Out of the Box and into the Light – Creative Ideas for Old Photos

The introduction of digital cameras about a decade ago caused the decline of the traditional photo album. The digital era has seen us move from printed 6 x 4 glossy photos, into internet based instagram and flickr. Homes no longer contain a book shelf of photo albums or a wall of family holiday photographs.

I love my camera and am regularly annoying my friends and family to make them pay attention while I take the 50th photo of the day to commemorate Sunday lunch. No one ever sees these photos except me. I find myself, 3 years down the line, spending hours going through folders of old photos on my laptop and laughing to myself. While photo taking was an expensive activity before it became digital, the result was worse, as photos were shoved in a box under the bed and only came out when trying to remember a specific event or to laugh at a terrible hairstyles.

Over the years I have come across some great craft ideas using old photos which brings them out from under the bed and into the light for everyone to admire.

I would like to share with you some of my favourites.

First let me suggest, before mutilating old photos, I would recommend scanning them all. You wouldn’t have taken the photo if there wasn’t a special reason, so, even though it may feel unimportant now, you never know when you might want to look back on an old family member or friend.

Photo Collage

I do love a good photo collage. To create a good photo collage takes time and effort but the volume of photos that can be displayed in the collage and the variety of different shapes and sizes and designs that can be done make it worth the effort. This is my favourite and also the most popular use of old photos. A collage can take any shape as the photos are cut out and moved around to fit a specific area. The best photo collage I have seen recently was on a travel coffee mug. I think this is a brilliant idea as it is something that is taken with you when you leave the house. A lady had loads of little photos of her children that were visible through the clear plastic outer layer of the travel mug. A photo collage can take the form of a table top, a lampshade, a mirror frame, the ideas are endless. I think the more obscure and creative, the better.

Shadow Box

A shadow box is something I learned while living in America. The idea is to create a collection of images, objects, patterns, mementos, etc and display it all in a frame. I think these are great for displaying special memories such as a birthday, graduation, and holidays and are great as unique gifts. This photo is of the shadow box a friend made me for my 21st Birthday; it is proudly hanging on the wall in my bedroom even after all these years.

Christmas Cards and decorations

If you have hundreds of old photos lying around that are not doing much, consider sending them out as Postcards or Christmas cards to family and friends, I particularly like the old family Christmas photos, you know, the really embarrassing ones. Mounting a cut out image of your dad in his ugly Christmas sweater onto a piece of card and adding some glitter requires very little effort and gets maximum effect.

Or take that Christmas idea one step further; make your own Christmas decorations using old family photos. A very boring Christmas decoration can be personalised by added a family touch. Glue the cut out onto the wooden Christmas decoration and gloss over it to preserve the photo.

Once your photos have been scanned and digitalised, there are so many creative options available.

Printing onto Fabric

A favourite idea of mine is one and that was given to me, as a graduation present by my friend. She printed all of our University photos onto fabric and made a patchwork blanket out of the photos. This took her weeks to complete but it’s a really creative way of displaying old photos and is truly personal and makes an excellent gift.

Glass Vase

Another friend displayed some photos in a vase and filled it with some beautiful artificial flowers, a couple of photos taken at special events. I absolutely love this vase, it sits beside my bed. This just shows that being creative doesn’t require months and months of work and if you already have the photos printed, doesn’t have to be costly either.

Nb. This article was written by Vicki Power on behalf of Blurb. Blurb allows you to create your own photo book online using their simple creative tools.