Editor's Note: This article was originally published with images sourced from the stock photography service Unsplash. Unsplash’s business model has attracted some criticism from segments of the photography community, including among our readership. We have reported on both sides of the controversy in recent months but given the strength of feeling among our community, we acknowledge that using images from Unsplash in this article was a poor decision, and they have been replaced.

We've been publishing tips for new photographers in the Amazon Prime Insider newsletter, and our most recent piece offered some ideas for using photography to create a meaningful gift for mothers.

In many parts of the world, Mother’s Day is just around the corner. But even if there's not an official holiday coming up for you, it's always a good time to tell the mom in your life how much she means to you and your family.

Particularly when kids are young, mom can play such an important role in every part of their lives. She’s there helping, fixing, teaching, comforting, and very often, taking the photos that will help you remember and cherish these moments. But too often, she’s behind the camera. This means that one of the most important players in your family’s history doesn’t show up in any of the photos! Although we should always be thinking about how to get mom in more photos, Mother’s Day is the perfect time to kick it off.

The picture you choose can amp up the emotional value of your gift…
or make it fall a bit flat

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words. We also know that the picture you choose can amp up the emotional value of your gift… or make it fall a bit flat. Here are some ideas of pictures you can take or gather now to have ready in time for a Mother’s Day gift that means as much as she does. (And these ideas aren’t limited to just moms of young kids – you can do the same things for moms of adult children, for grandmothers and aunts, or for any mother-figure in your family’s life.)

Portrait

This is your classic family photo where everyone looks happy and presentable (and your outfits might even be coordinated) and the quality is high enough that you know that everyone will be in focus and well lit. You might already have these photos taken for your holiday cards or annual letter, and why not set up a shorter session where mom is the star? Many photographers offer “mini sessions” for just this type of occasion, or you can set up your own mini shoot or photo booth.

The thing to keep in mind for this one is that this is all about mom, and you can’t let her squirm out of the pictures. Make sure you get a few shots of just mom and the kid(s) or of mom with each child separately. Include fun props that highlight mom’s interests, invite the family pets in, or treat mom to a make-over for some glam shots just for herself. The possibilities are endless – just think about what she loves, photograph her enjoying those things, and give her beautifully framed prints that celebrate who she is.

Behind the scenes

This is for those moms who aren’t big fans of photo sessions. For these photos, your job is to pay close attention to the little things she does – those small tasks and interactions she does almost without thinking, but which make things run more smoothly in your family. Keep your camera nearby so that you can snap a photo when she’s pouring milk into the cereal, sorting through bills, helping with homework, absent-mindedly petting the dog while waiting on hold with the dentist office, picking up that stray sock, tucking the kids into bed. A collection of these photos in a book or collage shows her that you really “see” her, that the little things she does don’t go unnoticed and unappreciated.

Through my eyes

Enlist the help of the kids for this one! So often we experience things, tell stories, and take photos from our own perspective or from the perspective of other adults in our lives. But when it comes to mom, whose life is she impacting the most? The kids! So let them tell the story of who she is to them. Ask them what they think is special about their mom – a favorite outfit she wears or meal she prepares, an experience they shared, something she does or says to cheer them up, a goofy thing they do together, a habit she has – and help them get photos that either represent those things or show her actually doing them.

A printed book of these photos is a fun way for her to see herself through their eyes, and it can be even more meaningful if it becomes an annual project for her to look forward to every year.

Day in the life

In an earlier installment of this photo series, we described a ‘day in the life’ photo project in which you document a typical day in your family. Often these projects are done by moms who, aware of how quickly their families grow and change, want to be sure to capture the daily rituals that make up their lives. Why not do the same thing for her?

Pick an ordinary day and document what she does, from easing into the day over a cup of tea to tucking the last child in and settling on the couch with a book (or if your world is more like mine, from being woken up by the dog to tucking the last child in and getting on her laptop to finish some work before bed). The goal of this project is to be a photojournalist capturing an unedited view of what life looks like for her right now.

A series of these kinds of personal photo projects can offer a special view into the moments and details that make up her life. More importantly, they ensure that years from now when grown children are looking back through captured memories, Mom is included in their story.