Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It's summer, or at least here, something is masquerading around under the guise of summer, and it's the season, folks, that other folks (perhaps yourself) like to go and hit the antique stores. Well, you may bring your wallets stuffed with cash, but isn't there something you're forgetting? Camera, people, camera. There is no better opportunity than a barn stuffed full of oldies but goodies (not to mention some hit or miss lighting) to practice your skills. And hey, if you don't walk away with a 200-year-old chair at a steal, maybe you can steal some fabulous images. Whether you pick up a gem or not, whether you sniff out that bargain or drool on something horrendously overpriced, the day will never be a bust if you are sporting your camera. Want to have a double antique whammy? Bring a vintage camera. Something from the 80s. Or older. Shoot the old with the old.

I have hit but only one antique shop in this province, and it wasn't even the big'un. My mother came to visit and spent the better part of two full days in the Antique Mall, which is a warehouse of two levels, floor to ceiling antiques and wannabe antiques (crocheted doilies...) She just about had a heart attack, I think, because she wanted to take home truckloads of the stuff to Nova Scotia and resell it there. If you've got something antique to sell in Nova Scotia, you'll probably make the same amount of money as you would opening another Tim Horton's on Main Street. But seriously, folks, antique shops in Nova Scotia are like the <insert famous chic, modern, contemporary designer furniture store name here> of London or New York, and they sell for a pretty penny. I am not so much into the antiquing myself, not unless I have my camera armed and ready to go. My mother loves them because I think she's from another era at heart, and my dad, the handyman, loves restoring old things.

Case in point: the cradle my son slept in for his first month has been used by three previous, possibly four, generations in my family. He would be the fourth (or fifth). My father spend an entire summer restoring the old cradle after poor storage or shipping damaged it. When my parents raided my grandparents' house before their big move, they took a few dirty old pieces that turned out to be real gems when my father stripped the paint from them. One of the pieces was a real old-fashioned music stand or sheet music holder or something, hand carved with the most curious designs... but you never would have known it for all the muck and gunk covering it. My Pop, my Dad's dad, once told me about cupboards his sister fashioned out of tea crates and those old square nails... though we do not have those cupboards now.

In any event, my family is antique nuts. The closest I usually get is the Antiques Road Show, which must have peed its pants when it went to Newfoundland that one time. My aunt has stories.... But I did visit an antique store with my folks in Cape Breton a summer ago while we were driving the Cabot Trail. The lighting was murky, but I love the natural effect it has on the images. You could put a pair of Nike sneakers in that light and they would look vintage. Another place that's good to shoot antiques, believe it or not, is a heritage type museum. We have a couple of those lying around here, and I've taken some of my more interesting pictures from that living museum. So, if you're afraid of taking your spend-happy self (or spouse) to an antique store or in a barn (yeah, hay fever...), check out one of your local museums or something (and read the signs to make sure you're allowed to take pictures first).

If you are looking for inspiration, or simply cannot be bothered to visit antique shops, then visit our webstore. Our  Antique and Around the Farm sets show off a few of the more interesting shots we've taken at antique stores and farms, and you can peruse them for your pleasure, or add a few images to your cart. Might be cheaper than actually visiting an antique shop, because you might end up going home with furniture you didn't really need. Ain't that so?

But what to do about that light? The graininess? That colour? Nothing. Really. Enhance it, but don't try and make it look like a modern photo. Isn't that the fun of antiques? You can get some really special images if you don't fool with the natural lighting of your shot. Just keep a steady hand, look for a cool angle or a jumble of weird things all mashed together on the same shelf, and shoot away.

P.S. Don't forget to shoot the doors. You'd be surprised.


  1. I love antiquing - is that a sign of old age?
    Anytime you want to lend me your Dad to refinish stuff, just let me know. We are sorely lacking in those skills. I bought this fabulous table maybe 3 years ago that Elias was to refinish for me - you can imagine that it looks just about the same as it did when we bought it. I love it regardless!

    You must hit up some temple flea markets / antique markets on your next trip to Japan. You'll be snap-happy for sure.

  2. I am also into antiquing, and must admit I don't get to do it very often. If I could, I would have a very eclectic style going on at home-- what is it called? shabby chic? only less with the shabby and more with the sassy mix of modern and old. I will be sure to send my Pa to Toronto if he ever gets bored. Of if I apply for that job and get it. Will I have to pay for Omiyage shipping if I live in Toronto? j/k.

  3. Nope - door to door delivery for you ;)

    (Job looks good doesn't it? Never hurts to apply...)


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