One of the best aspects of Mother’s Day in the digital age, at least for us, is checking in on our social feeds and seeing all the amazing Mother’s Day photos. Which means a lot of us want to know how to take the most flattering, absolute best photos of moms.
We’re talking moms with kids, moms with new babies, single mom selfies, and those Kleenex-worthy three-or four-generation photos for lucky families with grandmothers in the (literal) picture.
So we got the scoop from Kelly Moore, a photographer turned tech accessory designer, and makers of some of our very favorite camera and laptop bags. Here are her five tips for taking the best photos of Mom on Mother’s Day, featuring some of the photos we love best of her and her own family, and a few friends.
1. Let There be Light
Finding the right light will make or break a good shot. Even if it’s just candid, and you’re capturing real life, why not take it from an okay shot to a fantastic shot by being aware of your lighting.
- Natural light is always your best bet. Out of the direct sun, if you can.
- Turn off your flash! Never use the unflattering, too bright camera flash. Even if you’re just using your phone, turn off the flash.
- If you’re inside, find light from a window. One sure way to make a photo more interesting, is to have one directional light. Sometimes I turn off all interior lights, and light the subject only with the window light.
- Get creative! Use a lamp, use the flashlight on your phone, use the sun, it’s not important what you light it with, it’s how you light it. Again, I prefer to have one light source, I feel like this helps give drama to any image.
- When all else fails, just get the moment! Sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s lit well, just to have the photo is worth it.
Quick tip: when you’re about to take a photo ask yourself if there’s a light you can turn off or on that will make the photo more interesting.
2. Everyone’s Got an Angle
Everyone has a side of their face that is more photogenic. For the majority of people, research has shown that it’s the left side of your face that looks the most open and friendly. To find out for yourself, put a piece of paper over each side of your face. One side will be more naturally upturned around your mouth and eyes. When posing yourself — or your own mother — put that side of your face closest to the camera.
- Moms of almost any age want to avoid the appearance of a double chin or saggy neck. (There’s a hilarious line in My Big, Fat Greek Wedding 2” where Aunt Voula says, “Okay pull my neck,” and the two grab at the back of each other’s necks before taking a photo, to give themselves a more “youthful” look.)
- If you feel like you always manage to make yourself look like you have a double chin, try this: make your neck feel as long as possible by imagining a cord pulling you up from the top of your head, push your face forward, and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. This sounds awkward but it totally makes a difference!
3. “Fashion” a great outfit
Make sure your mom loves what she’s wearing. so she’s as comfortable and confident as she can be. Not that you can dictate what she’s wearing on Mother’s Day, but there are some great picture pointers to help the lens capture the best photos of mom.
- Try to skip anything too fussy or frilly or busy. Simple colors and fewer patterns are the rule of the day.
- But then…she also needs to be who she is, like in this photo above of my friend Heather Land which completely sums up the personality of her and her family.
- White and other pale colors may wash her out if she has fair skin.
- When all else fails, a great pair of jeans and a solid button-up may be all you need.
4. Specialize in “Environmental Protection”
So often, I find the key to great shots is simply finding the right environment in which to shoot.
- Shoot somewhere interesting. How many pictures does your family have in front of the mantle or on your front door steps? Banish these tired old shots by shaking it up with a new location.
- Go outside! Ideally, find a spot in the shade (or at least out of direct sunlight) to capture your family together.
- Take a drive. Throw the family in the car and take a drive out to the country, like this photo above, of my family on a hike.
- Look for interesting environments. Sometimes an old rundown place can provide the most interesting backdrop.
5. Incorporate Others
As you well know, most moms would rather be photographed with their families on Mother’s Day (or any day) than all alone. Surround her with kids, grandkids, food, flowers, pets — whatever she loves and that will add character, authenticity and verve to a shot.
Hopefully you’ll end up with a photo that makes for the best Mother’s Day gift of all.