Last weekend I was commissioned to photograph the 1st birthday party of one year old twins Isla and Lily, at the Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. The theme was a Mad Hatters' tea party in Alice in Onederland. Photographing children’s birthday parties is always great fun and a change from my usual outdoor family portraits, being more documentary and “fly on the wall” in style, with the emphasis being on capturing the key moments of the party, such as blowing out the candles on the birthday cake etc. That said, I always make sure to get some portraits of the parents and grandparents with the birthday girl or boy too.
Tips for photographing children’s birthday parties
These are some of my top tips for photographing kids' parties:
Forget about only using natural light! Whilst I am a natural light photographer through and through, it is just not feasible to rely on ambient light when photographing moving subjects in the basement of a hotel on a cloudy day! I always use flash photography for kids' parties, although take care to bounce or reflect the light to make sure it is soft and flattering.
Use a wide angle lens (50mm or wider) - that way you will capture more of the background in your photos. Sometimes there are really amusing moments happening behind the subject being photographed and this will help tell the story of the event - and are really fun to look back on afterwards! The photos at this birthday were all taken with my 24-70mm lens which gives me the ability to zoom in for close ups of people, and zoom out to photograph the whole crowd.
Make sure to scope out the corridors and spaces outside the main party room. Often grandparents and other party guests are hanging out here to have a breather - or a gossip!
Get low to the ground to photograph the party from a child's perspective - and up on a chair to photograph the crowd! Different angles and perspective will add variety to the photos.
Remember to photograph the little details, such as the cake and decorations as lots of thought will have gone into these too!