Photographing your kid’s birthday party can be a bit overwhelming. You don’t want to forget to document the important moments. However, you also don’t want to document every single detail only to be behind the camera the whole time, and miss out on actually enjoying the party yourself.
These 6 birthday party photography tips allow you to fully prepare for the party so that you can have it well documented and still enjoy every moment!
Birthday party photography tips!
Before the party:
1. Focus the decorations.
I love picking a theme and decorating for a fun party. In the past, however, I have put tons of time and energy into the decorations only to find that they do not make the same “BAM” impression in my birthday party photographs as they did as a whole during the party. So this year I changed my approach.
I focused my decorations in two areas. The first was around the piano where I intended on having the girls open their gifts. Rather than filling balloons with helium and having them float up toward the ceiling like I did last year (something Anabelle loved, but did absolutely nothing in my photos) I hung them from the ceiling. They hung down into my photos just as I wanted with no strings as distractions.
The second area was a backdrop I made. I intended on this being a good place to take photos with the birthday girls and show the spirit of the party. However, it also turned out to be the perfect backdrop for the cake smash and can’t believe I didn’t plan that one on purpose… Since after all, it’s another key component to a first birthday party!
2. Photograph the decor.
If you want pictures of the party decorations and set up, don’t wait till the party starts to take the pictures.
These aren’t the most important pictures so I really didn’t want them to interrupt the party. Instead, I had the party completely set up 30 minutes before I told anybody it was going to start. I took the pictures of the setup early, firstly so that I wouldn’t have to tell anyone to step out of the picture. And secondly, so that I could enjoy and go with the flow of the party. I didn’t need to interrupt anything for pictures first.
*I took a photo of this set up before the party, but after everyone arrived and went outside, I took another one with all the gifts!
3. Find your alternate designated photographer.
There are a certain points during a birthday party, where as the mom to the birthday girls, I didn’t want to be stuck behind the camera. My sisters are pretty used to me handing my camera off to them, but I still made sure they were ready. I needed one of them for two points during the party: during the present opening and while we were singing happy birthday. And I needed them to be ready to sit in front of everyone with my camera as the designated photographer.
I had the camera setting perfect when I handed off my camera, so the pictures could still be taken in manual, and I made sure she knew how to quickly adjust the shutter speed if something was too light or too dark. If the sun goes behind a cloud, it can mess up the manual settings quickly. I also told her what I was looking for, what I didn’t want, and where to stand or sit to get the angle that I wanted.
Tip: If you are ever unsure if they understand what what you want in the photo, take a picture first to show them the exact framing you are looking for.
During the party:
4. Take the people shots.
I find the best time to take the “smile at the camera” shots is when the party first starts. Every one looks their best, lipstick is still fresh and it’s not a surprise that you want to document the party. This also just allows you to “get it over with”…
I couldn’t tear Anabelle away from her cousins and if I would have tried, the pictures would have been torture. But I did manage to get a couple keepers, even remembered to take one with my husband!
If you can, don’t forget the family photo. I missed out, but that’s what family photo shoots are for, right?
5. Take some candid shots once every gets comfortable.
Everyone gets comfortable once the food is served, right? At this point, you’ve already snapped a few “smile at the camera” shots, so don’t worry about getting everyone to look. Focus on the candid shots. Walk around for 5 minutes snapping pictures here and there. Just avoid the awkward shots of people chewing.
6. A balloon photoshoot.
I bought these HUGE number balloons and knew I wanted some fun photos of the girls with them. During the party is a bad time to try and take extra photos. Too much stimulation is going on for them to slow down for these photos. Instead, the day before the party, I took Anabelle and Betty out with these balloons and made an event out of the photoshoot. Anabelle loved her balloon, it got her excited for the party, and had soooo much fun that it was totally worth it!
3 moments not to miss:
This is a little overboard, but if you want to cover all your bases, remember every detail, and allow your photos to do the storytelling, that is how I do it without worrying about ruining the party with my camera.
However, if you just want to capture the bare minimum, here’s what you need:
- A picture of your birthday girl (or boy!) and their birthday cake!
- A picture of you AND your husband (he can’t say no!) with the birthday girl!
- A picture of them ripping open the presents!
Let’s be honest, these are the three most meaningful photos you will cherish forever!