On the high heels of the just-published Indian Sweet 16 photoshoot comes other loving parents’ gift of a versatile all-day Quinceanera photography to their 15-year-old daughter.
You can make a birthday gift tangible or intangible. As far as birthday celebrations for your kids are involved, something tangible usually prevails. Kids want to grab a present, this is what they understand. We throw them parties at a restaurant, bring a magician, and shower with shiny boxes. Everyone is having a good time, food and drinks pass their designated pathways, most presents end up in a dumpster years later. A rare few may turn into keepsakes. Things get better when a birthday party is wrapped around an epic experience, such as celebrating at a museum, crafts shop, art gallery, amusement park, or on an adventure trip. This helps build something intangible and thus perceived and valued on a deeper level.
Finding a cool experience becomes more challenging for teens and young adults (I thought a Halloween-themed survival quest in an abandoned prison would be cool for my 16-year-old, born in October). A professional photo shoot is one of such cool options. Best of all, photography as art stands the test of time. The memories, emotions, and feedback build that intangible quality. Unlike most gifts and food, the investment in art appreciates over the years and generations. How much would you treasure a family heirloom—photograph of your grandmother if she did a photoshoot at 15 years old? Fashion-driven yet fun, modeling is a dream of many young girls. A great start could be a Bat Mitzvah fun project, Quinceanera photography, Sweet 16 photo session, or a Prom Queen extravaganza. Borrowing the techniques from my fashion and fine art photography, I try to give them that grown-up experience with the photos suitable for fashion magazines and billboards, rocking Snapchat and Instagram. Have a look:
Some parents hire a professional photographer to cover the birthday party and do a “separate” photo shoot prior to the guests’ arrival. Problem is, it may be 15-30 minutes and the results differ little from their own amateur shots, given the advance of entry-level digital cameras. Art needs dedicated time and undivided attention. Hot off the press: I talked my recent clients, who were doing their Indian Sweet 16 party for their daughter, into having a dedicated photo session weeks before the event. Here are some samples:
Not all parents throw parties, however. Instead of that tangible experience they want to treat their child to something different and memorable. Such was the case with Alexis’ parents. For her 15th birthday, they gave a gift of Quinceanera photography. Her mom wrote: “We wanted to do a photo shoot that she will remember for the rest of her life!“
There was no holding back in preparations. First, they went all out for an all-day session, a holy grail of my photography adventures. It opens all doors to creativity, locations, lighting, moods, and outfit changes. Second, they added a charming Morilee gown by the internationally renowned bridal designer Madeline Gardner who has a dedicated Quinceanera dress collection. Louboutin shoes also made an appearance. Gigi Maresca did her glamorous hair and makeup.
Alexis’ loving parents arranged for a photo permit at Brooklyn Botanic Garden—a significant undertaking expected more of an engagement session or a wedding, not Quinceanera photography! We planned to finish at the Jane’s Carousel for the sunset portion but I had to break bad news to them. I’ve just had shot another session there and learned about the new restrictions for professional photography, outlined on my updated photo permits page. Photographers are not permitted to take photos while riding or standing on the carousel—they have to stand behind the glass rail, cannot use flash, and clients cannot stand or move around during the ride. To overcome these limitations and achieve a more meaningful artistic effect, we had to buy a permit there, too. This was a surprise “it’s all yours for an hour” treat from her father.
I started at their home in the Bronx, shot the prep, climbed out to the fire escape stairs, and managed to cut my scalp to blood there. We then shot at the 86st Street subway station to incorporate the colorful murals and moved into Central Park. The young lady loves reading, and a book was a meaningful prop for her. Since the entire family, including the little brother, tagged along and helped around, we took two quick breaks for lunch and dinner. For the widest visual array and essence of Quinceanera photography, I alternated between street chic and a more formal feel, modern urban and a little fairytale-ish, cold fashion and warm laughter.
What an unforgettable experience! I’m elated to add Quinceanera photography to the youth portfolio and encourage parents to consider this eternal gift as an intangible, invaluable, and far-reaching treat. Their budding life deserves it.
P.S. This peak season I skip lots of shoots in my blog. Those who make it are rewarded by the additional retouched photos because I do it for own aesthetic pleasure. This session features over 50 images, almost tripling the number included in the package. So sorry I cannot find time for all the cool projects I photograph…
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