5 Gifts Every Mother Loves | Northampton Family Photographer

There are buds on the weeping cherry tree and daffodils in the front yard. Leftover Easter cake sits in the refrigerator. Mother’s Day is only weeks away. While we are still spending our days at home, it doesn’t mean we can’t plan for a special gift for Mom.

1. Simple photo book. Imagine creating a small hand held book for mom to cherish for years to come. A single subject works best—turn to her favorite vacation memories, a fun weekend adventure, or a memorable day in her life. Soft or hardcover, your choice and anywhere from 20-100 photos.

2. Black and White Engineer Print. Large-scale black and white engineer print of Mom and the kids. Engineer prints are large prints (4x3 foot) made on paper typically used for architectural plans. Oftentimes, mom is behind the camera instead of in front of it. I talked about this in my Date Night Photo Sessions post. It’s so important to document mom and to find ways to jump into the frame. A photo of mom in the same frame with the kids, especially one that exudes love, is dear to her heart. 

3. Framed Fine Art Prints. Once you’ve printed those photos from your digital storage, show them off in frames you picked up at yard sales, thrift stores, or your last time at the craft store. The beauty of framed photos is that they can be displayed anywhere. My favorite spots include bookcase shelves, kitchen backsplash, and next to plants. 

4. Create a gallery wall. Choose an empty wall in the house, such as an entryway, hallway, or stairway. Surprise her by filling that blank space with the art, people, and places she loves most. Print out those family photographs stored on your phone, in hard drives, or in the cloud. Frame some of her favorite artwork next to family photos. 

5. Portrait session for Mom. Gift her a special Mother’s Day portrait session for mom and the kids, mom and friends, or just mom. You can shop for an eGift card from my studio over here.

Why Family Prints, Albums, and Films Matter | Northampton Family Photographer

I remember watching my grandfather’s slide shows and 8mm family films as a kid. I loved seeing the story unfold. Scenes of my grandparents camping, my parents married in a church, me as a chubby baby. All these slides stitched together a story of my history, the people I loved and who cared for me. 

What I remember most though were the printed photographs on the walls as well as the prints tucked into photo albums. My grandmother kept a current photo album on her coffee table next to the candy jar. Whenever I visited, I would flip through the album, often asking to look at previous albums as well. I wanted to put all the stories together and to learn more about who my family was before I came along. Shots taken out the window of an old Buick when my grandparents drove to Florida. My aunt and uncle dressed in tennis whites back when they first started dating and then when I was a flower girl at their wedding. I studied all the printed photographs, imagining my grandparents together as teenagers, wondering who they were and what their lives were like.

I became a photographer because I love telling stories, in single and multiple frames. I love listening to the stories one hears watching home movies as well as slide shows. 

The family films (then video), slide shows, framed prints, and photo albums all have a place in our family archive. They are all incredibly important to me, especially as the years pass along with some of my loved ones. 

Fast forward to the age of digital technology. We snap photos and record videos on our phones, often on a daily basis. Our enormous family albums are stored in the cloud, on hard drives, and social media feeds. This isn’t the same as having a collection of family heirlooms to hold or watch together regularly. All of our images are at our fingertips, just a scroll away, and yet, how often do we see the edited version of the full story? 

The truth is we don’t. We leave them on our devices. We’re busy with work, family, and social demands. We don’t have the time, patience, or skills to create an heirloom quality archive of our family. 

It’s important to make the time to create these heirlooms to pass down in our families, whether that’s something you do on your own, or whether you hire a professional photographer to create them for you. Imagine up to date beautiful prints of your children, your partner, your parents and siblings framed on your walls, printed into albums you can hold and gift, as well as edited footage of your favorite summer days and trips together. 

Imagine the stories you have to tell and the ones not yet told. Imagine your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren holding these heirlooms in their hands. Imagine how they’ll hold and reflect on their own histories.

Portrait of a Reader—An Online Art Project | Nikki Gardner

Hi Friends, 

I’m doing this exciting new online art project, titled Portrait of a Reader, centered on books and digital camera captures (via short 1:1 video conference call) that I hope will bring people together during this strange time.

I would love for you to participate! Read the artist statement below which details the project. 

The above image is a sample photo, not what the project will ultimately look given that it will be in varied locations, but I wanted to offer a quick visual reference. 

To participate in the Portrait of a Reader Art Project, email me at: nikki@nikkigardnerphotography.com to schedule your session. I will email a model release for you to join the project along with a few helpful pointers for before and during our session. Don’t forget to bring your favorite book (print or digital format) to your session as well as your short favorite passage from the book.




I’ve had a Portrait of a Reader in the works for several months. Inspired by how books are depicted in portraiture throughout a short history of books in paintings, I wanted to explore both the idea of photographic portraiture including a sitter’s favorite book (thereby revealing a personal detail based on the chosen book)  and how a series of portraits might bind a community together, from their private reading spaces to a gallery showing of individual portraits. 

My original intention was to photograph individuals in a readerly pose holding a favorite book. Then the Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) entered the scene, requiring everyone to stay at home in order to help prevent the rapid spread of this novel virus. We are in uncharted territory as scientists work to create a vaccine while hospital beds fill up with patients already sick with the virus. As we practice social distancing, shelter in place, or in places severely hit, lockdown, I wondered how to move ahead with this project even as we moved farther apart from each other. 

Portrait of a Reader can help connect us to one another. The hope for this project is to bring people together in a world that feels more and more fractured by the speed and demands of not only our modern lives, but also the pandemic that has now forced us into individual containment. In light of our forced distancing, we need connection. Through books and communities of like minded people. I think this project is even more pressing as it shows how such forced physical distancing connects us in new ways, in this instance through a series of collaborative screenshot portraits—open, vulnerable, personal from artist to participant exchanging a dialog about a book.

What I hope this project will achieve:

  • Offer a sense of community in a disparate times
  • Reveal a glimpse into a person’s character through collaborative portraiture, book choice, and favorite passage
  • Connect those who love reading online 
  • Create an artistic collaboration between artist and participant
  • Illustrate the importance of books and art during this challenging time in our lives
  • Show how in times of crisis, books offer comfort, knowledge, connection, escape, love, and hope
  • Comment on the current state of books and how one holds a physical printed book in comparison to a digital copy on an eReaders 
  • How I plan to create this online project:

    I will use video conferencing software to connect with each reader. Each call session will be up to 15 minutes long.  Calls will be made during the day to take advantage of daylight hours. I will direct how I want the shot composed (close to an open window) and use screencapturing as my camera shutter. 

    Each participant will sign a model release in order to participate in the project and will receive the final image file I’ve chosen to be included in the project. The images will be displayed in an online gallery that I will set up for the project, along with the participant’s name, location in the world, book title in the photograph, and favorite (short) passage from the book. 

    When life returns to normal (as we are now fond of saying), I plan to show the work as prints in an art gallery that would also include a digital version of the gallery space, combining both spaces into one once it is safe to do so.

    If you would like to participate in the Portrait of a Reader Art Project, email me at nikki@nikkigardnerphotography.com to schedule your session. Don’t forget to bring your favorite book (print or digital format) to your session as well as your short favorite passage from the book.

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