10 Birthday Photography Tips

Our ten expert birthday photography tips teach you how to take better and more creative birthday photos. We will go through the best camera settings, techniques, and lighting to use when taking photos of a children’s birthday party. We will also share some advice on how to make friends with your subjects so they let you in all their birthday fun.

1. Arrive Early

Always arrive early to your birthday party since there is so much that you cannot control with children. They may be moody, upset, or happy; they might be in a playful mood or simply bored. By arriving early, you can take stock of the setting and the guests. The child also will have a little more time to get to know you and feel comfortable around you and that’s key for capturing a great smile!

2. Bring Snacks & a Little Gift

One of the little known, most overlooked birthday photography tips is the power of snacks in getting children comfortable with you. Bring some treats that are approved by the client so that the child begins to see you as a friend. And since it is a birthday party, you should always bring a small gift – a toy, a fun accessory, or tickets to a show or event should do the trick.

colorful gummy bears
Source: Pexels

3. Make it Fun

Not many children are comfortable in front of a camera,  so you as a photographer might need to brighten up the mood from time to time. You can let the kids come up with ideas for photos and use their favorite heroes, books, movies, or shows as inspiration.

4. Position the Camera at the Right Angle

The key to successful birthday group photos and portraits is to get the camera at the subject’s eye level; always avoid having the children or adults looking upwards since this does not usually highlight the best features. They need to be looking at the camera from the same level or above for the best shots. This is one of the most important birthday photography tips; you can see more on how to photograph individual subjects in our collection of portrait photography tips.

photographer and camera
Source: Pixabay

5. Know When to Back Off

Kids are spontaneous and can shift from excited to bored or just relaxed in minutes, so if you notice they aren’t receptive to the aforementioned efforts, take a break and let them interact on their own for a bit. If you can’t get a great portrait, switch over to snapping candids and document the party like a journalist would.

If shooting infant birthday parties, never underestimate the whimsy and appreciation for classic birthday party crying photos. Many parents consider them incredibly funny and memorable  photos for the books! If you want more tips on how to take photos of small children, you should check out our collection of baby photography tips.

6. Use Natural Light

Whenever you can at your birthday party shoot, try to maximize the use of natural light. This eliminates the task of setting up special lighting and almost always makes for a better photo.

Try to put a chair or a bench near a window so that the light streams in from the side, or ask the parents to set up the playing/dining area in a naturally-lit environment. Keep in mind never to take a photograph against a light-filled window or another light source unless contrast is your desired effect. Instead, use the natural streaming light from behind to highlight and illuminate your subject. You can learn more on how to use natural light to your advantage in our collection of natural light photography tips.

group birthday photo
Source: Flickr

7. Steal the Birthday Party Props

The fun of a birthday party is all of the decorations that make killer props for your pop-up set. For example, borrow colorful balloons and attach them to the chair where your subject will sit. Put a “Happy Birthday” banner on a wall in the background. Add cake and ice cream props to the table. Be creative and have fun with the color and magic of the birthday party props already on site.

8. Shoot with a Wide Aperture

When you are shooting portraits, you want to shoot with a wide aperture so that the background of your photos appears soft and blurry. To do this, set your aperture at f-stop 2.8-5.6. Also, if you set your camera to Aperture Priority mode, your camera will set the shutter speed and you’ll get the right exposure.

9. Try to Limit the Number of Children in the Shots

The last entry in our collection of birthday photography tips: remember that the more subjects you add to your portraits, the harder you’ll have to work to get them looking all at the camera. And if you’re going for a true portrait, you’re going to need the subject looking at you. Of course, group photos are important, but a few critical moments will be worth more than pictures where half of the children are not paying attention.

children playing in ball pit
Source: Pixabay

10. Always Be on the Lookout

Capture every moment and interaction that will make for a beautiful memory like children smiling at one another, opening the presents, or blowing the candles. It’s best to not interrupt these moments if you want to truly capture the children’s feelings.


Taking photos of children’s birthday parties is pretty easy once you get to know the group’s dynamics while also keeping in mind how spontaneous they are. Of course, there are some other things to consider like lighting and aperture, but technical aspects are easier to set up. Which birthday photography tips worked best for you?

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