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If you have kids, you know how incredibly fast they grow. Somehow that entire first year passes in the blink of an eye (even though it seems we don’t get many “blinks” of rest at all!). Capturing birthdays and any milestones is a great way to capture your child’s growth. I have compiled some great tips to make the most of these captured milestones 🙂

2014-05-21_0004The big day!

Photographing your child with their birthday cake is harder than it seems. We tend to turn out the lights and light the candles and then take the photos. This looks great to our eyes, but our cameras don’t “see” the same as we do. You may notice that your photos are blurry (your camera slowed down the shutter speed to allow more light in) or maybe your flash fired and you have a weird bluish-yellowish tones from the different lighting. To avoid these (and other) scenarios, try taking the photo in a better lit environment. Natural light  works best, although watch out for bright spots from direct sunlight. If you can control your camera settings, try setting your shutter speed over 1/200 seconds (to help reduce blur from your fast moving kiddo!) and keep your aperture set a bit wider (the smaller f/ numbers) to help blur and distractions in the background.


The Details

Don’t forget the details! This is best done when your child is busy blowing out candles, opening gifts,eating cake or otherwise occupied 🙂  Use a shallow depth of field (smaller “f/” number) and really focus on the eyes and face and bump up your ISO if you are indoors. Try not to use flash for these shots as it may distort the details. And don’t forget about all of the party details, the balloons, decorations, goodies and, of course, the cake! Shallow depth of field works best for these as well and these elements help to tell your story.


2014_Lasky_4mo-17Capture Expressions

 No matter what age, kids have great expressions, and their expressions change with age as well. Babies discover their expressions around 2-4 months and this is a great time to document these hilariously adorable faces. But as kids get older, capturing the pure joy as they laugh with friends or even a more serious side as they read a great book. Instead of asking all of the kids at your child’s birthday party to stop and “Cheese” it up, let them play and capture those moments and relationships. A zoom lens works great so you aren’t running as much back and forth. Make sure you are using a fast shutter speed (at least 1/250) to catch the action without blur!


The “Real” Moments

Sure you want the posed shots with smiling faces looking at the camera, but don’t forget about the candid shots too! These are the ones you and your kids will look back on and laugh at when they are older. What games do they play? What are their favorite toys? Who are their friends? These are all important parts of their childhood at this particular milestone. Use a fast shutter speed to make sure your subjects aren’t blurry!

A Few More Tips

Since a lot of birthday parties are indoors, make sure to keep your ISO settings under 800 if possible to avoid grainy images. Be sure your shutter speed is at least 1/150, although above 1/200 is better if you can (bump it up higher if you are outdoors with more light). This will ensure your wiggly kids aren’t all blurry in the photos. Lower apertures (lower f/number) are better for detail shots to blur out the background while higher f/ are better for group shots to make sure everyone is in focus. Flash can be used, but be mindful that it may make your photos look too bright in spots or unnatural.

Have fun! And get these photos printed so you can look back on them with your child as they grow. Making a photo book or album for each milestone or year is a great way to keep them all in one place and an easy way to reminisce for years to come 🙂


Kristin Merck Photography offers a First Year Milestone package with any newborn package as well as First Birthday mini sessions. Contact me today to find out more!


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