How to Take Photos at Parties

Holiday parties are coming up soon, but they can be hard to photograph, don’t you think? With dim lighting, moving guests and (most likely) a tipsy photographer, it’s tricky to get good shots that capture the evening. Well, as part of a three-part series sponsored by Canon, here’s a way to inspire fun photos…

Create a photo scavenger hunt! Simply write out photo challenges on a piece of paper and tie it to a digital camera. Your guests can pass around the camera to take photos—which ends up being a great ice-breaker and conversation starter.

Ideas for photo challenges:
* tallest and shortest party guests
* a photo of the hostess, unaware
* people’s shoes
* a shot from outside the party looking in
* guests coming and going
* as many people in the photo as possible
* balance as many objects as possible on your head
* hear no evil/see no evil/speak no evil
* spelling out a word with body parts
* people laughing
* food and drinks

Tallest and shortest!

Someone laughing…



Balancing things on heads…(the cracker is impressive haha)


As many people in the photo as possible…

The outside looking in…

A photo scavenger hunt is a great way to get your guests talking and taking snapshots, and to end up with fun shots that capture the spirit of the night:)

What do you think? Any other challenges you can think of?

P.S. How to take photos of kids

(This post was sponsored by Canon as part of a three-part holiday series. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that make Cup of Jo possible. Photos by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo)

  1. I love this idea, but I was so hoping this post would be tips on how to actually take better photos at parties!

  2. Looove this post as well. Made me want to throw a holiday party with pretty lights all around:)
    xo! Dakota

  3. I echo the comments above, Jo. Can you please tell us which camera was used for these photos?

  4. I love this! Always wondering how to get great party shots!

  5. What a fun idea! May have to try this at a few of my holiday get togethers :) cool!

  6. That’s a cool idea! This would be good for a wedding too, I think :)

  7. Absolutely love this post! What great ideas! They will deff come in handy this holiday season.

  8. I like the idea of creating a wish list for photos for partygoers to tackle. Now, if only I can figure out how to take a photo from the outside looking in when one lives on the upper floor of a NYC apartment building. Ha!

  9. uh that guy is my friend ladd. How random!

  10. I love this!! I think I’m going to give some of these a go next time I get the chance- thanks!

  11. Fun idea! And I love the string lights they used. Any idea where they’re from?

  12. Omg that first photo. Kiss her already!!

  13. how fun! i’m definitely keeping this in mind for the next party!
    xo, cheyenne

  14. It sounds so fun…how does the scavenger hunt work? So it’s not teams or anything, right? Just put the list out and have people take the pics for fun?

  15. I love this! So cute, and especially love the option to pass responsibility of documenting to anyone/everone :)

  16. Sponsored by? Canon, I presume? Odd, those missing sponsor names. Which Canon is the one pictured?

  17. I am in love with this idea! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  18. Love this idea! Will have to try at our next party.

  19. wauw, this is a great idea! love this

  20. Oh my goodness. This is such a great idea. My friends and I are hosting Friendsgiving this year – we will definitely do this.

  21. Love this! Definitely will have to try it out : )

  22. Love this idea!

  23. Yes, which Canon is this? I’m looking for a simple digital to replace all my old film point and shoots because they’re so expensive to develop, and it looks like this one takes great photos in low light!

  24. I have seen comments that this is a great camera. What Canon camera is it? (I am thinking this is already written somewhere and I missed it but I can’t find it!)

  25. Will definitely be trying this out! Great idea (:

  26. Love this idea! As the mom of a 21 month old/hostess of the parties, I never seem to end up in any of the pictures. Womp womp. Not this year!!

  27. Great post Joanna! (Awesome sponsor too!)

  28. This is a great idea! Sounds like it would lead to many more interesting pictures than what you usually get from parties…would be fun to try at weddings, too, with those disposable cameras people sometimes pass around.

  29. I’m guessing this is a sneaky preview of your home? (I have the same rug in my dining room.)

  30. This is a fantastic idea! I will definitely have to give this a try this coming holiday season. Love the candid shots.

  31. Such a wonderful idea! :)

  32. Off topic but I love their home!!!

  33. As the hostess I’m usually the one trying to make drinks, serve food, clean dishes, and get guests mingling. Soooo…the photos are sometimes lacking. I’m pretty excited to try this out.

  34. What a cool idea! I am sure to use these ideas for the next party :)

  35. I love this post!!! I always end up with the ugliest pictures of people posing with fake smiles!!! I’m going to try it this holidays! I think that a picture of a kiss or a hug would be nice… at the end, this holidays are all about love, aren’t they?

  36. q says...

    was this at someone’s home? love the space especially the shelves !!! :)

  37. Yay, I actually bought this camera last week! I cant wait to try it out and use these tips :)

  38. Great suggestions. I like the challenge ideas.

  39. Awesome tips! Ps. my mom has this camera and LOVES it! Always takes the best pics!

  40. Camera tips aside, this party looks fun. What a cool space. Someone must study art history if they’re balancing Ernst Gombrich’s Art and Illusion on their heads…

  41. Love this Joannna! Now I want to throw a party just so I can do this!

  42. That’s a cool idea! This would be good for a wedding too, I think :)

  43. Love this! And can I just say that I want to be at that party with those cool friendly people?

  44. This is brilliant. Definitely going to try it sometime.

  45. I have the camera feature in this post. I thought it was pricey for a point and shoot, but it is worth every penny. Takes awesome pictures in dim light.

    • Good to know. :)

  46. This is a perfect task for us “Monicas” who need something to do at parties other than just hang out. Eventually we run out of dishes to wash and trash to take out and pets to befriend. :)

    • haha! so true! pets and photos are definitely good diversions…

    • Cups! We can be in charge of cups! ;)

  47. This comment has been removed by the author.

  48. i love this! such a lovely, festive, fun idea!