A family heirloom is often something that’s very important to us, so important, in fact, that we bury it away and rarely share it with even ourselves. For this week’s Shooting Challenge, readers photographed their most treasured possessions.
The subject of this photograph is my Grandfather’s Berninghaus Hercules barber chair. Contrary to the typical heirloom, this five hundred pound masterpiece sat center stage in my parent’s house for most of my childhood. Operated from the front room of his Mechanicsburg, PA home, my Grandfather trimmed the hair and whiskers of the town’s residents from 1946 through the 1980’s. The razor strops still dangle from the hook underneath the right arm, as seen in the photo. The chair raises, lowers, swivels, and remains entirely functional to this day. Accompanying the chair in this photograph is his Diploma in Modern Scientific Barbering and Modern Scalp Therapy from the Philadelphia Institute of Barbering. Also appearing is one of his medicinal cabinets, his sink, and the original barber sign, as well as his razor, scissors, and a few other priceless heirlooms. Camera: Canon 50D, Lens: Canon 50mm f:1.4, ISO: 100, Exposure time: 1/125
When i saw this I got wicked excited, I had the perfect idea, I’m not sure if this counts as an heirloom but its what i have. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan so obviously i don’t have much, what i do have is an IR flag, which is a required part of the uniform. The flag I wear on my right shoulder everyday was the same one worn in Iraq by my father a few years ago. It’s something small but its something I cherish. Normally I would have shot this with a tripod, Nikon D300s and went crazy for hours with different settings. My 300s is in a box on its way back to America so i used my Samsung ST67 point and shoot. With a vignetting filter. Dropped the brightness and boosted the contrast in photo shop. Enjoy!
The donkey is a bottle opener (still works great!) that was prominently displayed in the basement when I was a kid. We moved and the donkey slid from my memory until it came back into my life a couple years ago.
That’s a sheet of paper taped to a shelf in my living room. A lamp was about 10ft behind and to the right of the camera, shade off, a white board on the left of the donkey for light bounce. It is proper up on a dime to give separation. Canon 7D, EF 100mm L, 2.5 sec @ f/20, ambient lighting.
– Ed Zimmeth
These earrings belonged to my grandmother and they were given to her as a gift by her aunt in 1932. They are the most precious and oldest possession that I hold very close to my heart.
I placed them on a boulder and ran some water down the rock as I took the shot. I darkened the colours just a little in iPhoto.
– Georgina Lawrence
Some of my fondest memories from my childhood are the ones of spending the weekends on my grandparents’ farm. My cousins and I would spend the day playing in the barn, climbing chicken coops and seeing who could get higher on the silo ladder. Above all those memories are the ones when my grandpa would play his harmonica for us. We would sit around the fire and he would be in his old rickety rocking chair, in his trademark flannel shirt and overhauls that smelled of hay and diesel fuel, to play ‘the good ol’ hymns’. As Grandpa got older it became harder for him to play the harmonica, and us kids out grew the awe-effect of it. But he still carried it in his pocket every day. Canon Rebel xsi, f/5.6, ISO200.
What better way to celebrate heirlooms on a photography blog than with a camera heirloom? This Mercury II was manufactured by Universal Camera Corporation in the mid 1940s. First owned by her great-grandfather, passed on to her grandfather, then to her father, then finally to my girlfriend. Shot with a Canon 60D and Sigma 70-300 (Macro) lens on a Manfroto tripod . 2 sec exposure at F/22, with 100 ISO.
At the age of five I had to flee Banja Luka, Bosnia. The Bosnian genocide was at its peak and my family and I were in danger. My father was Muslim and my mother was Orthodox. Since we bore his last name we were in danger too. He fled first, a month early, to find a place for us to live. Over night, my mother, sister, and I packed into my uncles red Yugo. Planes were flying low that night and bullets pierced the sky. As we drove to the bus station I sat motionless in the back seat praying. This heirloom was given to me by my uncle. Now it serves as a reminder. As I look at the knife, it makes one remember the struggle. At the same time it reminds me just how fortunate I am to be alive, have access to an education, have food on the table, and a roof over my head.
Technique: Placed object onto a mirror with a black matte backdrop. Placed flash at a 45 degree angle to the object roughly 2-3 feet away from the object. Flash had a dome diffuser. Used natural window light as fill. Post processing was done in Lightroom and Photoshop. Canon 7D, Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS, f/4, Canon 430ex II w/dome diffuser
The only heirlooms I have are far, far, away in storage, but this tiny porcelain figurine was given to me for my birthday by my grandmother when I was very small. Well, that’s not quite right: while playing with the doll one day, I managed to knock her head off by bashing into my sister’s own little doll. This is the replacement I received after many tears and apologies and promises to take better care of my gifts. I shot a few very crisp, detailed photos that I thought about submitting, but this one, shot from overhead with my Nikon D5000 and a Sigma 70mm-300mm lens, got closest to what I was hoping to capture. She’s such a delicate little thing, and I always imagined her spinning and spinning in that ballgown. (200 mm, ISO 1600, f/16, 1/80s, added a tint in Picasa)
– Allison Fagan
It takes a lot to share a photograph. It takes even more to share something that’s rawly dear to you. Thanks for everyone’s earnest participation this week (the winner is really a great piece that’s amongst equally great pieces). There are SO, SO many more worthwhile photos and stories in the galleries below—take a few minutes; they’re worth it. (The full size photos are on flickr.)
Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a way to give $1 to a good cause every day.