When future anthropologists look back on our era and sift through our photographs, will they think there were no mothers?
We, as a nation of moms, are doing a bang-up job of documenting our children’s every moment large or and small. One only needs to look to my Facebook timeline to find documentation of every milestone and accomplishment. But even though we are so diligent in our scrapbooking and blogging and we are taking more photos than ever we are leaving ourselves out. As Allison Tate so poignantly put it last year in “Mom Stays in the Picture,” we as moms have left ourselves out.
So many of the mothers who book me to photograph their children ask that they not be included in the photos (I always convince them otherwise); others book for a date months away so they can lose that stubborn five or ten pounds. When I do take the picture they contort themselves to hide their self-perceived imperfections.
I am just as guilty of this phenomenon – even if my husband looks like Ben Affleck in the photo, and my kids appear like angels, I will destroy the picture if I think my arms look fat. But, since reading Allison’s article, I am trying desperately to remain in the photo – with my kids, with my husband and even just by myself. But, I as I am as vain as the next mom, so I follow the same advice I dole out to clients…
1. Always photograph from above. Leave the Mount Rushmore type photo where the photographer looks up to their subject to the Wall Street tycoon; it is a perspective that implies power but it is not flattering. Put your photographer on a stool, a bench, anything, but always have him or her pointing the camera down on you.
2. Turn and twist. You know you’ve been going to yoga for a reason. Stand so your body is at a ninety degree angle from the photographer; you should be standing perpendicular to one another. Now turn your hips to the camera and square your shoulders back. This will keep your hips and waist looking narrow and your shoulders wide.
3. Chin down! Despite the bad advice we all learned in college, sticking your chin in the air is not the way to go; keeping your chin down is much more flattering and will create complimentary contours and shadowing. Leaning forward slightly while you do this will preclude you from having a double chin.
4. Smile like you mean it. Have someone tell you a joke. Have them tickle you, goose you, whatever it takes. No one has ever been fooled by a fake smile. If desperate, try not to smile. It works every time.
5. Stand up straight. Keeping your shoulders back is the quickest fix to making you appear taller, thinner and more confident. And cheaper than Botox!
6. Window lighting is tremendously forgiving. To take advantage of this absolutely free and flattering source of lighting, turn off the flash of your camera and have the photographer stand with their back to a window.
7. Wear muted colors. Don’t fall for the belief that you can hide behind a loud outfit. Put on a great grey sweater and blue jeans and turn the photo into black and white. Black and white hides a multitude of sins.
8. Wear high heels. High heels force you to stand up straighter so I recommend that clients wear heels even if their feet will never make it into the photo.
9. Use your kids as props. If you really can’t stomach seeing yourself, then stick those adorable kids of yours in front of you or sit on the ground and have them pile on your lap for a tickle fight. The action will distract you from your discomfort.
10. Confidence is everything: Think about those vintage photos in your grandma’s attic–who is that smokin woman in the heels? You are. Be the woman you want your great-great-grandchildren to ask about.
After all, it’s time the mom set to embrace the “selfie”!