Last week I discussed the idea of using orphan images to get creative. This post discusses concrete examples of ways to use photos for inspiration, and in art and learning projects. Photos can come from your own family collections. You can also find interesting orphan photos at antique shops and garage sales.
Beware of Preservation and Retaining Provenance
Before you begin, consider making copies of any orphan photos that you collect. Use the copies in your projects rather than originals. I used regular photocopies in the projects I show here, but you can also have prints made to achieve a different look. Keep originals using safe archives methods. Record everything you know about the photo, including who gave it to you and where you bought it. Even record if you don't know who the people depicted are. (Don't leave others guessing and thinking that you might know them.) You may want to try to learn more about the people depicted or even reunite images with appropriate families if they are not your own.
Looking for Images for your Project
You can certainly use you own identified family images in your art. Your own images make everything seem more personal. Using images of people who you suspect are members of your own family can add some extra sentiment to an art project. However, images of strangers can also give a nice feeling to your work. There is something to be said for regarding strangers as part of your own history; they are part of a long web of humanity that eventually made its way to you. The pictures you choose in your work can be there for beauty, a sense of a general history, or a more intimate family feel.
Some General Thoughts about Photos
You may choose images for projects that grab you because of a family connection, a friendly face, a sense of history / nostalgia. Alternately, you may seek images with commonalities that may even help tell a story. Perhaps there is something happening in your life that you want to highlight or contemplate further. Seek images that relate to your hobbies, interests and life events. For example, as part of "The Life in Context Project," my project partner Sue and I are focusing on food memories. To highlight our talks and workbook, I began digging for orphan images related to meals. This lead Sue and me to digging through our own photos to find us eating at our own family tables. I feel as if I have a new understanding of how food threads through our lives and also a fabulously illustrated book on the topic. The images would also be great for decorating my kitchen with large posters, imprinted on small tiles for an unusual backsplash, or in a homemade family recipe book. (Remember to include caption that indicates a photo is an "orphan" if it is one, especially in a family cookbook!)
Find a Muse
|The confidence this unidentified woman exhibits in this photo inspires me and I keep her in my mind's eye|
|I am also inspired by this unidentified, apparently loving, mother (or teacher). Her muse came in handy for this project.|
Getting Jiggy with It
|Photos can be laquered to tiles and used to decorate.|
I often use tiles about doorways to add a little pizzazz
and with this project I've added a touch of history.
I also had a leftover wood picture frame that I covered with decoupaged images. I left the images to dry on the table. My daughter bounced in from school and got very excited. This blog post took on a whole new meaning with her help. Kid project time! Old images are a great way to engage children and get them excited about history.
A little glue and creativity can go a long way. I'm envisioning future Christmas ornaments and valentines that my daughter can work on too.
So channel your inner muse, find a topic or an item that inspires you and get to work. If you do feel the creative muse, share her (or him) with us and share your photo art projects too.