Thursday, December 14, 2006

Birthday Party Shooting Part II: The Day of Reckoning

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 our host apologized to the guests for the delay, the laptop still wouldn't run. so, we had to reboot and pray that it'll work this time. unfortunately, her laptop runs like a turtle and the whole restarting fiasco took about 20 minutes (the poor guests!)

thankfully, this was the only noticeable glitch in the program. because the program was well-planned, everything went smoothly. gelli's friends gave a hilarious skit cum musical that summarized her "evolution" from a baby into the young lady that we know now. this was followed by an MTV and documentary by her extremely creative friend (who will make a great director and graphic artist someday.) of course, we still had the traditional 18 dances, which ended with my papa getting teary-eyed while waltzing with my sister. the next part of the program was the messages from friends and family, this time with a twist. the first part was for the messages from gelli's friends,

messages from a few of gelli's friends

while the second part was video messages from relatives and family friends which we showcased during dinner.

we could see that everybody was having a lot of fun, the opening boo-boo totally forgotten. my only frustration was that i wasn't able to take shots of the souvenirs and food as well as close-up stolen shots of the guests. my camera's zoom can only take so much stretching and i couldn't move closer to the tables because i would block the host. so most of my candid shots were whole-body photos (which i can still crop.)

papa getting all choked up during the last dance

cupcake icing fight!

my only consolation was that the tripod helped me take clear shots in the dark hall. even with all the lights turned on, the party hall was still a bit dark, particularly the terrace area. but the photos turned out pretty ok despite the dark lighting.

gelli's throne and cake table

gelli and her "real" escort, christian bautista

in the terrace with our cousins

anyway, after the whole shebang, i realized that, aside from those i mentioned in my previous post, there are more things to consider in planning and photographing for a party.

Location, Location, Location
familiarize yourself with the venue. make an occular inspection weeks before the party, especially if you're not just the photographer but the party planner as well. during our dry runs, we took note of:

1. the electric sockets
after checking out where all the sockets were located, we realized that we needed about 3 extension cords for the sounds, electric fans, and laptop with projector. if we didn't do an occular inspection, i can just imagine the panic and destruction that would happen. WW3, here we go!
2. the lighting
because i had to turn off certain lights during different parts of the program, i listed down which lights had to be left on when the host is speaking and those that had to be turned off during a video/slide show. it was also helpful to run through the whole program while operating the lights.
3. the time
we made sure to visit the clubhouse at the exact time of the party just to check the lighting and other things we should take note of. it was a great idea that time too because we found out during our 1st inspection that the clubhouse holds masses (just recently) every sunday from 6-7 pm. we had to coordinate with the priest and adjust to their time. when we were there, we noticed that the mass ends at around 6:30.

Foooood!
coordinate with the caterer. you should have an agreement about the lay-out of the tables, buffet area, cake area, gift table, and the celebrant's position (my sister was provided a special chair.) because we were in charge of the decor, we gave the caterers instructions on how the centerpiece should look like. also, we gave them the candles that we bought so they can prepare the centerpieces ahead of time (they were in charge of the flowers.)

Be My Guest
because we had to move the start of the program from 6 to 6:30 in leiu of the mass, my sisters informed their guests that they can come at around 6 pm instead of 5. of course, because i was so busy doing other tasks, i neglected to inform my guests. an obvious mistake in my part when one of my guests arrived at exactly 5 pm, while we were still setting up.

Use a Tripod!
i cannot stress this enough, especially for owners of P&S cameras like myself. the tripod spared me from potential photo disasters, bigtime. never mind that i had to throw all attempts at poise as i lugged the three-legged contraption with me around the hall in my fuschia dress and stilettos. at least the photo subjects are visible and clear.

oy, wag masyadong malakas, gelli! taob na si #1!

Shoes Ko Po!
speaking of stilettos, it's definitely not the brightest idea to move around wearing three-inch heels while photographing the whole event. comfortable flats or rubber shoes are still the best footwear. but this was a party so i really didn't care. haha!

Relax!
this is, first and foremost, a party. no matter how stressful the event may be, it is still important to take a deep breath (or more, when needed) and just enjoy the show. after all, there's something bound to go wrong in any event so you better accept it and move on (something i've learned the hard way.)

(Not So) Picture Perfect
even if the photos didn't turn out as expected, what's more important is the memories that everybody will take home with them. days after the event, my sister told me that her party was still the talk of the school. well, looks like all our hard work payed off after all. :)

moi, papa, gelli, tonet, and mama

now that gelli's debut is over, the real work has just begun for me. i still have to compile, edit, and lay-out the photos for gelli's photo book. unlike the party, this has no deadline so i'm taking my sweet time. pass me the remote control, please! :)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Learned a lot of things from your article Aby. Thanks for sharing. :) And good job on covering the debut event. :)

Linus said...

Great job Aby. Keep it up.

ed's said...

Wow! what a great adventure you had! not to mention a lovely family you havE! CongratS!

alexdpx said...

Hmmm . . . . I learned something again :) Thanks for sharing Aby.

aby said...

thanks guys! i appreciate it. i had fun doing the shoot (for the most part anyways, hehe.)