Birthdays are a amazing milestones. For parents, they are often full of emotion and festivity-- a time to get together with family and friends, make memories, celebrate the triumphs of the past year. Parties are a tradition for the parents as much as for the child, probably even more so when they are young. According to an article on today.com following the grand celebration of North West last year, "first time moms will spend at least $300 on a birthday party, yet it seems many are willing to shell out more for everything from bounce houses to food trucks to fully-catered affairs." There's also the happy case of simply having family and friends over for pizza and cake, which is just fine. We may take a moment to recognize, however, that there is a definite middle ground these days.
Thanks to sites like dear old Pinterest, parties have become increasingly personalized- a sweet mix between childhood fun, family entertainment, and hand-crafted details that make birthdays a truly special celebration.
This is where my influence as a photographer kicks in. People spend hundreds of dollars renting bouncy castles and balloon artists for birthday parties, but think professional photography is an unnecessary extravagance. It doesn't have to be. You just may not have considered the value.
Here are 7 reasons why your party doesn't have to be the toddler gala of the year for it to be worth considering a photographer to capture the occasion.
1. A huge part of their happy memories is YOU
One of the biggest purpose behind a party is to create happy memories for your child. Even if he/she is too young to remember the party itself, pictures will live on. When he/she is old enough to look back at the images and make inferences and opinions, they will tell a story that speaks to the nature of family, what life looked like at that stage, who was present with kisses and hugs. A huge part of their happy memories will consist of your involvement. Not your level of preparation. Your level of presence. Hire a professional so you can get out from behind the camera and get into your child's photographic memories.
2. You have other things to manage
Hosting a birthday party can be a lot of work. You're busy setting up the food, gathering materials for the next game, pointing people toward the bathroom, making sure no one sticks their face in the cake... not to mention, ultimately trying to enjoy the company and your little love. When/if you finally remember to pick up your camera and document the day, it's probably too late - the cake has been cut, the balloons have flown away, the presents are opened. It's great to be able to live in the moment, but you also want to be able to capture all the details that went into the day and to be able to reminisce over the years to come.
3. You can't be everywhere at once.
You can only photograph what you see and while you're handling logistics or watching the fun over in the sprinklers, there could be a hilarious moment happening over on the playground that you'd completely miss if not for the watchful eye of a professional.
You can’t be everywhere at all times, so the photographer is there to capture things you may have missed, as opposed to you just taking photos of what’s happening where you’re at that very moment.
4. They know what they're doing:
If you want frame-worthy images from your child's birthday party, yes it takes a nice camera, but it also takes finesse, an eye for composure, practiced editing skills, knowledge of lighting and color-casting--especially indoors or harsh mid-day sun. A professional knows how to capture everyone in their best light, no matter the lighting situation.
5. Eliminate post-party organization stress
You've planned the party to a tee with lists, a dozen separate shopping trips, and hours of cooking + set up. Then you managed the party day with rowdy kiddos, icing explosions, and last-minute balloon fiascos. Do you A. really want to be trying to manage well-composed, sharp images amidst those duties? and B. do you honestly see yourself in the weeks following having several free hours to go through all those pictures, touch them up, and get them printed?
A professional can make receiving the photos easy. You just enjoy the party and then a few days/weeks later, you receive a perfectly curated gallery online or by usb. Choosing to relegate the memory-keeping to a professional will take loads off your already pizza-grease-covered plate.
6 Capture candid:
It's easy for kids and adults to fall subject to the "say-cheese" syndrome, but birthday parties are about fun and festivity -- a pro will be able to capture the in-between moments that showcase real emotion of individuals and groups.
If you're hoping to get pictures of different groups of people like family, neighbors, all the kids, etc., leave the job of rounding everyone upto your photographer. Along with their artistic talent, they also tend to be professional wranglers. Someone who specializes in kids and families will have plenty of practice in politely directing groups with a firm but friendly hand. Relinquishing the task of searching through rooms, lining up kids, or pulling Aunt Betty away from the chip bowl will allow you to spend more time enjoying the people you're with and less time attempting to get 5 one-year olds to sit in a line together.
Still not convinced?
There are a few major 'cons' that typically drive people away from the idea of of birthday photographer.
Rebuttal #1: Will I get all the photos I want?
This can be solved by simply talking with the photographer before the party about your wants, the schedule of events, and even creating a shot list. Just like a wedding, the photographer will have a clear idea about what you're looking for and be sure to capture those moments throughout the day.
Rebuttal #2: It's expensive or frivolous:
Of course it will cost money to have the photographer there, and it's not for everyone or every party. But based on the pros above, you have to decide whether it’s worth it and weigh a cost/sanity analysis.