Creating a Mother’s Day scene for families

Mother’s Day is all about Mum. Breakfast in bed and handcrafted gifts, flowers freshly plucked from the garden … right? All the simple joys.

But Mums are so much more than just a caretaker. Wife, sister, chef, mentor, teacher, nurse, coach, storyteller, monster killer and superwoman. It’s also about connection and bond. Trying to capture that bond is what Mother’s Day mini-sessions are all about.

Mother and child
Mother and child

Set the scene

Using a fabulous printed backdrop like this one from Kate Backdrop (UKDE, AU) is the perfect place to start. They’re so well made and beautifully printed. They also hang like a dream.

Be sure that ALL the wrinkles are gone, as it makes the backdrop look perfect and gives you an easier time with editing. If it’s been folded up since last use, you can give a quick wash and tumble dry, or hang a day or two before you shoot for the wrinkles to drop out. A quick steam will do the job too. Here’s some other great ideas to get the wrinkles out.

The rod pocket is terrific for generic backdrop stands. It would be fantastic if they had a pocket on the bottom to weigh down with another pole. I hang clips on mine to stop the fabric from moving. Then I covered the bottom of the backdrop itself with the edge of my white fur rug.

Make it your own

Just because it is a commercially-made backdrop, don’t forget to throw in some additional props. Make the scene your own. A few personal items, chairs, stools, throw rugs and some cushions help to compliment the scene.

I aimed to make everything nonbreakable, as I was working with excitable, young kids and accidents can happen. I went with a simple floor scene, a few simple lanterns and throw cushions.

Lights, camera, action

Once the scene is set, you can set up your lights, don’t forget to light your backdrop too. While maybe not the star of the show, it will be the glue that holds it all together. I had a 36″ Octobox on a Godox AD400Pro, then a 16.5″ beauty dish (also on a Godox AD400Pro). Then I lit the actual Backdrop itself with a Godox AD200Pro and a 9″ x 35″ Strip Box.

Test with a stand-in, before the kids arrive. I was shooting with my Sony a7R III and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 G2 lens. I also had my camera tethered to Capture One 22, so everyone could see the images. So that it was well lit and everyone was in focus, I shot at f/9.

The rest of the camera settings were ISO 200 and 1/125s. My lights were on 1/16 power (strip box), 1/16 (octobox) and 1/32 (speedlight).

Capture the magic

Now that the scene is set and the gear is ready, it’s time to let in the families and capture some magic. Work out ahead of time wardrobe choices (where possible) and the type of shots you wish to capture. Here are some ideas you can try:

  • Kids snuggled in Mum’s (and Dad’s) lap
  • Hugs and kisses
  • Kids giving mum flowers or presents
  • Tickles and laughter, games and songs
  • Mum’s and daughters pamper sessions
  • Use a blowup mattress (or an actual bed) and shoot breakfast in bed

When working with younger children, it’s very difficult to pose, so try for more natural candid shots. Alternatively, pose Mum and Dad and work the kids in around them. Don’t fuss or stress the kids (or the parents) — make things easy and fun.