Mom of Three Photography: Blog en-us (C) Mom of Three Photography (Mom of Three Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:35:00 GMT Mom of Three Photography: Blog 80 120 2 (EASY!) Ways to a Stress-Less-Session!  

Hey Ma's and Pa's! (And anyone who comes to family photo shoots!) This blog entry is for you.  And it bears good news.  Your photo session can be fun and stress free - read on for just 2 steps to a fun photo session that will have you breathe a sigh of relief!

I fully recognize parents can have a challenging time prepping for photo shoots.  Before the shoot even begins, you've done the leg work with your photographer - time and place all set. You've chosen what to wear, you've readied your kids so they can be their best.  And heck, you might've had a go-round with a reluctant photo-shy spouse. It happens.

… All this before a photo has been snapped! Now you have to make sure the kids listen to the photographer so that you can finally have a decent photo for your walls.  (Sound familiar?)

I'm here to tell you that once the photo session starts, I will do all the work!  You get to sit back, be relaxed, and enjoy our time together and the unique experience of a photo session.  Specifically, here are just 2 things that will help ease any tension:

  1. Resist the temptation to direct your kids during the session. (Be a wallflower!)  If you hear me tell your child to do something, you get a holiday from making sure your child listens. Your children's behavior is now my problem (like having a babysitter and photographer in one!)  So if I say to [Lila], "Lila, please sit here," and Lila doesn't respond immediately, you do not need to say, "Lila, listen to Meghan!" I will worry about the outcome if she doesn't want to go with my ideas.  It will all be good!
  2. Resist the temptation to tell your child to smile or say "cheese"!  Ooooh… this is a big one.  And a toughie at that.  It's ingrained in us all to tell our kids to say "cheese!".  Please do not.  If they actually listen to you and manufacture a "smile", it will be pretty fake and forced. Instead,  I will get a genuine smile from your kid(s).  (I have a trick or two.) And if you're in the photo, the relief from worrying about their smile you might help you have a genuine smile too!

And that's it!  I wish I could remove all the preamble efforts to a photo session too.  But the good news is that I encourage you to treat the photo session like a little parenting reprieve.  Sound good?  OK - now - can someone offer me a little parenting reprieve? (Pleeeease??  ….Anyone?  LOL.)  Please write with comments or questions - thanks and see you at the session!   -Meghan

]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer Journalistic style photography Chicago candid childrens photography special family moments in photography tips for kids in photo sessions tips to help kids be good for photos Sat, 30 Nov 2013 22:31:07 GMT
Should Parents Be In Photos With Their Kids?


If you’re a parent, imagine your child for a moment. You’re probably imagining your child as they are right now.  Perhaps you don’t have to “imagine”, maybe you can turn your head and look right at your young one!

Now, imagine your child when they’re grown up.  She (for the sake of this writing) is living on her own and has an awesome life and a cool apartment with cool things.  She has photos in her apartment – lots of fun photos of friends on the fridge and bulletin board.  They showcase her fun lifestyle and her abundance of friends and the awesome times they’ve shared.

In other places she has photos of you…. of you and she together from her childhood. They are beautiful photos she keeps in her bedroom because they are near and dear to her heart.  Her favorite one is of she as a toddler.  It is black and white, she keeps it in a silver frame. You and your daughter are looking at each other and smiling.  

She doesn’t remember this early time in her life, but she has this photo.  And just by looking at the photo and your expression, she knows she was always loved.

This is just to say – Parents, please consider being in front of the camera with your kids – it may produce a photo that your child with treasure.




]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer candid childrens photography children photography mom of three photography newborn Chicago Photography Thu, 31 Oct 2013 20:51:48 GMT
What Light is Best For Photos? You know how when you buy a garden plant, it has a plastic spear in it with a picture that shows the type of light the plant needs?  It is one of these icons:

Like the plant, your camera could come with one of these icons (well not really but please play along).  So which one would it be?   This IS a quiz so please choose your answer!

While you think about it, let me share a brief story:  I was once a bridesmaid for a friend who, on her wedding day, woke up to (GASP!) cloudy skies.  She was really sad that it would not be sunny for her photos.  The photographer consoled her that the photos would be BETTER with the overcast skies we had.  She was not convinced unfortunately. Fortunately, she did smile for the photos because they turned out spectacularly!! 

Back to the quiz, the correct answer is... well, you guessed it! It's (C)!  But not really.  It's actually a trick question and the answer can be any one of the three but it is EASIEST to take NICE photos in either (B) partial sun or (C) shade.  In the case you are taking photos in full sun, I scrounged up a few old photos to illustrate the best way to go about it.


Above is a pretty typical photo that a parent might take of their child. Here the kid (my son) is in full sun and you can see that the light is at his back.  In fact, it's a little bit to his side, as there is highlight along the right side of his face and you see the shadow diagonal to his body.  If you need to take a photo in full sun, this is the best way to go about it. Place the child with the sun behind - or behind and at an angle for a little highlight.  Otherwise, you end up with an image that might resemble this:

Here, they're looking straight into the sun and not only that, the sun is casting shadows onto their faces, causing the undesirable dappled light situation, making their features look odd.  Plus, they're squinting!  Not the best situation.


Best of all, however, is to find a location that is completely shaded from the full sun.  No super bright highlights, no dappled light on faces.  This is called "open shade".  In this last photo you can see that with this open shade, the left side of his face gets a little added light from the nearby sun, which looks nice!

As we pull out our phones to take quick photos in the sun, it's not always possible to find shade or to turn your kid around. But when possible, following these simple tips can really make a difference!


]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer Journalistic style photography Chicago Mon, 30 Sep 2013 19:48:30 GMT
My Summer's Favorites - True Family Moments A few weeks remain in summer and yet, as I write this it is Labor Day weekend, it's about time to have a summer retrospective - photography-style!

I had a wonderful summer taking client photos.  My sessions took me to beautiful places on lovely days to meet with exciting and interesting families.  And I thank these families so much for allowing me to document their life as a family.  

Documenting family life is - thus far - what I enjoy the most about being a photographer.  I see this clearly by looking back at my favorite photos from the summer. I love it when the family forgets about me/ the camera and a special moment emerges.  These are the kinds of photos that I would frame were I in the photo!  So I've put a few of these together with a little commentary on each.  Please keep reading and enjoy!  

While Dad and Daughter are looking at me, I love Mom's sweet expression toward her daughter.  Overall this family was so cute together - there were so many special moments between these three.  Speaking of special Mother-Daughter moments, check out the following photo.


This mom had a florist make these amazing head pieces for her daughter's first birthday.  So elegant! I took this photo shortly after the mom put both of these head pieces on.  There is just a little light coming in from the window, which I think adds a special spotlight on these two.  The daughter's headpiece was sliding off her head.  Isn't photography great that it can capture a moment without telling the "whole story"?  (i.e. that the daughter wouldn't wear the head piece after the first time it fell! ... At least not while I was there.) :)


This series makes my heart sing.  As moms we feel a full range of emotions.  We basically feel anything our children feel, and all within a matter of seconds.  These photos, for instance, were snapped within 10 seconds of one another. This new mom and daughter tells that whole story.  What a precious experience to photograph this amazing new family, especially with the dad too as photographed below.


This was a special genuine moment, I was snapping photos of Mom and Daughter.  I encouraged Dad to step in - he did, and this is what he did.  I think I could look at this baby's face all day!


This is a very candid shot, there is nothing like a child's new curiosity that can help us see things freshly.  This was taken in the Lincoln Park Conservatory Garden near the east side where there stands a giant weeping willow.  This daughter was quite captivated by the leaves drooping toward the ground, and as such, so were Mom and Dad!


This image was also taken at the Lincoln Park Conservatory Garden!  (It was a most popular spot this summer!)  We were playing a little game at the time of this photo, where the daughter was running up and "surprising" her parents.  It was just good fun, and their expressions show it.


I have a number of these "swinging" photos in my portfolio from this summer, this is one of my favorites because the daughter is making eye contact with the camera, yet she is not "posed" in the least bit.  Love the happy faces in this shot!  This was taken in Grant Park near the Seated Lincoln Statue.


Just another sweet "swinging" shot, this time from afar where I was a distant onlooker to this fun moment. This was taken at the 21st Beach in Chicago. There were great colors from this photo shoot, but I like how the black and white gives a timeless feel to this family moment.


Thanks for following along during this series!  Please leave a comment if you have any additional thoughts on these photos and what you think makes them special!  Thank you again to the families who hired me this summer for their family photos.  It was an honor!



]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer Journalistic style photography Chicago candid childrens photography children photography mom of three photography newborn Chicago Photography special family moments in photography Sat, 31 Aug 2013 19:58:59 GMT
7 Tips to Help Your Kids Have Photo-Session-Success!  

Perhaps you’re wondering about strategies to help your kids have their best photo session.  Read on for a few tips I find helpful for best results!  Whether on photo day your child is feeling shy, rambunctious, disinterested, or somewhere in between - these tips will help them work with your photographer.

Ages 0-2

  1. Feed and hydrate them shortly before photos.  And by saying “shortly”, I feel immediately before hand is best.  Feeding them in the car is even a good idea. This can get tricky when you have an outfit to keep pristine, but remember - photoshop is your friend should a spill or stain occur.  There’s nothing better for compliance than a full and happy tummy!  Keep the drink with you should they need a refresher during a photo break. 
  2. Choose the best time of day. Your child may be much more accommodating and happy at a certain time of day.  This is probably in the morning, but also might be after a nap.  Scheduling the photos at this time is always smart.  And if your photographer tells you that the best light is at a different time, please promptly ignore them/ me! :)
  3. Bring comfort objects… beware of pacifiers!  A lovey/ special toy is wonderful for easing a young child into having a camera with a lens pointed at them. I absolutely love photographing children with lovies.  A word to the wise – be prepared to have the lovey in every photo.  When you try to take it away, you may cause tears – a total backfire!  This is especially important with pacifiersleave them in the car, as you probably do not desire photos of your child with a pacifier in their mouth. 

Ages 3+

  1. Feed and hydrate them shortly before photos .  Ok, maybe this article should be titled, "6 tips..." for this is the same as above, but it is worth repeating! As with the younger kids, feed them right before hand – even give them a snack in the car on the way over.  Don’t stress too much about their outfits, I can fix things in photoshop. (Sticky  food that stays in teeth is an exception, so avoid gummies etc.)  Keep the drink with you – especially on a hot day they will need a refresher.  
  2. Talk the session up!  (Be crafty!) :) The easy approach to this is to say in a super-excited voice, “We’re going to have our photo taken!” That might get them momentarily hyped, but there’s more you can do! Keep them interested in the entire experience by telling them they’re going to (x) location to play and explore. Go into details about what they will see and do at that location. Drop in the fact that “[Meghan] is going to meet us there and will have her camera!”  This way, they’re not surprised by the photography, but focus on having fun and being themselves.  They will still be willing to sit for posed shots with the right direction.  Which brings me to…
  3. Resist directing them during the shoot.  Trust your photographer to do the heavy lifting when it comes to working with your kids. It can be hard to resist telling your children what to do when you are invested in good photos. But this is best left to the photographer who is visualizing the image, and actually has a better shot at getting a child to listen… go figure!    
  4. Refrain from offering a reward for being good for photos… ie no bribes! Simply put, if a bribe is on the table, 10 minutes in they will want to jump photography ship and claim their reward.  Hopefully, if you talk the session up in a crafty way, (tip #2!) using the reward system will not be needed.

I hope these tips will bring you huge photo success at your next family session.  If I am your photographer for that session, I would love to talk more about these and others tips you can use.    For indoor or at-home sessions, these hints can be tweaked for indoor photo success, so let’s talk.  Happy family photos!

]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago photographer candid childrens photography help kids be good for photos how to get your kids to be good for photos mom of three photography tips for kids in photo sessions tips to help kids be good for photos Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:17:30 GMT
5 iPhone Tips for Better Kid Photos  

With the advent of iPhones, everyday photography is new and here to stay!  It seems crazy to look back to when I was a lot younger and would carry my little film camera with me all the time.  I wanted it with me just in case I saw something interesting and doing this made me feel like a renegade - it was a unique thing to do!

Today, that is something we ALL do!  Each of us (my husband with the “dumb phone” is an odd exception) always carries a camera with us. We become prolific photographers without even thinking about it!  This is especially wonderful as parents, to digitize any little moment with our kids.  I love it!

However, as great as iPhones are – the technology is sort-of failing us.  All too often iPhone photos are blurry, dark, busy, and just forgettable.  And it’s not entirely the photographer’s fault.  Your iPhone camera – though miraculous and small - is very automatic and chooses for you how to take the photo.  But there are a few simple things you can do as the photographer to enhance your photos.  Henceforth, follow these tips and you are sure to see an improvement in your photos and will find yourself printing and framing more of your own work!

1) Use the Focus/ Exposure Button

Maybe you knew this, but I must admit I did not until recently.  You have a focus button on your iPhone.  It is your finger!  When you are ready to take your photo, tap the area that is your subject.  This will bring up a little blue box.  This little box is where your image will be most focused and properly exposed.  Notice the blue focus/ exposure box in this iPhone screen shot. (The green box is face recognition.) If you hold your finger on the blue box for about 3 seconds, it will flash and then you have “locked” the exposure and focus. If you are prepping to photograph an image with a lot of contrast with bright/ dark areas, be sure to use this - such as if your child is in front of a bright window. Notice in the image above I focused on his eye which is always a good idea.  In-focus eyes are key!


2) Take Advantage of iPhone Sun Flare

Sun flare (when the sun hits the camera lens) is “hot” in photography these days.  People really respond to the dreamy, washed-out look of a person bathed in soft directional light. It can make our kids look wistful and soft, not to mention angelic! I’ve noticed that iPhones do as good (if not better) a job at capturing sun flare than professional lenses.  With iPhones, it comes across evenly with the subject in focus - something many photographers struggle to achieve.  So use it with your iPhone!  To do this, the easiest result will be early morning after sunrise and/ or late evening before sunset.  But it is fun to use anytime.  Just shoot into the sun and enjoy the results.  It’s interesting to play with different angles to see how the sun’s rays will shape the effects of your image.


3)  Use "The Grid" (and rule of thirds)

Your phone has a grid like a tic-tac-toe game.  It can help you make sure your image is level with the horizon/ straight, but its real purpose is to help you compose the photo.  This is all about the “rule of thirds”.  Interesting composition is placing your subject in the first third or the last third of the photo.  You will have four of these guides – top left, bottom left, top right, bottom right. Choose one of these intersections and put your child’s eye at this point such as with my daughter in this image.  Try it and compare to photos with your child in the center of the image. Quite an interesting difference! To make the grid appear on your screen, go to “options” and turn grid on!

4) For Action, Use Light!

This tip is all about capturing sharper, non-blurry images. Kids are QUICK!  (If your child is less than one, enjoy! …And revisit this tip in a few months.)  I am often frustrated with the blur of my iPhone images when my kids are in motion. Maybe you are too.  And this is due to the iPhone’s automatic choice to slow the shutter speed if the available light isn’t super bright. So here is what you can do.  Photograph a quickly moving child in bright light only - outdoors, in the sun, or in a VERY bright room.  If you expect most indoor shots to be sharp, you will be disappointed.  You could try using flash indoors – this might help, but the best bet  for sharp photos is outdoor sunlight. Also, make sure you are holding your phone very still when you “click”. This will eliminate the possibility that your photos are blurry because you’re moving your phone as the shutter clicks!


5) Please... No More Cheese

No matter what technicals you achieve with your iPhone, if your child is not cooperative, well, where does that get us?  In some cases, telling your child to say “cheese” is better than having them cry, pout, or run away when trying to take their picture.  (But not always better!)

I chuckle knowing that somehow, every kid picks up this habit of saying “cheese” when a camera is pointed at them.  My own daughter contracted a case of “frozen cheese”.  You know – CHEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSE.   She did not learn to do this from me. 

The problem with “cheese” is they stop being natural, and kids are just so awesome when they’re natural, not to mention fun to photograph! Whenever possible, try being a stealthy photographer - don’t announce you are taking a photo.  As a result, you will end up with candid moments that speak more about them, their personality, what sparked their interest, and what in that crazy young mind they might be thinking. These details are what make photos stand out and can be precious for a parent.  When first trying this, you will end up with some awkward photos, but keep at it.  In the meantime, they will see that you’re not making a big deal out of taking their photo, and their resistance (if any to begin with) will stop.  And so will that awful “cheeeeese” face!  Hurray!


Well I thank my twins for being fun models to help this article come together, and I sincerely hope this makes you want to pick up your camera (er, I mean phone) and create some memories of your kids today! If you enjoyed this writing, please “like” me on Facebook HERE for more articles like this and installments of my own photography work.  Happy kid-tographing!


© Meghan McLaughlin-Polaniecki / Mom of Three Photography 2013


]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago photographer candid childrens photography iPhone 4S camera iPhone Photography iPhone Photography tips iPhone Photos of Kids Sun, 16 Jun 2013 18:59:29 GMT
Why Custom Portrait Photography?  

Right now, digital photos are everywhere.  With instagram and other social networks, photos are practically the ultimate communication tool.  That is pretty cool!

When there’s an increase of one thing, there’s a decrease of another.  And with so many “instant” images, there’s a lessening of lasting images – the kind that hangs around (say, on a wall!) - the kind of photo that isn’t buried in a newsfeed by day’s end.

When most of us were kids, our moms would head to Sears and plunk us on that studio platform. They wanted to have something to frame, to pass around, to have in their wallets - to have

I imagine the portraits I take of my kids will mean the world to me when they hardly resemble the miniature people they are today.  So with this I’m answering, “why custom portrait photography?”  And simply put - because it’s artistic, lasting, and worthy of showing in my home. It tells the story of their burgeoning little personalities.

This is why I am passionate about photography.  And since I am a photographer, you would expect me to say as much!  What about from your perspective, if you are not a photographer?  To someone who may want to have custom portraits of their kids, there are obstacles in our busy lives. So for that I ask, Why NOT Custom Portrait Photography?

Have you thought the following?  Professional photography… a) takes too much time and planning, b) is too unpredictable with little kids, c) is too expensive (potential hidden costs) or, d) is most easily taken at Target (the modern day Sears studio)?  To all of the above perspectives, I am wholly sympathetic and I have some thoughts I am eager to share! Keep reading!

a) Professional, custom photography is a fun way to spend time as a family.  It may take thought and planning such as in choosing what to wear (see my article here on that!) But with the planning it may take, it can be like a holiday – on a yearly (or so) basis, you dress up, go to a beautiful location and have photos taken while also having fun.

b) If you have the right photographer, it needn’t be unpredictable or stressful; the kids can have fun being themselves with the sense they are special for the camera.  So unpredictability is good! The beauty of custom portraits is that everyone is free to be themselves – no need to sit a certain way or fit into a studio if that’s not your choice. 

c) There should be no hidden costs.  If you enter the session without knowing your total investment, ask for clarity. If that isn’t provided, you may not be working with an honest professional.

d) About Target portrait studios, I think that some professional photos are better than none.  However, in my opinion, this is not the best choice - their quick approach to portraiture may not lend the best results.  And they do employ a sneaky “buy more” approach.  (No further details here, but ask me – I would be happy to share.)

I hope these ideas have shaped your thoughts on custom portrait photography.  Best of all, you come away with a product to keep, which will grow in value and meaning as time passes.


© Mom of Three Photography / Meghan McLaughlin 2013

]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago photographer Why hire a professional photographer? candid childrens photography children photography mom of three photography newborn Chicago Photography Wed, 29 May 2013 19:06:42 GMT
7 Tips to Dressing for Your Photo Session


Photography “subjects” may have different goals and hopes for their photo shoot but there is one thing we all wonder beforehand: what do we wear?

Some people may take pleasure in planning their photo wardrobe, and may even buy new outfits.  For others, it’s a last minute scrounge-up that is stressful at best, torturous at worst!

Personally when dressing my family I fall between these two extremes and I vacillate depending on my inspiration.  Perhaps you’re the same way!

No matter what, here’s the deal with dress: your clothes’ main purpose it to bring attention to your face.  I wouldn’t want anyone to worry their clothes aren’t “good enough”.  Your clothing is there to complement you, so it’s no biggie!

Having said that, if a little more guidance is helpful, here are 7 tips to dressing for your shoot:

  • Be comfortable!  If you feel good that will come across.  I would rather have you go against everything else I’m writing here if it means you will be comfortable. :) 
  • Coordinate, not match!  Think of your family/ group as wearing one big outfit.  I bet you have never worn (in public) green pants, a green top, and a green hat - all in the same shade!  So choose about three colors in the same palette (pastels, jewel tones, neutrals, etc) and everyone wear these colors.  Someone’s top may have just one color, and another’s may have all three for example.
  • Choose fun but minimalistic accessories.  I love the idea of hats, scarves, jewelry, headbands, and fun whimsical accessories for kids.  Any accessory that brings your personal style to the forefront is fantastic.
  • Layer.  Especially if it’s a colder day, it’s better to wear several layers than one heavy layer (i.e. a thick coat) to stay warm.  Layers add interest and texture to the image and are always great within the color palette you choose!
  • Avoid white: The problem with white is that it's brighter than skin and can be a little distracting in a portrait photo.  If you wear white, wear it minimally like a white undershirt.
  • Wear “not your nicest” clothes on your lower half. For an outdoor shoot, chances are there will be grass, rocks, or concrete that make perfect perches for a nice photo.  Please wear something on your bottom that you don’t mind putting against these surfaces.  For an indoor shoot, this is not as important.
  • Keep the patterns “soft”.  This means to wear the opposite of a “loud” pattern (i.e. Hawaiian shirt!) that will distract from your face by taking on a life of its own.  Having said that, patterns are wonderful and should be used to whatever degree you are comfortable.

Please contact me if you would like more help on this topic for your photo session.  And just remember the most important tip - be comfortable! :)



©  Mom of Three Photography / Meghan McLaughlin 2013

]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer Tips for dressing for photos What to wear for Photos Sat, 18 May 2013 19:28:11 GMT
Chicago Newborn Shoot I had the really wonderful privilege to photograph this gorgeous newborn and his mommy.  They were all pleasure (as you can see!) This beautiful boy is 2-1/2 weeks old and was such a sport throughout the photo shoot. I hope you enjoy the photos!

]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer candid childrens photography children photography mom of three photography newborn Chicago Photography Sat, 06 Apr 2013 03:17:33 GMT
Just at Home On a quiet day with nothing in particular happening, I decided to make it a time to capture some photos.

Photos don't require special props or locations to be keepers (or at to be what a parent considers to be a keeper!) :)  And I love candids - especially of kids just being themselves.  This allows story-telling to unfold naturally, not as a photographer prompted it to be.  And look! Kara found her own props to tell a story!  (In one case she used the curtain, in the other case she used her brother!)  Fun.


]]> (Mom of Three Photography) Chicago childrens photography Chicago childrens portrait photographer Chicago photographer candid childrens photography children photography mom of three photography twins hugging twins together Mon, 01 Apr 2013 19:39:42 GMT
Birthday Portraits @ Home To commemorate my kids' 2nd and 4th birthdays, I set up a studio in our home!  It was a lot of fun to transform our living area into a photo studio - I think my subjects really enjoyed it!  And as a result I am so pleased we have some photos that will be with us for a very long time - wonderful memories of these special ages.

]]> (Mom of Three Photography) birthday portraits chicago photographer children's portraits in home photo studio Thu, 28 Mar 2013 18:49:19 GMT