© 2016 photobookgirl

Photography Tip: Recreating an Old Family Photo

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Taking photos is a common activity when you get the family together. Now that most everyone has a camera phone, it’s not unusual for several snaps to be taken, tagged and posted on Facebook within minutes of capture.

At the next family gathering, why not do a little advance planning and recreate an old family photo from decades past?

This past February, I hosted our family’s Chinese New Year get together. Traditionally, Chinese families gather at this time to remember our ancestors and to celebrate the start of the coming year. Before my family arrived, I glimpsed a photo of my brother, my cousins and me from about 30 years ago and I had a flash of inspiration. I had always wanted to recreate a photo from the past and coincidentally, just a few days prior I had happened across my old red scarf that I was wearing in the old photo! Nowadays with everyone’s busy schedules and with families of our own it’s hard for us to all get together, so this was a nice memento of the day.

As you can see, we didn’t pre-plan so we couldn’t get all the details down exactly, but I think we captured the spirit of the original! It was a lot of fun to give it a try and our friends and other family enjoyed seeing our posts of it on Facebook.

cousins 1982 to 2016

Tips on recreating an old photo:

  • If you’re lucky enough to have kept or still have a piece of clothing or element in the old photo that’s always best – but don’t get hung up on it if you don’t. Try to capture the essence or look of a piece – we all have hoods on here!
  • Internet sites like ebay or the local thrift store are great for finding vintage clothing – if you can’t match exactly, try to get a similar style, color, or pattern;
  • Have the old photo on hand so you can tweak the details like where to stand or how arms are positioned etc. Enlist someone to give you pointers as you try to recreate the pose;
  • Expressions are key – even if your face has a few more wrinkles on it and some greys are starting to show, getting the facial expressions as close as possible is important to evoke the same feeling of a shot. I’d say facial expression and body language are the most important to get right – more than clothing;
  • Snap a lot of shots! Increase your chances of getting the right shot. Digital is great for deleting the ones that don’t work!
  • After you get the shot you’re looking for, use a photo editor to lay out the photos side by side. You don’t need Adobe Photoshop to do this, there are a lot of free photo editing tools online. One of my faves is picmonkey.com – in fact I make a lot of my blog’s title photos using PicMonkey;
  • Share your composite on Facebook, print it on your home printer and of course add it to your photo books!

For more inspiration, see a related post I did about recreating old photos as it relates to baby.

Here’s an article about five friends who have recreated the same photo several times over the last 30 years.

Plus a link to photographer Irina Werning’s Back to the Future project.

Here’s a hilarious gift a mother received from her three sons. Maybe my two young sons will do this for me someday (hint, hint!)

Hope it inspires you to revisit the past and bring it into the present! Do you have any family photo traditions? Tell me in the comments below!

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2 Comments

  1. D
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 8:43 am | #

    Ohhh! Seriously the best contest EVER! If I were to WIN I would use the winning gift every month! A book a month! Something I always say I am going to do (per event) and never do! Something I regret! I am a mom of 4 grown children and a Nana of SIX and soon to be SEVEN beautiful and delightful grands! They are this hobby photographer’s dream come true and I love to learn new ways about taking better and different photos. So, therefore, I am going to earn all the FIVE ways to win this contest and be able to give my family the gift of me, through our memories, in BOOKS! Twelve of them! Ya~Hoo!

  2. Debra Pavlicin
    Posted March 2, 2016 at 8:44 am | #

    for some reason my info was missing from the attached post below (or above!) Ohhh! Seriously the best contest EVER! If I were to WIN I would use the winning gift every month! A book a month! Something I always say I am going to do (per event) and never do! Something I regret! I am a mom of 4 grown children and a Nana of SIX and soon to be SEVEN beautiful and delightful grands! They are this hobby photographer’s dream come true and I love to learn new ways about taking better and different photos. So, therefore, I am going to earn all the FIVE ways to win this contest and be able to give my family the gift of me, through our memories, in BOOKS! Twelve of them! Ya~Hoo!

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