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Hey, Mom! Get in the Picture

Mothers are always there for their children: waking with them at night for comfort and sustenance; kissing skinned elbows and knees; making lunches, and reading bedtime stories. But, too often, when children look back on photos from their childhood their mothers will be absent.
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Photo: Jamie Davis Smith

Mothers are always there for their children: waking with them at night for comfort and sustenance; kissing skinned elbows and knees; making lunches, and reading bedtime stories. But, too often, when children look back on photos from their childhood their mothers will be absent. While many mothers may begrudgingly accept that their role as record-keeper of their family's memories means that their appearances in photos are few and far between, other mothers have realized that there is something they can do to ensure that family photos albums reflect their reality: that Mom was there, always, Mom was there.

Photo: Mae Burke Photography

Mothers who do not get into photos with their children will miss having these memories to look back on. Children will know that their Mothers were there but won't have photos to look back on when they are older. A bad hair day or a few extra pounds are nothing compared to the loss of these memories.

Getting into photos with your children doesn't have to be hard -- it can be as easy as passing the camera off to a friend or partner. Some mothers hire a Motherhood Photographer specifically to capture images of them with their children while others focus on taking self-portraits with their children.

Photo: Mae Burke Photography

Mae Burke is a Motherhood Photographer in Texas who sees her role as a photographer to capture the joy, peace, and fulfillment of motherhood that is often lost in the chaotic exhaustion of daily life through simple and emotive portraits." Mae's portraits beautifully capture the connection mothers have with their children of all ages and stages.

Mae has some advice for choosing a photographer to help capture your Motherhood experience:

1) Find a professional photographer with whom you connect.

Look at photographers'' portfolios and choose one who produces high quality images and that you can connect with on a personal level. If you are overwhelmed, look for organizations that can help you find a photographer near you (like the Clickin Moms directory) Once you narrow down your choices, start following them on Instagram and Facebook to get to them and their work better. The more you can connect with your photographer, the more comfortable you will feel once you arrive at your session.

Photo: Mae Burke Photography

2) Share your story with your photographer before your session.

You now know a lot about your photographer and they want to know about you too! Your photographer wants to be able to tell your story. Look to sites like Humans of New York and My Name is Mama for examples of how stories can be told through photos. Although you probably won't be sharing your story so publically, being open with your photographer will help her document your story so your children will have it preserved for them long after your legacy has been left.

Photo: Mae Burke Photography

3) Discuss what you are going to wear before your session, but don't stress.

Keep in mind the phrase: "Clothes don't make the man, it's the man that makes the clothes.". Many mothers rarely get something nice and new for themselves and a photo session is a great excuse to buy something special. However, this is also one of the most stress-inducing portions of the entire process for some women, especially since Mothers may be sporting a new mom bod. A good photographer will have advice about what to wear to flatter you and have you feeling confident upon arrival to your session. Some easy things to remember: Always wear properly fitting under-things; never buy clothes based on the tag size - only buy what fits you well; and never ever decided everyone is showing up in white button-down shirts and blue jeans.

Photo: Ellen Elizabeth Photography

Ellen Covey, of Ellen Elizabeth photography and Self Portraits of Motherhood developed an online workshop (for under $50.00) with Beyond the Wanderlust specifically for mothers who want to be able to capture their motherhood experiences on a day-to-day basis. Ellen's tips are:

Photo: Ellen Elizabeth Photography

1) Use a Tripod and Remote Trigger:

Your tripod doesn't have to be expensive, but make sure it is able to safely hold the weight of your camera. While a tripod isn't essential. you can be so much more creative with your self portraits when using a tripod to get different heights and angles. Using an inexpensive, little remote for my camera can make a big difference. With self timers, you may feel rushed. With a remote, you can step away from the camera for longer stretches to interact with family, resulting in genuine expressions.

2) Prepare:

Because kids have limited attention spans, set everything up before you bring your kids or other people into the frame with you, including setting up your tripod, getting ready your camera settings, and taking a few trial shots to be sure everything is ready to go. Let kids This keeps everyone happy and little ones don't get bored as quickly.

3) Use Live Mode:

This is a huge help when trying to achieve a perfect focus, especially when shooting with wide angle lenses. Digitally zoom in 5X or 10X using the Live View mode and manually rotate the focus ring to achieve that tack sharp focus (Note: You usually have to have your camera lens switched to manual focus in order to digitally zoom in on the screen). Once you get your focus set, turn off the Live View while keeping your lens on manual focus so that the camera does not override your focal point, and you should be good to go!

Photo: Ellen Elizabeth Photography

Some additional tips for self-portraits are:

1) Consider shooting tethered to your computer or TV screen. Adobe Lightroom has an option for tethered shooting included in the program. Another option to be able to view your results instantly and make quick adjustments is using a small monitor, such as ProAm 7" LCD monitor, that onto your camera's hotshoe and swivels to face you. Kids love seeing themselves on the screen!

2) All self-portraits require at least a little advance planning. Ellen Covey's Self-Portraits of Motherhood class contains many ideas for inspiration or look for inspiration from paintings, poems, or music as described in-depth in Caroline Jensen's class The Art of Observation.

3) Motherhood isn't all about the kids! Be sure to capture images your rare "me" time and quiet moments with your partner.

Whatever you do, find a way to get in the picture!