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First smile, first bite of food, first steps, first day of school. I have all these memories of my children drowning in a virtual sea of digital images. But the real problem is these images are sitting in oblivion on my iPhone or my hard drive.
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Photographing your kid’s birthday party can be a bit overwhelming. You don’t want to forget to document the important moments. However, you also don’t want to document every single detail only to be behind the camera the whole time, and miss out on actually enjoying the party yourself.
These birthday party photography tips allow you to fully prepare for the party so that you can have it well documented and still enjoy every moment!
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Some trends in photography come and go. Before you even blink, it’s a new hip thing, and then just as quickly, the sizzle goes away. Then there is the cake smash – a trend that is steadily gaining in the list of special moments of a child’s first year that need to be captured. However you do not need to break the bank and hire a professional photographer.
Here are a few tips that will help you capture your child’s farewell to being an infant with SMASHING THE CAKE!
Tip 1: Pick TWO outfits. A cute first birthday outfit, and the cake smash “attire” (usually a diaper/cover…see below). The first few shots to get should be portraits of your baby dressed in a cute outfit for a couple traditional first birthday portraits. Then take a few minutes to change your baby into their cake smash “attire”.
Tip #2: Let your baby have cake at least 2 times in the weeks leading up to the cake smash session. This way they will be familiar with cake enough to move past the exploration phase and they can get excited about it like the rest of us! Feeding them cake ahead of time also helps determine if your baby has any allergies or sensitivity from the icing coloring. But believe it or not, many babies think the texture of the icing feels weird. Some babies don’t like it at all and get upset when it won’t easily wipe off, and some babies are very interested in it and examine it very seriously.
Tip #3: It is great to incorporate some decorations from the first birthday party (such as a crafty banner). A DIY banner is usually a PERFECT look to dress up a cake smash. I am usually not a fan of balloons because they do not reflect well and they tend to cast color & shadows.
Tip #4: The cake smash needs to be done at your home whenever possible for easy clean up. If you decide to do it in your backyard make sure the sunlight is not too harsh. Your baby will definitely need a bath after, and you might also! Animals and siblings need to be in a different room because the cake is soooo tempting to eat.
Tip #5: Do not purchase chocolate or red velvet cake. It doesn’t photograph well. Also avoid fondant as it can be a choking hazard. Stick to vanilla buttercream whenever possible. Also try to using pastel colored icing for softer photos
Tip #6: Have some puffs, Cheerios or your baby’s favorite dry finger food on hand to stuff into the cake in case they need help being a littlemore interested in it.
Tip #7: Have a spoon handy within arms reach in case you need to give your baby a little “help” smashing into the cake. Some babies are very clean and dainty with the cake and need some adult help getting messy.
Tip #8: Take LOTS of pictures. Do not just sit there, waiting for the best moment, because you might not ever see it. Take lots of pictures, change angles, take more pictures. Get closer, then get further away and keep firing! Most likely, you will have plenty of blurry pictures and it’s OK, as long as you have some good pictures that are acceptably sharp.
Tip#9: If your baby has a fever or is not feeling well on the day of the session, then it needs to be rescheduled. You will not get good results and good smiles if your baby isn’t feeling well. Just put the cake into the freezer for safe keeping. Take it out of the freezer with enough time to let it thaw prior to the next session.
Tip #10: Have fun and remember this is also a celebration of YOU surviving the first year too!
Hope these tips help! And always remember… Stay Dainty
Sandra Thomasian, MD
Let’s face it, getting descent photos of your kids can sometimes be an impossible task. They’re either uncooperative, not focusing, or down right having a breakdown. After several mistakes of my own I finally figured out how I can achieve incredible snapshots of my children.
These tips apply to both smart phone cameras and DSLR cameras.
1) TIMING: When it comes to children’s photography this might be the most crucial rule. The ideal times to photograph your kids are after a nap or after a meal. The key here is to plan around THEIR schedule and I guarantee you will be much happier with the end product.
On a side note, let’s say it’s their birthday party and you want to have at least one beautiful photo of your child. I can’t emphasize enough to get this done early or before the party starts to get it out of the way and you won’t have to stress about it later.
2) GET ON THEIR LEVEL: I can’t imagine anything more daunting than someone with a big black device hovering over you. So imagine how a child must feel when you’re standing over them with a camera. Instead try to get down on your knees or even your tummy to capture the moment from their perspective. You will LOVE the angles on these shots.
3) PREPARE TO PLAY: As silly as it looks I’m constantly performing animated acts behind the camera while shooting. Depending on the age you can see me play peek-a -boo behind with the camera or challenging them with who has a bigger smile!
4) USE PROPS: When you can try to incorporate props to have your child in a natural happy moment. During the summer I love giving my kids watermelon wedges to eat and I just start shooting away. My all time favorite summertime photos are of them with their watermelon. During the Fall I give my kids mini pumpkins to hold and all of a sudden I have a happy cheery photo!
Have you noticed your children’s halloween photos are probably their happiest? Whether they’re dressing fancier or dressed up in a silly cowboy outfit let them wear something out of their usual clothing and all of a sudden the smiles will be coming through!
5) FILL THE FRAME: Some of my favorite photos are the close ups. I love looking back on their little features and how much they’ve changed over the years. Not every photo needs to be a full body shot. Some of my favorites are the ones that were cropped but focused on their expression at that moment in time.
6) REMOVE DISTRACTIONS: Look at the background before you snap away. Is there a colorful painting or laundry basket in the backdrop that may take away focus from your children in the photo? Address it in advance and hide it! There’s nothing more disconcerting than seeing a telephone pole sticking out of your child’s head in a photo.
On the other side, also be cognizant of what your subject is visualizing from their end. Remove your child from any location that has too many visual distractions for THEM. You don’t want them to start wailing because they want to play at the playground across the field from the spot you are trying to photograph them. You don’t want their favorite movie playing on the TV in the room where you are trying to get their attention for a photograph.
7) CAPTURE THE ACTION: Never stop the action! If you pose your kids too much it’s gonna appear staged. So if your children are being giggly and wild blowing bubbles capture that moment! They shouldn’t stop that activity for a photo that won’t portray their natural joy.
8) NATURAL LIGHT: My favorite type of lighting is natural light. Either a sunlit room or a shady spot in the garden will make for the dreamiest of photos.
Child permitting the ideal time to shoot the most dreamy shots is during MAGIC HOUR. Magic hour is the term given for that hour before the sun sets. The sky is pastel appearing and everything appears to sparkle.
9) BURST PHOTOS:Whether they’re dancing or blowing bubbles, never stop taking photos. If you’re using your camera both iPhones and Androids have the burst feature (just hold the button down and shoot away). For SLR cameras make sure your shutter speed is 125 or faster so that you capture them in action without any blur!
10) PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE: Thankfully we live in the digital age where we can take a ton of photos and not feel bad because we can delete the bad ones. So take your camera and shoot away and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your images!
I hope you are more inspired than ever to get out there and shoot away at your little ones!
Sandra aka Dainty Hostess