Photo-Fun Birthday Party

One of my very favorite group shots, they all look so psyched.

Last week my daughter turned twelve, and every year we do two parties: one for friends and one for family.  My daughter is an  incredibly creative spirit and has always liked her parties to reflect her personality and what she’s currently obsessed with–this is always a (fun) challenge for me, the Mom, as we attempt to find something unique, fun and thematic to her tastes and passions.  We started by going through her favorite things–theater, art, music–and talked about a few different ideas for each: taking friends to a Broadway show, doing a karaoke thing (again–Oh No!), or doing an art themed celebration.  And then I remembered her love of photography. She’s on Instagram, takes pictures of EVERYTHING and as soon as I mentioned it, she was game! But how to have a “Photography Party”? Good question.

Recently I’ve noticed a number of photo studios (some that even take walk-ins) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where we spend probably 75% of our time.  I thought it might be cool to contact the ones near me and see if they ever do parties.  After talking to three different establishments, I decided to go with Big Apple Portraits located on west 72nd Street.  I loved the look of their site, the location, the value and how responsive their staff was.

The Way It Works:

This is what the studio looked like before the girls got in.

We started in their private portrait studio where my birthday girl and nine of her friends were the very special subjects of a photo shoot.

The girls getting adjusted to the environment (didn’t take long)

They did adorable group shots, jumping shots, silly faces, pretty poses, and used some props that I had gotten especially for the occasion on Amazon.

The girl digging in to pizza.

My daughter getting ready to blow out her candles. My favorite part of this photo is the joy she cannot seem to contain.

After that, they revived with some pizza and cupcakes (we picked Red Velvet) from Crumbs.  Then they all went to another room and got to check out a slide show of all the photos taken in the studio.

Mattie explains the project to the group–she rocked!

The craft table before the girls got into it.

The craft table after (looks like there are some creative decisions being contemplated)

My daughter showing off her work.

The last activity was a crafting project where attendees got to mount a 4 x 6 portrait print from the shoot onto a 12 x 12 scrapbook  page and decorated it with letters, ribbons, flowers and other fun stuff.  This craft was one of the party favors (probably the best one) that each guest got to take home.

The Result:

One of my favorite group shots from the shoot.

Every girl had some gorgeous shots–solo, with my daughter and these adorable group shots (above and lead image).

Getting Materials:

Some of the props I purchased

Photo taken with props

The studio does come stocked with some photo props, but my daughter had a theme in mind–mustaches–so I went online and found some themed props (19 pieces for $23, Amazon) for the girls to play with at the shoot as well as some sunglasses ($10 for 12, Oriental Trading) and sparkly masks ($24.99 for 12, Amazon).

Party Favors:

Favors: monogrammed lip balm & lollipops, skull lollipops and mustache necklaces in blue organza bags

In addition to the take-home craft I got little mustache necklaces–sparkly and googgly eyed (starting at $5.50 each, Claires) that I put in little blue organza bags ($10.50 for 50, Oriental Trading); personalized lollipops ($12.75 for 12, Oriental Trading); monogrammed lip balm ($10.50 for 12, Oriental Trading) and fun Day of the Dead Skull lollipops (no longer available).

The girls took all their loot home in these bags.

My girl and her friends had a FABULOUS time, and I got a link of all the shots that I shared with all the parents after.   This was one of the best parties we’ve ever come up with and luckily Big Apple Portraits knew exactly how to pull it off!  If I had a bridal shower or a surprise party to plan for a girlfriend, I would totally look into this event as an option for that too… net/net: it’s not just for kids.


Big Apple Portraits
143 West 72nd st. (btwn. Amsterdam and Columbus aves.)
2nd Floor, NY, NY 10023
NOTE: cupcakes came from Crumbs and pizza came from Rigoletto Pizza, but Big Apple Portraits took care of organizing and ordering all of the food.

Favors & Props:
Oriental Trading

Related Links:
A Birthday Crab Bash
Wedding Shower Ideas
Birthday Tea Party: Favor Ideas and More
My Casual (but Perfect) Wedding

Gifting Whisperer Affiliate Disclaimer


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