Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

First Birthday Party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel


Celebrating Constantin's First Birthday

On the blog today I’m thrilled to be sharing some wonderful first birthday photos. This shoot was particularly wonderful as I’ve been lucky enough to be there for some very special moments for this family this year. I photographed Constantin’s newborn session last October and then, in January, his wonderful Christening at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral and the stunning Mandarin Oriental

A few weeks ago we celebrated again, this time his first birthday, with some stunning portraits at his home in Knightsbridge and then a fantastic party, again at the Mandarin Oriental, organised by the fabulous Sarah of Somewhere Over the Rainbow Events and featuring my all-time favourite children’s entertainer Mr Lolly, it was an incredible day for a wonderful little boy.


First Birthday Portraits at Home

If I’m photographing a party I like to visit my clients at home first for some family portraits. Once the party starts then the action is all go, it’s hard to gather people for group shots, and the little ones can be overwhelmed or excited by all that is going on and so harder to engage with the camera.

Taking some pictures at home first is perfect. We can focus on the little one and make sure we have the perfect light for really stunning portraits. It also means that once the party starts the family can enjoy themselves and chat to their guests knowing we have some beautiful pictures in the bag already

We had a brilliant time taking pictures at home. Starting with some very relaxed and informal shots, playing with toys and Face Timing a beloved godparent (I love how the little ones are so comfortable using technology and are able to have great relationships with people they can’t see in person, it really is one of the wonders of the modern age).

The light in the stunning Knightsbridge flat is wonderful and I love to utilise the little pockets of illumination by the windows for beautiful portraits


Formal portraits in a Knightsbridge Garden Square

We then headed outside for some pictures in a nearby garden square, a beautiful oasis of calm in the hustle and bustle of west London. This was a perfect spot for some family group shots and for Constantin to enjoy his incredible first birthday present from his beloved grandparents, a wonderful mini convertible that worked by remote control so he could drive around the garden all on his own. As you can see in the pictures he was absolutely thrilled with it and I can see this being a toy that will see so much use for many years to come, look at his little face as he speeds across the lawn, it’s pure delight.

First Birthday Party at the Mandarin Oriental

After a nap for Constantin and a delicious lunch for the grown-ups we jumped into taxis to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ready to greet the guests and enjoy the party

The loggia room is stunning and it was lovely to return to the same room we had been in for Constantin’s christening. Sarah from Somewhere Over the Rainbow Events had created an amazing jungle scene with a balloon arch, an incredible cake, and delightful animal themed biscuits and cake pops, it was hard to decide which to eat first, a monkey or a zebra!

As guests arrived the first of the entertainers began their set. Constantin loves Mini Mozart who do a baby class near his home, and it was lovely to have two of their musicians at the party, playing songs and engaging the babies with their tunes. It was as great idea to have an entertainer for the younger children at the start of the party (the older kids arrived a little later after school had finished) and the delight on the babies faces was a joy to see.

Family and Friends Celebrate Together

Seeing family and friends come together to celebrate the milestones in the lives of their loved ones is always a joy and it felt so special to see the same faces from the Christening along with new friends Constantin is making along the way. As someone whose best friends date back from my pre-school years I love to look around these rooms and wonder which of these children will still be friends in their forties, watching their own kids play together. It’s a lovely thought and how wonderful for them to have these pictures to look back on.

Mr Lolly

And then my favourite children’s entertainer arrived to keep the older children amused while their parents chatted. Mr Lolly is the best there is, an amazing entertainer, a true gentleman, and beloved by children, parents, (and photographers) across West London and beyond.

As always, Mr Lolly’s magic disco show was a fantastic success with the kids laughing in delight at the magic tricks and concentrating on plate spinning before trying to win the dance off. I’m always amazed how Mr Lolly keeps everyone engaged from the tiny ones to the older children, and their parents too, he’s so good.

Happy Birthday Constantin!

Tired and happy the party came to an end, and everyone headed home after wishing Constantin a very Happy Birthday. It was a wonderful celebration for a wonderful little boy and a privilege and a delight for me to be a part of it.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog post, a little different from my normal family photography sessions, and such great fun. If you are planning a party for your child and would like to find out more about how my photography could be part of that then do drop me a line via the contact form, I’d love to hear from you