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8 Tips For the Sweetest Mommy and Me Photoshoot

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Moms are often the memory keepers of the family, which means they are often left out of family photos. Mommy and me pictures are the perfect way to make sure the family photos include memories with mom too.

Mommy and me pictures are great at every age and stage. Ideas include mother and baby photos, portraits of moms with their teens or grown children, or even generation shoots with grandma. But how do you make the most of a mommy and me photoshoot? Here are eight tips to make the most of mother and kids pictures.

a sweet mommy and me photoshoot of a mother and young son playing on the beach
Image by Xavier Mounton Photographie

8. Choose a Style

Mommy and me pictures have endless creative possibilities. You could use elaborate props to create a fantasy world. These sessions often follow fun and trendy themes and may be customised for one family.

Other mother and daughter shoots take a rather lifestyle approach. For example, a mom bathing her new baby in the sink, reading her toddler a bedtime story, or pushing her child on the swings.

Others sit at a happy medium between the two. These images can be formal but allow the mom and children to interact instead of sitting still. This style is more modern than the traditional studio photograph.

a sweet mommy and me photoshoot of a mother holding her young outdoors
Image by Jordan Whitt

7. Communicate Clearly

The key to a great mommy and me photoshoot is to set up expectations before the shoot. Mommy and me sessions are often done with small kids. To help keep the littlest family members happy during the shoot, you need to take your time to prepare.

First, make sure to work with the mom to plan a time that’s not during nap or too close to bedtime. Offer the mom some helpful ideas, such as recommending that they bring a favourite toy along.

Before the session, talk about what the kid(s) are like and come prepared. If they always laugh at bubbles, bring along some bubbles. If they have a case of stranger danger, be sure not to be too outgoing and introduce yourself step by step.

Mommy and me photo shoots seldom go off without a hitch. Let your clients know that a toddler tantrum or a little disobedience in the middle of the shoot is normal. Family shoots are often stressful on the parents, so it may help them to know that every session has its hiccups.

6. Plan the Wardrobe and Location

Some photographers provide the wardrobe for mommy and me photo shoots (especially for themed sessions). For others, the mom is in charge of the wardrobe. In both cases, planning is necessary.

For a themed photo shoot, make sure the wardrobe fits in with the setting and props, as well as the mom and the child.

Even if the mom is planning the wardrobe, it’s a good idea to offer tips on what to wear. Send along a guide on clothing ideas, or make your own guide and share it on your website. At the very least, ask what they are planning on wearing. This way, you can ensure the background and props work with their selection.

Location is also crucial for mommy and me photos. A city-dwelling mom may prefer a location with a more urban look, for example. Look for locations that offer lots of space, a distraction-free background, and good light.

a sweet mommy and me photoshoot of a mother and two young sons playing outdoors
Image by Edward Cisneros

5. Look for Great Light

Like any photo, light will make or break a mommy and me portrait. A mommy and me shoot involves lots of interaction, so it tends to work best with a simple lighting set-up. Avoid lighting set-ups where one wrong move by the toddler will turn into bad light. A set-up with three flashes, for example, is difficult to pull off with an active toddler.

Shade is flattering and easy to work with. Backlighting at golden hour is also great for any portrait. When working with children, make sure the golden hour isn’t past bedtime.

Window light works well indoors, as well as a simple studio lighting such as a one or two flash or strobe set-up.

4. Create an Opportunity For Interaction

While posed portraits of a mother and child looking have their place, the most treasured images are usually from interactive photo shoots. Not only does interaction help create genuine smiles, but also serves as a memory of a great day together.

Ask the mother what different things she likes to do with her kids or the things that make them smile. Something as simple as tickling or playing peek-a-boo can create natural smiles and sweet interactions.

Lifestyle sessions can use even more fun activities like baking together, reading stories or playing games.

3. Photograph the Everyday Moments

Often, it’s the everyday moments that are the most treasured. Don’t feel shy about photographing them!

Maybe the mom comforting her toddler wasn’t in your carefully orchestrated theme shoot. But if you see a moment unfolding between mother and child, don’t hesitate to photograph it. She might wipe some tears, help tie a shoe, or straighten an outfit. Even if the pose isn’t quite perfect, those images may end up being the most special.

This goes even further with lifestyle photography. Ask the mom what some of their everyday routines are and recreate one or two to capture the sweet side of the everyday.

a sweet mommy and me photoshoot of a mother holding her baby
Image by Jonathan Borba

2. Help Mom Feel Confident

Odds are, the family has hundreds of photos of the kids and very few of the mom. Mom is likely to be the most critical when looking at those final images. This means, as a photographer, you should help the mom feel confident in her photos.

Make sure you understand posing essentials to capture the mom in her best light. Create curves with the placement of arms and hands. Avoid having her standing straight on to the camera.

What’s closest to the camera will always look bigger. Thus, shooting from a high angle not only flatters mom but works well with cradling a baby or hugging a toddler as well.

For mother and baby photography, posing becomes even more essential. Many new moms are uncomfortable with their looks. For new moms, try to shoot at eye level or above. The placement of the baby or older children can also help draw the eye towards faces. We’re often overcritical of photos of ourselves. Help boost her confidence by making her look great with careful posing. Paying her small compliments can also be helpful.

1. Make the Shoot Fun

Mommy and me photo shoots are about remembering the days of mothering that tend to pass in a blur as children grow. To get the most genuine expression from the kids, make the session fun. Keep your tone friendly, even when the shoot isn’t going as planned (because with kids, most of them don’t go as planned).

Come prepared with a list of fun things that will keep the kids entertained. This could be activities, like playing games or dancing together. You can also use props like bubbles or stuffed animals that are fun for kids to play with.

For extreme weather or kids with shorter attention spans, plan a break. Kids may need to cool off from the heat of the summer or shrug on a coat and warm up for a few minutes in the colder months. Toddlers may also enjoy a snack break. A break can help young kids become much more apt to smile, interact and enjoy themselves.

Remember to be flexible. If you’re stuck on an idea you have in your head, you may miss an even better one that happens naturally. Forcing children into a pose will only make for grumpy smiles.

Conclusion

As the one who’s often behind the camera, moms don’t always have a lot of photos of themselves interacting with their children. Mommy and me pictures are an important addition to the family photos.

While important, any photoshoot working with children can be a challenge. But by choosing a style, communicating with the mom, making plans, and finding great light, you will be able to prepare for a successful shoot. If you follow this recipe, you will manage to capture sweet moments between mom and child.

Read our 15 valuable lessons to teach photography to kids next!

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