How to capture the best photo on those special occasions

As a parent, there is a constant stream of special events to attend, birthday parties, christenings, football matches and even the odd wedding, which means there are lots of great opportunities to take and share photos of our kids.

A lot of these events will be indoors and this can create some real photography challenges. To help you get the best images on the day, here are my top tips and tricks:

Jump right in!

The best photos from events and parties are often when you are right at the centre of the action. As a rule, I try to stay the same level as the children so it always looks like I am ‘in the photo’ rather than ‘standing over them’ taking the photos. I am most often found crouched down or sitting with my camera or phone.

You can create some especially lovely shots at children’s parties by joining in the action. For example, if the children are playing under a parachute, get under with them?

The photo below was taken whilst I was sat down cross-legged with the children, watching the birthday boy hold some fire! (This was a supervised science experiment, no children were harmed :))

Image source: Nina Mace Photography
Image source: Nina Mace Photography

Turn your flash off

When photographing the blowing out of the birthday candles, it’s important to turn your flash OFF on your camera or phone. If the flash fires, the entire image will light up and you can no longer see the candle flames. Instead, come a bit closer, and let the light from the candle light your image. Most modern cameras and even phones are now very good at low light photography, but just make sure to keep still when you take the shot so it doesn’t blur. Leaning your elbows on the table is a great way to stop the movement.

Image source: Nina Mace Photography
Image source: Nina Mace Photography

Simplify things

At children’s events, understandably there can be a lot going on in one image but one way to simplify a photo is to reduce the colours and make it black and white. Black and white images are simpler for your eyes to understand and great for showing detail. In these images you can see the static experiment on this boy’s hair and how hard the children are focusing on the spinning disc on the floor.

Shift your balance

In a lot of halls, churches and theatres you may find that your photos can come out looking very yellow, this is often down to the indoor lighting. To stop this happening, you can change your white balance. Most likely your camera (compact or DSLR) will be in AWB (auto white balance) so try changing it to Tungsten or fluorescent (see the image below for what these symbols will look like on your camera). For more information on how to change the white balance on your camera, try searching online using ‘changing white balance’ followed by your camera make and model. There are also a number of apps which now allow you to change the white balance on your camera phone.

Image source: Nina Mace Photography
Image source: Nina Mace Photography


I hope you find these hints and tips useful – let us know how you get on in the comments section below!

Nina Mace

Nina Mace is an award-winning children's photographer who also trains beginner parents and professional photographers. Her work has been recognised by the Guild of Professional Photographers when she won Children's Photographer of the Year. Her work has also been featured in magazines and blogs including Child Photo Contest and Vogue. To see more of her work visit Nina Mace Photography

  1. Great advice thank you, especially turning off the flash for candle lit shots, makes sense!

  2. Thanks for these tips Nina. With both my kids’ birthdays coming up over the next couple of months I’m hoping I can capture some great moments.

    1. Thanks Jane! I think you’ll get that birthday cake candle shot in one take – no more relighting the candles!

  3. Nina was an amazing teacher. Very patient and clear with directions. I’ve now been able to take some lovely family shots of my children capturing the light in the right angle. Thank you Nina. Michelle from Hampshire

    1. Great to hear Michelle, we’ve also got some other great posts coming up from Nina with further tips and tricks so keep an eye out!

  4. I always look at other baby/children pictures and they look so much better than mine. However now I’ve read all these amazing tips I’m going to take on board and get snapping.

  5. Thanks for this informative blog it’s really hard to capture those special photos so I will definitely trying out the ideas and suggestions that nina has recommended.
    Kate from reading

  6. This is my favourite type of photography so i am always looking for advice on how to make my shots better. Thanks Nina, you blog posts are always so informative and relative. Kel

  7. So many lightbulb moments here for me! I am guilty of leaving my camera at home when i’m not in the studio, partly due to lack of experience shooting in different environments. These tips are fab, I definitely feel like I can capture beautiful photos taking these into consideration!

    Thanks for your insight Nina, hopefully I can nail those birthday cake shots now!

    1. Thanks Lauren, we want to encourage everyone to get practicing with their cameras, Nina’s tips are the perfect excuse!

  8. Such useful, practical tips that we can all use – even if we aren’t award winning photographers! I’m taking pics at a party this weekend so timing couldn’t be better.

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