A child's birthday party is filled with memories: The excitement of opening gifts, the silliness of blowing out candles, the joy of sharing the day with friends, and all the birthday fun in between. Be ready to capture those candid moments by honing your photo skills.
Rather than focusing on technical skills, open your creative eye to the unexpected moments. These tips will help you create happy birthday pictures with stories to enjoy forever.
- Make a photo plan. It's easy to miss the perfect shot because you're caught up in the birthday party excitement. Before the party, make a list of specific moments you want to capture, and keep the list handy so you can refer to it often. Or, consider turning over your list to a designated photographer.
- Notice relationships. It's important to focus on the birthday boy or girl, but they are surrounded by friends and family at a party. Watch for moments of interaction with partygoers. The most memorable picture could be a quiet moment between Mom and daughter reading a birthday card. Or the energetic joy of the birthday boy and his best friend trying out a new game. Look for shared experiences and close relationships. Get close and focus on the interaction between the photo subjects.
- Catch the emotion. Certain birthday party moments are filled with emotions. When gifts are opened, expect surprised reactions and be ready to snap candid shots. When the birthday cake arrives with lighted candles, watch for the joy. During party games, capture the intensity or silliness of the competition.
- Get close. Don't be afraid to get up close and personal to clearly capture the mix of expressions.
- Expect the action. You planned the party, so you know what's coming next. Have the camera ready as the cake is brought out, when party games start, before presents are opened, and in anticipation of the activities. Be ready for the action to start. When the moments you can't plan occur, you'll have the camera already pointed in the right direction.
- Go with the flow. Rather than forcing your birthday child to smile for the camera, observe her actions and expressions and be ready to respond. You may not get the smiling-into-the-camera shot, but you may get an unexpected, priceless memory, such as your child watching the activities or being engrossed in eating cake.
- Capture the atmosphere. Tell the story of the birthday party by snapping overall shots that set the stage. Watch for vignettes that depict the atmosphere. For example, snap a closeup of a drippy ice cream cone in your child's hand, a single party favor, discarded wrapping paper, a birthday card, or a colorful banner.
Editor's Tip: Framing your subject within an image gives it emphasis and can add to your story. Look for naturally occurring frames, such as windows, doorways, tree branches, and intersecting lines, in which to position your subject for the most impact.
Continued on page 2: Tell the Birthday Story