Proposal – Family Heirlooms

I have decided my project will be about family heirlooms. I will ask my family to give me any of their heirlooms so I can take pictures of them, and ask my family about any stories behind the objects. Then I could create a book, so alongside each image will be a description of each object, how old it is, who it belonged to, where they got it from etc. I want to do this project because it is personal to me and someday I may inherit these items and I would like to learn more about them and my family from previous generations. Also, as I am usually a landscape and architecture photographer, this forces me to work more in the studio, thus becoming more comfortable with all the equipment.

I will photograph the objects in the studio, or bring a lighting kit home if any of the objects are too big for me to bring into uni. I shall use my Canon DSLR to take the photos in colour to show all the details of the heirlooms, especially if they are rusty, which would reveal the age of the items. I think the majority of the objects will be jewellery, with a few exceptions of other objects, such as books or ornaments. I may take most of the pictures of an object close up, and then once each individual shot is done I shall take all the objects from my mum’s side of the family and photograph them all together, and then the same again for my dad’s side of the family.

As these photographs are of still life, I think they could be seen in advertisements in magazines or television. If they are antiques, they could be something that collectors would be interested in. I hope that the pictures will communicate the importance of family heirlooms, because they hold so many memories that are unique to everyone. I want to capture the differences in style and design created from using a variety of materials used in that time. I won’t need permissions for locations because I’ll be in the studio. The materials I will get from my family, which will be relatively easy as I shall have full time access to the objects required.

I will need to use my lighting skills to be able to light up the jewellery. I will probably need to adjust any lighting in Photoshop. If I need any help developing my skills, then I can ask any of the technicians at uni to help me.

There is a photographer named Joakim Blockstrom who has a project named ‘The Heirloom Project’ where he asks friends and members of the public to give him one of their heirlooms with a description and he photographs the objects for them and publishes it on his website. This is an example of one of his images, of a diver’s watch. I want my images to look simple like this because I think the object will tell the story by itself, without having too many distractions from fancy lighting or editing.

divers watch

Still Life photographer Shana Novak also runs an heirloom website called ‘The Heirloomist’ which is similar to Blockstrom’s website, where people send in their most prized possessions or family treasures and she photographs them, and puts them on her website with a story about the object.


Both photographers use plain white backgrounds to avoid any distractions from the item being photographed. I think they both only used one main light source which keeps it simple and less time consuming when setting up the studio.