How to capture your family on film 

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the parenting column

Most healthy babies will triple their weight in their first year. Toddlers rapidly go through milestones; they begin to string words together into sentences, learn to blow bubbles and dance, and they have first buddy and toilet training triumphs. The growth and development of children continues well into their teen years. Parents are savvy to these truths. Taking photographs to mark the years, as they zip by, is incredibly important.

Mary Rafferty Gerstein, of Mary Rafferty Photography, knows a thing or two about photographing kids and families. Having grown up in a large family with seven kids and then having two kids of her own, she understands how unique and different each child and family can be.

"I quickly get to know my subjects and I instantly make them feel at home. I know that the time of day and being comfortable with your environment is crucial for your little ones to feel at ease," Gerstein said. "I'm often consulting with a new or busy mom, who may only be thinking of when they can squeeze a photo shoot into their chaotic day. I try to guide them towards times and locations that will help their family be at their best from the start. After that we have fun."

Gerstein, who specializes in wedding, children and event photography, has a passion for capturing kids and she's found some tricks of the trade that make for a smooth and trouble-free session. Often, for newborns, she will travel to a client's home and take the photographs there.

"Most new parent's can barely get a shower in each day much less be able to pack the baby up and get to the studio," said Gerstein.

Gerstein also loves to photograph kids, especially on-the-move toddlers and preschoolers, outdoors where kids can feel comfortable and in their element. She is flexible to work with families in an environment and atmosphere that will bring out the best photos.

"I love photographing kids, to create memories and art that will out last them, and I strive to get the beautiful shot my clients came in for. I work to make sure that I capture each of their family members' personality. Those are the pictures that bring tears to their eyes," Gerstein said. "Kids are very interesting to photograph because they are always in the moment and they give you what they are feeling at any given time, happy or sad. As we get older, we get much better at keeping it all in and putting on a good face. Kids just show it all to you and that is what creates such an amazing connection in the photograph. It's beautiful."

To learn more about Mary Rafferty Photography, visit