Flash that toothless grin

To get a great picture of your baby, take the photo at sunset when the light casts a diffused, golden glow.

On any given evening in Chicago, moms can be found giggling in living rooms, drinking red wine, eating M&Ms and talking about baby photographs, thanks to one woman’s frustration with her own photography skills.

Four years ago, when Betsy Drew gave birth to Meg, she grabbed her camera and took roll after roll of pictures. None turned out as she had planned.

“As a parent, you’re filled with such love and you’re so passionate about your children, but pictures don’t represent the moment appropriately,” says the Western Springs mom. “I said, ‘Why don’t they? What’s wrong with my pictures?’ “

Drew thumbed through photography books and spoke with anyone who knew anything about photographing babies.

Fast-forward four years.

Drew, now the owner of Better BABY Photography, shares her knowledge with other frustrated moms. About every two weeks, Drew makes a house call to homes filled with mothers and their friends who sit around eating hors d’oeuvres while she explains the art of taking baby pictures.

“Every parent possesses the most important element in photography-a love for their subjects,” Drew says. She adds the technical points, such as:

  • Take photos at sunset when the light casts a diffused, golden glow.
  • Capture an ordinary child activity at an extraordinary angle.
  • For formal poses, let your child choose the backdrop-the tub, front porch or crib-and the pose. If your 18-month-old decides to squat on the floor, capture that little squat. He’ll outgrow the pose in a few months and you’ll be glad you have something that captures that phase in his life.

Julie Carter, 32, of Evanston, invited friends to join her as she learned about photographing her 16-month-old daughter, Caroline.

“It’s casual and fun and it’s a bunch of moms of varying levels of photography,” says Carter.

Once parents understand the art of photography, they need a place to put their photos, so Drew networks with Parent Prep, a small, selective group of Chicago-area people who provide services for parents. Through the group, she met Meredith Park of Chicago, who throws scrapbook parties. Now, they sometimes work together.

“Betsy and I get along so well and it’s easy for me when I’m teaching the part of the class, to refer back to the things that I’ve learned from Betsy,” Park says. “It’s a great compliment and people really enjoy it because they get a lot out of it. They go back to their house, take pictures and get to see what they’ve learned come to fruition.”

One Friday each month, Park hosts her own class from 6 p.m. to midnight at her house. Park, a consultant for Creative Memories, scrapbooking company, also makes house calls for parents who want to throw their own parties.

For more information about the photography and scrapbooking classes, along with other parent services, visit www.parentprep.net.

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