Portraits – Treasured Mementos

Once upon a time, before photography existed, portraits were a luxury. You needed to hire a decent painter and sit for hours while he painted your portrait on canvas. But after that, you had a work-of-art that you could hang in splendor for future generations to remember you by.

Then came photography and the photographic print. Now portraits could be taken quickly and easily with a camera, printed on photographic paper, then mounted and framed for all to admire. How many of us still have those cherished portraits of mom & dad, grandparents, and maybe even great grandparents hanging on walls of our homes? In many cases, those images are the only link our kids and their kids will have to their ancestry.

Whether painted or photographed, formal portraits were regarded as heirlooms, marking milestones in lives, and depicting relationships gone by. Portraits of great grandma and grandpa; grandma and grandpa; and even mom and dad hang in homes of their children and children’s children, to be handed down over and over again, for decades. How else would future generations remember their family tree? My parents would make a point of taking yearly portrait photos to show how their children had grown. But it seems those days are past.

Sadly, the advent of digital photography has seemingly obviated the need for such portraits. Thanks to the simplicity digital technology has brought to photography, many folks think, “Why spend the money on a professionally taken photos, blown-up to wall sized, framed, works-of-art, when I can grab my cell phone and snap a shot of granny washing dishes?”

But wait! What if that hard drive holding the photo, dies (and it will)? Is there a back-up? Decades (if not years from now), will there even be hard drives? Will the digital formats today exist in the latter half of this century (anyone remember betamax)? How about saving them to CD or DVD? Well, the data (therefore the digital images) on those media fade over time – and not like an old photo gets faded. Faded data means lost data and irretrievable images. No, CD’s or DVD’s are not a permanent solution. Online storage? There is no guarantee any of those companies will be around a decade from now, let alone next year.

Only photographic prints survive the test of time. There is no question about that. There are photos dating back to the 1800’s. I still have boxes and boxes; album after album, of childhood memories. I don’t have to worry about digital formats changing, losing a hard drive, paying to renew my online storage yearly. They’re there forever (barring some natural disaster like fire or flood, of course). Plus, you can carry around photos without needing advanced technology to show them off.

Portraits also carry with them an elegance and sense of honor. When visitors come into a home with large family portrait hanging on the wall, they see a true expression of the love and warmth that family shares. You can’t get that from looking at a computer screen or cell phone.

So, if you’re reading this, take into consideration having a portrait done of yourself with a significant other or your entire family. Then have it enlarged to a size befitting a fine art masterpiece. I recommend a minimum 16 inch X 20 inch with 20 X 30 being ideal. It will be a treasured heirloom for you to pass onto your children, and for them to pass on to theirs. You can’t do that with a .jpg file or a cell phone photo.