Event photography is a little bit different than doing a portrait session. With events, the photographer needs to capture the details, photograph expressions and interactions and anticipate those once-in-a-lifetime moments. Since a party will only happen once, it’s important to get it right on the first try.

My clients trust me to capture their special life events with an authentic documentary approach. I love telling their stories through my unique event photography. It’s truly a special thing to be able to help preserve a memory.

Professional advice for photographing a birthday party

When photographing a birthday party or event, you need the obvious shots of the cake, blowing out the candles, decorations, presents, and mom and dad with the birthday child. But my main goal is to stay focused on the family and their interactions.

I like to tell the story of the reunion with many in-between moments: a gaze between parents, a clear expression of love in the grandparents’ eyes, or laughter over a new toy. Those are moments you need to anticipate as a photographer. I always pay attention to the grandparents because I want the grandchild to keep those memories with them forever.

It is important to me that my clients relive the moments and feel the emotions of the event through my photos. Quite often, the families don’t live close to each other, so these moments are precious.

Event photography of A family siting together during a Korean 100 days celebration, Baek-il

Capture the spirit and tradition of each unique event, like this Korean 100th day celebration.

When I’m photographing a party or family event, I like to know the meaning behind the celebration. For example, this Korean 100th day celebration, called Baek-il, is a special tradition to celebrate the survival and health of a new baby.

In the past, when infant survival rates were low, Korean families kept newborns confined at home, away from any visitors, for 100 days. After 100 days, if the child was healthy, the family would pray to the gods to thank them for the child’s survival. They would host a 100th day celebration to present the healthy child for the very first time.

Today, survival rates have vastly improved, but Koreans still celebrate the 100th day as a milestone for babies and new parents. During the celebration, they share food and steamed rice cake for good luck, and they dress the baby in a traditional Korean dress called a hanbok.

Knowing the history and special meaning behind this event helped me anticipate the moments the family would like to remember. It also helped me to know which details were important, like the steamed rice cake and traditional dress.

a Korean mom sets the table for a Baek-il event or 100th day celebration

This family didn’t keep their daughter indoors for 100 days, but they still wanted to celebrate the milestone. They genuinely felt grateful that they all survived those early days with a newborn.

I stayed for four hours to document the 100th day celebration with grandparents, uncles, aunts and a baby cousin. Half of this family is Korean and the other half is from India. I stayed through the afternoon, photographing lots of different outfits for the baby, the family eating, playtime and the family socializing.

Steamed rice cake as part of Korean 100 days celebration event photo
A beautifully set table during a Korean 100 days celebration event
Event photography of a baby wearing a hanbok at a Baek-il, Korean 100 days celebration
Baby wears a white dress and plays with family at Baek-il, Korean 100 days celebration
Baby's white eyelet dress is from The Gap.
Event photo of a baby in a white dress and playing with family at Baek-il, Korean 100 days celebration
Baby plays with cousin at Baek-il, Korean 100 days celebration, event photography
Even photography of A family interacts with new baby at Baek-il, a Korean 100 days celebration
Baby's yellow dress is from The Gap.

Event photography pricing

My events are priced for a 2-hour shoot. Every additional hour is half the price ($800 for 2 hours and +$200 per hour after that). I deliver approximately 50 images per hour, but this depends on the number of people attending and the number of kids.

The client receives all the web-sized digital files, which can be printed up to 5×7, and an 8×12 bamboo print or two 11×14 prints of their choice. If they want to add prints they can buy from my à la carte menu (for example, a single high-res file, all high-res files, or a photo book). I want my clients to hold something tangible after our time together, so I always include some products.

I have a documentary approach so I don’t always pose or direct, but this client asked for a family shot and some photos of her in-laws, which I happily captured.

Event photography of a baby being presented at a Baek-il, a Korean 100 days celebration

Juliette’s tools

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Lenses: Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art for indoor, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM for outdoor portraits. I work with natural light so I pushed the ISO up to 1250 indoors.

Memory cards: SanDisk Extreme 16GB. I prefer to have multiple cards instead of one big one for event photography. It’s safer if anything happens to a card.  

Strap: SpiderPro Hand Strap

Bag: Lowepro Passport Sling. I love it because it’s light, versatile and provides easy access to my gear.

In her bag: Besides the extra battery, cards, and lenses, I always carry a prism in case I want to do something more creative, and a Vello ShutterBoss Timer Remote that I use mostly for personal stuff.

Editing & image delivery

Computer: 27-inch iMac
Editing software: Lightroom 5
Album design software: SmartAlbums
Printed products: WHCC
Client gallery: Pixieset

I use Pixieset to deliver event images to my clients. I promise approximately 50 photos per hour and the web-sized digital files are available for download immediately.

No matter what style and details you decide on for your event photography, remember that it’s an honor to photograph a part of someone’s life. A tradition, birthday party or celebration is a special time that deserves to be remembered in an authentic way. The secret is anticipating what’s coming and knowing what’s important. Catch those in-between moments, those emotions and special looks, those little details your client will want to remember in ten years. That attention to what matters is what makes all the difference in creating unforgettable party photos.

All photos by Juliette Fradin

The gold balloons in the feature photo are from Party City.