Transforming a Snapshot into a Family Heirloom

Transforming a Snapshot into a Family Heirloom

Isn’t it wild to see photos of your parents when they were young? Seeing pictures of my mom in a checkered bell bottom suit or with permed hair is beyond my scope of reasoning. Mary Lou recently found her father’s high school yearbook photos and was delighted to see his gorgeous curly hair. There’s no denying that these young’uns are our parents because they still make the same faces and poses. However, they seem a little more special, like someone you’ve never met before but would like to know.

Discovering photos like this—snapshots of your parents at a significant moment in time—feels like you’re uncovering a little bit of the person they were before you knew them. Our clients cherish these photos and often turn these images into family heirlooms or beautiful works of art.

Photo Restoration Before & After

Our client brought in this sweet photo of their parents sharing a tender moment. Dad was in his rugby gear, and mom was pregnant. They loved this photo and wanted to do something special with it, transforming this black and white image into color.

After restoring the image, Mary Lou hand-colored the photo by adding color to the entire image. The background is softer than the couple, allowing them to pop and take center stage. In the black and white version, the couple and background blend together. Color adds depth and meaning to the photograph. It creates a separation for the viewer and draws their eye directly to the subject. We see and feel their love a little stronger than we would through the original. To keep it simple: it’s romantic.

Our client wanted to choose a custom frame that spoke to the photograph. We suggested a handcrafted, distressed blue frame with red accents on the side. This thin moulding highlighted the colors in their parents’ clothing. It complemented the photo without overwhelming the art, the ultimate goal in any custom framing project.

family heirloomBy using a neutral mat, this design helps draw the viewer’s eye in and out from the image. We love that our client decided to use a fun colored frame for this project. The distressed look emulated the outdoor experience and added texture to the overall piece. Each of these frames is hand-finished, so no two frames look exactly the same. It is unique, just this couple.

family heirloomHow to Create Your Own Family Heirloom

Creating a family heirloom out of a snapshot is easier than it looks. The first step is to find a photo that speaks to you. You can’t force an emotion. If you have an image you love, then that is where we begin.

Quality matters in photo restoration. A sharp photo in good condition will generally yield a better result. That being said, quality shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the photos you love. If your photo is slightly out of focus, then you should keep the restoration smaller to accommodate the softness. When an image is of lower quality, adjust your expectations and trust a pro to guide you toward your best possible restoration.

Working with a pro provides more options and opens more doors, creatively speaking. Like the above example, Mary Lou was able to use her dark room experience to create a visually stunning restoration. We created proofs which we emailed to our client and encouraged feedback and input throughout the entire process. A pro is a valuable member of your creative team.

Once we have the restoration you love, consider investing in custom framing. Some clients already have an antique frame that they want to use, and that is wonderful. We are always happy to fit photographs in client frames. However, if you do not have a frame in hand, custom framing will ensure your beautiful restoration is properly displayed and preserved. We’ve had many clients restore and frame a beloved family photo only to have a sibling or cousin fall in love with it. Our clients then have a fantastic gift idea that will be cherished and passed down for generations.

Interested in photo restoration and creating a family heirloom? Check out our guide to photo restoration.