25 April marks Anzac Day, a day we recognise and remember all those who have served on behalf of Australia and New Zealand. This day can help bring us together to learn about family history, dig through old photographs, and commemorate loved ones. It is critical to properly care for, store, and display historic family portrait images. In the future, both those photos and any taken now may become heirlooms that are cherished by future generations. Here are few reasons to pull out those old photographs, along with several tips for helping to preserve them!
Celebrating Your Heritage
The ability to connect to our own heritage is a valuable experience that some people never have. For example, today’s children are growing up much differently than their parents or grandparents. Do your children know about your background and where you came from? Do they understand why you still have old, historic photographs around the house? Are they interested in preserving your family’s history and legacy? Something as simple as a tiny photograph can be so important in teaching our children why events such as Anzac Day are so significant.
Share Old Stories
One of the best ways to connect to old pictures is through story telling. You and your children might be surprised by the sweet, sad, or humorous stories that linger behind an old black-and-white or sepia-toned photo! Whether or not your parents or siblings live nearby, make an effort to reach out and gather as many of these tales as possible. They can be collected and saved as you preserve the images, too. One easy way to gain new insights and information about an old photograph is to post it on social media. Photographs can often help jog memories, so tag a few far-off relatives and see who responds! You may even hear from old friends or war buddies who can share even more tales.
Preserving Historic Family Portrait Images
Step one to preserving old photographs is to find them! Even if you know that you will not have time to sort through them now, make sure that there are no pictures stored in the attic, basement, or garage. The film over photographs may cause them to stick to glass or one another, so use caution when beginning to separate them. I was able to save a beautiful sibling photo that was stuck to shattered glass, so do not give up hope if your pictures have not been properly stored!
Displaying photographs is easy with the right frames. A thin, acid-free mat will help keep the glass away from the top of the picture while providing a slim or thick border. Unframed photos should be kept at a low temperature, in a space with low humidity. The trick is to avoid extremes and fluctuations, which will accelerate fading and loss. Avoid writing on them with pen or using adhesive labels, which can eat away at the backing. Although it may be tempting to include newspaper clippings, do not store them directly with photos due to the paper’s acidity.
Photo albums can be a very attractive and simple way to store multiple images, but make sure you buy the right kind. Cheap albums may not protect your photos in the long-term, due to damaging plastics, polyethylene, and vinyl. Use albums with acid-free and lignin-free paper and a base of polyester or polypropylene, such as Mylar. Similarly, cheap storage containers that are made of cardboard, wood, or many common plastics may contribute to image deterioration. Buy specialty containers from a photography store.
Another great way to save and share photographs, however, is to scan them. You can create digital photo albums or print copies of pictures for additional albums. Professional scanning and colour-correcting capabilities will help each picture look its best.
Consider Taking New Photos
As you gather to talk about and preserve old photographs, consider taking some professional family portrait images of your own. The pictures could include relatives visiting for the first time or reflect other reunions, gatherings, and celebrations. Another fun idea is to recreate old photographs as closely as possible. Does your teenager have the same cheekbones as his great-uncle who served in the war? Does your daughter remind you of your mother at her age? Recreating these pictures is a fun way to celebrate your family history and create new memories at the same time.
For more information about preserving old photographs or taking new portraits, contact me today. I look forward to hearing from you!
Liked this post? You can share it below.
Follow me on Facebook with the buttons up the top of this page.
Or leave a comment below!