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3 Tips for Recreating Your Childhood Photos (and Why it’s Worth Doing)

 Old family photo

Photos become irreplaceable the moment the shutter clicks. From those Victorian sepias and black and white shots of family separated from you by generations, to the fuzzy, point and shoot 35mm snapshots of you and your siblings, two foot tall and dressed up in matching shell suits – even the twenty near-identical shots of your cat you took last week – are unique, precious, and true one-offs.

This is, after all, why we set so much store by our photos – because they take us to places and moments that nothing else in this world can take us to. They remind us of faces as they used to be, they capture personalities (even in a single frame), and they immortalize moments that will never happen in quite the same way again.

But that’s not to say we can’t get close to going back in time, and that’s part of the reason why so many of us have found a new hobby in recreating old family photos as adults. They give us an excuse to gather together in a way we struggle to do when we’re no longer kids, and they force us to let our more playful sides replace the stiffer, more mature personas we tend to adopt when a camera is stuck in our face nowadays.

Plus, they make great gifts. A photo memory book from My Social Book that recreates the old family albums is pretty much the ultimate example of sentimental gifting. 

So, here are our tips for making the biggest impact possible with your new ‘old’ family photos.

1.    The attic/garage is a great place to start

That old pair of curtains that feature in the back of several years’ worth of family photos, the fake cheese plant that once sat in the corner of the sitting room, or the family crib, disassembled and kept for decades out of sentimentality – it’s all stored away somewhere, waiting to help you create the perfect backdrops for your photos.

True, if you’re making these pictures as a gift, then working out an excuse to raid the family attic isn’t the easiest thing in the world but, if you manage to get them out of the house for an afternoon, you’ll start to see one of the most maligned parts of the house as a true goldmine of memories.

2.    But, even so, don’t set too much store by total authenticity

Then again, while getting everything just-so is no doubt pretty satisfying, don’t panic if some of the key pieces have been lost, thrown away, or changed over the years. There will always be a way of strongly evoking the original scene, even if the backdrop is no longer there.

The same goes for clothing. Even if those items have, by some miracle, been saved all these years, the chances that you’ve grown out of them by now are astronomically high. Picking things in a similar colour, print, and textile will always suffice – or DIY-ing yourself a piece just for the shoot, if you’ve got a little extra time to invest in the project.

After all, the ‘key pieces’ of any recreated childhood photo are the people themselves. Provided you’re there and enjoying the moment, that’s all anyone is really going to be focussing on.

3.    Don’t aim for perfection

Chances are, unless they were taken by a professional photographer in a carefully staged booth, the photos you’re trying to recreate were taken on the spur of the moment, without a lot of effort or intentionality, and that what gives them life is the sense of movement. You’re never going to capture the same emotions if you’re all frozen in your respective poses, trying to look like you’re thinking anything other than, ‘Am I doing this right?’

In other words, figure out how you need to position yourself, where you need to be looking, and what sort of expression you need to be pulling, but let yourself be fluid within the pose. If you let out a little laugh, that will be clear in your eyes, and the final shot will be all the better for it. Looking natural in front of a camera isn’t easy, but it’s the key to getting a good picture. 

Choosing to recreate your childhood photos makes for a great excuse to spend time with your family, and to make new memories together while revisiting the old ones. Whether you launch yourself into the project of recreating years’ worth of shots, or just a handful of special memories, it’s something we would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with a camera, and a few hours to spare.


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