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!


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.


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

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Jackson is ONE!

I first took photos of this family last fall, and mentioned to Julie, Jackson’s mom, that we should definitely schedule a cake smash photo session for his first birthday. Cake smashes are fun- the kid gets to enjoy some cake, and I get to take some cute and messy photos to celebrate a milestone first birthday. Julie put all the props together for the shoot and we were ready to go!


Except when the birthday boy doesn’t like his cake. That’s right. Julie ordered an adorable cake and Jackson did not know what to do with it. When he tasted a little of the icing, he made a face like he had just eaten something more along the lines of sauerkraut or pickle juice!

This was quite a surprise to Mom and Dad, who noted that he puts everything in his mouth. Leaves, dirt, you name it- much like every other kid his age. Maybe he just doesn’t know what to do on the floor. Maybe he’ll start eating if we put him in his high chair?

Jackson started out being really excited, but his attitude changed when he realized he was getting that same old cake in the chair. He wasn’t having it… Although, Dad was kind of proud of him for not tearing into the cake.

And if he had gotten all messy with the cake, we might not have gotten these adorable photos with the red balloon.


Happy Birthday, Jackson!

P.S. I hope your mom and dad enjoyed your cake!

Contact me to book your baby’s one year portrait session- cake or no cake! 🙂

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Melissa McGhee


Meet Baby Vera

Sweet little Vera entered the world less than two weeks ago. I was so excited to photograph her and her beautiful head of dark hair, which is quite the contrast to her three siblings when they were born! I had the pleasure of taking each of their newborn photos, and it’s so awesome to see traits of each of them in her.


I was happy to have the opportunity to put this flower wreath to use, and the photos turned out so darling. Look at the sweetness!


Vera was sweet and sleepy for the most part- a perfect newborn model! I had MANY ideas for her photos, and we got to most of them before her sisters and brother arrived for the sibling images. But I still have a swing prop I’m hoping to use soon on my next newborn girl for another garden-like look.

When I planned for the shots below, I had it pictured perfectly in my head. The oldest girl will hold the baby in her lap, the little boy on the left will lean against his big sister and the little girl on the right will cheerfully lean against her sister’s legs and everyone will look at my camera at once and I’ll get the perfect shot! …And then I laughed to myself, because that was probably a pretty far fetched idea for children so little.

And you can’t blame the kids- they’re kids, of course! Short attention spans are perfectly normal. When you’ve got little toddlers with minds of their own, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed, wondering if you’ll ever catch a shot where each kid is cooperating at the same time.

What I do see in these images is a connection between siblings. I see interaction and- obviously-  adorable faces. But the best part was when I showed their mother the preview images. She saw these and an “Ooohhhh!” came out of her mouth. That’s what makes it special.


I’ll leave you with that! Enjoy this? Visit my website and follow me on Facebook!

If you’re in the Kansas City area, contact me to learn more about my photography sessions. eight-one-six 522.4678


Melissa McGhee



Marshmallows and the Mitchells!

My first photo shoot with the Mitchell family was a few years ago for maternity portraits when mom, Jenny, was pregnant with their first child, Ella. I’ve been documenting this beautiful family through photographs ever since. They’re now a family of four with two adorable little girls.

We started in the studio, and Ella warmed up to the camera after a little bit with marshmallow rewards for every smile. (Thanks, Mom and Dad for that ingenious bribe! It worked like a charm!)

Ella soon became the marshmallow keeper and even rewarded her mom for being such a good smiler!img_6842

We recreated one of Ella’s six-month photos with the necklaces for now six-month old Haley. img_6888

And we took lots and lots of one on one photos with Mom and Dad. Look at those smiles and precious moments!


Finally, we took a short drive to a nearby park and snapped a few last photos with a very special prop. This LOVE sign, has been incorporated into photos with the Mitchell family since our very first photo shoot, and it will continue to be an ongoing theme (obviously!) for many more. Thanks, Ben and Jenny, for this wonderful time!img_6926