Veronica Morrissette remembers it well: pushing a baby stroller, complete with infant, and lugging a heavy case full of studio lighting down a very busy Park Ave. in Worcester, all while trying to keep her 4-year-old from running off into God knows what or where.

“I swear the lights weighed more than the baby and carriage put together,” she laughs, her eyes watering at the memory. “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing!” She pauses, laughter overtaking the moment. “I didn’t know anything! But I was determined and I was excited.”

Morrissette had four children under the age of 9, a used camera, and a 30-year-old set of studio lighting that she didn’t know how to use or set up, hence her adventure to a camera store on Park Ave. She wanted to learn how to take good pictures of her kids, a desire that now, seven years later, has grown into a professional portrait photography business.

Her story is not unique. Thousands of women, here in Massachusetts and across the country, have walked the same path, one that less than a decade ago was barely visible, but today is practically paved. Their stories are amazingly similar: Fueled by a mix of necessity and creative desire, mothers have been picking up cameras, learning, studying, and practicing. Their actions have resulted in nothing short of a movement that has very quickly revolutionized the family and child photography business as we know it.

Many mothers, most of who set out with just the simple wish of taking better pictures of their children, have become professional photographers, opening their own busy, in-demand businesses (full- and part-time), and completely upending department stores, portrait studios and traditional professionals

“It has transformed the industry,” says Sarah Wilkerson, CEO of Clickin Moms, an online education, network, and support community of more than 16,000 professional photographers, aspiring professionals, and “women who are simply passionate about capturing the lives of their children.”
Studio Stress
Morrissette always loved photography, and from the moment her Godparents gave her a 110-film camera she never stopped taking pictures. By the time her fourth child arrived in 2007, she faced a reality many know well: trying to get the kids to a department store photo studio for a picture. For mothers, the drill has been the same for generations: a 20-minute session in front of the backdrop of your choice, the appointment made weeks in advance. Her mission: to get a 9-year-old, 7-year-old, 4-year-old and newborn dressed, fed, transported, clean and camera ready, all on time and ready to smile wide.

“It didn’t go well,” she recalls. “They were running behind schedule and I’m on a schedule, too, trying to keep four kids happy, clean, fed. It was a fiasco. I didn’t end up buying pictures and it was very disappointing. I’m, like, There’s gotta be a better way.”

When a friend suggested she hire a photographer to come to her, the Whitinsville mother had one reaction: “Who does that? I don’t have that kind of money.” Yet when a photographer was recommended, she gave it a try. The person came to her house toting backgrounds and lights, “everything you had in a studio.” She sat back and watched the photographer work, the experience leaving her with one exciting thought: “I can do that. I can totally do that.”
Necessity, Photography, and Motherhood
Necessity also opened the door 12 years ago for Worcester’s Lynn Quinlivan. She was 40 weeks pregnant with her first child when she showed up at her scheduled maternity photo shoot, only to have them refuse to take her picture.

“We can’t because you’re portrayed as nude,” they told her, despite the fact she had explained in advance that she wanted “artistic, beautiful, maternity images” with her pregnant stomach exposed, but the rest of her body tastefully draped and covered.

“I am not!” she recalls, still incredulous at how it all went down. “I am 40 weeks pregnant, you could have told me this before!” The clock ticking on her dream of maternity pictures, Quinlivan began searching for someone to fulfill her vision. “It was difficult to find a photographer back then.”

She called the only one she knew: the man who took her high school senior portrait. He referred her to another photographer, who accepted the job. “When I saw how they came out and I saw his setups I thought, I could definitely do that and I definitely like it.”

From childhood, Quinlivan was the family photographer thanks to a Pentax given to her by an aunt. “I was always the one behind the camera,” she says. “I’ve taken family pictures forever. Everybody thought I was annoying, at the dinner table, Thanksgiving, Christmas.”

Sparked by her maternity photo shoot, she soon began honing her skills on her children, now 11 and