Mother’s Day and how I’m kind of an accidental hypocrite

YIKES. That title is harsh, right? I must be an awful daughter. Let me explain.

Mother’s Day is just a few weeks away and tends to creep up really fast each year. I’ve got married sisters with kids and since I take their portraits throughout the year, I’ve put together a few photo books with images of all the grandkids and family photos for her for Mother’s Day and birthdays. And I add portraits of my dog to the book since I don’t have kids. She’s not super excited about having a grand dog, but I digress…

I wanted to blog about the importance of family photography and promote some Mother’s Day portrait sessions. I mean, really, wouldn’t your mom or the mother of your children love some beautiful updated portraits of the whole family to decorate her home with? Or wouldn’t it be great to surprise her on Mother’s Day with awesome images of the children? Or just a you and mom session? I’ve seen some adult child and parent photography and it’s wonderful, but not a lot of people do it, which is a shame!

Earlier this year, I documented with photography a Celebration of Life for a friend’s mother, lost in one of the most tragic ways imaginable. I was thankful that I had the opportunity to photograph her a few years ago- once with her sweet little dog, and once with her first grandson when he was a toddler. These images were shown at the celebration, along with a bunch of other photos that took those attending on a journey from when she was a baby through her entire life, and I know that these images, the professional ones and the snapshots, are going to be cherished by her family for generations. And I was glad to see several mother-daughter photos as well. While we will always have special memories in our hearts, these visual reminders can take us back in time and keep those moments bright in our minds.

I take photos of a lot of people. It’s what I do. I put their special moments on a piece of paper or a canvas, and it’s a treasure for them to hold on to and enjoy. But since I’m behind the camera most of the time, I don’t really have ANY photos of my mom and I. The last one? It’s an iPhone photo from almost a year ago, and no amount of Instagram filter is going to hide my sweat and lack of make up. Not to mention, my mom isn’t a fan of being in photos anyway, so she’s probably not super thrilled I’m sharing this photo!

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It was a fun night- my family’s first night on our first family vacation in FOREVER. We rented an awesome beach house in Florida, and we were having a great time at the pool. The moment is captured, for sure, but dang, I would really love to have some professional photos of my mom and me! It’s just something photographers never really think of doing for themselves since we’re always photographing other people.

And the photo books I’ve given my mom? She’s barely even in the photos. Maybe a few here and there, but like basically ALL women, including me, there are always insecurities. I think I have a cheesy smile that makes me have fat chipmunk cheeks. But I don’t see that when I photograph other women. I see love and happiness. I love photographing people in mid-laugh. I love photographing a genuine interaction between people that shows real personality and love. It’s authentic and it’s beautiful and that shows through much stronger than the extra ten pounds ladies sometimes ask me to “Photoshop out” for them. Those ten pounds are imaginary. YOU are real and YOU are amazing.

So my call to action here is to take some great photos with my mom, like ASAP. And I can’t just stop there. I need some great photos with the rest of my family- my dad, sisters, brother. These will be what we hold on to a long way down the road.

And what about you? Think about the last awesome photo you took with someone you love in your life. Some people are great about it, and some not (like me). So, with Mother’s Day fast approaching, take the time to at least get some snapshots of the woman in your life- your mom, grandma or the mother of your children- and PRINT them. Don’t keep ’em on the phone, silly!

If you’re in the Kansas City area and would like to give the gift of special memories captured in print, contact me to schedule a custom portrait session. The weather is warming up, flowers are blooming and everything is getting really green and beautiful! Outdoor afternoon sessions are available in the next few weeks leading up to May 14th (check out my blog on “The Art of Light” to see why afternoon/evening outdoor sessions really rock), and I have available studio space in the West Bottoms or in my home studio in Lee’s Summit if you’d like to do an indoor Mom and Me session! Check out my website for portrait session information and to contact me.

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Special thanks to Junik Studio for the floral watercolor elements seen above.

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The Art of Light in Portrait Photography

Any photograph capturing a special moment is beautiful, I think we can all agree on that. But what makes one better than another? The light.

The word “photography” is based on the Greek words phos meaning light and graphê, meaning drawing or writing. Photography, therefore, is “drawing with light.”

Sometimes you just get the most gorgeous light and it turns a photograph into a piece of magic. And sometimes it’s cloudy and rainy and that’s what you deal with, and it doesn’t mean you can’t still get great images, because you can still show emotion on a cloudy day, and often you can’t reschedule a session last minute.

But when that light hits… it’s amazing. Late afternoon and evening is when you hear about the golden hour or magic hour. It’s true! That nice warm light in the afternoon can take an image from good to downright beautiful.

These images were all taken in late afternoon and early evening and show gorgeous golden light spilling onto the subjects from behind.

I’m not saying you can’t shoot in the middle of the day or in the morning. There’s a little bit of a golden hour REALLY early when the sun just comes up (but the dust and pollution that builds up during the day helps make the afternoon light a little more golden and special, ironically!), and if you’re shooting in open shade, a midday shoot can work. But sometimes it’s difficult. I have shot in midday before because it’s convenient for the client, and I don’t think I’ll budge on that again unless I’m really familiar with the session location and I know we have some nice shaded areas to work with. Don’t shoot in an open area unless you’re prepared with heavy lighting… which can definitely take away from the beauty of an outdoor natural light session.

These images were taken in the middle of the day, but I had lots of open shade to use to my advantage to make nice images. Notice that nobody has harsh light in their face and there aren’t any dark shadows under chins or noses, or black shaded eyes, and every person has a nice catchlight in their eyes, which gives soul to the images.

Now, I could try to dig up old portraits I took before things clicked (ha!) and I realized how important the surroundings are- not so much your backgrounds, but the quality of the light around the people you are photographing- but I won’t embarrass myself and my clients from so long ago.

Next time you get out to take some portraits, remember these tips and see the difference!

Want to schedule a beautiful light session with me? If you’re in the Kansas City area, check out my website and contact me. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Instagram!