6 Photo Tips for Meaningful Present Opening Photos | Birthday Photos Part III

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mother of six, who is planning obsessed, who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

If you’ve been following along, this is Part III for Birthday Party Photos that Capture the Story. This week’s focus is photo tips for meaningful present opening photos. I’ve had numerous moms ask me the same question, how do I capture present opening without having a million of the same photos? You know the ones, they are either tearing into a gift, or holding the gift up, looking at the camera, and smiling. These 6 tips are easy ways to reduce the number of photos you take, while still capturing the story of your child’s birthday party.
1. Set yourself up for success. Before I let the kids loose opening presents, I try to set the stage. I like to have present opening take place in a well lit area that is cleared of other toys and distractions. It can be tricky when you have lots of kids running around, but with a little preplanning you can set yourself up for success. Often, just setting the gift table near the biggest and brightest window in your home will lend present opening to be in that area!

2. Get in Close. Zoom in and focus on their hands digging into a present. In my opinion, you only need one or two photos of them tearing off wrapping paper. By zooming in, you can focus on how they open presents. Do they open carefully, trying to save the paper, or just tear into the present? In the image below, Sawyer just dug right in! I wanted to capture those little fingers tearing in and trying to see her gift! 11-7-2013_blog-NeyssaLeePhoto-23. Capture the magic on their face. Instead of trying to capture a ton of paper ripping shots, I wait a moment to capture the look of excitement on their face (or maybe lack of excitement!) when they see the gift. To capture this shot, set your camera in continuous shooting mode to help you get that quick expression. 11-7-2013_blog-NeyssaLeePhoto-14. Capture the funny things they do. This year Sawyer didn’t realize that the presents were to open, not to sit on.  It was too cute to not capture her sitting on her presents. Of course, we showed her that we open them, but it was fun to see her sitting on them. Observe your child when you place the gifts in front of them and be ready with your camera. It is fun to capture those first responses, which vary with every child at any age!

5. Capture the helpers. I have never been to a party where the kids didn’t want to help the guest of honor open his or her presents. The excitement is so contagious, capture it! I love the image below of everyone surrounding Sawyer, helping her open her gifts, sharing in the excitement of finding out what she was given.

BONUS TIP: I’m in this shot, so obviously, I did not take it. However, by presetting my camera settings and handing the camera off to a friend or my husband, I can get into the action too!11-7-2013_blog-NeyssaLeePhoto-3

6. Capture the interaction with the gift. Instead of having them hold up their present each time, capture them playing with it for a more meaningful storytelling moment.  Sawyer received her first Disney Princess castle from her Uncle. I love this image of her playing with it instead of just her smiling beside it. It is the perfect way to document what she received while giving variety, meaning, and emotion to the image.


These tips work great for Christmas present opening too! I think the best part is that you don’t have to feel like you need to shoot rapid fire during the present opening. Just a few meaningful, storytelling images and you can relax and enjoy the time with your children.

Did you miss the past lessons? Make your party photos complete with tips for capturing the details and eating the cake!


P.S. There are a few spots left for the LAST Mini Sessions of the year, on November 23rd. 100% of the session fee goes to help with the expenses for a friend’s 3 month old son, Tripp. To reserve your spot email me | neyssalee@gmail.com. Want more than 25 minutes to capture your family’s story? Book a session in November, mention Tripp, and I will donate the session fee to the family.

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