There's nothing more valuable that someone can gift to their loved ones than a printed photograph, especially when the photograph holds significant memories for them. This year (for the first time ever) I took portraits of my dad, and my sister and her fiancée. My dad has always been nervous when in front of the camera and it took me more than 5 years to convince him to trust me and let me take his photograph. Now that I did? He posts them all over his Facebook, makes them the cover photo for every event, and somehow manages to never tag me. Maybe he thinks he's too cool for me. :)
For Elaine and her engagement to Brandon, I kept note of the images that I showed her during her premiere session and chose an arrangement of them to put into a gallery display for her future home. Brandon was in on it and helped me out too. ;) I'm so pleased with how this arrangement turned out and I can't wait to come visit them and see how they display the photographs.
I wanted to celebrate my dad facing his camera fears, and commemorate a major event in my sister's life by gifting them prints of the photographs that I took of them this year. I went out on the day that Chicago was colder than Mars (yes, it happened), spent hours in the studio at The Art Institute to print while I still have firsthand access to printers, and got frames that suited my family's personalities.
You're probably thinking, "But what about your mom?" - my mom has always been interested and invested in my photography. I've taken portraits with her since I was 15 when she used to come with me to walk through the forest preserve and find locations for me to shoot in. She's always been much more comfortable and needed less encouragement than my dad, so I chose to print out one of the best portraits that we took together all the way back in 2012. It's so fun to look back on this picture with my mom and see how red my hair used to be, remembering the glasses I had (that broke last year and now I can't wear them anymore), and laugh because we both still have those shirts and wear them frequently.
This is the most valuable gift that I can give to my family - a physical record of the memories that we share, and the experiences that we've had together for them to look back on and remember. I hope you all have a happy holiday in whatever way you celebrate and feel an incredible amount of love for the people you're surrounded with.