We got an message the other day that said,
I had a colleague comment to me that she didn't have very many pictures of her with her son because her husband didn't take too many pictures. I was wondering if you might be willing to do a FB post aimed at encouraging dads to take pictures of their wives with the kids for Mother's Day, perhaps with a few tips to make the pictures better.
And we realized that it was a brilliant idea. I'm sure by now you've seen the meme floating around reminding you that the countdown to Mother's Day is on and the kids will not be bringing home handmade Mother's Day gifts from school this year.
We're inviting everyone to celebrate Moms this year by taking the time to document their very existence. We'll share some tips to help you get better pictures of the mom you love and we'll pepper this post with pics of SPS Member Moms to help inspire you.
Don't make her pose
(but you don't have to keep it a secret, either).
Go documentary. This is an especially handy tip for the hesitant moms. The ones who are far more comfortable behind the lens, documenting the family they love, need a little extra cajoling to agree to be in front of it. Capture her doing something she loves with the kiddos. It also takes the pressure off the photographer to capture “the perfect shot”. She'll still be self conscious about it. Encourage her with words of affirmation as you're taking the pictures. Saying “I want the kids to remember you cooking with them” or “I love the way Suzie plays with your hair when you read her a book, ” not only encourages her to relax and be her real self, they tell her that you're invested in this, too.
Give her prompts.
Whether you choose a documentary portrait or a more traditional one, give her some prompts to help her feel less stiff and to encourage natural smiles from her (and the kids). “Look at Billy and tell him three things you love about him” will probably get a tender smile from her and also a smile from Billy. Suggest that she tickle one of the kids in the shot with her. A child's laughter is a sure way to get a mom to smile. Ask her to lean in and plant a tender (or silly, sloppy) kiss on your kiddo. It doesn't matter if she's looking directly at the camera – you'll be capturing her joy and that will be a treasure to her and to the kids.
If she absolutely refuses to let you snap her picture; go stealth. Get the camera out while she's engaged with the kids or in doing something she loves like reading a book, gardening, or cooking. Snap some pictures. Then, and this is KEY, when you show her the pictures tell her what you love about them. Make her feel good about herself and about the things that she does that make you smile. Tell her (again) why it's important for her to be in pictures, too. Remind her that you and the kids aren't looking for a perfect mom. You want to remember the mom you love because she's perfect just the way she is. She may just allow you to take some less ninja-like photos soon.
Keep it real
Go ahead and snap some even when the situation isn't perfect. She's going to appreciate those when she looks back years from now and the kids are grown. Real momming is tough stuff for sure and the not so perfect moments make up much of our days. Don't push it too far once you start to lose your subjects, but snapping a few “keepin' it real” shots is (almost) always a good idea.
Please do what you can to get moms in the frame this Mother's Day. Consider printing and framing some of the images for her as a belated Mother's Day gift. She'll moan and groan for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that she'll find herself gazing at those pictures often. And smiling.