We all take pictures of people, places, or subjects that interest us, but nothing is more important than capturing photos of those we love the most, mainly our family.
As Mother’s Day approaches, we are reminded of the one person who has given so much to us. Our mothers brought us into the world and in many cases she sacrificed her wants and desires for our own. What could be a better way to honor that important person in your life than to take a nice photo of her?
Here are some tips to help you get the best (and most flattering photo) of your mother or the mother of your children.
1. Consider the lighting
The first and most important tip to capturing a nice picture is to have good lighting. This is true for almost any subject, but very important when trying to photograph a person. If you ever look closely at the lighting in movies, your favorite actor or actress is almost always put in perfect lighting conditions. No wonder they look so good! So, what are ideal lighting conditions? If you are photographing outside, you should make sure that your subject is either all in light or all in shadow. Try to avoid shooting a picture where your subject is covered in any mix of harsh light and shadows. This almost never looks flattering. If you have to shoot in direct sunlight, have your subject face away from the sun (at their back) and use your flash to “fill light” or eliminate any shadows on your subject. When shooting indoors, find a location with neutral lighting and, if at all possible, try to avoid using your flash pointed directly at your subject. If you have an external flash, try pointing it up or to the side of your subject so that you get reflected light, which can create a great photo. If you are using a camera with a built-in flash, and can’t reposition it, try turning down the power of the flash so that you do not “blast” your mother in too much light.
2. Show who she is
We have all seen countless photos of people giving their best fake or forced smile, and it rarely shows the real character of the person. Try to get your mother to relax and show you her real smile. And if she does not like to smile, try to capture photos of her giving her typical look.
3. Capture her in action
To capture the true essence of your mother, you may want to try shooting photos of her involved in a favorite activity or hobby. If she is best known for playing tennis, go out and take some pictures of her on the tennis courts. This will help you capture not only who she is, but the enjoyment of her doing something she is passionate about.
4. Avoid the pose
There are many people in this world who do not like having their picture taken. For those people, having a camera put in front of them immediately makes them uncomfortable. If you have a decent zoom lens, it is a good idea to stand back and photograph your mother when she is not in “pose mode.” This will help you capture her in a more natural way and better reflect her true self.
5. Edit thoughtfully
A good picture can be made even better with proper editing. Editing means different things to different people and needs to be done cautiously. If you need to remove a distracting item in the background, that’s great! If you need to tweak the brightness and contrast, excellent! But be careful not to edit your mother too much. Some older women want to have their photos retouched to remove their wrinkles, but I am a firm believer in only minimizing wrinkles, not removing them. In most cases, those wrinkles are well earned and add character to your subject. Removing them would not do justice to your mother. Really.
6. Take a lot of pictures
Most professional photographers will take hundreds of photographs of their subject before they find the best one. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures to help ensure you get that one perfect shot. It gives you lots of choices, shows you what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly, provides more memories in the long run.
7. Don’t forget those she loves…you included
While it’s nice to shoot a great photo of your mother, don’t forget to include other family members, when possible. Taking a photo of your mother with each one of your siblings, or shooting a photo with the entire family not only captures your mother, but the love and pride she has for her family, which makes a wonderful keepsake for everyone included. And don’t forget to step out from behind the lens now and again to make sure you are a part of the memories you’re capturing.
8. Honor your mother—and the importance of the photo
As you take photos of your mother this Mother’s Day, remember that not only are you capturing these moments to enjoy today, but they also may serve an important role in honoring her legacy as a part of your family history. Take your photos with love and confidence, knowing that they might be passed down to future generations and live on within your family for several lifetimes.
Editor’s note: Jeff Cable is a regular contributor of helpful articles, sharing his advice and experience learned from many years of professional photography. Sadly, Jeff’s mother passed away suddenly last month, emphasizing even more the importance of capturing images and moments of those you love. We at Lexar offer our condolences and publish this article in honor and memory of Betty Cable.