It’s Kate here again, thrilled to share with you fabulous tips on photographing your celebrations! I had the privilege of chatting with one of the most talented event photographers in the business, Lee Bird of Lee Bird Photography, and she had plenty of great advice to share with you. Plus, we have included plenty of her photos to give you lots of inspiration and a little eye candy.
First, a lovely introduction to Lee Bird. Lee is mother to two beautiful young girls, Mia and Zoe, whom she refers to as her inspirations and muses. An editor of a travel magazine, Lee has allowed her passion for photography to flourish.
After the birth of her first daughter Mia, she began photographing her constantly. She continually practiced, learned much and soon realized she needed more variety, inspiration and different subjects. She then began taking photographs for friends, and from there her new business blossomed. Lee turned to mentor Wende Whitfield Trew of Timeless Image Photography, who graciously shared a wealth of information.
Lee absolutely loves her job, and enjoys learning and growing as both a business owner and photographer. She currently focuses on family, newborn, events and food styling photography, all of which she truly savors.
When asked to name a favorite or stand-out party she has photographed, Lee said it is simply too hard to select just one. I am absolutely thrilled she has shared so many images for us to enjoy!
Three Pieces of Advice To Improve Your Event Photography
These questions are geared for non-professionals who aspire to capture better pictures of personal parties using a digital SLR camera.
Q: Is lighting important in event photography? What do you suggest for providing the best light for your event photos?
A: Lighting is important in ANY photography. The ideal set-up for a dessert table is opposite a big window, which allows an even fall of light. Secondly, observe the spot carefully to determine during what time of day it receives the best light, and try schedule your photos around that time. You actually don’t want direct sunlight falling on the table or set-up, but instead a nice, even light that won’t cause harsh shadows.
It’s hard to specify the best shutter speed and aperture as it depends on the amount of light in the area. However, in an ideal situation, try keep your aperture around F/3.5 to f/5.6 and your shutter speed around 1/200 or higher (kids move fast and anything lower may cause a blur).
Q: What is your short list of shots parents should capture to ensure the most memorable moments of the party are caught on camera?
- Child’s first reaction to seeing their party all set up
- Child greeting guests and receiving gifts
- Birthday song and blowing out candles
- Party games and activities
- Full shot of the dessert table
- Close up of cake
Q: What is the best time to take shots of dessert tables, and what lens would you recommend using? Do you have any other simple tools that might make a big impact when trying to capture the details of the cookies, cakes, etc?
A: I would definitely recommend taking all the dessert table and event styling photos before guests arrive. You can even take them really early on and then put all perishables back in the fridge. I use my workhorse lens for the main images of the table – a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. Most zoom lenses would work just great. For the close up shots I use a Tamron 90mm Macro lens which gives the most beautiful, crisp macro images. I have used a reflector in the past and it really helps lighten some of the shadows. If you don’t have a reflector, you can use a big piece of white cardboard or styrofoam to bounce some light into the shadows. Another trick I’ve utilized on really sunny days is having someone hold a big white sheet over the table so I don’t have harsh shadows or blown whites.
Five of Lee Bird’s Top Tips In Getting Better Event Photos
1. Capture even the small moments. Looking back, you’ll never regret getting those images of your child’s excitement upon her best friend’s arrival.
2. Try to achieve the best lighting possible. Help yourself out by preparing the light prior to the event so you’re not left floundering.
3. Avoid too many narrow stripes as they can go wonky in photos.
4. Avoid bright reds and yellows. They are difficult to photograph and process.
5. I am a stickler for straight horizontals in photos. I don’t enjoy extreme angles – more often than not it looks like that cookie plate or cupcake tower is sliding off the table and out of the photo. If you can’t fit it into the photo while it’s straight, take a few steps back until it does. You can always crop closer in post processing.
You can find Lee on her blog here, where you can learn more about her new event photography workshops. A tremendous thank you to Lee for sharing your expertise with us all!