Purpose - the reason why something is done or used: the aim or intention of something
Set realistic expectations for yourself. Are you capturing an important day in your family’s life or trying to get your party published in a magazine? Weeks, maybe even months ago, you set out to plan the perfect party and I’m sure you found great inspiration from beautifully photographer parties. Keep in mind that many of those may have been staged to sell a product. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these inspiring parties. Just keep in mind that you are hosting a REAL party; there’s going to be uncooperative children, questionable lighting, and lots and lots of movement. If you set your expectations to capture the feel of your party, rather than just the details, you will be much happier with your results. The details are important too, so we’ll cover that in week 2.
Decide what’s most important to you. Do you want eighteen photos of the food table, or a photo of the three generations that will be present? Pre-plan what your must have shots are. If you’ve written a list of photographs you want to have after the party, you’re more likely to remember to take them during the party, or ask someone to take them. Don’t be afraid to have a checklist handy and ask a trusted family member or friend (preferably someone who won’t be chasing down 3 kids of their own) to help you make sure the photos are taken.
What will you do with the photos after the party? If you spend a little time deciding what the fate of your photos will be, you’re likely to capture the party more as a whole. I am a scrapbooker Project Life scrapbooker. When I think about what I’ll want to include in my spread for the party, I capture more meaningful moments. Maybe you create a digital book for the guest of honor as a keepsake, or you have an ongoing party portfolio. With clear intention of the purpose of the photos, you already have a predetermined goal in mind.
"Hey Pops, I really want a picture of you and little Jimmy." If you really want to get a shot of the birthday boy with his Dad and Grandpa, tell the dad and grandpa! Ask them to remind you if you forget. Chances are they will. This goes back to your checklist. Now instead of it being in your head, you have it written on a list and have said it out loud. These are all subtle triggers to remind you to take action.
Be present! Get in some of those shots too. Hand over the camera (take a deep breath control freaks, this is a big step!) I am 100% guilty of NOT doing this. When I look back at my daughter’s third birthday party, I am in one, ONE, photo, and it’s not even with her! Grrr! I could spit it makes me so mad. I only have myself to blame. I never handed the camera over. I was too freaked out about controlling the photos that were captured that I forgot to BE in the photos.
Your turn! Share you best tips for photographing your party with purpose!
The pressure to photograph the perfect party can be super debilitating. I’ve suffered from this. Gwen’s first birthday party, gah. When I looked back at the photos after the party, I thought my mistakes were composition of the candy buffet or the shot with the ugly blue folding chairs around the table. No, my real mistake was not fully capturing the memories. Sure I have photos of the cake, party favors, and candy buffet (albeit not the ones I truly wanted) but my mistakes were missed key moments. The guests watching G eat her smash cake. I have about 30 shots of her with cake everywhere, but none of her grandparents laughing as she tries to feed me cake. Damn it!
When I sat down to write this article, I thought it would be a list of tips. I realized that there are four key elements to photographing a well-planned party. I will be sharing my tips and tricks over the next few weeks in a series.
Part 1: Photographing your party with purpose – I’ll share insight and tips about making sure you capture your party with intention
Part 2: The details – photographing all the hard work you’ve put into personalizing the party
Part 3: Capturing the mood – tips on taking great candid moments and posed shots
Part 4: Techie Stuff – we’ll talk about camera settings, lighting, and post editing
I'm excited to share this series with you, and I hope you'll find inspiration, usefull information and of course, a little humor.
Welcome to our new Top 5 feature! Every Monday we'll have a new top 5. It'll be loads of fun!
This weeks topic is also kicking off a four week series about photographing your party.
1) Poor time management: Trying to finish decorating while guests arrive is my biggest pet peeve, yet, I’ve been guilty of just that. With poor time management, I haven’t left enough time for the detail shots and before pictures of the party scene.
2) Dead battery: Neglecting to charge my camera battery. Yes, that has happened to me. Don’t forget about the “memory card full” message too. Nothing more fun than trying to tell your toddler to pause the gift opening while you’re trying to delete photos or dig through a junk drawer looking for another memory card.
3) Terrible lighting: I’ve learned the hard way that I need to do a few test shots and have a lighting plan in place. Words can’t describe the frustration of loading all the fun party pictures and finding terrible lighting in a majority of them. You’re now left with either crappy pictures or spending a boat load of time editing. Gah.
4) Horrendous backgrounds: I have what would be an ADORABLE photo of my daughter with one of her grandmas if it weren’t for the pile of dirty party dishes right next to her head in the background. Sometimes this is unavoidable in candid shots, but it would have been so easy to ask grandma to step over a few feet. Be aware of your backgrounds!
5) Missing in Action: Guess how many photos I’m in from my daughter’s last birthday party? One. ONE! Lesson learned. Be present!
What are some of the mistakes you've made and learned from when photographing your parties?