You can escape from many photographic situations, but a children’s birthday will fall sooner or later. From your little one, your nieces or the creatures of your friends or close or distant relatives, it sure arrives. The other day was my daughter’s and I was clear that I didn’t want to be behind the camera. I wanted to enjoy it, the party and the friends and family that accompanied us. Result, as few and less decent photos. That is why I have thought that I better write this article for when the next one arrives to be able to pass it subtly to a guest a few days before and to study it well.
Now seriously, it is a very special situation that requires special measures. That is why today I bring you some very typical mistakes that you should avoid so that you can face it without losing your smile during the party or later and that the person who turns years old is left with a beautiful memory for a lifetime, of those who Memory is not able to destroy. These are:
- Not study the light
- Forget the white balance
- Don’t learn from mistakes once and again
- Speeds too slow
- Do not photograph the details
- Do not change angle
- Do not take care of the funds
- Openings too large for groups
- Do not anticipate the unique moments
- Improvise the cake and candles moment
- That there are almost more photographers than guests on the birthday
- Do not prepare the equipment well
- Not plan
- Forget the color …
- … and emotions
Now, let’s see them one by one .
1. DO NOT STUDY THE LIGHT
Although the statement scares you, it is very simple. It’s about not improvising, but knowing in advance, even a little before the birthday begins, what light you count. If it is a closed place, if it is outdoors, if you have natural light, if you need to take your external flash , etc. Arrive before the guests and perform some tests, because arriving and shooting you can lead you directly to failure and make you lose some of the best snapshots.
2. FORGET THE WHITE BALANCE
This happened to me when my little one turned one year old. All the birthday photos had a strong yellow hue. When I saw them on the computer I almost cried. I remembered the terrace awning where we celebrated it and mentally released all the expletives I knew. It is what it has when you focus on the birthday and not on the camera and let others take the photos (which takes me to the next point).
If you put it on automatically, at least make sure the photos come out decently and if not, shoot in RAW and forget it. Although the effort is greater, the disgust will be less.
3. DO NOT LEARN FROM MISTAKES ONCE AND AGAIN
I had to put it This is the most recurrent, the human being is the only animal that stumbles twice (and three and four …) on the same stone, we know that. But are we going to assume it happily? Surely on other occasions you have made certain mistakes that you have been aware of, try to remember them so as not to make them again, be they on the ISO, white balance or slow speeds. Any little learning will be a big step if you consider it and don’t ignore it.
4. SPEEDS TOO SLOW
It is a children’s birthday. There are children everywhere who move without stopping. There may be low light and if you use for example the opening priority mode, the shooting speed will probably be too slow and the photos will be moved. Use speed priority mode or manual mode . This way you make sure you have the approach you want at the speed you need.
It is normal to use a speed above the focal length, for example, if they are 50mm, shoot at least 1/60, but if there are children, as in this case, make sure a speed of at least 1/125.
5. DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH THE DETAILS
In the preparation of a party always gets a lot of care. There are many preparations, details, time dedicated to everything is beautiful and create a pleasant atmosphere. Not to photograph these details is to let an important part of the party go by, it is to ignore the affection that the hosts have put into it. Whether or not you have organized it, give them the attention they deserve.
It is best to dedicate a while before the party begins, when everything is still in place and it does not seem like a hurricane has passed. Then you will have time to photograph the effects of the fun, but first, capture the details in its splendor. A wide opening will help you, and if it’s candy or food, here are some tips that will help you.
6. DO NOT CHANGE ANGLE
Do you know the wonderful moments, gestures, scenes and snapshots that you can miss if you don’t move from your site? If you shoot all the time from your height, only what your eyes see from that position, I assure you that the report will be much more flat and boring.
If you want to cause a different effect, if you are looking to capture what no one (or almost nobody) has seen, get down, get on somewhere you can shoot, look from different points of view and you will find small treasures that will become great memories.
7. DON’T TAKE CARE OF THE FUNDS
When you concentrate a lot on the protagonists, it is easy to forget what is behind. The bad thing is that your camera is not forgotten, it captures everything. And then you realize that behind the boy blowing the candles is the grandfather with the stick in his mouth (for example). You can also find later in the photo a lot of bottles that you can not take your eye off, so distracting that you are not able to focus attention on the prota.
Remove everything that bothers you in front, and if the background is too chaotic or distracted by its color or pattern or whatever, change the angle if possible or open the diaphragm to the maximum to blur it.
8. OPENINGS TOO LARGE FOR GROUPS
It is also easy to move from a portrait to a child to a group photo without realizing that the opening is too large for everyone to come out focused. When you go to photograph several people at the same time, remember that you have to put an intermediate depth of field or make sure, at least, that they are in the same plane (something difficult if it is a very large group).
Eye, increase the depth of field without sacrificing the shooting speed, which I have said before that if it is very slow the photo will be moved. It is time to raise the ISO value and / or use the external flash (with diffuser or bounced).
9. DO NOT ANTICIPATE THE UNIQUE MOMENTS
Maybe the gift moment is the one that personally fascinates me the least for different reasons, but it is a small creature that is sure that more than one gift will make him a huge illusion. Losing your face can be a sin. Try to find out if any of the gifts is something you are looking forward to or something that will really surprise you and before there will be, place yourself in a strategic place with everything ready to capture its expression. A burst shot will help you capture the most expressive gesture.
Like the opening of the gifts, it can be the arrival of a guest who does not expect and with whom he will be glad infinitely, or any other surprise that they have prepared for him.
10. IMPROVISE THE CAKE AND CANDLES MOMENT
This point deserves almost a separate section for its complexity and diversity. It is not the same to photograph with the lights turned off than on, or outdoors than indoors. Here it is important that you inform yourself (if you are not the hostess or the host) of how this moment will be to prepare you. If it is outside you have it easier, but if you are indoors and decide to turn off the lights to take out the cake you better follow these tips or all the photos may be failed:
- Eliminate other sources of light (curtains, secondary light bulbs …)
- Use punctual measurement and measure on the face
- Use a wide opening
- Shoot at a fast speed
- Do not use flash
- Increase the ISO value if necessary
If there are more people (who know what they do) capturing photos of the birthday, you can allow yourself to change your perspective and achieve different photos, such as the following, if this is not the case, I recommend you choose a strategic place (without disturbing) to be able to capture the unique moment of blowing the candles.
11. THAT THERE ARE ALMOST MORE PHOTOGRAPHERS THAN GUESTS ON THE BIRTHDAY
And talking about candles for the moment … It is very tempting to take out your cell phone and start shooting, so it is likely that many of the guests take hold of their smartphone. You can’t imagine how sad it is to look straight ahead and that everyone in front of you is with the phone focusing and you don’t see a face.
That happened the other day (my little one blew the candles twice, the day of the birthday and the day of the party). Well, on the day of the birthday coincided with a meal with family members that we see little, so they took advantage to blow the candles and could not resist taking photos, but I was very sad about the image and I thought I did not want my daughter to have that scene, so I asked them to keep the phones, I preferred that there were no photos of the moment that the memory that she had left in her mind was that of five or six people taking pictures instead of singing happy birthday. Be careful, they are children and our actions are their example.
12. DO NOT PREPARE THE EQUIPMENT WELL
This is so basic that sometimes it is forgotten. A few days ago I was invited to another birthday. I wasn’t going to take pictures, but it turned out that I had my camera in my bag (like many other times) and I couldn’t resist. Do you know how difficult it is to cover a birthday with a fixed focal length of 50 mm (approximately 70 mm because my camera is not Full Frame)? Well, I got very nice portraits but few global photos. The space was reduced and I could not retire just to capture more scene.
I have put this example, but it serves to review lenses (better a versatile lens or several lenses), charged battery and if you have spare, the external flash (if it is a closed site) or the empty memory card. The card also happened to me, which came from another place where I shot at discretion and stayed with her trembling …
13. DO NOT PLAN
In addition to preparing the equipment, not knowing what you are going to photograph can be a big mistake because you will miss many moments. Better make a list (mental or written) of what you want to photograph to narrate the birthday. Ideally, do not look like a lot of isolated photos, but get to tell someone outside how was the party without having been through your images. Here is an example, you can modify it to your liking:
- Decoration and details
- Arrival of the guests
- Gift Opening
- Spontaneous gestures and emotional moments
- End of the party (side effects )
14. FORGET THE COLOR …
It is a children’s birthday, sure that the least is colorful. You cannot miss the opportunity to immortalize all that explosion of color. Look for an interesting composition to convey all the joy of birthday in a single image.
15. … AND EMOTIONS
Smiles, kisses, hugs, looks, gestures of surprise … a party is full of emotions, you can not forget it, the details, the cake, the light, etc., are important, but even more so are the emotions. If you forget them you will not get anyone to connect with the images and the worst … Within a few years, when the person who has turned the years see the photos, he will probably think it was a most boring birthday And you do not want that, truth?
You can also help these general tips to photograph a party, because, childish or not, in the end it is a party. So don’t forget to have fun … and put on a smile!
Before saying goodbye, I want to ask you a favor, if you found it useful, share it on your favorite social networks. The birthday creatures will thank you and me too, because that’s how I’ll know if you like the content we make for you.
Thank you and see you soon!