Mother’s Day and Photography

Mother’s Day is upon us once again.  Mom’s will get all varieties of gifts from their children.  Perhaps the promise of a day without inter-sibling warfare.  (Yeah, like that’s gonna work.)  Perhaps a bouquet of flowers.  (You probably should have laid down the weed-killer before the yellow flowers got picked for your treat.)  Perhaps a day of others doing the cooking and dishes.  (OK, so you’ll have to re-wash everything tomorrow.  It’s the thought that counts.

The question that I would like to raise is, “Shouldn’t children get something out of Mother’s Day, too?”  I believe the answer is yes, but that “something” is something special, not to be purchased in any store.

As I grow older, I realize that not only has my mother left this earthly domain, so too will all the mothers who right now inhabit this Earth.  Children, what will you have by which to remember your mother once she is gone?  If you said “pictures,” you are RIGHT! (In my not-so-humble opinion, anyway.)

Mother’s Day is an excellent opportunity for you to capture images that will last your mother’s lifetime, your lifetime, and the lifetime of your children.  These pictures will spur memories in the future.  Don’t be afraid to take them.  If your mom demures, take them anyway.  Remind her that you love her and that you want to have these keepsakes.

Some hints for the photos:

  • Let you mom get “presentable.”  You don’t like being ambushed by cameras and neither does she.  Allow her to drag a comb through her hair or “put her face on” or whatever she would like to do to look her best for the photos.
  • Be kind to your mother and remember that any on-camera flash should be used as a weapon, not as a source of illumination.
    • Use ambient light as much as possible.  Be careful that the light isn’t too dark, however.  If it is, your camera will increase the time that it leaves the shutter open.  Any movement during the time that it is open will appear in the final shot as a blur, not an attractive look for mom.)  Find how you can boost the ISO setting and do so so that your camera is more sensitive to light.
    • If you need to use flash, avoid using a direct light on her.  (This is only a smidge better than the on-camera flash, otherwise.)  If possible, aim the light toward a nearby wall or, better, a light-colored ceiling so that mom is illuminated by reflected, diffused light.  This will soften harsh shadows that appear on her face and behind her.
    • If you can’t diffuse the light by bouncing, diffuse by having the light go through a diffuser.  You don’t have to purchase an expense diffuser.  You don’t even have to buy a translucent shower curtain.  A single sheet of toilet paper placed over the flash will help to diffuse the light.
  • For the love of all that is good in the world, do NOT use a wide angle lens in a close-up shot!  Wide-angle lenses tend to stretch the outer portions of the image.  This translates into mom putting on 50 pounds….all in the face.  For some reason, I don’t think she’d appreciate that.
  • Fill the view finder with faces.  Unless you have a reason for capturing the look of an extremely unusual outfit, your memories will be better stimulated in coming years by seeing your mom’s face, the faces of her children (including YOURS), and those who love her.  Move closer if you need to and don’t waste the real estate of the frame of the picture with unnecessary stuff.
  • Date your photos.  Years from now, you won’t remember exactly when a picture was made but you may want to identify the year at some point in the future.  Digital photographs make this easy because, assuming you’ve set the time and date correctly on your camera, those bits of information are automatically added to the photo in the EXIF data (even if you don’t see it on the screen).  If you are shooting film or if you print your digital photos, mark the date on the back of the print along with, perhaps, the names of people pictured.  As your mind gets older, your memories may fade as well.  Such information may become useful to you and will definitely be of help to your children when they look through photos of people who are only making a small dent in their developing brains.
  • Shoot lots of photos and THROW AWAY THE BAD ONES!  Keep the good ones only.  That way, in the future, you’ll have less trash to wade through to find the gemstones.

Do you have other suggestions?  Add them down below.  Other readers will thank you, if only silently.

And to all of you out there to whom this applies, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!