How to Create Heirloom Portraits
photo by Lisa-Blue via iStock
When I was growing up, my grandparents had their home absolutely filled to the brim with family photos. Some of them had obviously been taken in the very early 1900s or late 1800s, while most of them were pictures of new and growing grandchildren taken much more recently.
I think this is where my obsession with photography started, but as I looked up at the shelves filled with dozens of photographs, I noticed that some of them were clearly much more important than others.
I couldn’t exactly name the difference between the photos at the time, but looking back on it I think that the novelty of heirloom portraits, or the portraits signifying an important event in someone’s life, came across in those photos. The photos of my cousins were cute, but the photo of my grandparents’ wedding, or the photo of my great aunt’s missionary trip to Africa in 1903, seemed so much more important.
photo by bauhaus1000 via iStock
Heirloom portraits are photographs you (or your clients) will hand down to future generations. When done correctly, they should tell a very specific story about the people in the photograph and the era the photograph was taken in. When done incorrectly, they likely won’t make it down through the generations at all.
I’ve never liked to specifically shoot heirloom portraits because I think heirloom portraits come across much more authentically if you simply choose a portrait from another major life event, like a graduation or a wedding.
If you’re interested in heirloom photography, this article has some portrait photography tips about choosing the correct photo and learning how to display it.
Pick the Right Photo
photo by triloks via iStock
Like I said in the introduction to this article, choosing your heirloom portraits is as easy as picking the most significant people in your life and the most significant events in your life.
If you look at a photo and it immediately overwhelms you with joy or pride, then it will probably make an excellent heirloom portrait.
Heirloom portraits can also help spur your memory, and likely will as you get older. Pick the photo from your wedding day that helps you remember exactly how you felt when you first married the love of your life. Or, pick the photo of your kids messing around at your child’s graduation that makes you so thankful you decided to have more than one.
Another way to look at this is to tell you exactly how not to choose heirloom portraits. For instance, don’t just pick a photo because it has everyone you love in it. Also don’t just pick a photo because it was taken on a specific day.
Of the thousands of images I’ve taken, only a handful are good enough to be considered heirloom portraits. They’re special for a reason.
Heirloom portraits aren’t worth anything if you can’t admire them.
I think this is something that makes heirloom portraits even more special now, since printing portraits seems like such an ancient art.
I obviously recommend you print more of your photos altogether, but heirloom portraits deserve something a little more special, which is why you should print them on metal.
ArtBeat Studios is one of my favorite metal printing companies because all of their materials are archival quality, which means your heirloom portraits will literally last for generations.
Each metal print from ArtBeat Studios comes with Chromaluxe aluminum, which resists fading for over 65 years.
Plus, they sell metal prints for relatively inexpensive prices. An 8 x 10 metal print will only run you $30. If you need a customized size, that isn’t a problem with ArtBeat Studios since each piece of metal is hand cut in house.
Since you’ll want your heirloom portraits to be as unique as your family, you can also choose from a wide range of customizable options, like different mounting, hangers, and finishes on your print.
I’ll admit that the first time I purchased a metal print it was a little overwhelming. So, if you’ve clicked around on the ArtBeat Studios website and aren’t finding what you’re looking for, or still don’t know exactly what it is that you are looking for, their customer service reps are awesome and knowledgeable. That’s just part of the reason why they were named the best metal print company of 2020!
Or, Display It More Creatively
photo by ChristinLola via iStock
Another incredible option for displaying your heirloom portraits is choosing something that fits your family.
My sister has a locket of a portrait of our mother from her childhood. I have a photo album from my grandparents’ first few years of marriage together.
You could also display your heirloom portraits in different displays like a handmade box or a beautiful frame.
Whichever display method you choose, you’ll want to ensure that it is made of really high quality materials, like the metal prints I talked about earlier, because it is the most disheartening thing in the world when an heirloom that’s been in your family for decades breaks.