So my caveat when I asked her was “Just make sure you are also in the photos.”
After some time, I received a text with a few pictures attached and this note: “Well, I looked through a lot of albums and surprisingly I was not in a lot. I guess I was taking the pictures.”
And there in lies the exact reason I went on this photo hunt. Often times, as moms (or dads) we forget to pull ourselves out from behind the camera. We think our kids are just the cutest creatures who ever walked the face of the planet, and we put our focus solely on them.
Or maybe it’s because we feel frumpy and don’t really want to get in the photos unless we’re perfectly styled and coiffed. We only want the perfect camera angles. We think we’ll just wait for those crystal clear beautifully edited professional photos that we rarely (or never) have taken.
I recently had lunch with a couple friends of mine Julie and Steph and this topic actually came up. Steph is a newborn and family photographer and she had plans to speak at an upcoming women’s conference about family photography tips. As she described her ideas for the session, it struck me that she was only talking about ways to better capture the kids. This whole concept of mom needing to get in the photos was at the top of my mind so I suggested that she might add in a tip that parents need to make sure to get in the photos.
And then she shared a story she had just heard from a friend. Apparently this friend was a fellow photographer who recently had a session with some clients. The mom was refusing to get into any of the photos with her kids, so the photographer encouraged her until she finally agreed. A few days later, that mom unexpectedly passed away. An unbelievable shock, but what a blessing for those kids to have the very recent photos together. Oh, it really choked me up to hear that story. My worst nightmare for my kids.
But the point is, I want Ronin and Ellie to see me (and John) being a part of their lives. When they grow up, will they really care to see themselves alone in eleventy-thousand photos? They’ll want to see the family, all of us, and those photos will evoke strong memories and love.
I also think it’s so important to celebrate amazing moms this Mother’s Day. My mom loves unconditionally and she greatly deserves to feel that love coming back at her. (And my grandma too!) So the entire point of my Mother’s Day surprise–which I’m sure is no longer a surprise–is to create this gift of special family memories with mom at the center. I’m putting her in front of the camera because I want her to know how much she is loved and honored.
How to Create A Decoupage Photo Memory Tray (or Shadow Box)
What you’ll need
A wood tray (This one is from Walmart.)
American Greetings Mother’s Day Cards (I used 2 deconstructed and purchased 2 cards to gift with these projects to my Mom and Grandma)
Printed Family Photos of Choice
Mod Podge Matte
Paint brush or sponge
Clear Acrylic Spray
We also did a couple secondary decoupage projects that used an additional small wood tray, glass jars and American Greetings tissue paper. See details below.
Step 1: Print Photos and Spray
Find photo memories you’d like to use for your project. You’ll need to print your photos onto regular printer paper and cut with scissors. I actually created a few collages of smaller photos in Pic Monkey so that I had larger pieces of paper to decoupage. It makes it easier if your photos fit the tray you’re going to use for this project.
If you have an ink-jet printer like I do, you’ll need to spray both sides with clear acrylic sealer before decoupaging. Let dry 15 to 20 minutes before the next step. Ink jet photos will bleed quite a bit if you do not seal them. You could also choose to use photos printed on photo paper, however it will take a lot more Mod Podge in the next step to get them to stick properly due to the coating on the photos. I also prefer the look of paper photos, they do bleed slightly and give the project a more antique look.
Step 2: Cut Cards
I purchased two American Greetings cards because I just loved the beautiful colors and design. I could instantly see that these could be used for decoupage. I deconstructed the cards and cut out the designs to piece together my layout of this “frame” for my photo collage.
Step 3: Coat Tray
Begin the decoupage stage by putting a medium layer of Mod Podge on the base of your tray. You can use a regular paint brush or sponge brush.
Step 4: Coat Back of Photos and Place on Tray
Before laying them on the tray, be sure to coat the back of the photos and your greeting card frame with a thin layer. After placing on them on the tray, very carefully smooth out any bubbles. The paper is very delicate so be cautious during this step.
Step 5: Wait to Dry 15 to 20 Minutes
This is an important step. Before you cover the top of the photos with Mod Podge wait 15 to 20 minutes for the bottom coat to dry. If you coat the top too soon, your photos are more likely to develop bubbles or warp.
Step 6: Coat Top of Tray
After waiting 15 to 20 minutes, coat the top of your tray with a thin layer of Mod Podge. I wanted to make my project quite strong so that it could actually be used as a tray, so I coated it 4 times with Mod Podge, letting it dry 20 minutes or more in between each coat.
Step 7: Spray with Clear Acrylic
To seal and protect your tray for use, spray a layer (or more) of clear acrylic spray. You’ll want to wait at least 24 hours after spraying to actually use the tray. Or you might even hang it on the wall like a shadow box.
Step 8: Give Your Beautiful Memory Gift
This tray will be a lovely gift for my mama! It could be used on the coffee table or could even be turned on its side and hung on the wall as a shadow box. She can do with it whatever she wishes. Ellie and I also created a few more decoupage pieces while we were at it using more of the American Greetings cards and tissue paper. See tutorial below. The smaller tray/shadow box is a gift for my Grandma for Mother’s Day that includes family photos but also photos that include her.
And you can’t forget the Mother’s Day card and chocolate!
How to Create a Decoupage Glass Jar
What You’ll Need:
Clear Acrylic Spray
Dove Fruit Covered Chocolates and Nuts!
Step 1: Tissue Paper
Cut strips of tissue paper in colors of choice.
Step 2: Coat Glass Jar
Using regular matte Mod Podge, coat glass jar with a thin layer. You’ll want to work quickly as this dries quickly.
Step 3: Strips
Step 5: Acrylic Seal and Gift!
Spray with clear acrylic spray and let dry over night. Then fill with chocolate and nuts to gift to Mom and Grandma!
I picked up my American Greetings cards and supplies in the special Mother’s Day section at Walmart. These are perfect for Mother’s Day gifts!
Mother’s Day Gifting TIP! Spend $5 on any American Greetings products, Save $2!
Do you remember to get in the photos? What are you gifting for Mother’s Day? Check out the American Greetings Mother’s Day Online Hub for inspiration!