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Quinceanera Photography

By Edited Oct 3, 2016 3 10

Quinceanera Photography
Quinceanera photography is a huge segment of the market that is virtually untapped here in the United States by many photographers. The Quinceanera is a traditional Latin celebration that takes place when a girl turns 15. The celebration is to welcome her into a woman. The Quinceanera is a very popular celebration among many Latino and Mexican families here in the United States.

Quinceanera celebrations can be found in any area where there are Mexicans, Latinos, and Spanish people. The celebration is a “coming of age” party and ceremony that many young girls eagerly look forward to. Oftentimes the parents will spend a lot of money on the planning of the celebration in order that their daughter may have a “perfect night” to remember for the rest of her life. This is why Quinceanera photography should be on your list of events to bid on.

The family can spend lavishly on the event, yet many times these celebrations will not have a professional photographer at them. There will be numerous friends and family members with digital cameras taking pictures, but it is truly kind of sad that professional photographers are not at all Quinceanera celebrations.

The family may spend lavishly on the Quinceanera within their budget, yet fail to consider hiring a photographer to photograph the event. Here are some tips on Quinceanera photography.

Understand the Quinceanera

If you do not understand the passion that these young girls and their parents have for this celebration then don’t try to get a job photographing one until you understand the history and depth of the celebration. You need to understand where, why, and how of these unique celebrations so you will have a better understanding of the “key shots” you need to take at all Quinceanera's.

This culture is huge on family, so you need to ensure that you get pictures of every guy who dances with the girl celebrating her 15th birthday coming of age party. Sometimes you may have 50 guys fighting to dance with the young lady. Girl photography is important, but you need to ensure you get the entire family photographed having fun.

Quinceanera Hug

Respect the Culture

Once you get your foot in the door of photographing a Quinceanera it is vital that you have a true understanding of this cultural celebration and not denigrate it. I have seen families who seem to barely scrape by financially, yet they are able to throw their daughter an elaborate Quinceanera because they literally saved money each month since their daughter was born specifically for this one event.

Attend a Quinceanera

The best way to learn how A Quinceanera functions is to attend one in person. You need to sit back and take everything in., but don’t be a wall fly. You have to interact with the families there and learn about their customs. A Quinceanera is truly a lot of fun, especially watching the older family members who reminisce on when they had their Quinceanera many years ago.

Do it For Free

Once you have experienced a Quinceanera then volunteer to photograph one for free. This will take the pressure off of you if you screw it up, because you are doing it for free. You will gain a lot of practical working knowledge and hands on experience working these celebrations are worth much more than a simple photography diploma.

Once you have photographed a handful of Quinceanera’s and have gained a working knowledge of how best to get all the needed shots done, you can put the word out that you will do Quinceanera photography  for a small fee. The South American culture is very family oriented and network very well. When the family is showing off the amazing Quinceanera pictures you took at their daughter’s celebration people will ask who took these great shots. The family will tell them it was you and you will soon be getting requests to photograph these events. After a few years you will have more work then you possible could ever do and this is the time when you raise your prices more. You will be able to command higher market prices for your specialized work in photographing Quinceanera’s.

Speak Spanish

I have seen Quinceanera’s here in the United States where no English was spoken, on Spanish. I have also attended these events where only a tiny bit of Spanish language was used, and it was mainly by the elderly. Spanish is not a necessity to work these events, but if you can speak basic Spanish it will come in very handy in numerous situations.

Don’t Run

When the party wears on and the older family members begin drinking beer you may hear someone scream “Arriba Arriba” and shoot a pistol in the air. I know it sounds very cliché, yet I have seen it happen. As a Quinceanera photographer you need to remain calm and take pictures of the guy instead of running away. Instinct tells us that when someone is drunk waving a pistol we attack or run, but in this situation it is not needed. You need to get some pictures of him doing it and over the years the images of the drunk Uncle at the Quinceanera will be fondly ingrained into the memories of all who attended the celebration.

Quinceanera Celebration Heads to Dance

Quinceanera Traditions

The Quinceanera is celebrated by many Countries, and the specific Countries may vary the traditions used in the celebration. In the United States most of the Quinceanera parties revolve around the Mexican styles of celebrating the Quinceanera. If you have an understanding of how the Mexican Quinceanera generally operates, then you can adapt to other cultural celebration styles of the Quinceanera such as the ones that are used by people from Countries such as Bolivia, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic.

Although a Mexican Style Quinceanera are all generally the same with the same traditions and customs, they can vary widely from one family to the next with various unique aspects. Regardless of how the Quinceanera is celebrated you need to be able to capture the night on digital film.

Quinceanera Celebration

The Princess

The importance of Quinceanera photography is to keep the visual memories of the night alive forever. The girl is considered in the same light as a Princess and will have on a beautiful dress and even a Tiara. You need to portray the girl photography in the best light possible by making her out to look as beautiful as possible. If you can do this then your future as a professional Quinceanera photography for hire will keep you in high demand and your bank account filled. No more wedding rate contracts when you can focus on a beautiful cultural event like a Quinceanera party.

Quinceanera Photography Pose


Aug 18, 2011 12:15am
I am happy to find someone else who loves our brethren and sistren to the South those Mexicans and Mexican-Americans born here and living here in the US. NOBODY can throw a party like a Mexican familia, and if the cause is right (especially when it comes to their daughters) you nailed it when you said they'd save at sacrificial levels. I've been to a few -- seriously, ain't no party like it! This was really good, Ernie -- I especially liked that you hit on the "respect the culture" area and the other one: "RESPECT THE PRINCESS!" It is her day, after all!! Good stuff -- I wish more people would take the time to learn about Mexican culture (I love 'em!)
Aug 18, 2011 12:16am
Oh, and I forgot to add the pics are great -- great color and really captured the essence. Sort of like a mini-wedding only less grief and angst!
Aug 18, 2011 5:10am
Thanks for the comment! I love the Mexican culture. I seriously love Mexican food more than any other food in the world.

The first time I ever went to a Quinceanera I couldn't figure out why there were so many guys lined up to dance with one girl, I thought they were all perverts until i had it explained to me what was going on. lol

I had my first Lengua Taco at a Quinceanera. I loved it, even after they told me it was a cows tongue.

We as Americans are often hateful towards the Mexican culture, but if people truly learned more about it they would find it is a beautiful culture filled with great people.
Aug 19, 2011 3:00am
If you don't speak Spanish (or Spanglish or Texican) it is always best to ask what is going in your gullett before stuffing your face!! Too funny about the Lengua -- I made the mistake of eating menudo before I knew what EXACTLY went into it (and my Mexican girfriend of the time, fresh to the relationship, didn't bother to warn me -- she just sat back and laughed as I turned green!)
Aug 24, 2011 7:49am
Great, Ernie --- and super photos!
Aug 27, 2011 1:39am
great pics and info!
Aug 27, 2011 4:16am
Really nice article. Just loving the vibrant dresses. Maybe all cultures should do something like this. It must be lovely to be princess for a day when you're fifteen.
Aug 29, 2011 2:30pm
Wow! I'm Irish and never even heard of a Quinceanera before. It looks wonderful, well done for spotting this niche in professional photography, and I agree with Emmy; I wish I could have been a princess for my 15th!
Aug 29, 2011 2:30pm
And of course- gorgeous photos.
Mar 19, 2013 7:31am
"Don't Run" lol, love it! Attending a Quinceanera ahead of time is great advice.
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