There are times when you want to go over the top with proclamations of how your mom is the Best Mom Ever. You want to splurge on two-dozen long-stem roses and send her a classic, wonderful Mother’s Day gift like a photo book of happy memories, an album tracking family history or some beautiful personalized stationery – along with a custom-made card, of course.
But then along comes a year when you’re feeling a little reflective – less pile-it-on-heavily and more spread-it-out-gracefully. I can’t be the only one out there who gets like this. Instead of giving into the expectation of laying the love on thick the same way every year, why not go with your instincts and plumb the depths of those memories in a way that will be rich with meaning and gentle in the impression it leaves. My idea for an alternative Mother’s Day gift is creating a minimalist photo book that captures impressions and memories in a simple, straightforward format.
An Overview of the Project Create a minimalist photo book that is a subtle visual representation of what your mom means to you. Your photos can be literal – including recognizable images of places, people or activities that express your specific memory. Or they can be more abstract – think images of textures, shots of a certain sky, the shape of a leaf or a gesture that’s familiar. Place one or two images on each page with a short caption below that summarizes the meaning. Or, if the images themselves are powerful enough, you might even make your photo book tribute to mom completely image driven, with no words at all.
Reflect A Little Before you do anything else, start by taking some time to reflect on memories that define your mom for you. Set a time span in advance; decide whether you’re covering life to date or if you’re just thinking of memories from the past year – or the past decade. Then start jotting down moments that somehow capture in miniature form all that’s great about your mom. Here’s my list as an example:
Train tracks and Black-Eyed Susans on Sumneytown pike Homemade vegetable soup and John Denver Washed-red Foxy Lady T-shirt A big beautiful garden Clogs sinking into garden soil Gingko leaf
Then think of what visual reference would stand in for those memories:
A close-up of a Black-Eyed Susan with a caption below. A photo of a bowl of vegetable soup with a John Denver lyric below. A typographic page with the words “Foxy Lady.” No caption needed. A photo of my childhood garden – mom and me in our straw hats. A current shot of me in my garden clogs next to an old shot of mom in hers. A close-up of a Gingko leaf with a caption below about its unique beauty.
Visit the Now After you’ve conjured up the happy memories, take some time to think about some of the things in your life now – especially if you don’t live near your mom – that make you think of her. It doesn’t have to be anything deep – maybe it’s by definition something totally surface – just a thing that you might never even bother to mention. For example, there’s this topiary near my home, which I pass every day when I drive my children to school, that’s shaped into an elephant. With each season, the elephant holds something different in its trunk – flowers in spring, a heart at Valentine’s Day, etc. This lighthearted, anonymous expression is a source of joy for me – and guess who taught me to appreciate those things? I need to include a picture of that elephant topiary. Also on my “present” list is the covey of quail I see on my runs – with their funny little head feathers bouncing up and down as they skitter about.
Keep the Layout Simple For a project like this, keep the format clean and simple – you’ll want the power of the images to take center stage. On a quiet white background, even a subtle image can push through with powerful meaning. Choose Mixbook’s White Portfolio or the Instagram Book format. Use the autofill tool to flow your photos in chronologically, or you can manually drag and drop our images right where you want them to go. Let your photos speak volumes – and let the clean modern layout fall into the background.
Add Captions At this point, your photo book will be a collection of photos of things that remind you of your mom from the present or past or both – using perhaps both literal and abstract images. Add short captions that say why you love that memory – or what the image means to you. Or let the picture speak the proverbial 1,000 words.
For the Little Kids This alternative Mother’s Day gift idea also works with kids. Obviously they won’t be plumbing the depths of a decade-or-three-worth of memories, but children may even have easier access to those abstract associations and feelings than we do! Walk around with your child for a few days and have him or her snap photos of things that make him or her think of mommy (or grandma!) – or gather images of things he or she loves to do with mommy (or grandma!). You can even ask your child to explain what it was like to live inside mommy’s tummy. You might be surprised to find they say warm and cozy! If they do, consider adding a pregnancy photo of the mama.
With a project like this, your book is bound to be completely unique, 100% personal, deep with authenticity, brimming with love, and full of memories – without even a single Mother’s Day cliché to be found. The result is an artful photo book that moms of any age will treasure.
Happy Mixbooking! Enjoy the creative process! (Mom would approve)