Taking Great Party Photos

It can be easy to take great party photos if you follow some simple guidelines.

Use a Digital Camera. A digital camera is ideal because it gives you the chance to see your pictures before you print them. You're free to take as many pictures as you want, and you can even manipulate the size, zoom, crop, darken, switch from color to black and white, soften, sharpen, brighten or remove redeye after you've taken a picture. You can delete anything not wanted, too, without wasting the money for developing or printing bad shots.

Variation. Take candid as well as posed shots. Circulate around the party, and get shots of people interacting and participating in party activities. Capture expressions and body language. Get tight shots and shots from a distance. Also get shots from a low level, especially if taking pictures of kids, and from above. Don't always center the focus of attention, but allow the surroundings to be featured in the picture. Often a good picture has the main feature on one side, while also including the setting. Variation will give a better overall record of the party itself.

Lighting. A rule of thumb is to have the sun, or main source of light, behind you, the photographer. That way, it's not behind the subject, causing the subject's face to be in the shadows if they are lit from behind. Let the flash be on automatic if you're not an expert. The camera can tell when there is enough light. A flash is only good up to about 10 feet, so don't expect to light a group shot with a flash if you're farther away than that.

Multiple Shots. If your camera has a "burst" feature, use it sometimes, especially during posed shots, because the right shot with nobody blinking or frowning might be the third in a rapid sequence. Especially with kids, the burst feature can be a picture saver. If you don't have burst, be sure to take a bunch of shots quickly yourself before moving on to the next picture.

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