How to Photograph Your Child’s Birthday Party

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I’m so excited to announce that I’ve asked a handful of fabulous photographers to help me share photo tips on my blog! I have been slacking in that area, and it’s not that I don’t want to, but my efforts are into eating and decorating these days, and my mind is occupied with those thoughts. Please welcome my friend Jennifer!

I am Jennifer…full time mom, wife, photographer, professional errand runner, and wanna be dance superstar!

I fell in love with photography in high school when I made my very own pinhole camera. I have taken several classes with different types of film and really enjoyed the process and dedication it takes.Eventually though I moved into the digital world. I graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital and Photographic Imaging. I was able to work for the University Star, the campus newspaper, where I fell in love with photojournalism and being able to tell a story with images. I love capturing people and telling their story through the images I capture.

I am excited that Kristen asked me to participate as a guest and am looking forward to sharing with you my love of all things photography!

Today I’m going to talk about How to photograph your child’s birthday party.

How to photograph your child's birthday party

I love birthday parties! As a photographer, I enjoy capturing the excitement on the faces of the children and adults who have gathered to celebrate. I first studied photography in high school and majored in digital photographic imaging in college. I honed my skills as a photojournalist for the university newspaper. I gained more experience shooting weddings, receptions and corporate events. But I love taking pictures of children the most! Kids grow up so fast. One minute they are holding your hand learning to walk and the next thing you know they are running away from you, fast! They go from saying “mama” and “dada” to speaking complete sentences and having conversations with you. Photos chronicle the unique stages kids pass through and allow us to look back and remember.

Photographing a child’s birthday party presents challenges and opportunities. Photographing kids is not always the easiest thing to do. Add a birthday cake, lots of sweets, games, gifts, friends, family members and wow … talk about nearly impossible! There are so many emotions that happen during a party, happiness, surprise, and sometimes sadness. The interactions between family and friends and the energy of a birthday party are examples of priceless moments that I like to capture in photographs. So how do we capture all of the moments that happen within the chaotic mess we call birthday parties? You’re probably the parent of the birthday child and therefore the party hostess, moving subjects and clutter with little or no time to think about taking pictures. You want to enjoy the party and you want to be in a few photos with you child right? I would like to share a few photography tips with you and hope that they will help you take better pictures at your next birthday party.

1. Know your camera

Hopefully you know your camera and understand how it functions. If not, I highly recommend Kristen’s book or workshop on shooting manually. Your ISO will vary from inside to outside, make sure you do not go up too high. Remember a high ISO may cause images to become grainy. Also make sure your shutter speed is at least 1/125th of a second to ensure your images stay sharp and don’t get blurry. Lighting can be tricky at parties. You cannot always control the lighting in your environment. You might be outside in the harsh midday sun one minute and the next minute you are inside with artificial light. I suggest learning and experimenting with the white balance settings on your camera before the party. Figure out which settings work best for each party location. Using a flash can be helpful at times and you might find yourself needing it when you are inside. I recommend bouncing the flash off the walls or using a diffuser so you do not have hash light on your subjects.

Here are a few examples of different lighting situations

I almost always shoot with my continuous setting turned on, or in burst mode. Your camera takes multiple images within a few seconds when these are turned on. This is especially useful when the kids are playing games, opening presents or blowing out candles.

Here is a great example of using the “burst” mode function on your camera!

2. Know the party plan

If at all possible, ask a friend to be your birthday party photographer. This will ensure that you have some shots of the party and you will not have to worry about taking the pictures yourself. Make sure they know what you really want photographed. Make a list of the ”must have photos” such as blowing out candles, eating cake, opening presents, etc. This will take the pressure off you so you can “relax” and enjoy the party without worrying about taking photos on top of everything else. Make sure they know the party plan so they know where to be when events are happening. You do not want them to miss out on opening gifts or blowing out the candles. If you are the photographer, make sure you are in the best location to capture every moment.

But if you don’t want to ask someone to take pictures, don’t stress you can do it!

3. Don’t forget the details!

You worked SO hard to plan and prepare every detail of the party. Capture it! Take pictures of the cake, table decorations, balloons, and presents before the party begins. Step back, take photos of the whole room, then get in close, fill the frame! Do not forget to photograph the aftermath of the party. The wreckage of wrapping paper, the destroyed cake, the birthday kid napping after the big day. These shots are interesting and add variety to your birthday party album.

How to Photograph your child's birthday partyHow to Photograph your child's birthday party

4. Picturing People

Make sure you get both candid photos and posed photos of the people who attend. I love candid photos; they are some of my favorite images. True emotions and interactions between friends and family are always fun to look back on. Try different angles and focal lengths. Get some height and shoot down on the kids. Get down on the floor and shoot on their level. Get wide angle shoots of the whole party scene then move in and capture the small details. Remember you are taking pictures of a child’s party; get down on their level. The world looks a whole lot different from their eyes.

Don’t forget those posed/planned shots! Get friend shots, mom and dad shots, and grandparents. Remember to get a shot of the birthday kid in their birthday outfit that can become a portrait. This requires a simple background so the focus is on the birthday child!

Remember to be flexible, creative, and to have FUN! It’s a party for goodness sake! Be ready to catch memorable birthday moments. Birthday party photos are a great way to document your kiddos special day. It’s amazing to look back and see how much they have grown. Let kids be kids, don’t stress and have fun. You will get great pictures if everyone is comfortable!

Thank you Jennifer!

You can find Jennifer on her website//Facebook//Twitter//Pinterest

I love to grab the camera’s of my friends and make sure THEY get in the shot! Jennifer Has done this for me at my kids parties, and I’m so grateful!

If you need some camera help, check this out!

If you’d to join the Capturing Joy Photo Club on Facebook, where we have photo challenges, Q&A’s, and image sharing, request to join HERE:

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