1920s Theme Party Ideas, with Three Easy Steps to Using Your Camera’s Flash to Capture the Night!

Me Ra Koh 40th Birthday

I turned the big 4-0 on Saturday!

While Brian, the kiddos and I have been in Egypt, my family has been planning a 1920’s birthday party for me!  I have to admit that when I hear the word “costume” involved with party, I get a little nervous.  It’s as if ALL my creativity goes out the window.  My mom, knowing me so well, pretty much took me from the airport to the costume shop.  And then, to my total surprise and delight, everyone dressed up, even my grandparents who are in their eighties!  I have to share the photos and ideas in case you are looking for fun ideas for an upcoming party!  The 1920’s are full of characters for all generations!

After the photos, scroll down for three easy tips to using your camera’s flash to capture the night!

  • image-11 1 of 12
    Before I show you all these fun photos, I have to thank my little brother and AMAZING mom for making this party all that it was!
  • Feathers, Sequence and Sass! 2 of 12
    Feathers, Sequence and Sass!
    My mom went to local craft stores and bought sequenced headbands, glued feathers to them, and found cheap pearl necklaces so every gal would feel embellished!
  • Boas and a Little Creativity 3 of 12
    Boas and a Little Creativity
    Two of my dearest friends from college days, we've been laughing loud for over 22 years together! Jamie, made her headband (the red one) that day with peacock feathers and a bit of lace! Feather boas made the look complete!
  • The Newspaper Reporter 4 of 12
    The Newspaper Reporter
    But the girls weren't the only ones who dove in! The guys picked their hats and attire for specific characters! Meet the Newspaper Reporter!
  • The Bootlegger 5 of 12
    The Bootlegger
    Suspenders, lone tie, and a small hat made the perfect bootlegger look!
  • The Gangster 6 of 12
    The Gangster
    Brian rented a hat and double breasted coat to have that Gangster look. (He literally wore that expression all night! Hilarious!)
  • Great Grandparents! 7 of 12
    Great Grandparents!
    I think my grandparents had the MOST fun with the 1920's theme! My grandpa pulled out his old tux, hat and my grandma embellished her look with lots of pearls that she had fun twirling all night! (Can you believe they are in their mid eighties!?!)
  • Top Hat and Cummerband 8 of 12
    Top Hat and Cummerband
    My sweet dad came with a top hat, tails, cane and cummerband!
  • Four Generations 9 of 12
    Four Generations
    I had to throw this photo in of the four generations of women in our family.
  • Flapper Dress 10 of 12
    Flapper Dress
    Pascaline, my eleven year old, LOVED the flapper dress we found her at the costume shop! We added a sequenced headband with feathers, gold pearls and clip-on earrings!
  • image-12 11 of 12
    I LOVE laughing and dancing with my girl!
  • 1920’s Family Portrait 12 of 12
    1920's Family Portrait
    Even Blaze, our eight year old, was excited about his character. He came as the Newsboy with his newspaper in hand, and every once in a while shouted "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!"

Three Easy Steps to Using Flash Indoors!

To get the lighting consistent in all our photos, we used an external flash.  I know the idea of buying a flash can overwhelm people, but it’s super easy!  Here is my secret: three quick steps!

1. Buy the type of flash that matches your camera brand (We were shooting with the SONY a99 DSLR so we used the SONY HVL-F43AM Flash).  This way the flash and camera can “talk” to each other.

2. Put the Flash in Auto or ETTL (same thing as Auto).  Forget about all those buttons on the back and just point the head of the flash up, to the side, or even behind you.  Just don’t point it at your subject.

3.  Put your camera in Manual mode and set your ISO to 100, Shutter Speed to 1/60th (or 60th) of a second, and Aperture/F-stop to your lowest number, like 2.8 or 3.5.

Fire away!

If you have a Point-and-Shoot camera with a built-in flash, try covering the flash with a Kleenex to soften the harsh light and avoid red eye or harsh shadows.  You can even tape a piece of cardboard in front of your flash at an angle, so that the light is forced to go up versus right at the person’s face. Or you can try one of Gary Fong’s Puffers!  For under $20 your flash will give you soft lighting!

The trick is to NOT have the flash pointed at people but have the light from the flash fire at the ceiling or walls so the light bounces and comes back with this natural, flattering, ambient light versus red eye and harsh shadows.



Me Ra Koh loves cameras, kids, and parents, and spends her life bringing them together.  See her new show Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh on Disney Junior.  Her book Your Baby in Pictures is a national bestseller.  She is honored to be one of SONY’s Artisans of Imagery.  Me Ra and her team of certified teachers lead CONFIDENCE photography workshops for women nationwide.  She has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, American Baby, Popular Photography, and her photography has been on exhibit from San Fransisco to New York.  You can find her at

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Article Posted 4 years Ago

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