Freelance editorial, lifestyle, commercial and documentary photographer | Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Noosa | Australia

BIRTHDAY WISHES


This documentary series celebrates the vibrant chaos of children’s birthday rituals, particularly the special luxuries and the little delicacies that we learn to expect on such occasions. The series questions if there  exists an underlying competitiveness and pressure for parents, targeted by advertising and the immense number of birthday packages available to families, to be bigger and better.


Shot on Fujifilm.


Finalist in The Sixth Leica/ CCP Documentary Award 2006.

Twelve-year old Cecilia’s pool party.


Length of party: two hours. $10 a head for thirteen children. Cecilia’s mother: ‘I had few parties, but remember them as being special. I still think this applies – a sense of the birthday person being ‘celebrated and honoured’ if you like, which I think is important… I think birthdays are much more special than Christmas or Easter.’

Four-year old McKeely’s princess party.


Ten hours of ‘shopping and research’ the previous day to the party. Forty children and fifteen adults attended the party. Jumping castle hire, fairy floss machine hire, piñata, decorations, food, drinks, and lollies for loot bags: $950. McKeely’s mother: ‘Today we spend more on average, and even though I did it my self, I think the one stop places are becoming more popular e.g. McDonalds and other places that you pay per head that are set up ready for the party and all you have to do is turn up… these are the types of parties that are easier for most working families.’

Nine-year old Mitchell’s magician party.


One week of preparation prior to the party day. Twenty-eight children invited. Cost of magician: $260 for forty minutes. Total cost of party: $500.

Four-year old McKeely’s princess party.

Five-year old Lisa’s rainbow party.


Six months spent ‘thinking about theme and looking for ideas at shops’ Thirty children and fifty adults attended the party. Length of party: four hours. Total cost of party: $600. Lisa’s mother: ‘My parents were a one-income family, so we always had immediate family dinner and a cake… when I was older I would take one friend to McDonalds. We are a two-income family and I really enjoy the planning of the party. It has evolved into an enjoyable event with extended family helping with food, blowing up balloons… everyone gets involved.’

Four-year old Montana’s Barbie party.


Table setting from Big W. Eighteen children attended the party. Total cost of party: $200.

Four-year old Montana’s Barbie party.

Five-year old Lisa’s rainbow party.

Five-year old Ryan’s superhero party.


Eighteen children attended the party for three hours. Total cost of party: $100.

Combined birthday party for Kyla, Caleb and Buddy all turning three.

Four-year old Montana’s Barbie party.

Six-year old Matthew’s disco party.


Matthew is an only child. His party was held at the family home in Yeronga. Twenty-four hours were spent on organising the party. Sixteen children and thirty adults attended the party for two hours. Disco lights, smoke machine hire, food and beverages cost: $300. Matthew’s mother: ‘We celebrate in different ways each year – last year was Hungry Jacks. Matt is an only child and it is a nice way to thank his friends and family for supporting him each year by inviting them to his party.’

Six-year old Chloe’s birthday party.


Four weeks of preparation prior to the party day. Twenty children attended the party. Total cost of party: $350. Chloe’s mother: ‘I try to share and take it in turns with each daughter. So next year will be her sisters party.’

Nine-year old Mitchell’s magician party.

Nine-year old Mitchell’s magician party.

Five-year old Lisa’s rainbow party.

Combined birthday party for Kyla, Caleb and Buddy all turning three.


Kyla, Caleb and Buddy are in foster care. Thirty-five people attended the party. Jumping castle hire: $200 for four hours. Kyla’s foster mother: ‘Because all my children are in foster care, I think it’s important to make a big deal of the celebrations in their life… most of them have missed out on this aspect of childhood before coming into care… I try to organise parties that the children will enjoy, rather than organising it for the guests.’

Three-year old Will’s space party.


Will is an only child. His party was held at the family home in Hamilton. Four weeks of research and preparation prior to the party day. Sixty-five people attended the party. Invitations, catering, face painter, entertainer Nicky Noo, gift bags, cake, decorations, table setting, helium machine hire, table and chair hire: $2200.

Five-year old Bailee’s McDonalds party.


Length of party: ninety minutes. $10 a head for twenty children.