Hey everyone! My name is Rebecca Watkins, and I am a professional photographer serving the DC Metro area. I mostly focus on weddings, but I also take portraits and cover events and parties. I started photography in high school and was in love with it. It had to take a backseat during college, because I was focusing on psychology and playing lacrosse. Once I left college, I realized that I didn't want to have a typical 9-5 job. I took the jump, photographed my best friend's wedding, and started my photography business. To me being a photographer is the best job in the world. You can find me through my website, my blog, twitter, and facebook.
I always have a lot of fun photographing events, but kid's parties are a blast. I love all of the detail that is put into them, and I absolutely love kids. There is always so much going on and so photographing a party may seem daunting, but there are some easy tricks to take better photos.
- Capture the details- There are a lot of details that are put into a party, and they're must have photos. Once everything is set up and before all of the kids are there, go around and take some quick photos. Especially get photos of the main/food table, shots of any work stations that are set up, banners, and the cake. Try getting different angles of the tables, and if there are small details (eg.: decorations on the cake) get in close.
- Always have your camera ready- Kids are unpredictable. One minute they're perfectly fine just playing with their Star Wars action figure or Bratz doll and the next they're running over to play Rock Band. If you put your camera down even for a second, you may miss the chance to capture a smile or one of the kids running around with a Transformers mask on. It doesn't have to constantly have to be up to your face, but have it at hand.
- Let the kids play- Most kids can't sit still long enough to take a posed photo (especially if it's almost their turn on the guitar) or they become really shy when they see a camera pointed in their direction. Capture lots of candid shots, and if they're having fun they won’t even realize the camera is around. If you want to have some posed photographs, take them in between activities. You will be able to hold their attention for a little bit longer.
- Take a knee and get down to their level- Some of the best photos you can take of children are when you're at eye level with them.
- Get creative with your angles and composition- If you're photographing an egg hunt take photos of their hands opening the eggs or looking directly over top of them when they reach down to pick one up.
- Check your white balance- Have you ever noticed if you're inside and your photos look like they were stained with orange juice? All of that orange/yellow tint is from the lighting you have. Your brain automatically processes it so you see things as white. Your camera? Not quite that smart. This is also the same with cloudy/over cast days and shadows (which both tend to give a blue cast on images). Most cameras have an automatic white balance that is pretty advanced, but sometimes it does not compensate enough. Take a look at your camera's manual and find out how to adjust the white balance and the different settings.
- Understand your lighting- Understand what your main light source is and in what direction its coming from. If you're out in a bright sunny day, toward the sun. Direct sunlight creates harsh shadows, and can blow out the highlights in your photos and if you turn your subject away from the sun then you avoid the extreme shadows and highlights. Another option is to take them into the shade of a tree or of a house. Using the shade will diffuse the sun and make soft shadows and highlights.
- Don't be afraid of your flash- Indoors you don't have quite as much light as you would outside. To compensate for this, your camera will slow the shutter speed down and you may end up with blurry photos. With the flash on you're better able to capture the moments, without needing to worry about your hand shaking. If you have a DSLR and a speed light, USE IT! The best even lighting you can create is if your point the flash at the ceiling or a wall and have it bounce onto your subject. Just like with the sunlight, diffusing it will get rid of some of those ugly shadows.
- Don't always center your subject- One of the most common mistakes is putting your subject directly in the center of every single photo. Mix it up a little. Split your frame up in thirds horizontal and vertical (think of tic-tac-toe) and put your subject in one of the thirds. This spices up your composition and can provide some great results.
- Have fun- I think this is the most self-explanatory thing you could do. Enjoy the party (and a piece of cake).