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framing photos

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Framing the Family

Imagine taking the time to re-visit the old family home. Just imagine you are there, walking through the rooms where your family has gathered and spent so many happy times (and lets be honest, some doozies too). When you look around, notice the walls. What can you see? Family portraits, paintings found on your parents honeymoon, war medals, mementos of their childhood, adorning the walls and adding to the decor. The story of each, proudly remembered and retold often.

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As a sign of the times, we are taking more and more pictures but creating fewer family heirlooms. With the advancement of the digital camera, the ease of clicking a pic is as close as your mobile phone. No more setting the scene, making sure the light is right, taking the picture, waiting for the film to be developed, and then the exciting moment of picking the right one for the frame on the wall. Now we point and click, taking multiple pictures of the subject and then scrutinising them, applying the best filter and then straight into the Ethernet.

Now we don't want to take anything away from this, as we do exactly the same thing. However, we also believe in creating the treasures that are the first things you would grab in case of a fire. Your grandparents wedding photo, the family portrait, you get the gist. These special moments, captured forever becoming the family heirlooms of tomorrow.

So, why do we frame these pictures? Basically, it is the feeling it creates. It helps build a sense of history and family, reliving the memories and creating the ambience of your family home. So does ''generic art'' such as prints from retailers, I hear you say. Yes, they can add to the décor and fill the spaces but they don't bring you!

So how do we take the pictures from the digital to the tangible? There are many places and stores that offer a print your photos service. Which can work well for your candid pictures, they are a quick and easy fix. When looking at creating your lasting treasures (and in this instance, photos) you need to think about how you want the finished product to look and feel. When creating the heirloom of the future, the materials you use are imperative. Using cotton rag matting, 99% UV filtration glass and the correct hinging and backing along with high quality inks will ensure the piece will last your life time and hopefully then into your grandchildren's lifetime. These are important details that will NOT be taken into consideration if you simply head down to Kmart or Officeworks to print and pop it into a store bought ready made frame. In fact this option will greatly increase the speed in which your memories will fade and deteriorate.

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You may already have some treasured family heirlooms, photos or art that you want to incorporate into the space with your recently created memories. Unfortunately over time, and due to incorrect framing methods and materials used in the past, these pieces might not be ageing well. The moulding might be slightly chipped, the glass may be cracked, the work itself has yellowed with dark brown spots (known as foxing). The backing deteriorated, allowing access for silverfish to invade and feast on the piece inside. This restorative work might not need to be an overly expensive process, depending on the damage that has happened of course, but it is worth having it assessed by a framer. Even a quick clean and tidy can make the world of difference.

Some simple ways to freshen up these older pieces might be to replace the existing frame with either a new custom moulding or a restored antique? If possible restoring the original frame will keep the authenticity and heart of the piece alive. Cracked glass can simply be replaced and upgraded. Upgrading the materials to conservation quality will increase the longevity of the piece and is always worth the small investment. Unfortunately the yellowing and foxing is something for a professional conservator, but like us, most framers will have a specialist that they work closely with and it can be organised and handled at the same time.

When looking at the display of such collections, the framing does play a large part. Check out our post on hanging your collection for more ideas and tips.

Your heirlooms, your pictures, your photographs, in essence your memories, will help turn your house into your home. Simply through adding your own personality and history through your pictures on display.

 

 

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The History of Photography

Founder and Director of ARTIS PURA, Erin Salguero's first love was photography, a journey that led her to framing...

Along the way, she learned a lot not only about how to line up and shoot a great image, but the techniques and processes of old. In these digital days, we may have lost touch with the darkrooms, the chemicals and surfaces on which photographs were once printed and the impact photography has had on how we see and understand the world.

35mm Film and contact sheets from 1997. These images were taken and processed by Erin during study at Tafe. 

35mm Film and contact sheets from 1997. These images were taken and processed by Erin during study at Tafe. 


Painters used the first, simple form of ‘photography’ or rather the act of capturing the light cast from reality, with a device called the Camera Obscura.  This projected an image of what was in front of it onto a flat, glass surface, which painters then traced or copied.

Little did these clever artists know that soon enough, those images would be made permanent and do them out of a job. Painting itself was forced to change once the photograph became the established way of capturing reality…leading to the freeing up of artists and to the outpouring of creativity by painters such as Monet and Matisse, the surrealists, the modernists, the abstract expressionists and all the ‘ists’ that followed in trying to see beyond what the eye and the lens can capture.  

* more on the relationship between painting and photography:

 

An Example of a Daguerreotype

An Example of a Daguerreotype

Louis Daguerre created the first commercially viable process in the early 1800’s and it quickly it became the trend to have and carry a small Daguerreotype image of your loved ones. These were expensive, precious one-off items, made by exposing a chemically treated sheet of silver coated copper to light, and then chemically ‘fixing’ the image and removing the light sensitive component. Extremely delicate, these tiny portraits were usually placed behind glass and then in tiny decorative framed cases, to protect them. You can still find Daguerreotypes and the delicate images for sale in antique shops now and then. It’s important that you never try to open the case or remove the glass. If you need one conserved, whip it around to ARTIS PURA and they’ll take expert care of it for you. *

Soon after Daguerre’s invention, other processes followed, in an attempt to make photography more accessible and affordable. Images were made on glass (Ambrotypes) and small sheets of iron (Tintypes) and eventually, paper.

Private camera collection.  Photography by Cassandra Lehman

Private camera collection. Photography by Cassandra Lehman

Henry Fox-Talbot is the man given the honorable title of the inventor of modern photography, with his invention of the paper negative.  The Albumen print was the first commonly produced process to make prints using a negative on paper and allowing for multiple reproductions. The name comes from the use of egg white; the albumen was the binder, which adhered the light sensitive chemicals to the paper.

Eggs weren’t the only foodstuffs used in making photographic images, the Casein is a colloid derived from milk, casein prints are soft and watercolour-like and the relatively simple process is a specialised technique still used by some artists today. All of these processes still relied on the use of light sensitised silver, just like the original Daguerreotypes.

Although the first colour photograph was made as early as 1861, colour photography wasn’t commercially available until the Kodak Company brought out Kodachrome slide film in the 1930’s. Even then, prints were not available. Prior to this, colour was usually added to photographs by hand, using thin layers of oil paint.

 (Erin spent some time learning how to hand colour photographs in this traditional way and can restore old hand coloured prints as well as create a coloured version of an old black and white.See images below of a highly damaged photo with large sections missing.)

Colour negative film became wildly popular and readily available and affordable in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, many of these images are subject to fading. If you have some precious prints, we highly recommend that you check them regularly, preserve them in frames with UV glass and have copies made, as it is inevitable that they will fade over time and eventually disappear. Oddly enough, although this is a modern process, the images themselves are not likely to last anywhere as long as the beautiful and haunting black and white images of long ago. This is because colour prints don’t have any precious silver in the emulsion. 

Of course, we now have digital photography, digital prints and a plethora of imagery on screens, billboards and even our phones. It serves to wonder what future generations will have to ponder on, when they think of us. Will there be any permanent archive? Although we do take and share images of every precious moment in our lives, its important to engage the services of a professional photographer every now and then, to invest in archival prints and good framing, to ensure your memories and legacy will remain for generations to come.


Author -  Cassandra Lehman

ARTIS PURA are excited to have Cassandra as a permanent guest blogger. Her experience and knowledge helps to bring a broader more interesting flare to the ARTIS PURA blog

Her previous engagements include: Galleries Co-Ordinator for QCA, Griffith University,  Director, Woolloongabba Art Gallery and Senior Consultant - Arts & Events to the Alice Springs Town Council where she authored the Public Art Policy. Cassandra is now working in the private sector as an independent consultant for the visual arts and culture. www.art-consultant.com.au

* ARTIS PURA can assist with conserving the piece through framing only. Although we can assist with restoration of photographic images on paper we are unable to assist on works on tin, glass etc such as Daguerreotypes and Tin types. This is a highly specialised field. If you have a piece that needs attention please pop in and we will advise if we can assist.

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