When you are young, one of the most special days of the year is your birthday. Whether it’s a home party or a special day out, being creative and flexible is the best way to catch memorable birthday images. Children can be temperamental at the best of times, so always be ready to capture the smiles when they occur.
My, How You Have Grown!
Children grow fast; one day they cannot walk or talk, then it seems like the next day they can run and have conversations with you. Track each birthday and remember to catch details such as the candles on the cake, balloons and presents. Photograph your child sitting next to the cake. Use natural light by a window for the best effect, and a large aperture (f/2.8-f/4) to blur out the background. Choose a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second and upwards to avoid blur and for multiple shots use continuous shooting mode. This is important as children move around quickly. Use an external flash (with a diffuser) to fill in any dark spots.
Children are full of energy and joy, especially on their birthday. Keep an eye on them and take photos while they are playing with their friends. A zoom lens of 24-70mm is ideal for this kind of indoor image. Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode, select an ISO of 100-800 and a wide aperture of f/2.8-f/10 for a blurred background. Use flash to freeze the action. Consider using a separate flash, which is more powerful than the built in flash. This is important especially if you are photographing the children from a few yards away.
Get in Close
The best time for a close-up photograph is when the children are sitting down opening presents or blowing out the candles on their cake. Take a few photos from the side and focus on the child’s face. Use a shallow depth of field to keep the background out of focus. You want to keep the shutter speed at 1/160th of a second to keep everything sharp, but also capture some of the smoke trails coming from the candles. Use a higher ISO setting if you are indoors as there is less light.
Don’t just focus on the birthday boy or girl; makes sure you take pictures of the other children too. Watch how children interact with each other, and include siblings as well. Capture moments of them having fun with each other. If you are in your home the light may be fairly low; you’ll you need to push the ISO up to 400 and open the aperture to f/2.8-f/4 to let light in. Find interesting ways to frame the images; height differences between children are interesting for composition. Remember to include elements of the party in the photo like balloons, decorations, and gifts.
Candid shots are some of the best images you can take at a birthday party. Certainly, people expect the obvious shots of the birthday child with the cake. You should try to capture a shot of each child at the party as well. Use a telephoto zoom lens to focus in on the children inconspicuously – set the aperture to f/4 to blur out distractions, and use a reasonable shutter speed of 1/125th of a second to keep things sharp. Remember if you are indoors use an ISO of 400 or higher so you have sufficiently fast shutter speeds. Use the spot metering mode and meter on the child’s face.