Amazing celebration photos don’t just happen.
How often do you look back on photos you or friends have taken at a family celebration, and wished that they somehow looked more “together”?
When I was a beginner at photographing celebrations, even though my technical aspects and compositions were great, and my clients loved that I captured family relationships perfectly, to me, the photos just didn’t “pop”. They looked ordinary. The folks looked happy and relaxed, but the photos were cluttered and colours were often overwhelming. I was used to prepping for food photography armed with tweezers and a blower for stray crumbs, but my celebration table and food shots always had that wrinkled paper table cloth or bent plate or collapsing candle.
Attention to things like this can make all the difference in photos of a celebration. and with a little pre planning before the big day, your photos can look amazing.
Here are some tips I give my clients before a session:
- Be clear on the photos you want.
Talk with your photographer about the types of photos you want. The most popular photos of celebrations are both group shots and candid shots of the occasion, but the balance can change with personal preference and the formality of the occasion. Who are the important people? Are there special family traditions that will happen at the celebration? Let your photographer know.Your photographer will also appreciate a run down of the order of events, so they can plan not to miss anything!
2. Have a theme for your decorations.
This does not have to be complex; it can be as simple as an outdoor barbecue set-up, as subtle as a coordinating decor colour choice or as complex as a costume party. A theme helps bring elements of each of your photos of the occasion together.
3. Coordinate outfits of Guest of Honour and family.
I tell my clients to wear what they are comfortable in for the occasion. Dont try too hard to be “matchy matchy” but do give some thought to colours that complement each other, or even the decor colour.
Warning: the colour red is a party animal and tends to dominant other colours in photos, so this is often a colour to avoid unless you are the Guest of Honour, when standing out is a good thing! Conversely, small touches of red, such as a hair clip, shoes, tie or piece of jewellery can be used very effectively to unify a family group in a photo.
Don’t worry about the colours guest wear, though. Just make sure guests wearing clashing colours are not next to each other in group shots – something your professional photographer will take care of.
4. Plan and prep a place for your group shots.
An outdoor event is easy to find backgrounds for photos. Be aware of where the sun will be, so there will be a minimum of harsh shadows or dappled light on guest’s faces. A shady tree is a perfect place for a group photo. If you use an umbrella or shade, be aware of any colour cast from it giving skin an odd tone.
For indoor events, try to find a wall with no structures such as a bookcase against it. We are not aiming for a a total blank wall as in a studio, just reducing clutter. Wall art is fine, though, and a celebration banner or bunting will also work. Clear the floor under the wall space of stray items. If there is a sofa or armchair there, even better.
5 . Photograph the Guest of Honour and Family members before the party begins.
If it is possible, gather the important folks for family and group photos when the party has started but before it is in full swing. That way, there are minimal dirty clothes or messed up hair, or frazzled tempers, but the stress of preparation is over. Then you are free to roam for candid shots, including those of groups, throughout the event.
6. Photograph your cake, party table, and any decorations you are specially proud of, before the guests arrive.
This gives you a chance to have a record of all your good work.
Cloth table coverings and real glassware always photograph better than their plastic counterparts, so think about having some real glassware available, even if just for these pre-party photos. Real crockery serving plates also add a professional look.
7. Relax, and enjoy the occasion.
Gatherings of generations of families are precious times to be enjoyed.Don’t take a whole heap of photos at the expense of being in the moment. If you’ve hired a professional photographer you trust, you can relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, knowing the job of recording beautiful memories has been left in capable hands.
See prices for Pink Ginger Photography coverage of your Celebration here.