Hurray! It’s your birthday! Well, maybe not today, but when the time does come, consider celebrating your birthday with a special birthday photoshoot. These photoshoots, like birthday parties, can range from low key hangouts to major productions. Either way, you’ll never forget this milestone when you put a little extra thought into how you capture it. Who knows? It may just be the start of an annual tradition. For those about to party, we’ll share a few birthday photoshoot ideas and tips to make the most of your next birthday celebration.

We broke down our birthday photoshoot guide based on themes, locations, props, and photography tips. Let’s get started!

Birthday Photoshoot Ideas and Tips

  1. Themes
  2. Locations
  3. Props
  4. Tips and Tricks

Birthday Photoshoot Themes

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Let’s begin with choosing a theme. Once you select a birthday theme, which often depends on your personal interests, you’ll have the foundation from which to build your birthday photoshoot. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Game Day

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This idea always works well for engagement shoots.

Are you a big hockey, soccer, baseball, football, or basketball fan? Do you try to catch all of your favorite team’s games? If you said yes, why not show your team pride on your birthday photo shoot? It’ll give you a great excuse to treat yourself to new team memorabilia and add an extra bit of team spirit to your birthday photoshoot.


Playing dress up isn’t just for kids! I’m not just talking about putting on super hero outfits or flexing your cosplay skills (although both options fit neatly into this theme). Instead, I’m suggesting that you change things up, literally. Changing your wardrobe(s) for a birthday photoshoot provides an excellent way add variety to the shoot and make it look like several shoots in one. You can also use this opportunity to try out a style you wouldn’t normally wear or just dress to the nines. Pick your favorite colors, expand your fashion boundaries, and even mix and match the outfits to see which combinations make the boldest birthday statement.

Monochromatic Color

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Photo by Anna Shvets

Pick your favorite color and invite your guests to wear only that color to your party/shoot. To take it up a notch, you’ll also want to incorporate this color into all of your props, from wearables to the backdrops, tablecloths, plates, cups, and all other accessories that might get featured in the shoot. Add a twist and opt to be the lone wearer of a complementary color, or you can expand the color palette for your party to two colors.

Birthday Photoshoot Locations

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Choosing a location may depend largely on your theme, if you’ve decided to go that route, or it can even be the foundation for your birthday photoshoot. If theme related, for example, a game day photoshoot would work well at a relevant sports-related location (such as a basketball court, etc.), while a fashion show or editorial-themed shoot would be better suited for locations with more elegant views.

Outside of thematic requirements, you may have a favorite hangout, or a place that you call home away from home. Wherever it is you decide to go for your birthday photoshoot, be sure to incorporate it into the shoot itself and allow it to become part of the story. Here are some ideas for birthday photoshoot locations.

The Park

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Photo by Elina Fairytale

Whether you’re there for a picnic, to get in a game of corn hole, or just go for a stroll, parks make for great birthday photoshoot locations. Trees offer plenty of shade for photo ops, and there’s no shortage of beautiful scenery to create a pleasant backdrop.


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Photo by Roberto Nickson

If you’re fortunate enough to live near the ocean (or within a reasonable driving distance), then consider taking your birthday photoshoot to the beach. Build sand castles, get in a game of frisbee, catch some waves, or even bathe in the sun.

The Great Outdoors

Get out of the city and spend some time with nature. The great outdoors can give you amazing views and turn any on-location shoot into an epic story, especially if it’s tied to celebrating your birthday. Some locations to consider include mountain ranges, sand dunes, and desert landscapes (Joshua Tree is a hotspot, often literally, for photoshoots).

Dream Locations

Do you want to travel for your upcoming birthday? Already have plans for a road trip, perhaps? If so, make it the backdrop for your birthday photoshoot! You will not only remember the journey but also mark the unique celebration of your birthday in a very special location.

Birthday Photoshoot Props

You can introduce a wide range of colors, shapes, and even numbers into your birthday photoshoot with the right props! It’s important to note that there’s no limit to the variety of props you can use. The same holds true for how you use them. That said, here are a few props to consider for your shoot.

Colorful Balloons

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These cheap and colorful inflatables can elevate your birthday photoshoot from great to breathtaking! Mix and match with your outfit for a thematic effect.

Inflatable Age Sign

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Photo by Yasmine

If you don’t have much time to travel or unleash creative juices, purchasing an inflatable age sign is a quick yet fantastic solution. Plus, it is flexible enough to use with different themes and locations. Throw in some confetti poppers for an additional dash of celebratory fun.

Flower Crowns

Wearing flower crowns undoubtedly gives you a flash of elegance and a carefree feeling. If you’re feeling extra and are celebrating your birthday in a place where the air freely flows, wearing a flower crown will indeed transform you into a fairy!

Dazzling Bubbles

Who says bubbles are for kids only? Blowing bubbles on your birthday photoshoot is a fun way of bringing color and shimmer to your images. Plus, it goes well with any pose you strike!

Eye-catching Sparklers

Safe and hand-held, sparklers work as well for birthday photoshoots as they do grand wedding exits and fourth of July celebrations. Grab a pack and share them with friends for a magical birthday portrait. Be sure to keep a bucket nearby to safely douse the sparklers after you get your pics. You can find additional tips on how to photograph and safely use sparklers here.

Hanging Lights

The mysterious darkness of the night is a breathtaking contrast to the shine of twinkling hanging lights. You can dance, twirl, and have fun under these artificial lights for an illuminating photograph.

Birthday Photoshoot Tips and Tricks

After choosing the theme, location, and props for your birthday photoshoot, you’ll need to capture the action. You can either do this yourself with a tripod and remote shutter (many modern cameras feature wi-fi connectivity that can be used to sync apps on your phone to trigger the shutter) or hire a photographer. We’ll assume you plan to take on the task, or at least have the knowledge to share your vision with a hired photographer. Incorporate the following tips and tricks to help create better images and make your experience a truly memorable one.

1. Dialing in Camera Settings

The camera settings you choose to use for your birthday photoshoot will vary and depend largely on what you’re doing in the photos as well as the overall look you’re going for. Here are some quick considerations:

  • Shutter Speed: Default to a faster shutter speed (1/200 or faster) if there’s any action, and be sure to use a tripod if you’re out to capture motion with a creative shutter drag.
  • Aperture: Use a narrower aperture for group shots to keep more people in focus (f/8 is a great place to start for multiple rows while f/2.8 to f/4 should be good to cover a little depth).
  • ISO: ISO will impact the brightness of the ambient light. It can also make your photos grainy if you choose a higher ISO setting. You’ll need to carefully set your ISO to match your preference. Here are some more in-depth tips to reference for using ISO creatively.

2. Storytelling

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The simplest way to remember to use storytelling in your photography is to shoot using wide, medium, and tight angles. In other words, think of how your favorite movies or shows present their stories visually. A scene will open with a wide shot to establish the setting (such as a wide shot of a beach to show that we’re at the beach). The next shot will move in with a medium shot to clearly show the characters we’ll be watching as the scene unfolds. Finally, we’ll see close up shots and over-the-shoulder angles to see the characters’ expressions as they interact with one another. You can use this same structure to capture your birthday photoshoot.

Don’t forget to include photos of the details at the location, including the birthday cake, props, and so on.

3. Including Guests

While you are the star of the show, be sure to focus on guests as well. Birthday photoshoots present a great opportunity to capture group portraits, as well as silly one-on-one portraits with your favorite people (just like you’d do for wedding party portraits as a wedding photographer). You can also capture individual portraits of your friends and use this photoshoot as an opportunity to practice your portraiture. Because of the occasion, you’ll probably find your guests are more willing than usual to pose in front of your camera.

4. Capturing Candids

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Photo by Helena Lopes

Posed photos are great and can be made to look like authentic candid moments, but take time to capture actual candids as well while you’re friends mingle during your birthday photoshoot.

5. Watching the Background

Keep an eye on your background to avoid capturing distracting elements that will take away from the intended focus of your photos. This includes everything from accidentally capturing unsightly trashcans to distracting horizons, and everything in between. In the event that you need to “fix” any keepers from your birthday photoshoot, take a look at these tips for cleaning up your backgrounds in Photoshop.

6. Experimenting with Different Compositions

You’ve heard of the rule of thirds and leading lines. Maybe you’re also aware of using reflections or trying to place your subjects in the brightest part of the frame to draw more attention to them. While these are all great compositional tools to use for your birthday photoshoot, we’d like to suggest you put these tools to greater use by finding ways to combine them in a single frame, as often as possible. You’d be amazed what you can do with a simple scene when you approach it with this mindset.

7. Posing

Be creative with your poses and match them to the vibe or theme of your birthday photoshoot. If you’ve decided on a fashion-focused theme, for example, you’ll probably lean more towards using dramatic lighting and editorial poses. Because you’re probably used to being behind the camera, you might be a bit camera-shy. In that case, try posing first in front of the mirror and look for your best angles.

8. Lighting

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As you’re likely already aware, lighting is the key ingredient for creating photos. How you capture the light will determine the look and style of your images. You can go bright and airy for fun, whimsical birthday portraits, or you can opt for a more dramatic, editorial look. Whichever direction you choose, remain aware of your light source and light direction. Consider shooting closer to golden hour (see the tip below) or find a spot with plenty of shade if you aim to use natural light, or get comfortable with flash photography in case you need to bounce some light to brighten the room or otherwise just add a touch of light for moody pictures. Check out our Flash Photography Training System if you really want to up your mastery of on and off-camera lighting.

9. Scheduling

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Photo by Belle Co

For the “best” (maybe a subjective preference) and easiest to use natural light, consider scheduling your shoot around golden hour (the last hour or so before sunset). You can take advantage of the softer, more directional light, and even capture some cool flare shots. An added bonus to shooting around sunset is that you can also get some creative silhouette group portraits.

10. Having fun

Last, but not least (and perhaps most importantly), have fun with your birthday photoshoot. If you don’t enjoy the shoot, you probably won’t enjoy the photos, either. That negative association can be a hard thing to see past when a shoot goes south. So, try to have fun and don’t let the shoot get to a point of disappointment and regret. No pressure.

We hope you enjoyed our birthday photoshoot ideas and tips! Let us know what idea you tried, and don’t forget to share additional ideas in the comments below.