Celebrating seven years

iACW - birth day

On May 14th, 2010, I became a mom. Our oldest son came into this world as the first (great) grandson on both sides of our family and the first of the next generation in our friends group. There is no doubt he is abundantly loved. In his short life he has lived in 3 countries and traveled to 7 others. He is clever, compassionate, kind, extroverted, and he has a great sense of humor.

Inspired by Lindy-Ann’s post about capturing kids parties, I thought it would be fun to feature his SEVEN birthday parties.

Every year, we (him included) choose a theme for his birthday and we go for it, I mean all in. This year we are treading on new territory with our first drop-off party (eek) and his theme of choice: disco water party, ha!

First, Second, & Third birthdays – Virginia, USA

For the first three years we were stateside and I was blessed to be able to throw these fantastic parties with the help of my girls. My friend Joy is an amazing cake artist and a my girl Melissa really knows how to execute a plan! Each year the theme was consistent throughout the party: invite, cake, and activities. It made the parties delicious, colorful, and fun!

Conditions – Outdoor at a park with a pavilion – both shade and full sun

Prep – These early parties taught me to pack camera, extra batteries, and SD cards the night before all events and shoots.

Lesson learned – Each year something would go wrong, but I learned (still learning) that, if I roll with it, it might turn out better than I planned. Also, high Shutter Speeds are crucial when capturing kids!

The Hungry Caterpillar

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Cars (the movie)

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Pirates

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Fourth & Fifth birthday – Kuwait

Our Kuwait village really stepped up to make these two parties really special, including baking cakes and cupcakes, as I am not a baker.

Conditions – May in Kuwait is hot! Both parties were indoors at our flat. In addition to natural light from the windows and artificial lights, an angled flash was needed at times.

Prep – Opened all the curtains and had extra batteries on hand. The backdrop was positioned out of the way of the flow of the party and opposite a window to get as much natural light as possible.

Lesson learned – Work with your space and conditions as best you can with a flash and high ISO and then adjust lighting in post production as needed.

Planes (the movie)

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The Lego Movie

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Sixth birthday – Virginia, USA

It was such a treat to celebrate stateside again! Our venue changed from our favorite park to Joy’s house in hopes of pool party. Those were dashed when we woke up to temperatures in the low 60s. We made the most of it though and had a fantastic time with the space for the pinata, scavenger hunt, and Jedi training!

Conditions – Outdoors, windy, and sunny

Prep – Back up batteries and SD card.

Lesson learned – Duct tape doesn’t always work, especially with fabric backdrops, try hot glue guns or staple guns and clamps for fabric backdrops. Again, be ready for anything, especially the weather.

Star Wars

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Seventh birthday – Tel Aviv, Israel

Our first drop-off party was a success! We may have been exhausted afterward, but the birthday boy said it was an “awesome party” and the decorations were “lovely.” Worth it!

Conditions – Outdoors in harsh midday lighting

Prep – formatted SD card

Lesson learned – Pulling the images together I realized that my biggest lesson learned is that with only the two of us we weren’t able to get a family shot this time. A tripod at the ready would have been helpful or of course a selfie would work too, ha!

Disco Water –

seventh - web

In the end, it is fun to see how much we both have grown over the years. My precious baby really is a big kid now and I’m happy to say my skills have evolved. I can’t wait to see what EIGHT looks like for us!

We’d love to hear from you, please share your most memorable birthday party themes in the comments!

Cheers,

kdg

PS – I had to share my favorite shots of Lindy-Ann from the Lego party. Everything is indeed AWESOME! 

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When Lexi turned 2

I would not call myself a “kids party” photographer, nor do I see myself going in that direction professionally. But for my dear friends, it’s a privilege to capture the freeze-frames of celebration, endless amounts of fun, contagious laughter and abundant love. Not to mention that kids parties are full of one of my favourite things to photograph, – no, not the kids….COLOUR!

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Two years ago, when my new friend at the time, Debbie, asked me to photograph her daughter Lexi’s 2nd birthday party, I was a little nervous. I had never photographed someone else’s kid’s party before. My own kid’s parties, yes. However the pressure another’s once off, no chance of a reshoot, precious memories in my hands, that was new. I swallowed the nervous lump in my throat and went for it.

When I arrived at the scene, it was clear that this mom was skilled. I mean the put-Martha-Stewart-to-shame kind of skilled. The happy scene was infectious. I was even able to have some photography fun of my own, and truly capture the memorable event.

Camera – Nikon D90

Lens – Nikon 10-105MM f/3.5-5.6

Conditions – Indoor shoot, medium light with low light in places, shoe horn flash needed

Prep – To prep for this shoot I met with Debbie a few days before to have a conversation about what the job would entail, in this briefing we got to know each other better and laid out each others ideas and expectations. I then met with her at the venue the day before the party to take a good look at lighting and environment so there wouldn’t be any surprises on the day of the shoot.

I arrived early, brought a large water bottle, extra memory cards, extra batteries for both flash and camera, and wore comfortable clothing that did not attract attention. I was ready and settled with the decor shots out the way before the first guests even arrived.

Lessons learned – I only brought 1 set of extra flash batteries, it was about 3-4 hours total of shooting and I underestimated how much power the flash would use. Luckily when the flash batteries ran out for the second time it was at the end of the party and I was just getting a few extra shots here and there which I was still able to get with an adjusted higher ISO and a little extra love in Photoshop.

Top Tips – When photographing groups of children keep an eye on aperture – you don’t want the back row of kids in group shots to fall victim to depth of field blur, and Shutter Speed, kids move fast, enough said.

  • For anyone photographing kids indoor with a shoe horn flash or speedlight, you need to pay extra attention to your Shutter Speed. If you set it too fast you will essentially out shoot the speed of the flash and end up with half your image correctly exposed and half your image in black. So just keep that in mind.

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I went on to photograph two more events for Debbie and her amazing family before they moved on from Kuwait, but I will always hold this particular celebration close to my heart, as the first one.

Thank you Debbie for all your attention to detail and your impeccable style. Your love, joy, and friendship is a blessing to all who get a chance to know you.

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Her family really is every child photographer’s dream client.

Cheers,

la