Can you help me come up with a project to do using old photographs?
February 15, 2005 5:10 PM   Subscribe

ArtsAndCraftsFilter: Can you help me come up with a project to do using old photographs?

I collect old photographs because I am fascinated by them, and I have a couple hundred of them, mostly from the 30s, 40s and 50s and 99% black and white. I have used them before to make greeting cards, but I want a new project of some kind. I can’t think of a thing to do with them – can you? Ideas for projects on any scale (from tiny ones to “write a book based on stories about the people in the pictures”) are welcome!
posted by tristeza to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
I've transferred black and white prints onto glass using acrylic gel and thinner, although I'm sure there's an easier way to do that. I would make large prints or even inkjet prints on glossy paper and put those onto the glass in old wooden window frames - looked pretty neat. At one point I took several and stacked the frames so that you would look through several panes/pictures - was an interesting project but very time consuming.
posted by luriete at 5:17 PM on February 15, 2005

One thing that old photographs do that new photographs don't, is burn in a certain bubbly way that is uniquely memorable, like the picture is fighting back, trying to keep the memory from being erased from existence. I can't find words for it.

If I had an 8mm or 16mm camera, I'd overwind it, fill it with the fastest film I could find, and record the burning process in slow motion.

The choice of picture subject, would, of course, make the footage relevant and captivating.

Of course, this destroys the pictures, so you might not want to do this.
posted by AlexReynolds at 6:28 PM on February 15, 2005

That is kinda cool luriete, er could you elaborate on the process either here, or if it is too much of a thread-jack email me? edgeways at gmail dot com ?

posted by edgeways at 6:28 PM on February 15, 2005

Have you tried colourizing them?

I've seen some amazingly beautiful photographs that were gracefully coloured. Also, mind you, some amazingly shmaltzy shots of dull photographs that were artlessly coloured, as well.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:35 PM on February 15, 2005

Scan them in, edit them in anything from iMovie to Final Cut Pro, add a soundtrack, then either post the resulting output on a website or submit them to short film festivals. I've seen several short films made this way (no actual camera work, just old photos and multimedia technique) which have done OK at the funkier film fests.
posted by zadcat at 8:50 PM on February 15, 2005

1. There is an iMovie plugin called Ken Burns Effect that allows you to do neat pans and zooms of still images

2. Combine this with Zadcat's idea

3. ???

4. Profit!!
posted by luriete at 10:48 PM on February 15, 2005

If I had your photos I would almost certainly do cool art collage scrapbooks with them. I've seen some gorgeous ones on the net, but now, of course I can't find them. Look here, however, to get an idea of what I'm talking about. This is pretty nice, and so is this. The thematic and stylistic possibilities are unlimited, though; you could even go all "Griffin and Sabine" on them and make up stories or correspondences and tuck in things like letters, stories, and other interactive bits. Or you don't even need to do standard-sized albums... you might do small flip books, or "tags".

I have some other ideas if you are into digital, and, especially, collaborative art... But since these aren't really arts and crafts projects, I won't describe them now unless this sounds like a direction you might be interested in.
posted by taz at 2:36 AM on February 16, 2005

Luriete might be referring to Omni-gel transfer liquid.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:01 AM on February 16, 2005

Decoupage them onto a folding screen for a room divider?
posted by SashaPT at 6:41 AM on February 16, 2005

Perhaps try alternative printing processes such as cyanotype or kallitype? Some stunning images can be made in tones of blue or brown. Both of these process utilize easily obtained chemicals and the use of a contact print box, the print is placed on a sensitized piece of paper and exposed to sunlight then 'processed'. I'd then make a big collage out of it and frame it.
posted by squeak at 9:06 AM on February 16, 2005

That is kinda cool luriete, er could you elaborate on the process either here, or if it is too much of a thread-jack email me?

I'd love to hear more, i didn't quite understand what you were getting at about transferring photos, either. you refered to "making large prints" but do you mean from a scanned photo, or...? i'm not developing photos, i have already-developed photos.
posted by tristeza at 2:24 PM on February 16, 2005

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