The holidays are a common time to gather with with those you hold dear. We spread love and give generously to let those near us know we care and to warm and lift up spirits as we head into colder times and an unknowable new year. Think about it, this time last year who knew what would be ahead of us? But that's kind of the meaning of the metaphor, give what you can, give all the love and kindness you have because you never know what's coming down the pike. 2020 certainly taught us many, many, many lessons but I hope this one sticks with us the longest.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a really sweet session. In this pandemic year when gathering with our families was mighty difficult for some and downright impossible and risky for most, a group of siblings put in the hard work, took the necessary steps to gather and have a photo session together. I remember walking around the park with them that day and asking, "So, what brings you together for this shoot?" Someone answered, "Well it's the first time in a long time we've all been in one place again. We'd thought our mom would like some nice photos of this occasion." I loved that-- marking this time as special and different but also in a way giving the moment as a gift to someone they love.

Here are three ideas for how to document your days pandemic or not.

1. Snap

The important, (very important!) step is to take the photo!

In a spontaneous moment I know it can be difficult, you want to be in the moment and pausing to take a photo takes you out of it. I suggest snapping one or two quick pics with your phone at the very beginning. Get it out of the way and then you can go on uninterrupted.

If you have the luxury of time on your side, say you have family coming in town or it is a special occasion like a birthday or some other Big Event, hire a professional! Even if you think it's a last minute ask, look into anyway. It will make things so much simpler to put the job of historian in experienced hands! Not only does hiring a professional give you the luxury of experiencing the moment more but it also affords you lots of variety. I always encourage my clients to get as many photos and combinations as their minds can think of because this is a case where more is definitely better!

2. Print

Print, print, print!!

I see it all the time and I am very guilty of it myself --tons of photos just living in the phone or on the computer. You post it once to social media and then its forgotten about like yesterday's garbage. But it isn't garbage! These are moments of your life! Precious time that passes and should be treated as such-- so get it printed!

There are numerous print services around and it can be overwhelming deciding where to go and who is going to give you a quality product. If you're just printing snapshots from your phone I recommend Parabo Press They make ordering prints from your phone a breeze! You can upload directly from your device or even instagram. They make even the low quality pics from your phone look good with their thick, quality papers. Stay away from drugstore printing! This is a case where you are definitely getting what you pay for. It is very inexpensive but your prints will be fuzzy and muddy -- just skip it!

But what if you're thinking of something a little nicer? Ask you photographer! If you want a large print, something high quality, or maybe you'd like something printed on canvas, again leave that task to the professional! It will be so much simpler. Whether you're asking them to get printed a photo from your archives or a photo they took for you, they have the technical knowledge for getting you what you want.

3. Save

Okay, so you've taken the photos and you've printed what??

Hang 'em up! Or put them in a book! Or just string up some fishing line with a few clothes pins to create a hanging row of snapshots that you can easily change whenever you want,

I love Framebridge for all of my framing needs. They make the big job of framing so simple. Their website gives you so many frame and matting options and helps you see what it will all look like. All you have to do is mail in your work, make your framing choices and then soon after you get it all done up and mailed right back to you clean, pretty, and framed in a way made to last.

Books are another great way to put your photos together. If you're looking for a formal album again, leave that to the professional. You'll get something really high quality without having to go through the trouble of organizing and laying everything out. Parabo Press also has an album feature. Its nothing fancy but it can be nice for a quick and inexpensive way to roundup a fun trip or a milestone month for your baby.

If you're like me and have drawers and drawers of little prints laying around and not nearly enough wall space to host them all, string up some fishing line! Yes, fishing line! Its sturdy but innocuous and lets the photos shine. I clip a few photos up and change the line up with the seasons or every couple of months so I always have something new to look at!

This year, I took a little bit of my own advice and gave a few photos as gifts. I started with my family and gave out snapshots from the past two Christmases. It was great seeing everyone smile and remember but also marking how things have changed. I also received a photo from a past Christmas as well. Just a snapshot but it's still something great to remember back, recall details that have gotten lost in memory. I also gave a few nicer prints to be hung on the wall from some of my past trips. What I'm saying here, is that the photo can be elegant or it can be just a snapshot. But taking the photo is important. Whether you gather with your family and hire a professional or if you're just on Zoom and take a screenshot capture your days while they happen. These moments always make for a great gift!