Behind the scenes: a birthday party photo shoot

Life at CedarWorks  |  1 year ago

Behind the scenes: a birthday party photo shoot

Last summer we did one of our biggest photoshoots ever to help us introduce our three new product lines. We had 19 different playsets to photograph, and we wanted each one to have its own distinctive look and setting with different themes or props, so folks could imagine different ways playsets might be used by families. 

To that end, we improved the landscaping on various sections of our property. Our office is already surrounded by several acres of land and has fields, wooded areas, a small pond, and a quintessential New England rock wall, so we had a lot to work with. We were able to create nearly a dozen possible locations in which to shoot.

Then we imagined different “stories” or scenarios. How do families use their playsets or their backyards? How do kids play? We came up with a lot of fun, easy ideas like a tea party set on the picnic table in one gazebo, or a costume party with capes and costumes and magic wands.

But for our biggest sets, we needed to think of a big theme. So we came up with birthday parties because a birthday party can be as big and as colorful as you want. For these giant playsets, the birthday parties had to be big, but not so big that they pulled focus from the set itself, so we decided that we would have balloons and streamers, but we wouldn’t put them on the playsets themselves, and we could choose colors and themes, and make cakes, and wrap presents, all to be displayed near the playsets. 

We drew sketches of what we wanted each party to look like and chose color themes for each set. Then we ordered tablecloths and napkins, plates and party favors. We scoured second hand and discount stores for cake plates and cupcake tiers. For weeks, our designer, Heather, spent nearly all of her spare time fashioning dozens and dozens of cakes and cupcakes out of styrofoam, using joint compound and food coloring for the frosting (it looks a lot better than it sounds).  We blew up hundreds of balloons and fashioned them into balloon arches and swags, and we gift wrapped dozens of empty boxes to look like birthday presents.

On the day of each of the birthday photo shoots, we carefully set the tables with their matching tablecloths and plates and napkins, and we set out the noisemakers and party hats. Then we put up the balloons and arranged the “presents” and the “cakes”, as carefully as if they were the real thing. When the kids arrived, we had to explain that while the cakes looked delicious, they were all just pretend, and that their job was to basically ignore all the party decorations and just play on the playset. We may have bribed them with the promise of real cupcakes once the shoot was over, but it turns out, it’s not hard to convince kids to play on a huge playset, even when there’s a birthday party set up next to it.

So the kids played and ran around the playsets, while the balloons and streamers and other party elements that we had spent so many hours on stayed in the background. We had never gotten quite so elaborate with props before, so it was a little hard, in a way not to make them the stars of the show (that balloon arch came out great, after all), but, as you can tell from our playsets, we are a pretty particular bunch here at CedarWorks, so if we were going to do a fake birthday party, we were going to do it right.

As this spring heads towards summer, we are planning our next photo shoot and maybe throwing another “birthday party” or two.

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