I was invited to photograph one of the most fun and well put together surprise birthday parties I’ve ever been to this past weekend at Paolo’s in downtown Akron. Will, who I know through other photography work I’ve done has a very organized and thoughtful girlfriend named Riti, who put the entire event together and invited their closest friends and family.
The party began about 40 minutes ahead of Will’s expected arrival. Riti told him that he was going to be going to a friend’s surprise birthday party there, so Will had no idea the party was actually for him. The guests enjoyed mingling ahead of his arrival and they had plenty of time to catch up with old friends, shoot some pool, and get a drink or two to get in the spirit of the event. Paolo’s has a great party environment complete with free pool and one of the nicest bars in Akron, so everybody had plenty to keep themselves occupied with while waiting for his arrival.
Riti had one of the coolest birthday cakes I’ve ever seen made for the occasion. It has elements from Superman, Batman, Iron Man, and The Hulk all rolled into one very impressive (and very delicious) cake. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anything like it and it was really the centerpiece of the room with everybody gawking over it. It was a real pleasure being able to see so many people enjoying each other’s company and everybody had a great time, with most guests staying well into the night to enjoy the occasion.
Because the party was held at night and Paolo’s lighting was low and comfortable, I had to use a flash for the event to properly expose the photographs. Thankfully the ceiling wasn’t too high and I was able to use it to help the flash be softer in the photos, and I also used a flash diffuser panel to cast softer light on the people I was photographing. I kept the ISO at around 1,000 and the shutter speed relatively low because I wanted the ambient light that Paolo’s has to show up in the photos, rather than have a black background. I also shot some photos without the flash to show the atmosphere in Paolo’s and to mix the photos up a little.
The staff at Paolo’s was first-rate. I’ve rarely seen such amazing food served at a birthday party and they made sure that everything was cleaned up throughout the night and that nobody lacked for anything. The facility was spotless and has a wonderful atmosphere for any event to be held there. With lots of gorgeous woodwork and artwork throughout the building, it has an elegant, but relaxed vibe that anybody can be comfortable in. If you’re in the Akron area and planning an event or party, I’d highly recommend checking them out at paolosakron.com
Congratulations to Will for his epic 30th birthday party and to Riti for her amazing planning, organization, vision, and execution of such a great birthday party. Few people could have pulled it off like she did.