back to top

19 Fun 21st Birthday Photoshoot Ideas

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 10 min read
ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little money. Need more info? See how it all works here.
Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe! We will never share your information.

Your 21st birthday is a milestone birthday – the first time you can legally drink, vote, and rent a car. It’s also a time to celebrate with family and friends. Why not commemorate this special day with a fun photoshoot? Here are 19 21st birthday photoshoot ideas.

gold 21 balloons and a small pile of presents
© Ink Drop Creative (

19 Classy and Fun 21st Birthday Photoshoot Ideas

If your 21st birthday is coming up, you’ll need some ideas for your photoshoot. Whether you’re celebrating alone or with family and friends, we’ve got some smashing ideas.

1. Shoot a Pre-Party Portrait

Everyone wants to look their best at a birthday party. But when the party gets crazy, no one stays looking their best for long. That’s why snapping some photos before the party starts is a good idea.

You can get some pre-party portraits before the mayhem begins. Everyone will be dressed in their finest party garb. And there will be a sense of excitement in the air to give the shoot some energy.

The portraits don’t have to be of just the birthday girl or boy. You can have portraits of all the party-goers. And they’ll all have a fun portrait to remember that incredible night.

Portrait of Girl with braided hair in colorful striped dress
© Batel Studio (

2. Get The Gang Together

Growing up isn’t something you do alone. You and your friends grow up together, sharing the good times and the bad. And if they’re your friends from school and college, you’ll all be a similar age. And you’ll be turning 21 together.

Get your close friends together for a group birthday photoshoot. It’s one of those birthday photoshoot ideas that celebrates where you’ve all come from and where you’re all going.

Group of young women sitting on some stairs
© Joel Muniz (

3. Embrace Your Friends (Rear View)

This is another group photoshoot idea for you and your closest friends. The pose is simple. All you need to do is put your arms around each other’s shoulders. And the photographer takes the picture from behind.

It may be simple in composition. But it’s also symbolic for a group of 21-year-olds. With a lovely vista in front of you, you’re all looking out into the future. And like in years past, you’re supporting each other in the latest adventure.

Group of friends with arms over shoulders looking out on a nice view
© Helena Lopez (

4. Celebrate on the Beach

The beach is a great place to have a party. And it’s an excellent location for a 21st birthday photoshoot. The photographer can snap away while you and your friends have fun. You’ll sing songs and drink your drinks around the campfire. And when the sun sinks into the sea, you’ll have some cool sunset photos.

A group of friends on the beach at sunset
© Kimson Doan (

5. Go For a Picnic in The Park

The park is another fantastic location for a birthday celebration. And you can turn that into a fun and unique 21st birthday photoshoot.

This idea uses some great props for more fun. There’s the picnic blanket and the cute picnic foods. And there’s always room in the hamper for a bottle of wine. You can do staged group photos. Or you can go for candid pics as you and your friends enjoy the picnic.

Group of girls enjoying a boozy picnic
© Kelsey Chance (

6. Go Wild With a House Party

If you want to let loose and go crazy on your birthday, a house party is the best way to celebrate. Go over the top with the decorations, using streamers and balloons. And make sure everyone’s dressed for the occasion. Then pour the drinks and turn the music up.

You can hire a professional photographer to shoot the event. But you might want them to leave before things get out of hand.

Another idea is to leave some disposable cameras around the house. Let anyone use them until they’re all used up. You’ll have some fun surprises when you get them developed.

People dancing at a house party
© Gorodenkoff (

7. Enjoy a Dinner With Friends and Family

If you’re not a party animal, a special dinner is another way to get everyone together to celebrate. Go for something different to make the photoshoot extra special. Choose a fancy restaurant, or go somewhere a bit quirky.

Big group of people enjoying a meal outside
© Valiant Made (

8. Cause a Splash With a Pool Party

This 21st birthday photoshoot idea might give some photographers a heart attack. All that water splashing around might damage their gear. But as long as you have the right equipment, a pool party is an excellent birthday photoshoot idea.

If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, the logistics are easy. You only need to find a photographer to cover the event. Or maybe you’ll be going on vacation for your birthday. You can find a local photographer or buy a waterproof camera.

Man jumping into a pool where a woman on an inflatable is floating
© Jakob Owens (

9. Wear Your Finest

A 21st birthday photoshoot is the perfect time to put on your finest outfit. Maybe you’ve even bought a new dress or suit for the occasion.

You can hire a photographer. And you can even bring in a hair and makeup stylist, so you really look a million bucks. This birthday photoshoot idea works in a studio or on location. Perhaps choose somewhere that matches the quality of your outfit.

A birthday photoshoot like this is a great way to get some stunning shots of just the birthday girl or boy. There will be time for group photos later. But for some 21st birthday photoshoot ideas, they should be the center of attention.

On the left is a young woman in a purple dress and on the right is a young man in smart shirt
Left: © Anna Logacheva, Right: © Himanshu Dewangan (

10. Make The Cake The Centerpiece

The birthday cake is one of the most exciting things about any birthday. And when it’s your 21st birthday, the cake has to be extra special.

Go all out on the birthday cake for this milestone birthday. And make it the centerpiece of your 21st birthday photoshoot. You can have a table full of classic birthday foods decorated with champagne bottle balloons and confetti. But the birthday cake has to take center stage.

And don’t forget to make a wish! The birthday girl or boy blowing out the birthday candles is one of the formative moments of the occasion. That’s when you need the photographer ready with their finger on the trigger.

Birthday cake surprise for one lucky birthday girl
© Wave Break Media (

11. Capture the Moment of Surprise with Presents

Presents are another classic theme for 21st birthday photoshoot ideas. Whether you’re turning one or 100, birthday presents get everyone excited.

The photographer can capture the whole ceremony. It can start with the giving of the gifts. Then they can document the excitement and joy as the birthday boy or girl opens the presents.

With the excitement of the unwrapping, everyone will forget the photographer is there. All the reactions will be natural, and you’ll have some fun candid birthday photos.

A birthday girl receiving gifts from friends
© Kzenon (

12. Use Numbers

The 21st birthday isn’t just any birthday. It’s one of the most important celebrations of your life. So don’t be shy to shout about it. You can use the number 21 in your 21st birthday photoshoot ideas.

You can have numbered balloons or numbered birthday candles for the cake. You can try a piñata in the shape of 21. The cake can be number-shaped too. And you can arrange the presents into a 21 as well. You can get creative with one theme to boost your 21st birthday photoshoot ideas.

Two balloons in the shape of a 2 and a 1
© Kortnee Greenfield (

13. Take a Picture With Your Parents

If parties aren’t your thing, your family can provide inspiration for your 21st birthday photoshoot ideas. And a set of pictures with your parents is a lovely way to celebrate your birthday.

You can have family portraits in a studio or on location. Perhaps there’s a specific place with sentimental value you’d like to use for a birthday photoshoot.

Family photos at this time in life can be particularly poignant. Perhaps you’re getting ready to leave the family home. Or maybe you’ve already left. Your parents aren’t getting any younger. And these photos will mean as much to them as they do to you.

Family photo with a dog in a forest
© Leah Hetteberg (

14. Make It Rain With Confetti

21st birthday photoshoot ideas don’t need to be complicated. And this is a simple idea you can try using the props you will already have for the party.

When the photographer has the shot lined up, throw the confetti in the air. It’ll come down around you like sparkling rain. You can do it alone or with friends. And despite the mess, it will guarantee smiles.

Young man with glasses with arms raised under a shower of confetti
© Ambreen Hasan (

15. Go Classy With Champagne

21 is a milestone birthday. And for many, that’s when you reach the legal drinking age. Why not start things off with a touch of class? Forget the beer kegs and tequila slammers. Get dressed up and enjoy a champagne photoshoot.

Champagne is a symbol of success and sophistication. When you tell people your champagne birthday photoshoot ideas, they’ll be sure to wear their finest clothes. Get ready to pop the cork—you’re in for a special photoshoot.

Woman in a gold dress holding a champagne glass and sparkler
© Kate Hliznitsova (

16. Add Some Sparkle with Sparklers

If you’re looking for 21st birthday photoshoot ideas with a bit of excitement, sparklers are a fun prop. They’re fun to use and they look great in photos. Of course, you need to be safe. But it’ll liven up the party. And you can try long exposure shots when it gets dark.

Girl holding a sparkler in each hand
© Ethan Hoover (

17. Get Creative With a Costume Party

If you don’t like champagne and sparklers, a costume party might be more up your alley. And when it comes to birthday photoshoots, you can’t get more adventurous than a costume party.

You can have a set theme with matching costumes and decorations. Or you can have a costume free-for-all, where the guests dress up as anything they want. The photographer won’t be short of things to photograph. And you end up with some hilarious photos.

Two people wearing masks at a party
© Jonathan Borba (

18. Use More Balloons For More Impact

Balloons are everyone’s favorite photo prop for a birthday photoshoot. They come in all different shapes and sizes. And you can never have too many of them.

There are multicolored balloons, number balloons, and champagne bottle balloons. There’s a balloon to fit anyone’s party vibe. You can do a portrait shoot at home or in a studio. And you can have the balloons surround you. They look fabulous and are lots of fun.

Birthday photoshoot with white, yellow, and gold balloons
© Oluwatobi Akindunjoye (

19. Set Sail With a Boat Party

If you like bourgeois 21st birthday photoshoot ideas, rent a boat. Set sail and throw an unforgettable off-shore birthday party. It might not be cheap, but you’ll have a birthday photoshoot like no other.

four young women on a boat
© Angello Pro (


You only turn 21 once in your life. And you don’t want to forget the occasion. That’s why 21st birthday photoshoots have become so popular. And if you’re turning 21 soon, you need to prepare for the big day.

We’ve offered some of our best 21st birthday photoshoot ideas. Anyone of these photoshoot ideas will reward you with photos of an unforgettable occasion. They’re photos you’ll treasure for the rest of your life.

Check out our Photography Unlocked e-book to ensure you capture the best of the action no matter what photoshoot idea you choose!