Real Family photography – natural family photos at home

As a family photographer who loves to get natural candid photos, there’s nothing better than a shoot at home. Except, a multifamily multi-generational shoot at home!

Siblings, parents, cousins, aunt, uncles, grandparents—plus Easter eggs, Spiderman sheets, jumping on the bed, cars, and a clever onsie celebrating two mommies… a perfectly ordinary beautiful day in the life of a family.

natural family photos

grandparent natural photo curran_stahl_013 curran_stahl_012 curran_stahl_011 curran_stahl_008 curran_stahl_007 curran_stahl_006 curran_stahl_005 curran_stahl_010 curran_stahl_009See more natural and candid *Real Family Photography* on Maureen’s portfolio site>>


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Celebrating marriage equality with these amazing LGBTQ couples! {Same-sex wedding photographer}


As the United States celebrates marriage equality for all 50 states, I am reminded once again how lucky I am to live in the state where it all began. I’ve already witnessed many amazing LGBTQ couples get married here in Massachusetts (and one in Maine!). They celebrate their love and families, and take their relationship to the next level—for the good of us all.


The decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”
— Judge Margaret Marshall, in her decision for Goodridge v. Department of Public Health 2003


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Thank you to SO many amazing couples for inviting me to capture their love!

#samelove #loveislove #lovewins

Also, it’s personal:

gay wedding photographer boston massachusettsHere’s my wife and I surrounded by love on our wedding day at The Herb Lyceum. It was a good day. :) Photo by Kelly Schatz.

See more authentic and intimate wedding photography in my portfolio or the many galleries on my fun Facebook page!



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Favorite Wedding Photos! Zukas Hilltop Barn Spring New England Wedding

It’s always a double honor when a photographer asks me to photograph her wedding! Especially a couple as fun-loving as Caitlyn & Matt, who got married in the spring at Assumption College and had their wedding reception at the one and only Zukas Hilltop Barn.

I thought about my favorite photos from their day and asked them too—I wasn’t surprised when we both picked dancing pictures!


This shot was actually a bit staged because they did not have their reception under the tent at Zukas, but I knew it would help create the vibe Caitlyn wanted in photos with her bridal party who were up for anything! So right before the reception we sneaked passed the cocktail hour for a mini dance party!


Then it came time for the first dance in front of all their guests. I love this shot because of their expressions—Matt’s sweet soft smile and Caitlyn’s huge smile—show the energies they bring to their relationship.

caitlynmatt_169Now, for the couple! They both picked this photo, but for different reasons!

Caitlyn: “I picked the photo of us during the ceremony because it is just such a genuine moment between the two of us. We are always smiling and laughing together (even when we are supposed to be serious!). One of my favorite things about Matthew is that he is always able to act a little goofy. He’s mature in all the right ways (cooks, cleans, is organized….), but is never afraid to let loose and be a kid.”

Matt: “I picked this photo because I feel it represents how we feel about each other. I am smiling at her thinking how beautiful she is and she is laughing at me because I probably told her in some smart and clever way. This was a special day and Maureen caught a nice light moment that really represents us.

“Maureen is an amazing photographer and an even better person. She brought such a pleasant energy to our wedding day.”

caitlynmatt_479Caitlyn also loved this shot. “I picked the photo of us dancing because dancing is one of my favorite things to do with Matt. We chose a song perfect for us, and every time we hear the song it brings us back to that moment (Augustana- ‘You Were Made for Me’).

“My oldest brother, who has always been a tough judge of the guys I’ve dated, told Matt and I that he was a skeptic of Matt until our first dance, so I know that other people could see how much we loved each other from our first dance. It’s another very genuine and loving moment.”

Thank you to Zukas Hilltop Barn in Spencer, MA for expertly hosting such a great event!

You can see more of Caitlyn & Matt’s day in their Facebook Gallery >>>

Check out more authentic & intimate wedding photography by Maureen Cotton!

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Father’s Day family photo event at Gore Place in Waltham!


Family mini sessions at Gore Place this Father’s Day, June 21, 2015.

This is a special chance have family time, raise money for a piece of New England history, and give yourself the gift of beautiful family photos!  Gore Place is a historic estate in Waltham with a Federal Period mansion, old carriage house, apple orchard, farm and—most importantly—lots of fun programs for families.

I fell in love with Gore Place while photographing a wedding there in 2011. As a non-profit they have to raise money for upkeep and further restoration of the house and grounds. I am donating my time so the full amount of every session fee with be donated to Gore Place!

The key to amazing family photos is to have fun! Bring your family for a day of outdoor exploring and spend 15 minutes with me! We’ll do some relaxed posing to capture the real expressions you love.

To reserve your slot for June 21, 2015 make a $100 donation directly to Gore Place. In exchange you’ll receive:

* A 15-minute family photo session
* 2 5×7″ prints that you pick out on the spot
* A chance to purchase any and all photos from your session

1) Chose your 15 minute slot here.
2) Make a $100 donation to Gore Place via the “Donate” button below
*PLEASE NOTE* your slot will be saved for 24 hours after you sign up. If you do not make a donation your slot will be given away.

This event is rain or shine! Photos will be in the mansion or carriage house in the case of rain.

See my family photography portfolio.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to email me at


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Field Trip! Documentary family photos on Plum Island

This shoot is a little personal for me. Mike and I trained together at Kripalu (yoga center in the Berkshires) in 2011. Since then, he and his amazing wife Beth have been running a soul-centered yoga studio in Byfield, MA (soon moving to Newburyport!) called Roots to Wings. Raising a family of four bright, energetic kids while pouring themselves into the studio is no easy task and I have tremendous respect for them.

As you can imagine, they are busy! So we used the shoot as an excuse to put all to-dos away and spend an afternoon at the beach! I met them at home, we picked the boys up from baseball practice, then we swung by the site of the new studio where the kids used the crane as a playground! Then it was time for lacrosse, shell collecting and tickle fights on Plum Island’s Parker River Wildlife Refuge.

Finally, we had lunch at Michael’s in Newburyport where Mike and Beth first met. For this reason I love the picture of them looking at each other at the table—they were recounting who said what to whom those many years ago. And here they are now, with an incredible family and incredible dream for their business and life’s mission.

Take a breath and two minutes to feel their family joy, and visit Roots to Wings yoga studio!

This is only step one! From Field Trip shoots I create customized wall art and a unique family album that will become an heirloom for the kids. Stay tuned—I’ll share photos of how everything comes together.

In the meantime, enjoy the slideshow below and the full family photo shoot! >>

Field Trip: Family photo adventure on Plum Island from Maureen Cotton Photography on Vimeo.

collecting shells, natural family photots natural family photo, laughing natural family photo, kids playing together Roots to Wings yoga studio family: Houlihan Family newburyport_family_photos. Mike and Beth Houlihan

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Documentary wedding & family photography: Accompanying an unfolding journey

Family, wedding, and maternity photography on the North Shore, MA

When I look at these photos I see so much than sweet people anticipating parenthood. I feel history unfolding, I feel the love between generations, and cycles of life in action…

natural maternity photos

Emily & Jon visiting Emily’s parents home the weekend of the baby shower. With her nephew in the background!

I have to share what makes this photo (the one on the right in particular) so extra special to me.

First there’s the fact that this is my third shoot with Emily & Jon! I had the honor of doing their engagement shoot and incredible wedding back on 2012.

romantic engagement wedding photo For their engagement shoot I went up to Portland, Maine in the spring and we wandered through their neighborhood park.

romantic natural wedding photography Practicing their first dance away from the crowds at Lynch Park on their wedding day!

colonial hall wedding photos A quiet moment before the party began.

But there’s event more…

That kiddo in the background? He is Emily’s nephew Emmett. I photographed him when he was in his mommy’s belly too!

north shore maternity photography Emily’s sister Julie pregnant with Emmett, at Lynch Park.

And then when he was a baby,

north shore ma family photography Emmett with his mom at 3 months!

and at Emily’s wedding,

documentary wedding photography north shore ma Emily dressed and ready to go on her wedding day! See her nephew in his baby tux!

north shore ma wedding photographer Baby was sleepy at auntie’s wedding reception.

and then when he became a wild have-to-touch-everything two year old,

natural real family photography

and then when he became a know-it-all three year old.

beverly family photos

Now it’s Emily and Jon’s turn and this maternity shoot is just the beginning of their family photography!

It is a gift to me to be invited into a family’s life over and over, and to celebrate their change and growth. Thank you Flowers/Gormleys—each of you so close to me heart!

Truly it is an honor to be documenting family history unfolding… The best is yet to come!

beverly ma home maternity photos

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Favorite Wedding Photos! Lynch Park summer New England wedding

The photos that I love best, and the couple loves best are often not the same. See our differing favorites from this fall North Shore wedding!

north ma shore wedding at lynch parkSometimes simple and sincere is the most striking. There was so much to chose from: affectionate portraits in the Rose Garden, romance by the ocean, party in the thoughtfully decorated carriage house… not to mention the tearful smiles and big hugs! (You can see more in their Facebook gallery) And yet I keep coming back to this image taken right after the ceremony. They are walking away from the party to have a few moments along by the water…


jadenick_708Jade warned me that her Grandma might let loose on the dance floor. She did, and it was epic. All grandparents are VIPs in my opinion!

Now see which photos the bride loved most:

jadenick_418“We love this one because the khata was a gift from Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who is the head of our Buddhist community. Nothing could be more meaningful than to have his blessing, and the khata was a total surprise. Plus Jane looks magnificent, like a deity. Our aspiration is to live from the understanding that every day is sacred, and when I look at this photo I’m reminded that our marriage is surrounded with blessings. This photo captures that quality of ordinary magic.”


jadenick_458“I also love all the ones of us on the beach immediately following the ceremony! They are so intimate–I will always remember that that moment was full of deep, luxurious exhales and a feeling of vast, profound connection with each other and with the elements.”

jadenick_134“You also saw the one of us snugged up on the bench, that I printed many copies of to give our family. We chose that for our “mantle” photo because it just feels like a classic photo–it is elegant but so warm–and it isn’t the standard “bride-and-groom-standing-side-by-side” shot. It’s the kind of photo I would want my great-grandchildren to have.”

Thank you to Lynch Park in Beverly, MA for hosting the beautiful scenery for such a special couple on their wedding day!

See more of their day in their Facebook gallery. >>

Check out more authentic & intimate wedding photography by Maureen Cotton.

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Favorite Wedding Photos! Backyard New Hampshire summer wedding

Everyone sees something different when they look at a photo. So while I always enjoy the work I create for others, I want to know which photos they love. Often, my favorites and the couple’s favorites are not the same.

Weddings are team efforts and I can’t resist sharing this prep moment that occurred before this portrait I love.

Sarah and Aaron got married in Sarah’s parents backyard. The beauty and intimacy of the location set the tone for two people who are authentic, and in love with their families as much as each other.

That’s why I love this photo of Sarah before the ceremony. It’s not just a portrait of Sarah, but a portrait of the place. It’s a moment between getting ready and seeing her groom, and she’s between the house and the ceremony site itself. The lighting is a little dramatic (which I always like) and genuine; her natural smile and the home make it her—Sarah!—not just “a bride.”

This is my other favorite! Their tender connection is the main event of this photo, even though you can see so much else is happening around them…

It was Sarah’s favorite too! Here’s why:

“I feel like it perfectly captured our essence on our wedding day!  Aaron’s vest is undone in the back because his nephew had been playing with it, I have a loose piece of hair, everything feels natural.  We aren’t people who were striving to be a perfected image of a bride and groom on our wedding day, we wanted something real and personal.  This moment is us candidly reaching out for one another, creating an intimate space in front of a crowd, connecting with each other in the midst of everything that was happening around us.  To me, these gestures, especially in context,  are what marriage is all about: subtle but significant reminders that our partner is by our side.”

This one is Aaron’s favorite: “It captured such a beautiful moment. The two of us, happy & calm before the storm in a beautiful setting. It is also a type of moment that I love and appreciate that Sarah & I can have here or there. I’m also a sucker for a good looking black & white photo! – Makes it seem historic in some ways (especially on a historic day). The best part, you captured my wife’s beautiful smile! We were (are) truly happy!”

Sarah couldn’t resist mentioning another photo, “Without even looking through the images, I can say that one of my favorite not entirely wedding-related moments that you captured was our friend’s son balancing on the tent spike.  It perfectly captures that moment between childhood curiosity and complete boredom in the company of so many adults.  The composition of it was truly artful!”

Check out more authentic & intimate wedding photography by Maureen Cotton.

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Favorite Wedding Photos! Manchester Country Club Connecticut summer wedding

When I asked Alicia & Rich to each pick a favorite image from their wedding day, Alicia responded with  “There’s no way we can choose just one… your photos were all just too incredible!” :)

For the first time a bride and I have the same favorite photo!

To be honest when Alicia said she wanted a photo by a Peter Pan statue I was not feeling inspired; generally statues can be hard to incorporate naturally. When I arrived at the scene I realized Peter was in the middle of a hedge maze! When the time came for photos I gave them some space went into photo ninja mode to get the perfect shot.

Alicia said, “My personal favorite is the peeping-from-the-bushes shot of Rich and me kissing under the Peter Pan statue. I love the way we look in this photo, I love the way Peter Pan is captured in it, and I love the secretive, private-moment feel of the shot!”

Rich’s favorite is this funky sweaty letting-loose dance floor moment. “I love it because it captures so many people enjoying themselves, at the peak of exuberance. It makes me remember the absolute joy I felt that day!”

Lastly, the couple both agreed on this image being one of her favorites! They loved it so much, they already ordered a huge canvas print for their home! “I remember when were taking the photo you directed us to a very particular place and I didn’t understand why. After seeing how perfectly you lined us up underneath the arch of the reflection of the trees in the water, we were so impressed. The photo is gorgeous work of art. It has such a magical, fairy-tale feel to it—we adore it!!”

The sunset reflecting in the pond at the Manchester Country Club was the perfect way to start the dance party!

Check out more authentic & intimate wedding photography by Maureen Cotton.

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Favorite Wedding Photos! Willowdale Estate summer New England wedding

When I asked Courtney & Brennan to choose their favorite photo from their beautiful August wedding they picked the same one, which is not that common! These two are so in sync and were grinning ear-to-ear every moment of the day!


They surprised everyone with a cute choreographed first dance. Their expressions, and the surprised and delighted expressions of each person made this such an awesome moment!

BostonWeddingPhotographer02“Our favorite was when we are walking down the hill to the boardwalk.  I like it so much because it is one of those where we aren’t paying attention to what is going on around us and shows how happy we are to be together. Also, it has the estate as a nice backdrop and I think Courtney looks beautiful in the picture! 😀  It sums up how I think we both felt with the day.”

Thank you to Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, MA for not only being gorgeous but for a job well done with every aspect of the wedding!

See more of their day in their Facebook gallery. >>

Check out more authentic & intimate wedding photography by Maureen Cotton.

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