Ella’s First Birthday

“If we all could see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything.” -Unknown


Meet one of the sweetest little girls in the whole world. Her name is Ella and she just turned one! Okay, so she turned one right before the holidays, but I wanted to wait to write a short post about this special day.

Ella is not the only sweet little one in her family; she has four older siblings, all brought into this world by their lovely parents, David and Laura.

I’ve had the honor of knowing this family for the past five years. I don’t get to see them nearly as often as I wish I could, but time spent with them and the rest of their family is always near and dear to my heart. When Laura invited me to Ella’s first birthday party, I couldn’t believe she was already turning one!

As I was prepping to take photos at the party, I realized several things. First, I knew there would be a lot of people there. Second, the party was going to be at the family’s home. Third, it was going to be at night. All of these elements combined gave me my outlook on the evening. I wanted to be as unobtrusive as possible, and I had a feeling that might translate into ‘perfect imperfection’. The goal of taking photographs that night was simply to capture the genuine love of the whole family and Ella’s cheery smiles.

As the festivities began, I stopped worrying about things, like, who was in the background of the photo. It couldn’t have been more perfect to have little Ella, discovering cake for the first time, surrounded by the smiles of her siblings and cousins.


Ella didn’t really know what to think of her cake at first. She daintily touched the icing…not quite the reaction you expect with a smash cake!

I left my camera settings the same the majority of the evening. Aperture about 4.0, ISO 2000, no flash, all taken with my 18-55mm (A new lens is the first thing on my current wish list).


Being inside with artificial light is always a difficult set-up. Shadows are prevalent and faces can look washed out and harsh. So, I try to create my own directional light. It wouldn’t work for the light to come from a window because it was dark outside. However, Ella’s highchair was placed in such a way, the lights from the kitchen area were directed onto her face and the cake. The lights above her were turned off so that the kitchen lights would provide that directional light and there would not be unwanted shadows on her face. To my surprise, post-editing was minimal.

When we moved into the living room for Ella to open presents, again, I sat facing her so that I wouldn’t capture dark shadows on her face or under her eyes.

My favorite part of photographing children are moments like this. Have you ever seen such a genuine smile or heard such joyous laughter? You can practically hear little Ella giggling through the frame. Someone once said, “If we all could see the world through the eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything.” When I see moments like this through the lens, I get swept away in the unmatchable excitement of a child’s imagination and everything else is temporarily insignificant.

Thank you, Laura and David, for letting me be part of Ella’s special day.

One Comment

  • Laura

    We are so happy that you were a part of this very special occasion. Thank you for helping us preserve the memories in such a beautiful way!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: