Lately I’ve been going through boxes of old family photos and reorganizing some of my digital photo files, and it’s surprising to see how many old scenes we’ve revisited over the years. The people, homes, street scenes, and vacation spots create a kind of Then and Now Family Photo Museum that keeps growing all the time.
The pictures are too good to keep tucked away in my family archive or locked away on my hard drive, and I’ve had fun sharing them with some of these photo projects:
Only seven short years ago, Taylor Young started Dear Photograph, a project to “take a picture of picture from the past in the present.” His post went viral, the website became an overnight sensation and Young published the book Dear Photograph that inspired spin-offs, websites, and a movie.
The idea was pretty straightforward — hold up an old photo so that it appears as part of the scene in a present day picture; and take a photo of the old photo in the scene. Like this:
We tried recreating our wedding photos on an anniversary trip to the church and found it’s not quite as easy as it might look to snap a good Dear Photograph style picture. “Dear Photograph: Wedding Anniversary Edition” describes the adventure. We found that a tripod and remote shutter release are essential if people are in the scene.
I decided to try again with four snapshots and a family trip to Disneyland. I wrote in “Tips from Dear Photograph: Disneyland Edition” that we were definitely crazy to try this with three toddlers. But, we did have fun! And I learned some key tricks for nabbing a good snapshot.
Living Family Tree
My niece’s vineyard wedding reception was the perfect place to showcase a living family tree. Wedding photos from both sides of the family were scanned and reprinted with the couple’s names and wedding date, and then placed in lightweight decorative frames.
My sister used PicMonkey online photo editor to convert all the photos to black and white for a more vintage look, and then added the text. Read her step-by-step instructions in “How to Make a Living Family Tree” at TheFamilyCurator.
As the sun set and twinkling lights sparkled in the huge oak trees, the old family photos looked especially lovely and always seemed to have a few admirers looking for familiar faces.
Then and Now Photo Book
If your family lived in the same town or visited the same places over many years, you might find familiar scenes in your family photo archive. I didn’t know that my dad’s family had visited Pasadena until I started flipping the pages of my grandparent’s photo albums. Evidently, they spent many weekends exploring Southern California in the early years of their marriage. I can only imagine what two Nebraskans thought of the Pacific Ocean, the Rose Parade, Busch Gardens and the Ostrich Farm.
Sharing photos in “New Year’s Memories of the Rose Parade, Then and Now” has inspired me to create a small photo book with our own Rose Parade pictures juxtaposed with those old snapshots. I’m using the 6×6 format with lay-flat pages available at Mixbook.com. They have some great layout designs and I’ve liked the paper and photo quality of past projects.
Where Busch Gardens once rambled along the Arroyo Seco, a tract of mid-century homes line the streets. And, the old Ostrich Farm must have been quite a tourist destination because it is frequently featured in historic photos. I’m sorry I missed it and wish I had more photos of local places they might have visited.
Family Home Tour
I also found snapshots of Mom’s homes (over 24 different houses) and the pictures we took 60 years later. Some of the photos I posted and wrote about in “Family Home Tour, in Which Together We Enjoy a ‘Happy Crappy Day.’ Don’t let the title put you off. It was a fun day with Mom and her sister, although the weather was the typical June Gloom we often get in Southern California.
This photo project involved more family history and advance preparation than my Dear Photograph experiments. Mom’s family moved around a lot because my grandfather traded work as a house painter for rent in Depression Era Southern California. I used the old photos as a starting point for Mom to list the house addresses, as she remembered them. My aunt, two years older, was a big help with the house numbers although “discussions” about which house was the right one were hilarious at times. My sister had to play referee more than once that day.
We used Google Maps to route the day’s drive, concluding the event with lunch at restaurant that was a church “back then.” It was a memorable day for all of us, especially so because Mom passed away that summer and Auntie died the following year.
How are you sharing your favorite family photos? I’d love to learn more new tricks for old family photos.
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