Weekly Theme #21: Parties and Celebrations Photography Challenge

Photo by Ian Schneider
Photo by Ian Schneider

Whether you recently celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or just a regular old weekend, I hope you’re feeling refreshed and motivated to continue this exciting journey into photography.

Over the last week, I’ve been clicking the weekly theme tab on the platform at least 3 times a day. The quality and quantity of submissions put a smile on my face each time. Such a broad theme allowed for a real mix of styles and genres.

I’m aware the closing date for last week’s theme (Dec 25) didn’t allow a lot of time for photos taken on Christmas Day to be edited and entered into the contest. So, please feel free to enter these photos into the new Parties and Celebrations Photography Challenge weekly theme. Let’s also look ahead to a particularly famous night for celebrations around the world: New Years Eve.

Weekly Theme #20 Winners:

Congratulations to these members! Look out for a PM from me in your inbox.

Weekly Theme #20 was our second weekly theme contest to use the new and improved system of judging. As one member rightly pointed out to me, one of the benefits is improved fairness. You can now enter on Day 1 of the new theme, or just before midnight on the closing date, and have an equal chance of winning.

Here’s the winning photo from PhotoBlog member, Jay Keywood. It’s a really eye catching shot. Congrats, Jay!

Photo by Jay Keywood
Photo by Jay Keywood

Jay describes this fantastic capture saying:

“I had been getting a few snaps of the man in the window in the Santa hat, who was sipping hot chocolate in between dozing off to sleep at his table.  Then the man on the right stormed out of the cafe complaining that he had been kicked out for picking a fight at another restaurant. “I was just wanting to get a cup of coffee,” he said, as the man in the Santa hat fell asleep into his cup and spilled his hot chocolate on the table.”

Fantastic photo and story, Jay! Thank you to everyone who participated in the Christmas weekly theme.

Weekly Theme #21: Celebrations – Show Us How You Party

This week, we’re throwing on our glad rags and heading out to photograph a celebration. The whole world loves a good party and, while there are enormous differences in how people do it, there are some things I’ve noticed that remain constant. Dance, laughter, games, and good food; these shared threads bind us together, reminding us we are all the same species after all.

Imagine a New Years Eve party. What are you picturing? Chances are it’s fireworks and large groups of people. Perhaps you’re indoors clinking glasses with friends, dancing to tunes spun by a DJ, and counting down as midnight approaches. Our goal for this week is to get away from basic party snapshots, instead working on creating images with artistic value. Read on for tips and inspiration!

celebration photography challenge
Photo by Kimson Doan

How to Participate:

Deadline: January 1st, 2017

How to submit: Add weeklytheme21 as one of the tags in your post on the PhotoBlog platform

Check out the submissions: Use the Weekly Theme tab

Support and encourage: Like and comment on your favorite posts


New Year’s Eve: Top 5 Things To Shoot

1. Dancing

From North America to the Middle East, the world loves to celebrate with dance. In this video by that1cameraguy, he talks about gear and settings for shooting dancing at parties. I really like his down to earth tone. He uses the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens, which is the same large aperture prime lens I recommended in this article. Such a stunning lens!

2. Fireworks

Nothing says New Year’s Eve like a fireworks display. If you’ve never tried shooting fireworks before, here are some quick tips. First, use a tripod. Next, you’ll want to be using a remote shutter release to avoid camera shake. Third, frame your shot. Are you going to have the fireworks exploding along a rule of thirds axis? How much foreground will you include? Think about these things.

celebration photography challenge
Photo by Nitish Meena

Next, select an aperture of f/11. Using ‘bulb’ mode lets you keep the shutter open for exactly as long as a particular firework is going off. Set your ISO to 100 for a clean image. Finally, make sure your flash is switched off. Now you’re good to go!

3. Posed shots

celebration photography challenge
Photo by Kats Weil

Okay, so this isn’t low light, but photographer Kats Weil nailed this creative composition. A strong diagonal line, a unique angle of view, and beer bottles sitting pleasingly off-center? You bet! Like Kats, try to seek out fresh angles from above and below, as well as front-on.

I’ve found you can learn a great deal about shooting parties by studying top quality wedding photography. I recently helped choose a wedding photographer for two of my best friends. They couldn’t thank me enough, but really I was grateful because I learned so much by studying the websites of pros.

4. Candid photos

Photo by Nick Geels
Photo by Nick Geels

This style of party photography is similar in essence to street photography, except the photographer finds themselves-for one night only-in an environment where everyone expects to be photographed. Therefore, the photographer can blend in, shoot freely, and not worry about being confronted. If you’re at a party with friends and family, focus on capturing their natural facial expressions when they don’t know they’re being watched. PhotoBlog user Nick Geels did this stunningly well when he took this candid photo of his girlfriend.

5. Small Details

celebration photography challenge
Photo by Dave Lastovskiy

Last but not least, don’t forget to zoom in on details. This way, we are able to tell the whole story of a celebration. Food, drinks, flowers, and decorations all make good examples of interesting small details.

Your mission this week is to shoot and share your images of parties and celebrations. I’ve focused on New Year’s Eve (this coming Saturday) because it’s a prime opportunity to work on this weekly theme. However, if you’re housebound for any reason, feel free to use your favorite images from your Lightroom catalog. You know, the ones you’ve been looking for a perfect excuse to share with the PhotoBlog community.

Lastly, please check out this excellent PetaPixel article by PhotoBlog user Helen Hooker. After reading it, there’s a good chance you’ll be inspired to start your own 365 photo project. To help you on your way, we’re offering you a free upgrade to a PhotoBlog pro account (**usually $19.99). All you have to do is share Helen’s article from the PetaPixel site to your Facebook page. Sounds like a great deal to me.

And don’t forget to grab a free digital download of the PhotoBlog 2017 calendar. It has a photo idea for each day of the year, perfect for following through on a 365 project of your own! Cheers!



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About the author

Ben McKechnie

Ben is a photographer, writer, and editor. His work is driven by a fascination in people, and the relationship they have with their culture. Currently to be found editing, photographing, and eating his way around beautiful Taiwan. Ben is a graduate of MatadorU's Advanced Travel Photography course. Check out more of his recent India-based photojournalism over on on his Facebook page and Instagram using the links above.

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