Every family has a photo-taker: the person who always takes great pictures but isn’t ever in them. If that’s the role your gift recipient takes, this remote shutter control will make sure he or she is in the group shot. This tiny, key fob–size remote works with Bluetooth and is compatible with most smartphones and tablets, along with many Bluetooth-enabled cameras. Simply prop the camera or phone on a tabletop or other solid surface to reduce blurring and shaking, click the button on the CamKix, and everyone’s included in the group shot. $6.99 on Amazon.
The 16 Best Photo Gifts for Keeping Memories Alive
Too many of us carry years of photos on a phone in our pockets or trapped inside a computer. It’s time to get them out on display where they belong, either in your own home or as gifts to family and friends to commemorate celebrations and memories. These unique photo gifts will help your gift recipient find the best way to take and display more of those precious moments.
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Birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, and new babies—all are reasons to celebrate with a thoughtful gift. But thoughtful gifts can be surprisingly difficult to choose, even (or especially!) for people you share your life with. Custom photo gifts are two-pronged victories in the world of gift selection: They show how much you value your relationship with the recipient, and they offer the gift of the memory of a moment. A wide range of options is available online and in stores, from beautifully handcrafted items to the latest electronics, so you’re sure to find something that will suit the people in your life with whom you have a close relationship.
How to Choose the Best Photo Gifts
A photo gift can be a wonderfully personal gift for someone you know and love, or it can be a thoughtful memento for someone you aren’t as close to. But how do you decide which styles will hit or miss the mark? There are several things to consider.
- The recipient’s personal style. Is the person you’re buying for someone who is splashy with their decor and would love the idea of large-format photos around their home, or someone who prefers to keep such things more personal in an album? Someone who loves tech and wants to have the latest and most innovative toy, or a more classically minded person who would love a set of frames for a gallery wall? A teen who wants to print a raft of Instagram shots, or a grandmother who wants to be able to receive the latest pictures of a new baby just by turning on a device? Choose a gift that correlates with the style of the person receiving it.
- Your relationship with the recipient. When selecting a gift, it’s a good idea to carefully gauge the closeness of your relationship to the person you’re giving the gift to in order to avoid being too personal (or not personal enough). This can be a tricky area to navigate, especially in the workplace. A small display of photos from a team-building workshop can be a great gift for your boss, but a personalized photo blanket that requires you to call your boss’s significant other to gather the right pictures is an overstep unless your relationship is close and long-standing. The goal of a photo gift is for the recipient to be touched and appreciative, not uncomfortable as a result of the personal nature or expense of the gift, so choose with your relationship in mind.
- The significance of the occasion. Because photo gifts are by nature personal, you can tailor the thoughtfulness or size of the gift to the occasion. Try to match the size, personal connection, and type of gift to the occasion as well as the recipient.
- The cost of the gift. Most people have had the unfortunate experience of giving a much more expensive gift than they received in return, or vice versa. This isn’t always a problem—cost is not the only factor in gift-giving, as there are many extremely well-chosen, thoughtful gifts that cost more in time and thought than money, and plenty of financially costly gifts that are quite generic. However, to avoid discomfort, it’s a good plan to think about how the obvious cost of the gift will resonate with the recipient when you’re making your selection.
The Best Photo Gifts
Whether you’re looking for a gift to commemorate a special occasion or just trying to stay connected to distant family members, there’s a photo gift that will help capture the moments and get them on display.
Gifts Under $25
The kitchen is the center of many homes—or at least a place where people spend a lot of time. This set of magnetic frames for the refrigerator makes it easy to keep a gallery of familiar faces and happy moments in a spot they’ll be seen every day. Great for distant friends, families who love a constantly changing array of photos highlighting their latest escapades, or wallpapering the fridge of proud grandparents, the magnetic frames come in three sizes and sets of 12 or 20. Changing the photos is as simple as sliding them out of the clear acrylic sleeve and slipping a new one in, so it’s easy to change the look without the hassle of unscrewing frame backs. $14.99 on Amazon.
Keep their drinks hot or cold when out on a photo shoot: This replica of a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens is actually a well-insulated mug with a fine stainless steel interior and food-grade ABS plastic, so it will last through many outings. The lid is fitted carefully to open or close fully, rendering it highly leak resistant when closed and easy to sip from when open. $19.99 on Amazon.
BlissByBravo, an Etsy shop focused on photo gifts, will turn your wedding photo (or any other photo) into a high-quality puzzle measuring 10 by 13.5 inches. While each puzzle is only 252 pieces, the handcrafter notes that the pieces are very similar in shape, so it’s not an easy puzzle to complete. Your gift recipient will have to try to remember who was standing next to who to fit the pieces together while reminiscing, and will be left with a framable shot from their special day. $22 on Etsy.
Gifts $25 to $50
Give each branch of your gift recipient’s family tree their own space on this 12-inch tall bronze tree sculpture. A rounded, slightly abstract metal base branches into delicate but sturdy wire branches that end in bronzed leaves. Six frames are included to hold 2- by 3-inch photos of individual members or families in your clan. Similar frames have fixed points for hanging, but the frames on the Americanflat tree are attached to black ribbon loops so photos can be positioned anywhere on the tree. Also available in a larger 12-photo version, the tree is a great gift for grandparents to fill in as their family grows or for children to understand the “who’s who” in their family. $28.95 on Amazon.
Too many moments to choose from? Overwrote, an Etsy shop featuring different photo collage gifts, will take 25 of your gift recipient’s favorite photos, Instagram shots, and more and craft a beautiful grid of images ready for framing. The text of choice can be added at the bottom. Unlike many shops on Etsy, this is not a digital purchase: Overwrote will work with you until the design is just right, then print the image in the size of your choice and mail it to you, so you don’t have to find an outside source to print the image for you. $31.20 on Etsy.
If you’re looking for a truly customized gift, this wood photo album is handcrafted by HoneyTheWood and sold on Etsy. You’ll have your choice of three sizes, five shades of naturally stained wood for the cover, and four shades of heavy paper for the interior pages. Once you’ve chosen the style that best fits your recipient, you’ll choose from 12 beautiful cover designs that you can customize with names, dates, and text, which the shop owner will then burn into the wood cover. The albums are bound with visible book rings, offering a lovely but slightly rustic look, and they can be used as photo albums, scrapbooks, wedding albums, or guest books. Starting at $39 on Etsy.
Read More: The Best Photo Albums
Home magazines and websites often display perfect gallery photo art walls with just the right frames nestled together on a focal-point wall, but when homeowners try to put together the same look, the spacing never looks quite right. Enter the Gallery Perfect 7 Piece Wall Frame Set. It comes with seven frames in three sizes that work well together (along with two sets of art prints to fill spaces you don’t have photos for). Your gift recipient will be free to hang them vertically or horizontally however they would like—hardware is included for both directions—or they can use one of the many paper templates included with the set to take the guesswork out of perfect hanging. It’s a great gift for those who struggle with straight lines and levels but long for the sophistication of a perfect gallery of wall art. $42.49 on Amazon.
Heavy polystone is sculpted into two weighty bookends in the shape of two vintage cameras to support a row of albums on a shelf. The bookends are finished in weathered black and gold for an aged, authentic appearance and to add a touch of nostalgia. These are midsize bookends, measuring about 8 inches tall and 6 inches across, so they’re just the right size to support books or albums without overwhelming the collection. The details are well done, and while nobody will mistake these for real cameras, they’re charming and fun. $44.99 at Amazon.
Delicate line drawings taken from a photo are etched into high-quality acrylic, then lit by a small LED light hidden in the wood base of this lamp. When the light is switched on, the etched lines are illuminated and the photo glows, providing a soft or bright light. The lamp and base stand about 5 to 9 inches high, depending on the photograph, so the lamp makes a nice accent for a shelf or a night-light. In addition, the acrylic piece on which the photo is etched can be changed out, so you can purchase more than one piece so your gift recipient can rotate the photos. Handcrafted by Etsy shop owner DLightGifts, this is a truly unique gift that will draw the eye in any room and highlight a special person or moment. $48.75 on Etsy.
Gifts $50 to $100
For the serious photographer or aspiring entrepreneur in your life, a yearlong gift subscription to flickrpro is a creative and value-packed upgrade to flickr’s free service. The subscription will eliminate ads for those browsing through the owner’s photographs online, provide the owner with statistics about who is viewing their photos and how viewers are finding them, and offer unlimited uploads and backup for excellent, reliable photo storage. In addition, the flickrpro subscription buys a collection of perks and significant discounts to other services: training classes on photo techniques, photo and gift printing services, photo editing software, and photo theft prevention services, plus two complimentary months of Adobe’s full Creative Cloud Photography plan, including a raft of editing tools and storage solutions. This is a unique gift that your recipient will enjoy for a full year. $60 on Flickr.com.
Read More: Best Photo Storage
Affordable, customizable, and cute, the Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera is certain to please the young people in your life. Considered “old school” because of its physical film cartridges, but having the ability to print and develop small, easy-to-display photos as soon as they’re taken, this camera is a great way for kids and teens (and adults, too!) to take and share pictures quickly. The camera features an auto-adjust mode to make choosing the right settings easy, as well as a one-touch selfie mode and mirror for taking pictures with friends. Plenty of accessories are available for purchase separately: cases, filters, stick-on frames and embellishments, and clip stands for display. The Instax Mini is available in a range of colors so you can choose just the right one. $68 on Amazon.
While the Instax Mini cameras took the teen scene by storm, the Instax Wide takes the instant camera to a level suitable for adults who want to take quality photos that print and develop immediately. It’s a fun package, printing 3.3-inch by 4.2-inch photos with bright, clear colors, but it’s not a toy: The camera includes a focus ring with manual and auto settings, an automatic flash for low-light picture taking, and a close-up lens for selfies, so the photos are of a higher quality than you might expect. Note that film must be purchased separately to complete your gift, as it’s not included in the box. $88.22 on Amazon.
Gifts $100 to $150
Too many of us have hundreds or thousands of photos trapped inside our phones because printing them seems like such a hassle. The HP Sprocket Studio printer operates with a single paper cartridge containing both ink and paper, so there’s no messing around with multiple ink tanks and paper sizes. The accompanying app will allow gift recipients to quickly edit photos right on their phone or tablet, social media, or Google Photos and then wirelessly send them to the printer, where they can retrieve a glossy, water-resistant photo and display it at their leisure. Also available are cartridges of sticker paper for making custom stickers with photos. Printing photos for display keeps memories alive without scrolling through a phone, and the Sprocket makes it simple. $129.79 on Amazon.
Display photos, view calendars, manage the home, make video calls—today’s busy homes need their electronics to multitask, and the new Echo Show can certainly do that. Working with Amazon’s Alexa, the Echo Show provides access to all that Amazon has to offer, including TV and streaming music, Apple Music, Spotify, and all of Alexa’s home assistance features. You can manage your smart home, make video calls, and control your lighting. Most electronics become a blank black box when you’re not using them, but the Echo Show has that covered; when not being used for other tasks, the Show settles into a digital photo frame that can scroll through one’s favorite photos at the chosen pace, adapting on its own to make sure they look great in any home. $129.99 on Amazon.
If your gift recipient is separated by distance from people they love, the Nixplay Smart Digital Picture Frame is a way to really share the moments in life as they happen. The frame connects to Wi-Fi, and via the app that comes with it, they can share photos and videos directly from their phone to the frame—wherever it is—in moments, where the intended recipient can immediately see and enjoy photos and videos on display without squinting at a phone screen. The frame works with Google Photos, Facebook, and Instagram, and it has numerous protections built in to keep the photos private. $154.99 on Amazon.
Read More: The Best Picture Frames
How to Get the Best Photo Gift Deals
Photo gifts aren’t particularly seasonal, as there are celebration-worthy events all year long, so there isn’t a designated sale season to speak of. However, the ubiquitousness of cell phone cameras and the constant recording of our lives has led to an explosion of popular photo gifts and products on websites that all compete with one another. Watch carefully for online coupons, discounts, and Groupons to your favorite photo gift sites, and once you have found a gift you’d like to buy, watch it for a while (if time permits) to look for specials that take off a percentage of the cost, offer freebies with your order, or promise free shipping. Track internet prices on sites such as Honey, CamelCamelCamel, and Capital One’s browser extension to see if the item costs less elsewhere or if there’s a discount coming up. Patience can save you a few dollars. Photo gifts are always the right size and convey warmth and friendship, so plan ahead and surprise your recipient with a truly thoughtful gift.
Prices listed here were accurate at the time of publication on 7/27/2021.