Back to School

First Day of School Photo Traditions

As we arrived for the first day back to school, we saw the familiar line of families waiting to take pictures in front of the school

signboard.  I love this tradition of taking essentially the same picture of your kids, year after year, on the first day of school.  It’s an easy way to capture a time-series of similar shots you can enjoy (and use to the kids’chagrin at their graduation parties). With consistency and tenacity, you can end up with a 13-image time-series like this one.

Our version of the tradition is super simple: a picture with the backpack before we head out the door. That’s about all I can manage most “first days of school”, and I figure it has the highest chance of being a picture my child will still let me take when she is 12, 14, or 16.  I like to pair up this year’s photo with her kinder photo and Photo Mambo it off to share with the grandparents and aunties/uncles.

Some folks get super creative about this tradition. So, if you’re looking for inspiration, check out this Pinterest board for ideas like:

  • Order a large t-shirt printed with their graduation year and photograph them in that shirt every year through graduation
  • Chalk boards with the current grade and other info (like what I want to be when I grow up)
  • Apple on the head (sort of a William Tell thing?)
  • Have them hold a picture frame that says what grade they’re in
  • Pictures with the school bus or the family dog.
  • Lots of super-fancy printable signs to hold.
  • And don’t miss the photo showing 13 years of the kid standing in the same pose.

As fun as some of those pictures are, I might not count on them for a time-series.  By 4th grade, the embarrassment factor sets in, and asking them to pose in a too-big t-shirt or hold a fancy sign may earn you eye-rolling refusals.  If you’re planning a time-series, you might want to grab a simpler picture in addition to the more elaborate ones when they’re little.  Just to keep your options open.

As my fellow procrastinators know, the “first day” bonafides of your image need not be pristine.  I guarantee that a review of our “first day” pictures will turn up at least one year where the date on my photo wouldn’t agree with the school calendar’s first-day records.   First day…4th day… it all works.

Hope your family’s first day back to school is preceded by pleasant anticipation and succeeded by smiles!

5 Last Minute Fathers Day Gift Ideas copy

Last Minute Dad’s Day Gifts That’ll Surprise Him (In a Good Way!)

Procrastinators of the World, I salute us!  We know that just because we didn’t look for a gift until the day before Father’s Day (or the day of), it’s not because we don’t care.  So….here are 5 gifts from the heart meant to show dad (or grandpa) how much you care.  All of which you can pull off on June 15th, if need be.

Office Dad

If dad works in an office, give him a gift that’ll brighten his desk day after day — a picture frame/screensaver for his computer or iPad that automatically updates when you send new pictures.  An app called Photo Mambo (available for iPhone/iPad, Mac or PC) 4. dad with comptuerwill let you send Dad a beautiful digital picture frame filled with pictures.  Unlike most digital frames…there is no hardware to buy, and no tedious uploading of images with a memory card.  This frame runs on Dad’s computer or iPad and automatically updates whenever you send new pictures from your phone or computer. So, grab the Photo Mambo app, pick a set of pictures for Dad, and send him a Photo Mambo Frame, along with a promise to send him new pictures at least once a month for the next year.  It’s a gift he’ll love all year long. Free at

Outdoors Dad

If dad considers himself an outdoorsman, check out the Pocket Rocket camping stove at REI.  We were camping a few weekends ago and all the dads were happily comparing who had the lightest weight camping stoves. (Smaller is better).  No matter that this was a car-camping trip where some of these dads brought Costco mattresses and frying pans….the camp_stoveallure of a tiny camping stove seemed to take them fondly back to their pre-kid days as serious backpacking campers.  So, even if dad’s “real” camping outings currently involve a 4-room Coleman tent and a family-pack of folding chairs, this little stove just might speak to the backpacker locked somewhere in his heart, waiting pop back out again when the kids turn 15!  $39.99 at an REI store near you!


Geek Dad

Need something last minute to delight the geek in your dad or grand-dad?  How about a “Pi r Squared” square apple pie?

Square Pi Pie via Flickr by Dann  Tolliver

Square Pi Pie via Flickr by Dann Tolliver

Yes, it’s a little corny, but what nerdy dad worth his salt doesn’t love pi?  I mean pie.  The one in this picture looks a bit rectangular, but it’d be easy enough to do in a square pan.  Need a recipe?  This one looks pretty good…  About $7 worth of ingredients at 350 degrees.

Hail to the Chef Dad

If your dad is the king of the BBQ Grill, brighten up his grilling area by hanging string lights above the grill for him.  Surprise him with this cheery, thoughtful way to celebrate your favorite BBQ chef.  $14.99 at Target.

Any Dad (or GrandDad)

Grab the kids and take a special picture for Father’s Day.  Walgreens (or most drugstores) can do a nice 8×10 print for you Dad Banner for Father's Daysame-day.  Check out an array of clever photo set-ups here, or on this Pinterest board.


So, fear not my fellow procrastinators.  There is plenty of time to pull together a great gift to show dad how much you care.




Best of Fathers Day (2) edited

Father’s Day Pictures to Delight Dad and GrandDads

As we head towards Father’s Day, I wanted to share some of our favorite ideas for Father’s Day pictures.  Pictures can be a terrific gift for even the most tough-to-buy-for dad or grand-dad.

Fancy Footwork

This photo lets the kids bare their soles.  (Sorry, I know….).   I really love this picture concept.  Just be forewarned that THE hardest thing about capturing this shot is getting ticklish feet to stay still long enough to get the words written.  Much hilarity, and some smudging, ensued in our photo shoot.

Best of Fathers Day (7) edited

The inspiration for this shot came from a terrific blog, BeAFunMum.  Kelly’s image, below, shows how nicely this idea works with  a larger family, as well.  Kelly, many thanks for letting us share your picture here!
Feelings on feet copy of image from BeAFunMum Blog used with permission

Rockin’ Dad

The kids had a LOT of fun taking these photos.  We bought some Paper Jamz guitars ($20 – $30) and some felt letters and let them channel their inner rock stars.  As a bonus, the guitars were a big hit for playing around after the shoot (fair warning….you will want to befriend the volume knob).    And what dad doesn’t want to be told that he rocks on Father’s Day?

Best Fathers DayBest of Fathers Day (2) edited

Shadow Dancers

Make your father’s day message shadowy.  Generally, shooting near mid-day is terrible because of the harsh shadows.  This will be the one shot you actually want to shoot near mid-day (2 pm is good for shadows that are long enough but not crazy long).  One key trick…to hold the insides of letters like “O” and “D” in place, use toothpicks, which work best when the sign is cut from foam board.  The image on the left is mine; the better shot on the right comes from TwoGirlzStuff.  It’s very popular on Pinterest, and thank you Aja for letting us share your wonderful image and for inspiring our photo shoot!

best fathers day 7We heart dad from twogirlzstuff blog used with permission

Chalky Delight

Send dad or grandpa a delightful bit of chalk art to brighten up his Father’s Day.

Best of Fathers Day (43) edited 3

Signs of the Times

And finally, it’s easy to make (or buy) some signs that let the kids declare their love.  The hand-made messages are always fabulous, but if you are looking for the bubble signs like we used in the bottom two photos, check out Happy Booths on Etsy.  They do a great job.  (We made a special order for the Father’s Day signs).

fathers day sign composite

Of course, we hope you will send your fabulous Father’s Day pictures via Photo Mambo, so Dad and Grandpas can enjoy your Father’s Day greetings day after day.  Send a Photo Mambo frame to dad’s work computer, where he’ll enjoy seeing the pictures this week, next week, and for years to come.  Or send a Photo Mambo frame to grandpa’s iPad so he can enjoy the smiles again and again.

4. dad with comptuer5. Grandpa with ipad
On behalf of all of us at Photo Mambo, we hope your Father’s Day will be filled with joyful photos and much love!  And thanks so much to our friends who allowed us to share their children’s pictures with you.

Make Your Throwback Thursday Pix Into a Great Mother’s Day Gift

Ever posted Throwback Thursday pictures?*  Pulling your Throwback Thursday pix, or any set of meaningful old photos and

Throwback Thursday pix make a great Mother's Day gift when gathered in a Photo Mambo Frame

Throwback Thursday pix make a great Mother’s Day gift when gathered in a Photo Mambo Frame

placing them in a Photo Mambo Frame can make a really lovely Mother’s Day gift.  The Photo Mambo Frame will transform mom’s computer screen or iPad into a digital picture frame, displaying the special memories in the old family photos day after day.

You can learn more about how to make and share a Photo Mambo Frame here.   Maybe some sweet old pictures will the perfect gift this year.


A Heartfelt Mother’s Day Gift That Gives All Year

If you’re looking for an easy, heartfelt Mother’s Day gift, send a Photo Mambo Frame filled with the best family photos of the Mom Banner with Caption JPGpast year.   Photo Mambo transforms mom’s iPad or computer into a digital picture frame that updates itself every time you send new pictures.  It’s a gift that’ll keep giving all year long.  Photo Mambo makes it easy to stay connected by sharing memories in a format that encourages lasting viewability.

Here’s How

Sending a Photo Mambo Frame is easy. It’s a gift guaranteed to “fit” for anyone who has a computer (Mac or PC) or iPad/iPhone.  Here’s a simple step-by-step guide (video version):

  1. Download Photo Mambo to a computer where you have a family photos stored (
  2. Choose 20 – 30 of the best family photos from the past year.   Select a frame design that suits your style– a special Mom’s Day frame, an elegantly simple one, a bright cheery frame.  Then, send it off to your mom, mother-in-law, and grandmothers.
  3. They’ll each receive an email inviting them to install their new Photo Mambo Frame on their iPad or computer, where Photo Mambo will display your best photos in a frame/screensaver.  The Frame sticks around so she can enjoy your pictures today, next month, and for years to come.
  4. To make it even more special, invite your siblings, kids, and cousins to share pictures to her Photo Mambo Frame, as well.  Pictures from the whole family display in rotation, so she can see all the faces she loves in one place.
  5. After Mother’s Day….keep sending her pictures via Photo Mambo.  The Photo Mambo iPhone app lets you send pictures off within seconds.  And each time you send her new pictures, they simply pop up in her Frame.  She’ll never need to download or save them –she’ll simply enjoy new pictures as they appear in her Frame.

The Photo Mambo Frame makes it easy to give a Mother’s Day gift from the heart.  Grandma can enjoy pictures of the grandkids day after day.  Mom can have the latest pictures of the kids displayed on her computer at work and/or at home.

Photo Mambo is free to use, and since it can be done quickly, it can be sent even on Mother’s Day.  Send mom a frame full of memories this year.  And easily keep them fresh by sharing pictures with her via Photo Mambo all year long.

Find Photo Mambo here.  Find Photo Mambo for iPhone/iPad here.

Heart Frame Mothers Day

Houston, We Have Lift-off

Photo Mambo.  Share Pictures for KeepsToday we are launching Photo Mambo — a private, more lasting way to share pictures with family and close friends.  We’ve been operating Photo Mambo in a private beta test, and today are making it available to the public.

Photo Mambo is a new photo sharing service that transforms a loved one’s computer, iPad or iPhone into a digital picture frame that updates automatically each time a photo is shared.  Photo Mambo allows family and close friends to stay connected by sharing photos in a private format that encourages lasting viewability.

There are, of course, many ways to share photos today– Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Shutterfly–the list is long.  But, they are all inherently transient; pictures are seen once, but rarely make it into regular rotation. It’s the digital equivalent of stuffing pictures into shoeboxes, where they’re hidden away.  Now that’s actually fine for many pictures (like the pictures of my grade-school friend’s lunch today), but important pictures (like your grandchild’s first bike ride) deserve to be enjoyed day after day.

We wanted to provide a solution that allowed people to share photos privately with their families in a format that effortlessly keeps those important pictures front-and-center to be enjoyed again and again. Photo Mambo makes this possible by turning any computer, iPhone or iPad into a digital frame.

No more downloading photos from email or social media sites to copy them into a digital frame. With Photo Mambo, pictures are automatically updated, and just pop into the Frame to be enjoyed today or next week—or as long as you want them in rotation.

Photo Mambo is also completely private: users hand-select the people they share with, which is ideal for parents who may feel uncomfortable posting lots of pictures of their kids in a semi-public setting. Additionally, high quality digital copies are automatically delivered to selected family and friends, so they have copies for their own archives and photo projects without tediously downloading each image.  It’s easy enough for anyone to use, and you can find more info about how it works here.

We hope Photo Mambo delights the entire family.  Grandma’s iPhone becomes a brag book that automatically Loved ones receiveupdates each time you send pictures. The family’s home computer or iPad becomes a fresh, auto-updating, beautiful digital frame.  Mom and dad’s work computers can effortlessly display the latest pictures of the kids.

As we launch, we want to thank the many people who have helped us (and continue to help) as we prepared to bring Photo Mambo to you.  A special shout out to our friends and family who tested the service in it’s very early days, and to all the folks who participated in the private beta.  We haven’t implemented all your great ideas yet, but we have included many of them, and your input definitely made the product better.  Thank you!

We hope Photo Mambo will be a super easy way to share picture privately with your loved ones, and that the effortless, lasting viewability it creates will delight your family and close friends.  Please…let us know what you think.  We’re at

The Photo Mambo Team

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Introducing Photo Mambo for iPad and iPhone

Today we’re announcing the new iPad and iPhone version of Photo Mambo, available on the App Store!iphone

All the goodness of Photo Mambo now on your iPhone and iPad!  Send pictures quickly to anyone’s Photo Mambo Frame from your iOS device (works on iPod, too).  So, the pictures you snap with your phone can be enjoyed again and again in your family and friends’ Photo Mambo Frames.

Photo Mambo turns any iPad or iPhone into a terrific digital picture frame that automatically updates whenever new pictures are receive via Photo Mambo.  Just one click on the Photo Mambo icon and your iPad goes into frame mode.  A nice new way to put your iPad to use when it’s charging.

We’re excited to announce it, and hope you’ll give it a try.

Your iPad becomes an auto-updating picture frame.

Your iPad becomes an auto-updating picture frame.