As a child, I remember begging my mom to hold birthday parties for me. Even at a young age, I knew parties were fun and the extroverted me just LOVED being around lots of people. To fulfil my requests, I recall the amount of preparation she put into making the party an awesome one for me- from cooking the food to preparing the gift packs and inviting friends and family. Now when I think about it, I really cannot thank my mom enough for making the little gathering a spectacular affair for the 9-year-old me.
Unfortunately, mom was so busy that she forgot to take a photo with me at the party.
Having shot a few kids’ birthday parties, I realise not much has changed. It’s easy to get caught up with coordinating the event and not enjoying it. I think what’s worst is when all your efforts in coordinating this event is not properly documented! Based on my experience as a photographer, I’d like to share a few points for you to help your photographers get the coverage you want.
1. Talk to us!
Prior communication is paramount. We need to know your expectations for us to work accordingly. Tell us about the theme of the party, the location, how elaborate it is, anything! We’d like to know about the details of the preparations, like how you may have made all the cupcakes and cookies all by yourself, or the design of the cake is specially made by grandma! These bits of information make photographing the details even more meaningful!
At this point, you can also provide us a run-down of events so we can know what to expect. If you have special entertainment lined up for the kids or surprises, let us know so we won’t miss it.
2. Family Portraits
I understand – the preparation can be quite overwhelming and even stressful, but please try to make time for some portraits. Like my little story above, it would be quite tragic to not have a good proper photo of your family. Normally we only need a maximum of 15 minutes to get some good portraits of the immediate family. This takes place typically before the guests come rolling in! Depending on location, sometimes all we need is a clean wall and lots of natural light.
If you want formal portraits with the extended family, be sure to tell your family to be around during the shoot and allocate a little more time for this. And remember to tell everyone to wear their best smiles!
3. Photos of guests
While we normally try to get photos of everyone who attends the party, it wouldn’t be possible to take photos of say, all 100 guests! Also, we normally take candid photos of people’s expressions, like a laugh or a smile. So if you have very important people that you would like us to photograph, point them to us during the event so we won’t miss them. We won’t know who great-grand aunty Elizabeth or favourite uncle Gerrard is if you don’t introduce them to us. Also, if you want group photos at any point in time, signal for us during the event.
4. Less is more
Like in weddings, please don’t hire more than one photography vendor to provide coverage of an event. While it might seem logical that more photographers mean more pictures, it can, in fact, work against the photographers because we will be “fighting” to get the best angles. Usually in group photos, people won’t even know which camera to look at if there’s a few photographers shooting at the same time from the same angle.
If you want more coverage, you may consider hiring an assistant photographer from the same vendor. That way, communication between the photographers will be clear and we won’t get in each other’s way. After all, we want to give you the best possible coverage!
Well, of course if your family wants to take photos, we won’t stop them. As long as they give us the priority to give you the best shots. :)
Finally, if it’s too overwhelming, outsource! Consider hiring a planner or you may get your friends to help you. This will relieve a lot of stress on your end so that you can enjoy the party with your precious loved ones. After all, that’s what a good party is all about. :)
Various event photos taken by Diane, Jamie & Nigel