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Shooting kids birthdays

A friend of mine asked me to shoot his daughters birthday last week and I gladly said yes. Kids birthdays are the most challenging event after weddings due to the fact that a lot is happening and clients expect you to capture important moments. Children’s birthday parties are chaotic with flying balls, moving things, a lot of clutter, limited time to pick up the camera and take the shot, but often with lot of fun opportunities

Here are my thoughts and tips on the process.

  • Like weddings you need to have a backup for every gear you have.
  • Charge all camera, speedlites, and triggers a day before.
  • Know the party plan from parents beforehand in order to capture all of the important moments. 
  • You need to have a standard lens (I use the 24-105mm) for tight places and a telephoto / zoom lens for long ranges (myself I love the 70-200mm 2.8L)
  • In most cases birthdays have some artificial lighting which can leave your photos with different types of tinges. Furthermore, if the birthday party light source is changing (indoor and outdoor, lighting color and temperature, etc.) be equipped with a good speedlite and use Auto White Balance to your advantage. Make sure you change it later on in in post-processing but be consistent when you do so.
  • Get down at eye level when shooting children. The biggest mistake I see in all children photos is taking shots looking down onto a scene. While you might take a few shots from this perspective the majority of your photos should be taken at eye level of the subjects you’re shooting.
  • Don't be shy to ask for or grab a stool or a chair to get better perspective, specially during candle lights happy birthday song as the smoke coming out of the candles my blog your photo if you are shooting at camera axis.
  • Shoot in burst mode to compensate for the speed of things happening then choose the sharpest on in the batch in post-process.
  • Kids are full of motion and emotion, so be prepared to hover around and float all over the place to take as many perspective as you can.
  • Shoot the parents and invitees. Shooting candid is more natural all the time but don't be shy to ask them to look into the camera if you thought they should.
  • Look for details ; shoot the cake, the food and the decoration. Parents love those shot and they will ask you to do so all the time.
  • Ask for posing specially during the cake cutting.
  • Look for expressions, joy and fun shots (see below).
  • Don't forget to be pleasant and fun.