Whether you are a professional or amateur photographer, it’s not always an easy task to capture the perfect picture. It takes preparation, patience and sometimes even a stroke of luck to get a great shot, especially when it involves a lot of people and a lot of action. Even seasoned professionals know that only a small percentage of their shots can actually make it to print. Here lies the beauty of digital photography—you don’t have to waste film or paper, as it’s all just stored in electronic format, waiting for you to make a choice, before post processing and printing.
When you are holding or attending a birthday party, one of the things you want is to have a photograph to remember the event by. Whether it’s a children’s party, or one held by an adult, friends and family members want memorable images. There are different ways to capture that perfect birthday picture, though, and it mostly depends on the kind of event, and the people involved.
Candid shots. Most modern photographers prefer taking candid shots. This means you keep on taking pictures of the people and the things happening around the birthday party, without asking the subjects to pose. In birthday parties, one of the favorite moments for photographing would be when the celebrant blows out the birthday candles. For this purpose, you would have to be alert and vigilant, as you only have one chance at it, unless you can ask the birthday celebrant to blow the candles again, for photo purposes.
When taking that candle-blowing shot, try practicing on the subject beforehand, to see if lighting and colors conditions are right. So even before he blows on the candles, take a few pictures, and review the result on your LCD screen. If your camera has manual or at least shutter controls, try to set these to a fast shutter setting—at least 1/60th of a second or so. If you must use a flash to get better exposure, then do so.
You can also use burst mode, so the camera takes successive shots in a span of seconds. You might miss something important right after the cake blowing, and shooting in burst mode would help you catch everything that happens.
Group shots. Birthday parties usually double as family reunions, class reunions, or reunions with friends. These are oftentimes rare events when you can get people together. Why not take a group picture for posterity’s sake? Group shots are usually best done right before or right after the celebrant blows his cake candles. With the celebrant at the center, and with guests flanking him and lined up behind him, you can take that group shot with a wide angle lens setting. If you intend to join in the photo, then you should have a tripod ready. Set your camera to timed capture, press the shutter, then run toward the group—your camera should take that shot automatically after 10 seconds or so.
A few rules and tips. When taking photographs, don’t forget to apply a few rules for best image results. First is the rule of thirds. Frame your shots with the subject at the center, or at least at any of the one-third points on your viewfinder. This should result in proportional images. If your subject is situated at the corners, or too centered, then this might not look proportional, unless that is your intent. Also, it’s best to use the flash if you are in a dimly lit environment. If you’re taking pictures of children, and you are outdoors, then you can use your camera’s Sports mode, so you can take pictures of kids while playing.
Taking the perfect birthday picture is all about capturing memorable moments. Whether these are formal, posed portraits, or candid shots of people in action, these would make for memorable pictures if you get it just right.