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Photo tips for new moms and moms with growing families

Whether you are expecting a baby, are bonding with one at home or are chasing a newly minted biped – or even if you are trying for, hoping for and dreaming of being connected with a baby right now – I want to welcome you here. The books on “what to expect” don’t address photos so I want to honor Mother’s Day as both a seasoned photographer and as a mom of a teen who was a baby just a minute ago.

You will take so many pictures of your baby in that first year, you will be so in love! You might even plan to have newborn photos taken and that’s fantastic!

(Don’t just plan on newborn photos, read more here: MIDWAY PHOTOS)

Its just that I know how you think of your baby first, always, and that you rarely consider yourself.

Think of me as a visitor from the future coming back and tell you something really important.

You might be thinking its because your baby can’t make memories for themselves and that’s true! That’s a big part of it. But there’s also what it will do for your parenting and your connection with your child(ren).

The thing is, when you’re in it, parenting a baby feels like survival. You’re in a time warp. You’re exhausted. If a shower happens at all, it’s usually at the end of the day. These are not the circumstances under which we are comfortable having a camera pointed towards us.

If you birthed your baby, you may have a lot of feelings about your body. That’s a whole different blog post. (I had the world’s largest FUPA and I was not in love with it, Google that if you must.)

If we’re trying to understand why, it begins with acknowledging the very crappy criteria we have inherited as women when it comes to how we should look in order to be photographed (young! thin! put together!). We also tend to be the documentarians of our own families and you can only be on one side of the lens or the other.

What if we could shift our criteria of what a “good photo of us” is? Could we move away from how we look in the photo to how we are showing up?

What if we could be bold enough to ask our partners, friends, family and even strangers to take more photos of us with our kids?

What if we could hire photographers to help?

I was recently invited to join Ashley Trabue on her podcast, the creative self-love club, to talk about this very challenge. We have a completely unedited conversation about ways that we are both trying to shift towards being seen and shedding our programming and I really love the ideas we came up with – check that out for more.

But coming back to how this practice actually benefits our children… (because I know we don’t do anything unless its for our kids….)

There will be days where both you and your child need extra assurance. You’ll want to remember that you parent with resilience, joy and tenderness. And they might need to know they are accepted, loved, and fully seen no matter who they are or how they are becoming. It’s impossible to envision this phase of parenting while you do the all-consuming work of raising small children but it hits faster than you think.

what the really-real, new mom photoshoot could be….

1.). Ask your partner to photograph you, as much as possible, even as you prepare for the adoption, even when you are in the throws of labor, even without make up, even while changing diapers, even when you are not poised or primped but when you are doing something caring and beautiful. You do NOT have to post ANYTHING or EVERYTHING ever taken to social media, you can have a vault. And – remember that I’m visiting from the future here – you will probably look back on yourself and think you looked pretty damn hot and radiant back then!

2.) Do not hit your person when they do what you ask and pick up the camera, try to lean in. My dad would always take a picture of my mom on Christmas morning and she always looked MAD. In fact, many pictures of my mom when we were growing up show her looking mad and it was only later that I understood the anger had to do with being photographed without make up as opposed to just being mad at him or maybe even at us. I never cared if her face had make up on it, neither will your kids.

3.) Reciprocate! Photograph your partner too! I think this comes natural for moms, who tend to be the family documentarians, but just in case.

4.). Enlist the help of strangers and other family members. Especially if you are a single mom and don’t have a partner to rely on. No matter what the excursion is, try and get a photo that isn’t as selfie so that the context is part of the picture and therefore the memory. Ask a stranger, if one doesn’t offer (this is always something I do when I see moms momming by themselves in the world).

5.). Make documentation a regular practice. Live in the moment as much as much as you can, just make an effort to occasionally photograph the parts of your day that you wouldn’t ordinarily take pictures of: when they wake up from a nap, bedtime routines, taking a stroller ride to the park, photos in their car seat. See how much “real life” you can capture because routines change quickly and remembering just how much you did will be empowering to you both one day!

6.) Resist skin smoothing filters as you archive. I understand why you do it and if its what you need to do to comfortably post online, no judgement here. Just keep a version with the face they know in your archive. Better yet, #7 because you’ll look like you and radiant too.

7.) Hire a professional so that you can live in the moment and so that your whole family can be in the frame together. You knew the plug would come in somewhere, right? Look, it would be weird if I followed you around all day everyday, this is why I share so many tips with my families on how to approach lighting, composition and other aspects of documentation (click here to get on my newsletter). But having a professional photographer visit several times through baby’s first year, a few times a year during the busy toddler years and at least once a year going forward insures that the whole family will be seen together and will become the story of your family. Plus, photographers have an eye for beauty and might see things you miss and deserve to have and know.

8.) Try hard to see yourself through your child’s eyes. This can help you with numbers 1, 2, and 6. When you are struggling to stay in the frame, just think of how your child sees you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Are you ready to book as shoot and get beautiful photos of you mothering on your walls? Click here to get started.

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