Through the Gadling Lens: photo gifts for Mother’s Day

Last week, my friend Willy pinged me via instant message: “Hey, do you have any ideas on how I can share photos? I have a ton of them sitting on my hard drive doing nothing.” I know the problem: if it weren’t for the fact that I had a photoblog, I’m sure most of my photographs would never see the light of day. But since we’re approaching Mother’s Day here in the United States, it occurs to me that using your photographs for some great Mother’s Day gifts might be a cool way to share some of your best travel photos. And so this week, I thought I’d share some of the best ideas I could find for Mother’s Day. So read up and take note: time is running out.
Gifts for the Mom Who Doesn’t Understand Why, If You’re Traveling All the Time, You Can’t Stop In and See Your Mother Once In a While

Both my husband and I aren’t from the United States, and therefore, we have family all over the world. And as you can imagine, if we take a trip to somewhere other than where our family is located, they Aren’t Always Happy. So sometimes, it helps to send them lovely photographs of their children and grandchildren having Lovely Happy Family Time in far-off places, so that they can think, “Ah, well, our children are happy, that’s all that matters.”

Or something.

Anyway, here are some gifts we’ve given in the past that seem to have scored pretty high:

a) Photo books: Everywhere you turn these days, you can upload your photographs to a website or a software application, a few clicks here and there, and badda-bing, a credit card number later and a bound volume of your photographs appears at your (or your mom’s) doorstep. Most of these services even let you customize your own photo captions, with things like “Mom, as we were sitting here staring at this beautiful sunset, I was overcome with emotion thinking about the love you have shown me all these years,” or something equally heartfelt and sincere. Ahem.

Some of my favourite services:

Qoop — an online service where you can upload your photographs, or even better, simply suck them out of your Flickr account. Softbound books start from as little as US$ 12.99, and hardbound books at US$ 29.99, each of them 20 pages long. Very simple to use, and books are of decent quality.

Blurb — another online service that helps you create “bookstore quality books.” Browsing through some of their “staff picks,” and you’ll see the beautiful work that’s possible to be created using their service. Mom will definitely be impressed.

iPhoto — If you have a Mac, don’t forget the iPhoto software that came free with your computer — the software comes with free templates that help you customize your photos into softbound or hardbound books, which you can then order online.

b) Digital Photo Frames: I actually purchased one of these for my dad on a Father’s Day gone by, and this might actually be his favourite gift from me ever. This wireless photo frame has its own e-mail address, and I merely email photographs to this frame, and the photograph magically appears on his desk. This is a particularly effective if your parents also happen to be grandparents — trust me, once they receive pictures of your little cherub having the time of their life in some beautiful paradise, they’ll forgive you for traveling so much. Just Google “digital picture frame” to find the thousands available for purchase (remember, your Mom is going to have to have an internet connection to make this work).

Gifts for the Mom You’re Married To, But Now That The Baby Is Here, Who Knows When Your Next Trip Is Going to Happen

Ah, remember that wonderful trip you took — the safari, perhaps, or the mountain climbing expedition — as your last hurrah before the baby came? Nowadays, as your little bundle of joy keeps you awake at obscene hours of the morning, it might look like you may never travel like that again. Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to have some prints made and featured for when the baby finally naps, and Mom has a few moments to reminisce about the intrepid old days. So in addition to the photobooks above, here are some of my favourite ideas.

a) Create a photo wall — Have a wall in your home that you’ve been wondering what to do with? Create a photo memory wall: pick some of your favourite shots from one of your previous trips, and have them printed to a similar size. Then buy some matching frames (IKEA has some great inexpensive ones, as do most hobby or craft supply stores), and arrange accordingly. For inspiration, be sure to check out some of the images on Flickr.

b) Create a photo lantern — Feeling handy? Then check out this great little do-it-yourself project courtesy of the amazing design site, decor8. The entire project takes relatively few supplies, and with the help of battery operated tea lights, your photographs will be highlighted with a warm romantic glow — a great way to feature those lovely shots you took in the back streets of Rome or from a balcony in Santorini. And with warm weather just around the corner, Mom will love sitting outside with these memories all around her. Full instructions can be found here.

Gifts for the Mom Who Is Morally Opposed to Email

Finally, perhaps the mom in your life is like mine: email’s cute and all, but nothing beats a lovely, thoughtful, handwritten note. So why not use your photographs to create stationery for your mom? There are really great services which will allow you to upload your images and create custom stationery: tiny*prints is one, for example. However, my favourite way of creating stationary is to simply print 4″x6″ prints of my favourite shots, and then purchase some blank 5″x7″ folded notecards (available at most arts & crafts stores). Then I simply adhere 8 prints on 8 notecards with 8 envelopes, tie the stack with a pretty ribbon and voila — totally personalized stationery for my mom, featuring my favourite images, from places all over the world. And trust me on this — when you give you mom this gift, and she realizes her baby made it especially for her, just like he did when he was in kindergarten? Dude, you’ll be rolling in maternal goodwill for months.

Hopefully this helped provide a few great ideas for using your travel shots for some Mother’s Day gifts. Now get out there and get your presents together — Mother’s Day is only 3 days away. And next week, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled Through the Gadling Lens.

Karen is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. You can see more of her work at her site, Chookooloonks.
Through the Gadling Lens can be found every Thursday right here, at 11 a.m. To read more Through the Gadling Lens, click here.