Vintage Back Talk: Orphan Photo

Today I am bringing you a unique vintage Back Talk interview with Glenn and Xel of the Etsy Shop, Orphan Photo. In addition to their Etsy Shop, they work in photo restoration and have a tip or two to share about how to shop, preserve and enjoy vintage and antique photos.

1. Why do you love vintage?
 I started loving vintage and antiques when I was around 13. We had a cousin from France come and stay with us. He was selling a lot of English Antiques to collectors here in the U. S. and he received them in our garage. I was fascinated by the workmanship and was hooked immediately.
My wife and I also love going to estate sales and finding those rare well made vintage pieces. We love to see how well they stand up to time. My wife got me started with old steamer trunks. She said she would like one to have in the house. Well before you know it I bought 7 of them. I couldn't believe that this was how people traveled and how incredibly well made they were.

2. What got you started collecting vintage photographs?
 I have been in the custom picture framing business since I was 16. I always loved when someone would bring in old photos to frame. I started collecting mostly landscape photography. Than one day my wife and I went to an estate sale and we couldn't find anything we liked. And than I saw a box with old photos in it which were mostly family photos from the late 1800's. We bought it brought it home and began going through the box wondering how anyone could abandon their old family photos. We found that there was a market for them and that’s how Orphan Photo was born.

3. What tips can you offer those who are seeking to purchase vintage photographs?
 There are many different reasons people are buying our photos. There are collectors and there are people who use them to make greeting cards or other crafts. You should look at the quality of the photography. Is the shot well composed? For a collector you would want it to be as well preserved as possible. For the person using it on a greeting card or other craft you would want the photo to be clear enough so that when you scan it you get a good clear image.

4. What do you look for in a photo to know it is of good quality, and will last decades to come?
I believe most old photographs are of good quality. They were usually printed on very good paper. I prefer photos that have not been glued to their album pages, but have successfully removed these photos in the past either using Dental floss gently gliding it back and forth behind the photo or if the glue is too strong I would soak them in water to loosen them from the paper and than dry them with weight. With proper care they should be able to last many generations.

5. In your opinion, what are the best ways to care for and preserve vintage photographs?
The best way to preserve a photo is to store them inert polypropylene sleeves. They should be kept out of sunlight and in an area that has very low moisture. The ones that i keep I either archival frame or Hinge them with acid free tape to a museum quality mat and put them in an archival quality plastic sleeve.

6. What are your favorite types of images to collect?
My wife and I love the outdoors and often go hiking. So we love photos that show the great outdoors. Beautiful landscapes or waterfalls. We are amazed at how well composed some of these early photos were.

 **Visit Orphan Photo to see more vintage and antique photos.**


  1. What a unique business, and appropriate name. It sounds fascinating to see all those vintage photographs, and think about the lives of the people in them, the people that took them, and the significance of the photograph to them.

    Great interview!

  2. Thank you for your sweet comment. Yes, these two have such a fascinating business! And they find some unique old photos.



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