, it’s an affordable red to keep around all the time. Salud!

Written & photographed by Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography (@fire_eyes)

© Fire Eyes Photography ~ Wine World & Spirits in Seattle’s Wallingford District

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June 1st proclaimed ‘Tom Douglas Day’ in King County by Dow Constantine and the SCVB

On Thursday at Tom Douglas’s Palace Ballroom, Dow Constantine arrived at to Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (SCVB) monthly board meeting, also on behalf of Tom Norwalk, CEO of the SCVB, to not only celebrate local Restauranteur Tom Douglas, but to also proclaim June 1st as “Tom Douglas Day” in King County.


© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Tom Douglas & Dow Constantine

Tom Douglas is devoted to Seattle and his commitment is shown in all 12 restaurants he owns throughout the city’s most coveted areas. He also makes his love of the area known with the local, sustainable ingredients he uses in his restaurants and with every book he writes. He and his business partner wife, Jackie Cross, also own and run Prosser Farm. This ensures tons of fresh local produce heads straight to his restaurants and the delectable menus that Douglas is renowned for.


© Fire Eyes Photography 2012 ~ Restauranteur Tom Douglas


© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

The SCVB got it right when they dubbed Douglas “a local gem.” All that Douglas has done to shape the culinary landscape of Seattle has definitely put the city on the map as a “dining destination.” It’s great to have local entrepreneurs who are passionate, inventive, and supportive of Seattle. It’s inspiring and makes it feel as though Seattle really is a small, connected town. Make sure to follow Tom Douglas on Facebook and Twitter at @TomDouglasCo!


© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

~By Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography (@fire_eyes)

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Learning is Tribal and We are Social

John Chen © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

John Chen knows, “You don’t get something, unless you ask for it.” Chen, CEO of the company Geoteaming, and his crew of professionals design team-building exercises on carefully crafted courses for companies around the world. They know that collaboration, communication, and having a plan are team attributes that drive business success.

“Your odds of achieving a goal go up immensely when you have a plan,” remarked Chen. The business professionals attending his luncheon, sponsored by International Special Events Society Seattle and Ray’s Boathouse, were there because they had social media accounts, but wanted to know how to use them effectively. Upon arrival, Chen encouraged participants to get on their Twitter accounts and pose a social media quandary they were experiencing.

Some people were unsure of how to use their Twitter accounts and the #ises hashtag for the day’s event. Chen gently reminded people to mingle and ask for help. He believes, “Learning is tribal.” What you don’t know about social media, ask a friend or colleague for advice or a tutorial. Odds are there are many people out there that would be delighted to help you learn.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

John Chen’s 3 Tips for Social Media Business Success:

Tip #1) Pick Three

Email, blog, website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, FourSquare, LinkedIn – the world is awash in social media options. Where do you focus your energy? Chen advises that you pick three things and concentrate your efforts on doing those well. “Email still works,” says Chen. When you’re at a business event or amid your various personal networks, ask for business cards and “grow your database” by following up with people and having your email message link to your business page.

Along that same vein, when you blog regularly, like I do, you can ask visitors to sign up for information about your special area of expertise and thus further grow your database and potential client base.

Twitter is Chen’s preferred social media platform for business engagement. He has seen some success from Facebook when a “Like” turns into a customer, but he believes Facebook is where you place an ad and Twitter is where your business can regularly impact customers. In a 2012 monthly sampling, 42% of Twitter users (465 million worldwide, 107.7 million in the U.S.) utilized the site to learn about products and services. 65% of Fortune 100 companies have Twitter accounts.  Over 175 million tweets are sent per day!

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Tip #2) Measure

Analyze conversion rates for your company. How many contacts that came in off your website turned into paying clients? If you don’t know your measurements for the company you work for – ask! This makes you a better salesperson. Videos on company websites are a highly effective way inform and engage a potential client. Over 50% of the Web’s traffic is users watching video content!

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Tip #3) Innovate

Chen shared an example of an effective hashtag (#SoMeT – Social Media and Tourism) that started on Twitter and turned into a conference and money-making venture for its founders. All by way of savvy hashatagging, social media interaction motivated conference attendees to purchase conference tickets. $595 tickets that generated over $90K that first conference year! You can make money via social media, particularly if it’s something that has never been done before.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

“You may not want all your followers as customers.” Chen said this in response to a question from Kate Kovalick (Creative Coverings) regarding how to turn personal Twitter followers into business followers. Focus your business energy on targeting the followers that might turn into real business. He advised Kovalick to blog and tweet about concerns that are frequently raised by her current clientele. Use FAQ’s to educate new and existing clients. “In the end, the client cares about the problem that’s in front of them.”

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Chef Kristi Brown-Wokoma (Zinnia Bistro) wanted to know how to be a restaurateur and also keep up with the demands of social media. “Is there a way to achieve balance?” she wanted to know. Chen observed that a successful small business might not participate in social media because they’re spending so much time on day-to-day operations. That’s okay, but if you have a plan, you can leverage your social interaction to work for you and your business whether you need more business or not. Without a plan it’s understandable to feel like Kristi does, a little overwhelmed.  You need to make a plan then execute that plan!

Fired up!

John Chen (@Big Kid) can be found on Twitter. It was wonderful to hear some of his advice and contemplate my own social media plan. Part of that plan involves what you’re reading right now. I blog to inspire and share information I find useful. Blogging also allows me to connect with my friends, colleagues, and clients. I can’t wait to see you in person at a future event!

~Trishann Couvillion, Corporate and Special Event Photographer

Fire Eyes Photography (@fire_eyes on Twitter)

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How to be Effective at In-person Networking

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce (SCC) networking event, held Tuesday at the Space Needle, was timed perfectly to coincide with happy hour. Unlike the SCC breakfasts where attendees arrive, knuckling sleep out of their eyes, and head to the nearest coffee dispenser in an attempt to wake up and rally their still-groggy social skills, the Business After Hours events are abuzz with after-work energy.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

This event was held on the banquet level of the Space Needle, about a 15-second elevator ride from the base. An unexpected surprise was that the entrance ticket also allowed attendees the opportunity to take another 30-second ride to the top of the Needle.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

We work amid a professional scene that thrives on the accessibility and ease of social media via sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. But despite the worldwide reach of these platforms, there’s still something to be gained from eye contact, a firm handshake, and the spontaneity of the in-person exchange. In fact, most businesses grow markedly from person-to-person contact and building professional relationships through the opportunities provided by social events.

© Fire Eyes Photography

At Fire Eyes, we attend a lot of special events and networking events. As people and as business professionals, we know what we appreciate and value in our interactions. We also know what’s needed to capture great exchanges when we photograph events. There is a dynamic energy that feels almost tangible when you see people making a genuine connection.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

At this event, we encountered individuals that did a good job touching on some of the cornerstones of effective networking.

  • Chieko Watanabe, Business Coach/Owner of Dominate Your Business. Chieko is a longtime business coach and a newer attendee to SCC events, but she knows networking is an effective means for garnering new clients. Networking skills is one of the many tools Chieko teaches to her own clientele. Chieko’s site has a wonderful blog, video tutorials, as well as description of her services. We appreciated Chieko’s positive energy and effective way of talking about her business, as well as her being genuinely interested in our own.

Chieko Watanabe © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

  • Kelly Kolstad, Financial Consultant, D.A. Davidson & Company. Kelly is a good example of being yourself when networking and he is someone who remembers if he has met you at a prior event. It can be a bit awkward when you have to skip a couple of beats to look at a person’s nametag. Make eye contact, be engaging, and subtly glance down if you need a refresher on the person’s name or if you can’t remember where they work. Kelly works in the financial industry and he effectively shared information about his complimentary portfolio analysis and was happy to offer thoughts when asked about a major upcoming IPO. He was sociable and business-focused without being all business.
  • Justin Richardson, Founder & Director of Business Development for Justin gets our show and tell gold star for the night. Justin had his smartphone in hand to illustrate Unsocial, the app that he and his colleagues designed to facilitate in-person social networking. Unsocial syncs your LinkedIn information and is a location based check-in app that allows you to see what people are in your vicinity. Your information shows who you are and what you do and/or what services you’re in the market for. If you’re not in the market for a service, remember to get that person’s information because it might be of help to a friend or associate. Justin brought props! His informative demonstration of his app, coupled with giving us his business card made an impression.

We finished the evening’s event by riding up the elevator to take in the of post-sunset views of our gorgeous city. The Sound, downtown, and glimpses of the necklace of mountains that halo our beautiful region were an enjoyable way to cap off another successful networking event.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

We look forward to seeing you at upcoming events! You can also hire us to photograph and/or write about your next corporate or social event.

~Trishann Couvillion, Owner,  Fire Eyes Photography (on Twitter @fire_eyes)

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‘So-Lo-Mo’ The Social-Local-Mobile Aspect of Brand Audience Usability

“How do we drive Social Interaction?” This is question that motivates Ian Mackie, Senior Client Manager of Point It. You need to pick out relevant information about what you offer and share that with your audience. That relevance is what helps you to analyze who your demographic is and how to best customize your marketing.

Ian mentioned a Point It client that had spent $5,000 per week marketing their site while using Google Analytics — but they never analyzed the collected data! He warns that in order for analysis to be useful you must spend time actually analyzing the data you collect! Implementing Google Analytics to your website is rather simple, but you should commit to the time and effort each week to analyzing your results and adjusting your marketing plan as it evolves.

Market researchers are targeting mobile users in a new and different ways, aiming to not regurgitate the same ads over and over again to their audiences and find ways to make mobile applications user-friendly.

Ian Mackie, Point It Inc. ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Julian Michaels of Kreate Professionasl Network moderated this panel discussion about Social-Local-Mobile (So-Lo-Mo), which is a current hot topic in the realm of the mobility of technological interaction. His aim, via Kreate Networking events, is to give business owners access to great resources, ideas, and the opportunity to build relationships in the Seattle and Eastside professional communities.

Julian Michael, Founder of Kreate ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

“We labeled it ‘mobile’ because it’s new and it’s natural context,” said Bryan Zug, founder of Bootstrapper Studios & Co-Producer of IGNITE Seattle. Smartphones make it easier to view full content websites, but it would be wise to build your online presence to be “mobile-ready.” Many people are on-the-go and want to utilize their time and their mobile devices for information and content.

There are a few applications that can help convert your website to be mobile-ready and may be worth looking into. Some companies are shifting their entire business models to serve clients using mobile apps like the ones for tablets and smartphones. Consider looking locally, to a company like Point It to help with your full mobile integration.

Bryan Zug, Founder of Bootstrapper Studios & IGNITE ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

My company is Fire Eyes Photography and as a photographer I work with the visual aspects of my field on a daily basis. Images are paramount in showcasing the services I offer to my clients. Having the ability to utilize photographs to draw in my audience essential, especially with the intent of easy mobile share-ability. My blog automatically converts for easy mobile device viewing. You may already know this if you are reading this post on your device! The formatting is simple and easy-to-read and  the text and photographs show correctly whether viewing your device in a vertical or horizontal manner. Make it easy for your audience to do business with you and they’ll thank you for it!

© Fire Eyes Photography

Ian also spoke about clients’ expectations of social media and mobile application and said that Point It clients want to know what their Return on Investment (ROI) is. Since that is hard to pinpoint, Ian’s advice is that it’s important for your business name to be out there, utilizing social media immediately so that you can begin to build your brand. Build your followers through relevant content and draw your audience in via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Make sure you’re asking your colleagues and professional associates about how they reach their clients and look for new ideas that may be worth implementing for your own business and branding. Not every avenue is a surefire hit, but as our panelists pointed out, they can be very low risk and therefore worth trying.

~Written by Trishann Couvillion, Founder of Fire Eyes Photography

(on Twitter @fire eyes)

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