10 Tips for taking Better Birthday Photos
A birthday party is a very special event. Unfortunately the memories of those wonderful moments tend to fade with time. Parents are sometimes so busy preparing for the party that they forget that one day all they will have to remind them of it, will be the photographs. Here are some tips from a professional photographer, Hadley Toweel, for taking better birthday photographs.
- Be prepared. You need new or recently charged batteries, a memory card that has enough free space to capture all the images you want, and a camera that works.
- Before the guests arrive, take some photos of the little details. A close up of the streamers hanging from the porch, the balloons, the icing on the cake spelling out the name and age of the boy or girl and the party packs. If someone has put in a lot of effort arranging flowers or doing the décor make sure you get photos of that as well. Also, take a few posed photos of the birthday child with family members. If you are a parent, ensure that you are included in some of the photographs.
- Take candid shots. Be at the party as an observer not as a director or parent. Capture the excitement, laughter, joy (and sometimes tears) as it happens. Avoid instructing the children to look at the camera and smile. You want them to be relaxed and enjoy themselves. Eventually they will forget that you are there and just have a good time. You ultimately want the pictures to tell the story of the day.
- Get in close, and use selective focusing (blur the background) if your camera allows for this. Being too far from the subject is one of the main differences between amateur and professional photographs. If you own a zoom lens, use it to shoot close-ups, especially when it’s ice-cream time or the cake is being eaten. Remember that being too close to the subject with a wide lens could cause distortion.
- Only use the flash when you have to, for example when shooting in bright sunlight or against a background that is lighter than the foreground. Many potentially excellent shots are lost because the photographer has to wait a few seconds for the flash to recharge. It is much better to place the birthday cake outdoors in the shade or near a bright window indoors (without shooting against the bright backlight, so you can switch off the flash when taking the photographs of the candles being blown out.
- Take as many photos as possible, especially when the child blows out the candles. The more photos you take at the party, the better chance you have of getting that special or award-winning shot. Remember you are most probably using a digital camera and can delete any photos you don’t want. It only costs you your time.
- Capture the expressions on the faces of the children, parents and family.
- Shoot from different angles. Get down low and shoot from the child’s level. Go down on your knee or lie on the ground if you have to.
- Make sure to get photos of the birthday boy or girl with the grandparents, cousins and best friends who weren’t present when the initial photographs were taken. Also, photograph the opening of the gifts.
- After the shoot, download the images to your computer immediately and burn a back-up CD. If you own an external hard-drive do another back-up. Print hard copies of the best images on archival paper.