Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's with a Pre-Birthday Shoot?

I haven't had my wedding in a church just yet (formulating plans for that though, maybe in 2 years, IF the budget permits), but I am fully aware that before the wedding, couples go on a pre-nuptial photoshoot. Romantic, dramatic, nostalgic...all those stuff make up the overall impact of the pre-nup pics. The couples use those pics for their wedding's printables like invites, souvenirs ,etc.

And one of the many discoveries that I had when I started my party planning frenzy was that kiddie events also have their own version of a 'pre-nup shoot'!

From what I've seen, pre-event shoots are used for the same purpose as pre-nup pics - for party printables. But as a mom who have gone through her first three pre-event shoots for her kid, I've realized it's more than just about the printables.

  • important in setting the tone of a party. If you are working on a theme, the pre-birthday shoot is when you start reinforcing that. 
  • helpful in building excitement towards the main event. Great outputs from a pre-birthday shoot mean two things: guests can expect a well-prepared for party, and that they are sure to experience more fun stuff
  • great keepsakes that you can either enlarge, put in a photo album, or give to family and friends. 
 My daughter's first pre-event shoot was done through Great Image, a mid-range (as far as cost is concerned) photo studio.Her first birthday pre-event shoot was done through The Picture Company, and we spent somewhere around 3-4K for the sitting fee and the prints. For her second birthday pre-event pictorial, we asked a good friend who dabbles in photography to do an outdoor shoot, his name is Chad Barreyro (for his contact info, please leave a comment on this post).

Here are the outputs of her two studio shoots:

Great Image shoot

shoot at The Picture Company

Here are my takes on this -

If you're thinking of going for a studio shoot:
  • Plan it ahead. Have a theme in mind and come prepared for it. 
              For popular kiddie photo studios like The Picture Company, Pic-a-boo, and Blow-up Babies, outputs can become 'generic-looking'. Since the photographer's focus is more on capturing your kiddo's fleeting moments (especially for infants and toddlers), the responsibility of making the shoot unique is largely up to you.

             If you already have a set theme for your kiddie party, then you might as well prepare the costume and props that you can use for the pre-event shoot that will complement it. Not only will this add more color and character to your kid's photos, this will also ensure that you get shots that will look great with your printables. Like if you're having a Dora-themed party, bring some Dora items (like backpack, map, and perhaps a Dora or Boots stuffed toy) that can be included in the shoot. Studios do have their own costumes and props though, so you can either work with those, or you can bring your own.

  • Be prepared to choose. 
             Most studios don't offer a CD of all shots in high-res. They would usually have this option if you purchase a corresponding amount, and sometimes you only get either just a limited number of shots, or they will be in low-resolution (ok for web viewing but not for printing). If you have a limited budget for prints, then keep in mind what kind of shots you're looking out for, and choose those that will work best with your theme and the layouts of your printables. :)

Advantages of Studio Shoots
  1. The place is comfortable for both baby and the parents. These are usually dedicated spaces inside airconditioned rooms in malls, so you're sure you all get good ventilation, somewhere comfy to sit on, and you wouldn't have to worry about people staring at you while you make silly faces to make your baby smile or laugh. :) 
  2. Your baby can move around safely, without you worrying about him/her tripping on some rock or landing face first on a rough surface.
  3. Lighting can be manipulated in studio shoots, so whether it's dark and dreary or way too sunny outside, you don't have to worry about getting the right lighting for your photos. 
  4. They have ready props and costumes if you don't have the time to prepare any or if you prefer not to bring your own. :) 
For my little one's 2nd birthday pre-event shoot, we decided to have an outdoor pictorial. Since we were working on a really tight budget, we just asked a friend of ours who's really good at taking pictures with his DSLR (he's also starting out in the photography biz and already had more than a couple of clients). We don't have a park in our area, and Tagaytay was an hour's drive away pa so we just decided to go to the nearest greenery available. Hehe.

The shoot turned out really great despite the threat of rain, and the lack of a decent pictorial venue. :) 

outdoor shoot. Photog: Chad Barreyro

Here's my take on outdoor shoots:

 If you're thinking of going for an outdoor shoot:

  • Advance planning is also the name of the game. The only difference is, you have to put more elements into consideration, especially when it comes to the venue.  
               Whether it's summer or the rainy season, make sure that the place you're shooting at has a covered area you can stay at when it starts to pour or when it gets scorching hot.  It would also help if the place has a food stall or refreshment stand, just in case shoot participants get hungry or thirsty (or you can bring your own food too. Instant picnic. :)) Greens are a must, but make sure the place is clean and well-maintained. It would also be great if there are play structures or other 'dramatic' elements that can be found in the venue, perhaps a trellis, steps, a terrace or veranda, an elevated platform, a playground, or a solitary bench under a big tree. This will give your shots more variety.

             In addition, make sure that you don't need special permits to shoot at your preferred venue. Not all open parks allow people to do instant pictorials, especially if they notice it's being done by a pro. I'm guessing they're worried about the shots being used for commercial purpose. If you really do want to shoot there and they require a permit, get it in advance to avoid any hassle. Make sure to secure documentation that you're allowed to do the shoot.

  • Choose a week day instead of a weekend for the shoot.
             I'm pretty sure that most parents would prefer doing shoots on a weekend, but for your own convenience (and your photog's), week days are the better choice. Like in the case of public parks, these are usually frequented by visitors on weekends, when they have their family days, dates, etc. You might feel uncomfortable posing, smiling, or emoting, for the camera, and baby might feel ill at ease when he/she sees too many strangers around. Your photog might also have a hard time clearing an area for a shot, if there's just too many people walking around. :)

Outdoor shoots don't normally take more than 3 hours, so it's better to allot at least one weekday (like Monday, so the family will be well-rested and fresh for the shoot) for it. This way, you get to shoot with more privacy and comfort at the same time.

  • Know when your baby is most 'in the mood', and work on a fun theme for the shoot
             Pre-event or pre-birthday shoots focus more on the baby (the celebrant of course) than the family. So when choosing a time to have your shoot, consider when your kiddo is most awake and active. Some tend to be more receptive to play and interaction in the afternoon, some in the morning. Schedule your shoot around that time, so you don't have to worry about the little one being cranky during his/her pictorial.

            If you'll be having a themed shoot, make sure to bring comfortable clothes that baby can change to. Some birthday costumes are ideally worn in an airconditioned place, and well, outdoor shoots don't always offer the comfort of a good breeze. :) So once the photog gets good shots of the kiddo in the birthday costume, change him/her into something that's better for moving around with. Include themed elements as well that baby can play with. Say for example, if you're working on a fairy-themed shoot, give baby a wand or if it's going to be a 'Tea Party' theme, give her some toy teacups to keep her entertained.

Advantages of an outdoor shoot
  1. Outdoor shoots let you make use of natural light, which, in my opinion is the best kind. It brings out a person's best features, and the overall ambiance of an outdoor shoot makes a photo look light and fun. 
  2. It allows your baby to play around in open grounds, with a lot of interesting stuff to keep him/her entertained and animated. 
  3. Outdoor shoots give you more background options. You don't always have to settle for the greens. 
  4. With more space to move around in, you and your baby can do more than just the conventional poses, and you can include more elements into the photo, without it looking forced. 
  5. Outdoor shoots tend to run longer than studio shoots, so you and your baby can become more comfortable with the photographer. This is important, especially for the little one, because once he/she is already comfortable being around the new guy/girl with the big camera, then baby will not have inhibitions of laughing, playing, jumping, and walking around in the photographer's presence.  

    Whichever you opt for though, studio or outdoor shoots, pre-birthday or pre-event pictorials are always meant to be enjoyed and cherished. Consider it as a bonding moment as well, its just that you'll be having someone around to capture it on cam for you.

    Hope this post helps you with party planning! :)

    No comments:

    Post a Comment