Mar 18, 2011
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I shot my first birthday party for a client two weeks ago. Having never before photographed kids, I was apprehensive about where to start. I knew that I would need a good zoom lens in order to keep up with the little buggers, so I affixed the 28-300 in hopes that it would allow me to capture action nearby as well as any good shots that were across the yard/room/whatever.

As soon as I arrived I realized that I had my work cut out for me. It was a western themed party, and all the kids were dressed up as little cowboys and cowgirls. They were all running and screaming; it was like walking into a beehive!

Having no experience in this subject, I simply just started shooting. I wanted to get lots of good candid shots since I feel like staged shots with kids doing their best “Crest Kid” smiles are a bit cheesy. It was about 4 p.m., and the sun was just right, giving off a nice warm glow in the back yard. I shot mostly crouching or on my knees since I wanted to have the perspective of a 3 year old, which I felt would make the photos more authentic.

When the ponies arrived, the kids all went nuts clamoring for a spot on them. All, that is, except for the birthday boy who was not so keen on climbing onto the beast’s back. He slowly came around though after one of his friend’s who was a year younger appeared to be having the time of his life. On the horses, the natural emotion was easy to capture, and I feel like that is where my strongest shots came from.

As far as editing, I wanted to recreate the warm sunlight of that early evening and create a nostalgic feel so that the family could look back on the photos fondly. I used RGB curves (each individually modulated) and a masked layer of yellowy-orange to warm the images a bit, applied some high-pass sharpening, and a few masked gradient layers to push the focus onto the kids. I desaturated the images just a touch and….I think that’s about it.

I have included a few of the final shots that I feel have the most artistic merit to them. I took many, many more, but I will spare you from them, haha.

On to the photos!

Cowboy Kid Looking Over

Two Kids on Horse

Kid with Horse in Background

Cowboy and Cowgirl

Cowboy and Cowgirl Hugging

Cowboy and Cowgirl Pose