Sunday, December 10, 2006

Birthday Party Shooting Part I: The Long Wait

DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional photographer. I don't even own any professional photography gear (save for a tripod.) I just want to share my experience as an "official photographer" for a night. :)


after almost 3 months of preparation, stress, and a failed attempt at WW3, gelli's party is finally over and done. except for me, that is.

because of financial constraints, my family refrained from hiring an official photographer. guess who volunteered to do the photos instead??

the task is daunting, to say the least. the only time i covered an event was for my godson's party a few months ago. it was held during the day so it was easier to get clear and colorful shots.

my sister's party was going to be an evening affair, which posed as a challenge for my P&S camera. knowing the limitations of my A520, i prepared for my stint ahead of time. we had 2 dry runs during the exact time of the party (5-9). i took photos just to see how my camera will perform. it was pretty ok but i still felt anxious. the debut is our family's 1st and only party so far so i wanted everything to be perfect.

prior to dec. 3, i made mental notes of what to photograph:

for any event, it is essential to capture what transpired behind the scenes before the actual "show." this includes set-up, decorations, invitations, souvenirs, and other important stuff like the celebrant getting her hair and make-up done.

Program Proper
it is extremely important to familiarize myself with the flow of the party. this way, i'll know where to position myself at certain times of the program.

for instance, i have to stay in front of the staircase for gelli's grand entrance at the beginning of the party while for the 18 dances, i would get a clearer shot if i'm at the side of the dance floor. then for the candle blowing, i have to get as close to gelli as possible to get a nice, tight shot.

Smile, You're on Candid Camera!
i love candid shots! so for the party, i told myself to take as many stolen shots (mainly of the guests) as possible.

of course, a photo album wouldn't be complete without shots of what happened after the "show."

Have a Seat!
for an organized party, assign the seating arrangements of all the guests. i printed out the guest list with their table assignments. each table had the number and place card so the guests will know where their table is.

Gearing Up
my ammunition. hehe.

Canon A520
4 rechargeable batteries
2 pcs 128 Mb memory cards
1 pc 32 Mb memory cards
a sturdy tripod
a small wristlet (for the spare batts and memory cards)
a camera strap (in my case, it was a long fuschia string to match my outfit. ;) )

with my gear set, all i could do was pray for clear shots. as for the lighting, i can always use Photoshop.

with all of these in mind, i anxiously braced myself for DDay.


nothing, NOTHING, can ever prepare you for the actual event.

initially, this was the schedule that i set for myself:
3:30 - set-up decors and table paraphernalia
4:00 - start taking photos of pre-party essentials
4:30 - freshen up for the party
5:00 - party time!

just imagine my surprise when, upon arriving at the clubhouse, we saw that the lay-out of the tables was all wrong. the space for the dance floor had the long buffet table while the celebrant's throne and gazebo was set up right in the terrace, where the older guests should stay. it turned out that their (caterer) boss didn't inform them of the supposed lay-out! because i had to coordinate with the person in charge, there was a delay with the decorations. i tried to keep my cool despite the fact that i was getting more upset by the minute. luckily, by the time i was putting the table decors and place cards, i was able to take a few photos.

i didn't have time to do a complete shoot of all the pre-party preparations since i had to assist the others in hanging our polka dot curtains.

to my horror, my guest (a high school friend) arrived. i checked the time. it was 5 o'clock already! i couldn't believe it! after apologizing to carol a gazillion times, i went back to fixing the decor. the sweet girl even volunteered to assist.

when i saw that everything was going smoothly, i excused myself and freshened up for the party. when i got back, carol was already snacking on the pink and green puto and Nips we laid out on her table.

a whole Justin Timberlake's concert DVD later, a few guests trickled in. it was a few minutes past 6:30 and most of gelli's friends haven't arrived yet. i had to remind myself that this was a common occurence in parties. finally, by 7 pm, we were ready to start.

or so we thought.

for some insane reason, tonet's laptop stopped working. our host already invited everybody to stand up for the prayer, a Powerpoint slide that was going to be projected unto the white wall. since we couldn't start immediately, we had to tell the guests to sit down. how embarrassing! tonet's laptop is efficient, yes, but it is just the slowest one i've ever seen! talk about bad timing!

to be continued...


ed's said...

Great job Ms. Abby,you didn't let your camera's limitation hinders you from getting great shots at this wonderful occasion.Galing!

alexdpx said...

You did great Aby! I've had my share of photographing events but not quite the same way you did. Thanks for sharing - now I've learned a few things that I ought to try next time :-)

aby said...

ed's & alexdpx: salamat po, mga sir! :)