The Birthday Party

Whilst my last post talked about wedding photography and why I don’t offer it, I also highlighted those family functions that I do cover and an assignment I attended last Friday illustrates this.

The event was a 50th birthday party held at a The Hoxton Hotel & Grill in Central London. Attended by around 40 people, the brief was to capture the evening and present an online gallery for the client and guests to view shortly after.

Due to the relaxed lighting it was necessary to use flash, and here I used a flashgun with diffuser. I’m no fan of flash photography ¬†as it can produce somewhat flat and unnatural images. It can also be quite intrusive if you’re taking a lot of photos, especially if your also using auto-focus assist illumination, which immediately distract’s the subject. Once you’ve drawn attention to the fact that you’re about to take a photo, the subject’s attention can be shifted to you, rather than enjoying the conversation or whatever they were engaged in, hence you’ve lost the element of surprise and a natural photo. This does however depend on the subject and how they react. Some people will tense up a little whereas other will ignore you. In spite of the these issues, I was able to get some excellent shots.

The even itself took place in the corner of a London Hotel and Grill, having been set aside for the event. I always try to make a point of being as unobtrusive as possible (notwithstanding the flash issue). I also like to vary angles so that whilst some shots will be head-on, others might be taken with the camera held up high (can be a bit hit-and-miss) and others from lower angles. I’m also keen on taking photos discreetly over people’s shoulders.

My choice of lens was a kit 18-55mm lens. I would normally use a longer lens for such events but the lighting issue precluded this.

Overall I was pleased with the results, and most importantly, so was the client!

For more information about photography for family functions, celebrations and anniversaries, please visit my website at