How to Photograph Family Heirlooms

How to Photograph Family Heirlooms

It's important to digitize as much as your family history as possible, and that includes heirlooms. By photographing these treasures, you ensure you're able to protect their memory for decades to come, even if the actual items were to become lost or broken. Here's how to set up the perfect picture.

Photograph Family Heirlooms

1. Handle fragile and one-of-a-kind objects carefully

Wash your hands before touching and support a heavy item’s weight with both hands when carrying and repositioning.

2. Prepare your backdrop

Set up your backdrop with white fabric (a bedsheet works well) or butcher paper, or plain black fabric. Here, fabric is secured to the wall with painter’s tape and draped over a table. You also can experiment with other non- distracting backgrounds.

3. Stage your heirlooms

Place the object alone or, for artistic or historical appeal, group it with two to four related objects. An odd number of objects with varied sizes often looks best.

4. Mind the lighting

Choose an area with good overall lighting. Use additional light sources as needed to illuminate the artifact evenly from all sides. Cover direct or harsh light sources with a translucent shade or curtain.

5. Document the objects

Document identifying information in the filename and metadata of the resulting digital image. You also could place a printed label in the photo or add one digitally, with photo-editing software.

Photograph Family Heirlooms


Want more tips on preserving your heirlooms? This downloadable article will help you keep your clan’s keepsakes healthy for future generations.

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