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24 Tips For Taking the Best Mother’s Day Photo EVER!

This Mother’s Day, set out to capture a beautiful photo of mom.

With my dear friend, Sarah Wilkerson — the fearless and beautiful CEO of Clickin Moms, (if you haven’t checked out the wealth of photo inspiration at Clickin Moms, you must) — and my awesome team of CONFIDENCE teachers around the country, together we have come together to give you 24 different photo tips for helping mom shine in a photo!

Photos of mom are so important, they are the visual legacy we leave our children.  When my kids are older, I want them to have a rich collection of images of their mama so their kids, and the generations to follow, will know how much I loved life.  Even though I endured seasons of great pain and deep loss, their mama still shined from within.

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Photo: Brian Tausend  / Sitting on top of Egypt’s Sand Dunes, 2013.

Every mom has that beautiful, inner, shining spirit.  Here are 24 ways for to you to capture it this Mother’s Day.

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  • Tip 1: Find a Solid, Light Colored Background 1 of 24
    Tip 1: Find a Solid, Light Colored Background
    Last week, SONY asked me to give a talk and demonstration in Chicago. The space I had to work with was an atrium in the middle of a shopping area. Not a super glamorous speaking set up, but I still LOVE these set ups because I get to prove that anywhere can be a great setting for a photo--if you know what to look for. A solid, light colored background is a great find when wanting mom to shine with her kids. The marble floor was PERFECT! The lights from above hit the marble floor and then bounced this beautiful, natural light in their eyes. You would never guess this was in a mall's atrium with a crowd of people standing all around. You can get this same result with concrete by having mom sit with the kids in the driveway! gotta love it!
  • Tip 2: Give Mom the Spotlight 2 of 24
    Tip 2:  Give Mom the Spotlight
    I love to take a few moments before a shoot is over to give mom the spotlight. This is often unexpected, but the last time she had a photo shoot was most likely her wedding day. Find a background color that compliments what mom is wearing. The green behind this mom is a garage door downtown. The second hand store, a few doors down, let us borrow the ottoman (if they could watch--which made mom shine even more). An unexpected audience is always a great way to get giggles and shining smiles out of mom.
  • Tip 3: Bare Shoulders Create a More Intimate Feel 3 of 24
    Tip 3: Bare Shoulders Create a More Intimate Feel
    To create a more intimate look and feel with mom and baby, have mom wear a tank top so we can see her bare shoulders, arms, neckline and back. Have her also stand near window light because the soft, illuminated feel of window light is gorgeous on skin. For more photo tips on capturing mom with baby or a fun gift idea for Mother's Day, check out my best selling book Your Baby in Pictures: The New Parents' Guide to Photographing Your Baby's First Year.
  • Tip 4: Try a Faceless Portrait of Mom 4 of 24
    Tip 4: Try a Faceless Portrait of Mom
    Sarah Wilkerson gives us a beautiful example of how we don't have to see mom's face to have her shine in the photo.
  • Tip 5: Create a Dreamy Feel 5 of 24
    Tip 5: Create a Dreamy Feel
    I love Sarah's idea for creating that dreamy look and feel. "Set your focus to manual," she says, "and adjust it so that mom is gently out of focus. This creates a romantically dreamy quality and imparts anonymity for any woman who's not entirely comfortable in front of the camera."
  • Tip 6: Have Fun with a Tripod 6 of 24
    Tip 6: Have Fun with a Tripod
    In my mind, Sarah is a super hero mom. Her husband has been deployed more times than I can keep track of. But with each deployment she has set up her tripod and taken the most gorgeous photos of her with the boys. I love how she keeps this one simple. Mom and little one in the middle of the big bed, notice how the sides of the photo end with the side of the bed? No clutter, just simple and beautiful (like Sarah).
  • Tip 7: The Wardrobe 7 of 24
    Tip 7: The Wardrobe
    Clickin Moms, Megan Cieloha ,encourages moms to dress in what makes her feel best! I'd also like to add that Megan's gorgeous photo is an example of how the smallest bit of window light is all the light we need. Turn off all the lights and have mom stand at the spot where the window light is tapering off.
  • Tip 8: Shoot Straight Down on Mom and Kids 8 of 24
    Tip 8: Shoot Straight Down on Mom and Kids
    Jen Bebb has been a friend for years, not to mention a gifted photographer and leader at Clickin Moms. I love this shot of her and her boys. Instead of having everyone sit up for the photo, you can have them on the bed in the middles of snuggles and tickles while dad stands above and shoots down.
  • Tip 9: Accentuate Her Best Feature 9 of 24
    Tip 9: Accentuate Her Best Feature
    My South Dakota CONFIDENCE teacher, Nicole Elliot writes: Play up the eyes! The eyes are the window to your soul - so add a little extra makeup and make those eyes pop! You want to try to accentuate your best features. Moms - there are so many things about you that make you beautiful and amazing - it's important for you to get in front of that camera and become a part of the many memories in your life. Your kids will look back on those images one day and remember just how amazing and beautiful mom really was!
  • Tip 10: Everyday Mom is Beautiful 10 of 24
    Tip 10: Everyday Mom is Beautiful
    Clickin Moms, Ashley Spaulding, encourages dads to capture "mom engaged in normal, everyday activities with her kids; she can't help but look naturally radiant when she's doing something she loves with some of the people who hold the biggest place in her heart."
  • Tip 11: Work Together with Your Toddler 11 of 24
    Tip 11: Work Together with Your Toddler
    My San Antonio CONFIDENCE teacher, Summie Roach writes; A mom's genuine laughter and smile comes straight from her heart when she is at her most comfortable surroundings. She can be relaxed and just enjoy life, not being too concerned with whether she is laughing from her inner soul or smiling so big. To create that relaxing atmosphere, the toddler was asked to show me with her arms how much she loves her mommy. With her arms stretched as wide as she can reach, she said "this much". Mom started smiling. Then immediately I told her in a very exciting tone to take those big arms and give mommy the biggest and best hug ever. When she did, mom's smile got bigger and into a laughter straight from her heart. Standing to the side and at eye level with them, you can capture how big the hugs was and mom's natural reaction.
  • Tip 12: Sitting Low with Eyes Closed, Pucker Up! 12 of 24
    Tip 12: Sitting Low with Eyes Closed, Pucker Up!
    Kelli Kalish, my Chicago CONFIDENCE teacher, gives a great tip! "One of my favorite ways to have Mom shine is by having her sit on the ground..it feels more comfortable and less forced. I especially love the "kiss" shots like this one above. This type of shot elongates Mom's neck and chin making her look and feel elegant and beautiful. Even making sure their eyes are closed creates a beautiful quiet moment between Mother and child. The results are always magical!"
  • Tip 13: Identify Her Good Side 13 of 24
    Tip 13: Identify Her Good Side
    Clickin Moms,Monica Wilkinson ,writes; Most women feel they have a "good side". Do not be afraid to ask her what she feels is her good side and shoot from that angle. It will make her feel more at ease and confident in front of the camera.
  • Tip 14: Zooming In with Mom in the Middle 14 of 24
    Tip 14: Zooming In with Mom in the Middle
    Amy Rhodes, my Las Vegas CONFIDENCE teachers writes; When I photograph a mother and her children, I always place mom right in the middle because I want her to be the focus of that picture. I then have each child take a seat around their mom and tell them to do one thing - show mom some love! 99% of the time I am using a 70-200 2.8 lens so I can get an intimate shot without being right up in their personal space. By giving them some space to interact with each other I am able to stand back, watch the love unfold and capture the perfect moment.
  • Tip 15: Capture the Athlete in Mom 15 of 24
    Tip 15: Capture the Athlete in Mom
    Beth Wendland, my Portland, OR CONFIDENCE teacher, is known for her sports photography. If the mom in your life is an athlete, she has all kinds of tips to share on capturing her in action. One of her standby camera settings is Continuous Shooting mode so that you can take several frames per second. This is key when photographing mom in action because you never know which frame, photo, will have her shining most!
  • Tip 16: There is No Such Thing as Overshooting Pregnancy 16 of 24
    Tip 16: There is No Such Thing as Overshooting Pregnancy
    With digital photography, it's easy to overshoot every thing we see our kids do. But I love what Clickin Moms, Amy Lucy Lockheart, says; Pregnancy is such a special and fleeting time in the lives of many women, so encourage expecting moms to be in lots of photos and capture her belly as it changes each month.
  • Tip 17: Feel Beautiful Despite the Post Baby Bump 17 of 24
    Tip 17: Feel Beautiful Despite the Post Baby Bump
    Jess Robertson, our Southern CA CONFIDENCE teacher, shares; As women, we are already so hard on ourselves. Factor in how we feel about our bodies after having a baby, and talk about self-conscious! Most moms I photograph during my newborn sessions are very concerned about the extra weight they are still carrying, especially that post-baby bump. I love to do poses that not only show the beautiful intimacy between mama and baby, but also flatter mom and help her feel great about herself! One of my favorite poses is to position mom/baby in front of a window and ask mom to interact with baby, taking in this new life ! I try to stay tight with my framing to make sure all of the focus is on this amazing new relationship. Your body goes through SO much and this is such a miracle! You wouldn't want to miss these moments just because of a few extra pounds. With tight framing, zooming in, no one else is going to see that post bump when they look at the photos.
  • Tip 18: Watch Me Mama! 18 of 24
    Tip 18: Watch Me Mama!
    Laura Swift, one of our Virginia CONFIDENCE teachers, hits on a point we all know well. Kids love to show off their latest tricks, why not use this to capture a photo where mom shines! Laura says; Encourage the kids to show mom something they are good at doing and be ready with a camera to catch mom's reaction. This little boy is showing off his new dance moves (and mom is LOVING it!).
  • Tip 19: Use Bright Windows as a Background 19 of 24
    Tip 19: Use Bright Windows as a Background
    I love how Clickin Moms, Lynne Rigby, used bright windows as her background. Notice how she off centered mom and child too? Instead of putting them right in the center, they are just a bit off to the side. These two tricks, off centering and bright windows in the back, help add warmth and emotion to the photo's story.
  • Tip 20: Allow for Moments to Evolve 20 of 24
    Tip 20: Allow for Moments to Evolve
    Clickin Moms, Michelle Turner , says; Sometimes the most beautiful expressions will come during natural interactions-- don't be afraid to step back and let moments evolve.
  • Tip 21: Start Wild to Get the Twinkle! 21 of 24
    Tip 21: Start Wild to Get the Twinkle!
    Cheryl Bidleman, our Seattle CONFIDENCE teacher, writes; One of the ways I get beautiful images of my mom clients is to have her run, tickle and play with her kids before their photo session. I love how moms shine from the inside out after a fun romp with her kids. By the time I have them settle in for their photo session you can still see that beautiful, lingering twinkle in her eyes and the glow in her cheeks. It's an the unmistakable look of love and happiness!
  • Tip 22: Have Her Focus on Kids 22 of 24
    Tip 22: Have Her Focus on Kids
    If mom resists the camera follow this great advice from Allison Gallagher, our Virginia CONFIDENCE teacher. "One of my favorite ways to help moms shine in pictures is to ask them to watch their children rather than looking straight at the camera. When focusing on her precious little ones, Mom's nervousness drops away, and the most beautiful, joyful, natural smiles appear. That's better than a forced, posed smile any day!"
  • Tip 23: Play with Side Lighting (in PJs!) 23 of 24
    Tip 23: Play with Side Lighting (in PJs!)
    Jennifer Tacbas is not only our Georgia state CONFIDENCE Teacher, but she is also a new mama! Every Monday she writes a post called First Year for my blog, sharing all kinds of yummy baby photos and photo tips for that first precious year with baby. I love how she uses side lighting in this self portrait of her and Logan. See how the window light is bright on the arm of her couch? She turns her face towards that side light so her smile is illuminated, but this still allows for the light to be darker behind her. (which makes her beautiful smile shine that much more) I also love that she and Logan are in their PJs. Super cute!
  • Tip 24: Straight Lines Accentuate the Bump 24 of 24
    Tip 24: Straight Lines Accentuate the Bump
    If your mama is pregnant, use lines to help accentuate her bump. See how Sarah used the line where the two walls meet, as well as the line of the white curtain? Start looking for lines in your everyday world. The fence line, the sidewalk line, the window frame. Leading lines help mom's beautiful bump shine that much more. I want to thank Sarah Wilkerson and her beautiful community at Clickin Moms. I also want to thank our wonderful CONFIDENCE Teachers around the country. We hope that all these photo tips empower and inspire you to help mom SHINE this Mother's Day!

More Posts and Photo Tips from Me Ra and her CONFIDENCE Teachers:

Photograph Kids Using Soft Light and Blurred Backgrounds (VIDEO)

10 More Episodes from “Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh”

18 Ways to Grow Your Photography this Spring

13 Ways to Engage the Photographer in Your Kids (from Me Ra and her two kids!)

14 Photo Tips to Capture Love

15 Women Photographers Share Their Self Portraits and Photo Tips

Me Ra Koh loves cameras, kids, and parents, and spends her life bringing them together.  See her new show Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh on Disney Junior.  Her book Your Baby in Pictures is a national bestseller.  She is honored to be one of SONY’s Artisans of Imagery.  Me Ra and her team of certified teachers lead CONFIDENCE photography workshops for women nationwide.  She has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, American Baby, Popular Photography, and her photography has been on exhibit from San Fransisco to New York.  You can find her at merakoh.com.

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