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How to Take Great Family Photos

Kelly Stuart, talented photographer and cofounder of one of our favorite mom-and-baby-photo sites, shares her tips for taking family pictures.
ByElena Donovan Mauer
Updated
July 5, 2017
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When career-driven Kelly Stuart and coworker (and friend) Violet Gaynor started thinking about starting families, they also began thinking about launching  a website. And so The Glow was born, a stylish online destination that explores motherhood using real moms’ stories — and tons of Stuart’s gorgeous photos. “All our shoots for The Glow are very personal, just as if we were having coffee with friends,” she says. She’s photographed trendsetters, style-makers and celeb moms, such as Josie Maran, Constance Zimmer and Busy Philipps. And now, she and Gaynor have a coffee-table book coming out in spring 2014. Here she offers her advice for taking your own stunning family photos.

Turn off the flash

“I shoot entirely with natural light,” says Stuart. “I also love my backlight (lighting from behind), so the brighter the better. For me, shooting with natural light allows those moments to feel soft, natural and intimate, while keeping the focus on the mother and the child.”

Don’t stage your photos

It’s tempting to want to set a catalog-style scene and to try for just the right
pose, but you’re not going to get the best shot by making things look contrived. “Children are at their best doing the things they love,” says Stuart. “Snap them candidly, so you get natural imagery that focuses on being in the moment.”

Putting candid photos in black and white gives them a timeless, documentary feel.

Keep on shooting

Buy that memory card with extra storage, and don’t be shy about snapping away. “You can never take too many shots!” says Stuart. “This is also important as your children will quickly become very familiar with you taking their photograph, which will allow their personality to shine through.” The more photos you have to choose from, the more likely you are to have a great one.

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Be yourself in belly shots

If you’re having maternity photos taken, try not to think about smiling for the camera, and, instead, focus on enjoying yourself. “If a moment is genuine and natural, it will come across that way through the photography. But if it feels awkward, it will show,” she says. Making a wardrobe decision? Be sure it’s one that flaunts your shape. “Wear formfitting clothes that show off your bump. Every woman should have that special image that highlights her curves during the peak of her pregnancy.”

Do your research to find the right pro

If you’re having professional family photographs taken, know the photographer’s body of work before you commit to a shoot. There are many different photography styles, and you should be sure you’re getting exactly what you want. Their personality is key, too. “You should feel extremely comfortable with your photographer,” Stuart says. “That will help you open up when in front of the camera.”

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