Family pictures are a uniquely wonderful way to build a sense of family. In the last years, many have recognized the significance of photos and have led us to scoop them out of those boxes where our parents and grandparents kept their pictures, showed us how to organize them then safely store them in acid free albums or scrapbooks where they would not deteriorate. Additionally, we’ve learned to add colored frames, stamps, symbols, signs and captions to make our pictures more festive.
The results have been very satisfying—until a sheet of black and white photos already yellowing with their dark shades mellowing into bronzed brown shows up. Those most cherished pictures of ancestors we only knew through their statistics and brief family stories usually written by their grandchildren, look boring and pathetic compared to the more recent, colorful pictures. But it doesn’t take a lot of extra work to make those “old” pictures into “antique” pictures and their albums into treasured volumes.
Use appropriate paper for backgrounds. Old albums were made with black sheets of paper for a reason. It will show your black and whites pictures off nicely.
Choose the style you want to use for your album. An “Antique photo” effect can be achieved by using a variety of paper frames.
For black and white pictures (which usually include shades of brown) use frames made from white, off-white, tan and black along with mottled shades and white-on-white acid free paper. Many pictures can have as many as five frame cuts to draw attention to the photo and its nature while providing a professional and attractive, matted appearance.
Use sets of cutters (available at craft stores) for circles, ovals and straight lines for squares and rectangles of different sizes. Use scissors with decorative edges (available at craft stores) to add lace-like trim to the outside of the exterior frame of pictures if appropriate for softer appearances for women and babies.
Organize your pictures. Choose whether you want to group your pictures chronologically, by individual or family, by event (all birth, graduation or marriage together) or by another method. Organize your pictures in accordingly.
If at all possible, spread out papers the same size and color as your album pages and arrange the pictures for a section on them. If you are starting with the family members on a particular family group sheet, arrange all the pages that will have those pictures on them at one time.
Experiment with picture and frame placement before using acid free permanent glue or tape to place pictures. If needed, use a small amount of temporary sticking glue or double-sided tape to help secure pictures while experimenting.
Experiment with enlarged photocopies, cropped photocopies, and using duplicates of the same picture in different sizes in several places on the same album page. Different sizes of many photos bring out different parts of a picture—two brothers together may show their relationship while a larger picture of one alone gives a better study of him personally.
Overlapped frames can block boring parts of a picture (or something that needs to be hidden like an arm from the brother you cropped from the last picture) and can give more room for photos and a less cluttered look as well as an interesting, artistic look.
With appropriate framing, additional items are not usually necessary. If they are used they need to be chosen carefully to maintain the style of the antique album. (Narrow ribbon in an appropriate color and other appropriate items can be used. If in doubt about the acidity, place them so they do not touch the photos.)
Use sheet guards to protect the pictures and keep the frames firmly intact.
If family histories are available they can be added into the album by putting two pages back to back in their own 8 ½” x 11” plastic sheet guards then stagger (overlapping them ¼ “ ) and attaching them to the regular plastic photo guard sheet (a good quality clear tape works well) so they can be opened to read both sides. A ribbon threaded through holes punched in the edge of the pages and their plastic guards, then through a hole punched in the regular plastic photo guard and paper can be tied to keep the pages secured when they are not being read.