Alaina & Gabby Turn One – Little Miracles

When Danielle, a fellow SAIF (success after infertility) messageboard member asked me to photograph her girls’ first birthday party, my first instinct was to say no. I don’t really do event photography because unlike portraits, there are no “do overs” if you screw up and miss a moment! (For this reason I’d NEVER want to be a wedding photographer for example.)

But then as I read her email over and over I realized I couldn’t refuse. The fact that Alaina & Gabby were even conceived is thanks to the miracle of IUI, but the fact that they were born at just 27 weeks and are now happy and healthy celebrating their first year – it was just too joyful of an occasion for me not to want to be part of.

And even better, I got to meet P. and A., other members of the SAIF board who have their own little IVF miracles Ginny and Mason that I couldn’t WAIT to point my lens at!

Ginny, BEFORE she fell and bumped her nose and forehead on the concrete rooftop :(

Ginny after, beautiful with boo boo and all


mason - born just a few days after Jasper and is just as mischevious!

The other reason I was hesitant about shooting the party is because event photography is extremely technically challenging – the light is constantly changing and you can’t exactly stop the party and ask everyone to position themselves optimally towards the sun for pictures! Plus, most events take place indoors mandating a flash – which has a whole other slew of challenges. I was incredibly relieved to realize when I arrived that the party was outdoors on the rooftop!

And, what a rooftop it was.. it was furnished in that Miami hotel outdoors swank white couch sort of way, complete with outdoor gas fireplace and amazing views of the city:

And then there were the decorations..if you think I went all out for Jasper’s first birthday party, well, let’s just say Danielle one upped me pretty much all around! Check out this cake:

and these cupcakes!

(see those little cupcake toppers with the girls’ pictures on them? Priceless!)

And party favors like these fun bubbles:

and goodie bags:

and party favor pails:

that contained fun things like these glasses:

and let’s not forget the adorable banner!

and these marshmallow sparklers (?) that they made themselves:

Ok, so enough about the gorgeous details, here are the gorgeous twins themselves, totally enjoying their birthday cake:

I have SOOOO many pictures (570!!!) that I may just be editing them forever.  I have a bunch more including some nice portraits of other party guests over at my brand new photography site/blog!!!  The images are much bigger and more fun to look at that way I think.

As far as technical photo information goes (for those of you interested) I shot the whole thing with my Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 Lens.  I used mostly AV mode (aperture priority) because the sun was coming in and out and I’d be playing with my settings the whole time instead of snapping pictures otherwise!

I did take some in manual mode when I wanted a wider depth of field like for the cupcake and cake pictures and also for certain portraits when I wanted to spot meter to make sure I didn’t get my subjects too dark against the bright sky. It seemed to have worked pretty well, though like all digital images they needed some tweaking in lightroom and photoshop.

Thanks for looking!

PS, I know some of you might ask so I’ll say that I know most of the party decorations Danielle got from Etsy. If anyone wants to know any of the particularly details I’d be happy to ask Danielle and post back :)

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Connie says:

Wonderful pictures!!! What a beautiful party! I’m so inspired! I had the same question as Judy above, but didn’t see a reply: were you able to find out where Danielle got those cute bubbles for the party? They are adorable and I would love them for my little girl’s first birthday too!! :)

Maya says:

I also put my twin daughters in tutu’s for their first bday last year! So cute!

Judy N says:

Where did she get the banner? And what about those CUTE bubbles with the pretty paper wrapped around?

Stephanie says:

Congrats on the new site! :)

Jen says:

What a GREAT party! She gave me some great ideas for my son’s 1st bday coming up (also your bday Ariana!) and I just ordered one of those banners from etsy. LOVE the cupcakes with the pics too – totally going to steal that idea! I can’t wait to look at the other photos.

Thanks for your great blog, I love reading it and while I don’t comment very often, I appreciate all your wonderful tips, photos and stories.

Justina says:

Oh yes, all those pointers are really helpful! I usually take in AV mode, but switch to TV if I need to control the light… guess I need to also be familiar with the metering modes too! And the depth of field thing makes sense, think I’d better switch from f2.8 to something higher the next time I take my baby…

Oh, and I was wondering if you would be willing to critique the photos on my blog ( Am trying to improve my photo-taking skills, and can’t seem to make my photos pop like yours! That’s if you have time… :)

And thanks again!

LOVE the pictures! I saw them posted on our multiples board. You are fabulous – I envy your photog skills.

Danielle says:

Ariana, I love love love the pictures! We’re so honored to have pictures of the party here and on your new photography site. You are truly talented and we’re so glad you were there to document our special day.

ac says:

that looks like such a fun day- Good thing you did shoot those pics they look super!

♥ ac

tryingin2007 says:

LOVE the shots of ginny! thank you!
(I also stole your post for my blog. hope you don’t mind.)


Lindsey says:

Great pictures! I love the new site. You look a little like Angelina Jolie in your picture! Good luck with the new site!

Kimberly says:

What a fun party! Beautiful portraits, as always… I love that you’re starting your own photography site/blog! Looks great so far!

ariana says:

Thanks everyone!

Justina, hmmm, I’m not sure exactly because I’m no expert at event photography. I just sort of thought like I would if I were the mom.. what things would I want pictures of??

From a technical point of view, like I said I think it’s much easier to shoot on either AV or TV mode because manual for the most part is going to be harder to do except in certain circumstances. But I hesitate to say that’s the right thing to do, because there are probably plenty of great photographers that shoot events in manual mode and are just better at it than I am!

The trick is knowing your camera and the circumstances where you need to outsmart your camera’s meter.. like in the case of a group shot with a bright sky behind, you have to set your light meter off of the people, otherwise the meter will read the overall light off the sky and undersexpose the photo. So for those shots I either switched my metering mode from evaluative to spot metering or I used the + EV to force the camera to let in more light. In fact I find that the rebel usually underexposes a bit in the AV or TV modes so I usually keep my EV at +1.

Increasing the Depth of field happens as you widen the aperture.. so I think I shot everything at about 3.5, but for certain things where I wanted the background to blur more (like the cupcake shots, or the favor pails or bubbles) which are also things that I know “sit still” I shot wide open for this lens which is 2.8. It would have been VERY hard to shoot the whole thing at 2.8 because the wider the depth of field the more chance that things are going to be out of focus and most lenses aren’t as sharp wide open as they are stopped down one or two f stops.

Hope that helps!

kari says:

omg omg omg….

you are on fire!

Justina says:

The photographs over at your new site look fantastic! :) Great job! Any tips to share on taking events? Actually I’m not quite sure, how do you alter depth of field in manual mode?

chantal says:

Looks like Danielle reads the hostess blog and if she doesn’t, she should start! Great job with the party Danielle, it all looks amazing. And great job Ariana, the pictures are awesome! It looks like a great time was had by all.

What a great job you did! I can’t wait to take a good look at your new site.