I’ve shot many birthday parties during the course of my photography journey, starting from my own daughter’s to many clients. When throwing a party, we parents need to plan and budget many things, like location, time, guests and food. Often time, professional photography is a nice-to-have due to budget constraints. As a photographer, let me share my thoughts on what you should consider when engaging a one for your party.

1. Set your expectations

Each photographer would have a different price for their service. Normally, a photographer with many years of experience would cost more than your nephew who just bought a DSLR and ready to shoot for you for free. Before you settle on the cheapest quotation (or the most expensive one for that matter), do ask for their portfolio and see whether the style of their photography is something you like. Do you prefer a photographer that takes a lot of candid shots or posed? Look out for the photographer editing style too. Does the photographer like to that use punchy colours, or a lot of black and white? There’s no real right or wrong, but purely a matter of taste sometimes. If they have no portfolio (i.e. no experience), then you will need to prepare to bear the risk of getting badly focused, badly exposed and badly composed photos of the day you prepared so hard for.
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2. Budget your time

Often I’ve gotten request for a photographer for birthdays that span 3 to 4 hours. The fact of the matter is that most birthday parties last only 2 hours, from the time guest arrive, to the makan time and finally to the birthday cutting celebration. I normally advise my clients that 2 hours is enough and if they need more time, I can always stay awhile longer at the same rate. If you have something special like a magician or a clown act, let the photographer know too. Get an agenda ready for him ahead of time, so he is well prepared.
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3. Have a checklist

A good photographer would have a mental checklist of what photos they need to take at a party. This is normally the environment, the decorations, the cake, the food (before they get gobbled up), the gifts and guests both candid and in group shots, and plenty of the birthday boy/girl with her parents. However, unless your photographer is your sibling, they will not know who the birthday child’s VIPs are. Create a checklist of family and friends that you want to take photos with during the event and gather them for group photos. The best time to do this is after the cake cutting, and announcing to your checklist to go for the photo session. Start with yourselves the parents (and siblings), grandparents, the child’s cousins, uncles, aunties and etc.
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4. Communicate with your photographer on the day

On the day of the event, you can always ask the photographer to shadow you if you want him to take photos of you with the guests (e.g. when you are going around table-to-table). Or just call him anytime you need a photo opportunity. If you don’t ask, the photographer may be shooting something else and you would have missed the moments. Also, while the photographer is a service provider, it would be nice to whip up a conversation with him (if you have the time that is). After that, ask to see what shots he has taken and he would be happy to show it to you (instead of sounding like a boss who wants to inspect the quality of work)! I’ve had the privilege of shooting many birthdays, and the kind hospitality of the parents offering me to partake of their food and getting to know the parents is part of the fun of photography.

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5. Remember WHY

What is the ultimate reason you are throwing a birthday party? It’s to bring family and friends together to celebrate the day you bore your child to this world. It’s a celebration because your beloved child has brought you so much joy over the past 12 months or 2 years or 3 years he or she has been with you. In your preparation, consider the work is put in to cook the food, to bake the cake, to decorate the place. A baker takes years of practice and materials to perfect that beautiful Frozen themed fondant cake. A good photographer likewise would have years of experience in taking beautiful photos and invested in his camera equipment to bring you the best images so that you can remember the reason why you are celebrating your child on that special day. Take this opportunity to hire a good photographer and use this as a chance to take your family portrait as well. You won’t regret it, as all my clients can attest. 🙂
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If you are planning for a birthday party soon, drop us a message and we’ll be happy to serve you. 🙂

The photos in this blog are all taken by Joshuakhoo.com and no reproductions of these photos are allowed unless granted permission by the author.