Three Birthdays at Holton Lee

An interesting and enjoyable alternative to wedding photography, I found myself at Holton Lee this Saturday past to document three birthday celebrations rolled into one. Julia, the Estate’s events and marketing coordinator and grand-daughter of the headline celebrant, so to speak, contacted me earlier during the week and we worked out the details from there for coverage of three generations worth of birthdays, an 80th, a 50th and a 17th.

On arrival I set to work with documenting all the details as the party goers readied themselves in their bow ties and posh frocks, to quote Julia. It was to be a self-catering affair.

The headline act for the night, Ray was celebrating his 80th birthday. I still don't believe he's 80 myself, but who am I to argue with the balloons?

First night in the Big Brother House.

From the brief: "We love the idea of lots of group shots of different parts of the family and personally I am a big fan of relaxed, unposed, ‘just caught’ pictures that you seem to do very well". Hopefully I met expectations :~)

Nifty-fifty. A photographer's pun. Doesn't translate well perhaps. Happy birthday sir! :~)


A great lover of fine music, there'll be no stopping Ray with his new iPod.

Something about this image evokes memories of Liam Sternberg's composition on 1986 album, Different Light.

A sound tickling.

Backdraft? If you can't stand the heat? I'm struggling to find a caption as funny as the incident was. You had to be there really :~)

Anatomy of a group photograph

Step 1: Find a willing subject to test for lighting.

Step 2: Were it down to me, this is how all group photographs would look :~) Thankfully though I do understand the broader purpose of such things!

Step 3: :~)

Step 4: Tell them a joke. Preferably a good one. Unfortunately I don’t know any good jokes myself. It’s all in the delivery.

Step 5: Let your subjects fall into beautiful disarray. Keep shooting.

Step next: There are stories everywhere, even in a group of people forming line.

Group photographs done, it was on with the party proper…

A lovely family to work for, I was offered food several times. Unfortunately I'd eaten well before setting out for the night. It all smelt and looked fantastic.

Full steam ahead (I did say I don't know any good jokes).

With dinner served I left the guests to their culinary devices for a while. I always imagine it might not be the best aid to digestion, being photographed whilst eating.

A family that presents framed photographs as birthday gifts? Straight to the top of my list of the type of clients I can empathise with! :~)

Team-Pyro get down to work.

One of those rare occasions when I couldn't make a clear cut choice between colour or black and white!

Birthday cakes delivered, there was time for a few more photographs both posed and un-posed, and a few somewhere in between.

Thanks Julia for a highly enjoyable commission and to all of your family for being such lovely people to be around for an evening!

Contact Bournemouth wedding (and birthday party!) photographer Phillip Allen : : 07870 696248

Lynsey Pearson - WOW!! These are AMAZING! I just scrolled through this post in complete awe. I especially love the ‘champagne and party chit-chat’ trio, and the group shots are genius. Absolutely stunning!

Derek Christie - These are amazing. You have really captured the day here. Some great candids. It’s almost like I was there. I bet they were so pleased with them.

Joseph Yarrow - What a handsome looking group of friends!
Well done Phill. Great shots!

Magan Blasig - Really wonderful photos! I love the inset of ‘how to set up a group photo’.

Shyann - Wow you did a really amazing job capturing this wonderful night!! It looked like so much fun!! Great work.

Jan Birch - I love the light on all your photos, you always make things look so ‘clean’ and crisp. Love the dog under the table, with the peas all over the floor!

Fred - An interesting exercise for you Phill – which you performed brilliantly. I was smiling while I was going down your post.
My favourites: The test of the ipod (A sound tickling) the dog under the table and “There are stories everywhere, even in a group of people forming line” -> Indeed :O)

Drew - Great work! A beautifully captured event, those prosciutto wrapped asparagus look to die for!

Marianne Taylor - How fun! You really captured the spirit of what from the looks of it was an amazing party.

Jamie M Swanson - Madison, WI - Really beautiful! Great work! LOVE the candids, the group shot “tutorial” and the works. I’m sure they are thrilled with the results!

Amanda Basteen - Great set!! Nice documentation of an awesome event!

Lara Eichhorn - Oh, I adore your black and white processing. You definitely nailed those candids. I love the first test shot for the group shots (love the series too).

matt shumate - So many pictures! The amazing thing is I wasn’t waiting for them to end. I kept getting excited to see more. This is an outstanding collection of photos that makes me wish I was there. Great job!

seth goodman - Looks like fun! I really like the black and white photos.

Phillip Allen - Thanks all! :~)

Simon Fazackarley - beautiful! The group shot anatomy is fabulous!! I love the dog under the table having dinner!! utterly brilliant!! looks like a great night, really nice work!

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