View From Behind the Lens


I’m too tough on myself. Maybe most Moms are. We feel pressured NOT ONLY to provide our children with Pinterest-perfect experiences BUT ALSO to document everything for the world to see. Sometimes I spend so much time stressing over irrelevant details that I miss the big, beautiful picture. Most of the time I’m literally not in the picture. I’m just outside of the frame, capturing the adorable interactions between my husband and daughters.

Sure, I’m saving memories for myself to enjoy later but what about my family? They deserve to have something to look back on that shows their viewpoint, too. Their real viewpoint — not some orchestrated image showing us play acting for a portrait of some idealized caricatures of ourselves.

Ladies if you feel me, save the skrilla you were going to spend on craft supplies you’ll never use and hire a pro. Then stop stressing; simply show up and smile. Need more direction than that? Join me as I learn how to get phenomenal family photos from three Gulf Coast Moms who intimately understand what it’s like to be on both sides of the lens:


Snapshot: Amanda Coleman of Amanda Coleman Photography

Find her online:
Camera of choice: Nikon D750
Three words to describe: Simple, Clean, Organic
Fun fact: Her son has claimed her old camera (though he sweetly shares with his little sister!) and calls himself a photographer.

Senior portrait by Amanda Coleman Photography


Family photo by Amanda Coleman Photography


Maternity photo by Amanda Coleman Photography


Snapshot: Courtney Hintz of Courtney Hintz Photography

Find her online:
Camera of choice: Canon 5D Mark III
3 words to describe: Light, Emotive, Authentic
Fun fact: Every summer she gets to travel and photograph a children’s clothing line with her seven year old daughter who is a natural in front of the camera.

Family Photo by Courtney Hintz Photography


Silly kids picture by Courtney Hintz Photography


Family photo by Courtney Hintz Photography


Snapshot: Mallisa Mott of Eisley + Oak Photography

Find her online
3 words to describe: Bold, Creative, and Fun
Fun fact: Her dad cherishes a photograph (of the Eiffel Tower taken out of the window of a tour bus) she took when she was 12.

Family photo by Eisley + Oak Photography


Senior Portrait by Eisley + Oak Photography


Family photo by Eisley + Oak Photography


Three out of three photo gurus agree: relaxed people take the best pictures. Mallisa Mott explains, “The more comfortable someone is the more photogenic they become.” Her fun, youthful energy helps her clients loosen up and let their playful side shine.

When you take family photos with Amanda Coleman, it’s like spending time with a close friend. “My goal is for us to feel like we’re hanging out together, and I just happen to be capturing moments among you and your family,” she says.

Reality isn’t perfect but it’s true and in truth, is beauty. Courtney Hintz describes her dream client as one who can “throw perfection out and can realize it doesn’t have to be perfect, it should just make you feel something when you see the finished product.”

For Mott, that something is a smile. During a typical family photo shoot she takes hundreds of pictures. She chooses which ones to edit by the emotion they evoke when she sees them. “When I’m editing and I see a good picture I’ll smile. Those are the ones I’ll always pick for the gallery.”

Coaxing a smile out of a stiff subject is no small feat! Hintz uses this clever trick to get Dad to loosen up: “I might prompt him to look at Mom and tell her something that would only make her smile or laugh. Making her laugh or smile usually helps him relax and smile”.

Other than a mega-watt grin, our photographers all shared excellent tips to help Mom look her best. Coleman believes that Momma’s outfit should be chosen first and the rest of the family can coordinate with her. “When you’re investing in a family photo session, you get to be a little selfish and pick something you feel amazing in, then go from there. Your body has done amazing things and you are beautiful.” Preach! Moms are so prone to putting ourselves last, we could all use a reminder to go first sometimes.

Hintz offered a wise reminder that being ready for a close-up starts with a great skincare routine. “Exfoliate the night before. The day of only apply a little moisturizer if you have dry to very dry skin. Apply none if you have oily skin,” she advises. Hintz was kind enough to share these pro tips for camera ready makeup: “Avoid foundations with sunscreen in them, as they tend to look ‘mask-like’ when photographed. Secure foundation with a powder. Add a flush of color to the apples of your cheeks so that you get a healthy glow. Opt for softer tones on the eyes. Choose a lipstick that lasts!”

These subtle tweaks are brilliant but don’t go buck wild in Ulta. Coleman reminds Moms that family photo sessions aren’t the time for an extreme makeover. “You want to look like yourself in your family photos, so don’t try a new hairstyle or bold eyeshadow if it’s not something you’d usually wear. An extra coat or two of mascara and a little bolder lipstick is all you need to make your eyes and lips stand out in a beautiful way in your photos”.

Mott reminds Moms not to overdo the makeup as well. “Don’t go too heavy. It’s way easier to enhance your features after the fact. For example, if your lashes or brows look a little light I can make them a little darker with editing. I cannot go in and take makeup off of you”.

All right Momma, you’ve learned everything you need to take the MOST AMAZING family pictures. But that’s only half the assignment. Step two: you gotta display those pictures, girl. If you’re like me you go totally bananas and print your pictures on t-shirts, drinkware, blankets, I’m talking every surface known to Snapfish. (Shout out to Snapfish: I am not getting paid to rep them but when they do the $5 coffee mug specials I kinda feel like I am).

Mott’s vision for the perfect family photo display has me feeling all nostalgic. “I want my hallway to be one of those weird people hallways where every square inch is frames of family photos. I want my kids’ friends to come over and see all these funny, goofy pictures from when my kids were babies.” Ah, the good ole days.

“Social media has made us feel like if our photos made it onto our Instagram feed, then we’ve made good use of them. It is so important for us to have physical copies of our favorite photographs!” Coleman shares, “One of my goals for this year is to make family photo albums, and to make a conscious effort to print some of my favorite photographs to save for my children in their memory boxes”.

Hintz takes a whimsical, artistic approach to displaying her photos. “I let go of the style restrictions, selecting frames and photographs of different sizes and styles, but trying to keep with one color. And if I have extra frames, but they aren’t the color I need, a can of spray paint will quickly fix that!” Nice tip! I never need an excuse to bust out the metallic spray paint. Hey, at least I’ve got one tool in my crafting arsenal.

I hope this article has inspired you to book a session with a photographer whose portfolio makes you smile. Who are your favorite Gulf Coast photographers? Feel free to shout them out in the comments.


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