The best tips for photographing a birthday party

  • your best advice for photographing a childrens birthday party

The best tips for photographing a birthday party

*image by Heather Lazark

It’s time for another edition of our monthly series “Ask a Click Pro” here on the CM photography blog in which we give our Click Pros one question and they dish. Their answers alone are always inspiring and this week we asked them…

What are your favorite tips for photographing your own child’s birthday party?

Nicole EversonNicole Everson, Florida
I always shoot with my 50mm, I make sure to be set up 15 min early so I can have detail shots, then I make sure to get a few shots but I actually hand my camera over to my best friend who is also my assistant. I know I have the few perfect shots I need and then I can be a mom and be in the shots!!



Beth WadeBeth Wade, North Carolina
I prefer using natural light so I make sure to set up the really special moments around the best light. Our home has great big windows in the living room so I position my boys there for blowing out candles and then relocate back to the dining table to eat. We open presents in the living room too. My go to lens is my 24-70! I love that it allows me to capture the day with difference focal lengths – wide angle for the overall atmosphere and 70mm for more intimate moments.



Katie WoodardKatie Woodard, Arizona
Learn to love your flash! We recently had a sleepover birthday party so I was able to capture some fun and silly moments at night using my flash.




Shey DetterlineShey Detterline, Maryland
Dont forget to live in the moment and be involved in the photos yourself as well. Make sure to take a test shot to ensure proper exposure first, and then hand over the camera to a trusted friend or family member to make sure you are in some photos as well with the birthday child!



Kellie BieserKellie Bieser, Ohio
Have someone else take the pictures! I want my face to be a part of their memories…not stuck behind a camera. I would much rather be focused on my kids tearing into their presents and having fun with their friends than composing the shot or setting my white balance.



Kate LuberKate Luber, Oklahoma
Interval timer. I have a Canon so you have to buy an extra piece of equipment to do it but it’s awesome. Put the camera on a tripod in the corner and forget it. Sure, you get more toasters than keepers but you’re in the shot and people forget the camera is even there.



Christy JohnsonChristy Johnson, North Carolina
Don’t forget to capture the details! In our Pinterest-crazed era, sometimes the dreaming, planning, and decorating is the most fun part. Make sure to document all your hard work so you and your child can relive all of the details and fun.




Amy SchuffAmy Schuff, California
The thing I most want to photograph on my child’s birthday is their face when they blow out the birthday candles. It’s one of their most favorite parts of the entire party. This is a wonderful moment for photography too! Turn off the lights, let the candles be your guide and shoot their sweet giggly faces as everyone sings them Happy Birthday and they get to blow out their candles.



Lauren SandersonLauren Sanderson, Alabama
I swap with a friend of mine who is also a local photographer. She photographs my kids’ parties and I photograph her’s. It makes everything so much less stressful and I get to celebrate the day being 100% present… and bonus, I’m actually in the pictures!!!



Willie KersWillie Kers, The Netherlands
I don’t want to get stuck behind the camera and miss some great moments. So I always have my iPhone cam ready! With an olloclip attached to it, i still get some great shots full of memories!




Samantha CovertSamantha Covert, Nova Scotia
I try to be as organized as possible the day of the party, and delegate as many tasks that I can so I’m not stuck running errands and not documenting the event. I take images of all the details before the party starts, and also try to get a few birthday portraits before the party as well…it takes the pressure off getting “perfect” pictures during the party, so I can enjoy myself, too.



Melissa StottmannMelissa Stottmann, Delaware
Don’t forget to get ALL of the guests in the photos! I like to go around and take a picture of each room as the party is happening. Sure, it might not be the best lighting conditions, but they are wonderful memories to have.




Lena AntaramianLena Antaramian, New Jersey
Conversion to black and white! My kids birthday parties are generally in-doors with pretty bad lighting so I save myself a lot of time editing by converting most of the images to black and white.




Kristy DooleyKristy Dooley, Vermont
Set realistic expectations. If I can get a handful of shots to remember the day I’m happy! Mostly I want my girls to remember that I was present at their birthday parties, not constantly behind the lens. Oh, and I definitely put the cake and gifts in good light!



Marie MasseMarie Masse, Michigan
Anticipate moments of emotions & expression with both your child & the guests. It’s a great time to capture interaction between your child & family members in attendance – thank you hugs, laughter over a new toy, maybe the other parent’s clear expression of pride & love too. Watch for natural reactions to the events – when your little one is blowing out the candles, after you grab that shot, turn to the guests to capture their smiles!



Lynn TaborgaLynn Taborga, Maryland
Have someone else host the party. No, but really, stay organized, have a plan and watch for the in between moments. Don’t be upset if you miss a shot because with your own child being in the moment is the most important.



Do you have any great tips for photographing birthdays? We’d love to hear and don’t forget that we’re giving away prizes each day to a random blog commenter in celebration of Birthday Week. Today we’ll be drawing for someone to win a 1 year subscription to Click magazine so go ahead and comment to enter to win!

About the Author:

From the parent company Click & Company, Clickin Moms has revolutionized the photography industry as the first and largest organization to embrace and serve female photographers of all levels, from hobbyists to professionals. Visit Clickin Moms Blog online.


  1. elise Mar 18 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

    Thanks for sharing ladies!

  2. Jaimi Mar 18 2014 at 11:29 am - Reply

    Great suggestions! I love the idea of swapping with another photographer to cover each other’s birthday events!!

  3. Kayla B Mar 18 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Yes, I always try to get the detail shots before the party 😉 Thanks!

  4. Debbie Mar 18 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Awesome tips! I usually forget to pick up my camera until it’s cake time…oops!

  5. Jess Mar 18 2014 at 11:37 am - Reply

    Great tips. To me, the most important (and hardest) is handing off the camera!

  6. Melissa Ives Mar 18 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Great advice! I’m often running around like a crazy lady for my kids’ parties. About a year after my twins’ second birthday, I found my forgotten point and shoot in a drawer. I checked the card and was delighted to find someone picked it up and took a few shots during the party and I was actually in them! They weren’t perfect, but it really didn’t matter.

  7. Rachelle Chaves Mar 18 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply

    My favorite part is “set realistic expectations!” haha! 🙂

  8. Amy Langley Mar 18 2014 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Thanks for the great suggestions! My son’s birthday party is coming up, so I will put these to good use!

  9. Seija Mar 18 2014 at 12:07 pm - Reply

    Great tips! These are not just great for birthdays but any event!

  10. Jenna S. Mar 18 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    What great advice! Thanks so much ladies!!!

  11. christineb Mar 18 2014 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Great tips!

  12. Jennifer W Mar 18 2014 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great tips for photographing a birthday party. It’s a great idea to have more than one photographer…especially to get everyone, including myself, into the shots.

  13. Heather Dost Mar 18 2014 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing!

  14. Lauren Mar 18 2014 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Such great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Conni M Mar 18 2014 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    Having someone else take the pictures is the best advice! It is so hard to be in the moment of your childs party and enjoy the festivities if you are worries about ‘getting the shot’ —
    Take all the close up and detail shots before the guests arrive and then let someone else take over during the party- and don’t sweat if they don’t get all that you would have.
    It is the time that is important – your child and the memories!!

  16. Becky Kueter Mar 18 2014 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Love the tips!! I have a party in the works so it will be great to try some of these out 🙂

  17. Sarah Mar 18 2014 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Interval Timer, baby!! 🙂

  18. Melissa Mar 18 2014 at 1:29 pm - Reply

    Great Advice CM Pros! Thank You!

  19. Aga Plonka Mar 18 2014 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    great tips thanks for all the ideas. I’d defintely use wide angle as I’d like to shot the child and also all the environment as there are many things I could miss with 50mm. What’s more probably I’d try different angles maybe some not standard one so the photos don’t look like any other birthday party

  20. Liz Mar 18 2014 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I always love them blowing out the candles- its the one “must take” shot every year, sometimes I have a cake for them when it’s just family so that I can get the dark/lit only by candles shot! Win win for all- more cake and the perfect shot 🙂

  21. davina Mar 18 2014 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Thanks for all the advise! So important to remember to be in the moment and in the frame with your kiddos!

  22. Heidi G Mar 18 2014 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    Great ideas! Adjusting my expectations was key. It’s an event – not a photoshoot – don’t be too hard on yourself. 😉

  23. Marilyn Mar 18 2014 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    great tips. TFS

  24. Rosa Z. Mar 18 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    I like to spend 15 minutes on the main event and then pack my gear and enjoy the party!

  25. Lindsay Mar 18 2014 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Love all of the tips! Thanks guys! 🙂

  26. amelia Mar 18 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips!

  27. Nichole Jensen Mar 18 2014 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Great ideas! I always have to bounce my flash in my dark cave house.

  28. Rachel Mar 18 2014 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    Great ideas.i love to have other mom photog friends do my parties and I in turn return the favor!

  29. Jill S Mar 18 2014 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Great tips! Love my 28-75mm.

  30. Laura Mar 18 2014 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    I really need to get a flash! Gone are the days of well planned and decorated outdoor parties and here are the days of Chuck E Cheese craziness!

  31. Rita Mar 18 2014 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I agree with giving someone else the camera! My mother always complains that I am never in any of my family pictures. Need to get in front of the camera too. And remember to use my tripod and remote!

  32. Amanda Mar 18 2014 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    I love the common theme of ‘enjoy the moment’ rather then getting too caught up in getting a perfect picture 🙂

  33. Angela Mar 18 2014 at 5:25 pm - Reply

    Great tips! I always get caught up hosting that I forget to capture many of the details!

  34. Amy Mar 18 2014 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    Great tips!

  35. Amy B. Mar 18 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I love to see that a few of you mentioned handing the camera off to a friend and then just enjoying the party- it’s so important to not only preserve the memories, but more so to enjoy them as they happen!

  36. Shawna Mar 18 2014 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Remember to take photos of the fabulous cake your spent hours decorating before all the guests arrive! This way you aren’t panicked to capture a shot before a slice gets taken out of it!

  37. Asheley Mar 18 2014 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    the interval timer is definitely something I need to look into

  38. scrapmommaof3 Mar 18 2014 at 8:28 pm - Reply

    I love the blowing of the candles too. love the big cheeks it provides.

  39. Erica W Mar 18 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Great ideas. I really need to get that interval timer now.

  40. Jess Mar 18 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    Love it! Handing off the camera is vital for me. Thanks for all the advice, ladies.

  41. Valerie A. Mar 18 2014 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    great tips, everyone! The swapping with another photographer friend is the BEST! I just started doing that this year, and it was the most enjoyable kid’s birthday I’ve ever thrown. Then, I got to enjoy going through the photos afterward and seeing the great shots my friend got. Best thing in the world! 🙂

  42. Shelly S Mar 18 2014 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Great tips!! Thanks everyone!! Happy Birthday CM!!

  43. Michele Kendzie Mar 18 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the tips! I think I might like to photograph birthday parties as part of a business.

  44. Annie Mar 18 2014 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    Honestly, I just try not to stress about it. I’m okay with some snapshots, just so I can remember the event and also enjoy myself.

  45. Kori Mar 18 2014 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    Awesome tips ladies!

  46. Diane W. Mar 18 2014 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    Thanks, everyone, for the great tips!

  47. Carrie Mar 19 2014 at 12:31 am - Reply

    I love Lauren’s idea of swapping! Or better yet, exchange memory cards so you can edit your own child’s images after someone else shoots them.

  48. Rachel F. Mar 19 2014 at 2:02 am - Reply

    Great advice!

  49. Hitsendletgo (Karns) Mar 19 2014 at 4:57 am - Reply

    I have to remember to get in the picture!

  50. schtanzerl Mar 19 2014 at 5:08 am - Reply

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  51. Barbara Mar 19 2014 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Thanks so much! Great tips!!

  52. Loren Mar 19 2014 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    I agree. Get in the pictures. … Get some good shots early on then hand over the camera!

  53. Cassidy Mar 19 2014 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Great tips, thanks for sharing!!

  54. Pam Mar 19 2014 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    get a few shots of cake & décor before everyone arrives then hand off the camera!

  55. Kathleen Mar 20 2014 at 8:33 am - Reply

    I love the idea of using the interval timer. I did this for Christmas morning after reading Melissa Stottmann’s tutorial <3 and it was wonderful! I loved the resulting slideshow to music. I plan to do this for birthdays when they roll around this year!

  56. KatieW Mar 20 2014 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I love the interval timer too! Thanks for the reminder Kate 🙂

  57. Michelle Kersey Mar 20 2014 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Great tips! I love Kristy’s tips for enjoying the party…. and putting the cake in good light! haha

  58. Party Venues Long Island Mar 21 2014 at 3:07 am - Reply

    Its always good to have big windows in the living room because natural light is best for the photography.

  59. Sandy Thelen Mar 21 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    I love all of these tips, but my favorite is to be present, and get in the picture too.

  60. Judy Mar 21 2014 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Wonderful tips! The interval timer is a great idea!

  61. Natalia Mar 27 2018 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Great Idea!
    Thanks for sharing it. I used your idea on my mother Birthday day. Keep up it.

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