Imágemária Remembrance Portraits | Making Of A Memorial

In memoriam, a brand new portrait of you and lost loved ones… in the same era… in one portrait… together again. This blog tells you all you need to know to have an Imágemária Remembrance Portrait custom made of your own.
(Checklist at bottom).

I invented the concept of the immersive Remembrance Portrait in 2018 somewhere between Dia de los Muertos and Dapper Day, incidentally the two events which inspired me to experiment with this sort of portrait making. (Above: I started experimenting with celebrity Remembrance Portraits on Dapper Day Nov 2019.) The only close loved one I’ve ever lost was my maternal grandmother (below). As I conceived how I could possibly jump into a photo with her in 1942, a wave of strange nostalgia came over me… what would we have done together if we were the same age in 1942? It was strange because I had never lived it. But through the process of creating this portrait, I have.

Orlando Remembrance Portrait Photographer

Since publishing this image online, those who don’t recognize me don’t realize it’s 2019 me sitting next to my 1942 grandma. When I mention, “I went back in time today,” they look closer. What truly makes the portrait amazing is twofold: Selecting the proper style to match the original era as if you’ve gone back in time, and the nostalgic process of putting yourself back in that time when your loved one was still alive and enjoying life; ideally, a photo of them when they were young. From planning what hair and makeup looked like then to selecting the casual style of clothing that would actually have been worn, it’s such an indescribably personal experience.

Here is the original photo:

These new photos were taken in my neighborhood with expressions, positioning and lighting to accommodate for my grandmother to join the portrait with me. It’s a ton more than just “Photoshopping yourself in”.

My paternal grandmother, I have never met. She died very sadly the year I was born, only a month after this photo was taken of her, before she even knew I existed. The year was 1982. This photo of her was taken at my uncle’s wedding, so I did research on bridesmaid and party dresses of 1982 before selecting this one. Unfortunately I had nothing with frilly high necks and off-the-shoulder ruffles, so this one actually being vintage (previously worn by my aunt) had to do. A hot brush to the hair and some 80’s pink lipstick really finishes it off.

Remembrance Photographer Orlando

Awe, I love this! My Sicilian cheeks need pinching. Below is the original with my grandfather.

A little behind the scenes: Here is what my setup looked like. Nothing fancy since this is more of a studio portrait than a candid outdoor one. Mandequinn stood in for my grandma. She’s so patient. From-the-left window lighting had to match or the portrait wouldn’t be believable at all.

A zoomed screen shot to demonstrate this important note: The new portrait (me) after being shot must be taken to the level of quality as the vintage portrait, or the era-mixing will not be credible. This is why originals (PRINTS!) are always favored, scanned in highest resolution possible. I added grain to my image to match hers. Additional digital grain you see here is because the image I was given was scanned at 100 dpi, and is really only good for web sharing.

Imagemaria Remembrance PhotosThe original print is pending a rescan at higher dpi so I can actually print this for my wall. Because my grandma and I would have been this awesome. I still make her famous spaghetti sauce. And I’m sure she’d love my tiramisu.

What You Need to Make An Authentic Remembrance Portrait

 – At least one original printed photograph or HIGH* resolution digital scan of your loved one. (Providing a few images gives more composition options.)

*I can’t emphasize the HIGH resolution enough, if you want a great print it starts here. When you go to scan, this is a setting you set. Scanners often default at 100 dpi. You MUST scan prints at 300 dpi or higher for print quality. And Windex your scanner glass!

 – Contact me (Manda!) for current rates and to schedule your Remembrance session! I do travel here and there, mostly through the Appalachians and Missouri, but if you’re in central Florida, it will be easiest to coordinate your shoot.

 – Fashion Tips: I have plenty! So ask me, or do some authentic research and shopping. Authentic means real vintage (say Etsy or vintage clothing shops), as well as the proper research. For example, Google searching “1940’s woman” is going to give you more accurate reference results than “1940’s dress” which will sell you stereotype styles and remakes. Retro works for these things too, I’m just a vintage nut so I’ll always steer you toward authenticity or something that looks like it.

 – The Session: I shoot for lighting and composition according to the photo you give me. If it’s a studio shot, our location won’t need to be specific and could even be a wall in your home. If it’s an outdoor shot or one involving a vehicle, we will discuss locations that suit your vintage image. You may select to do a head shot (like the one above) or a full session including more portraits of yourself, headshots, head-to-toes, more composition options with your loved one’s photo, or whatever else you’d like just for fun.

Remembrance Packages Include:

Portrait session

Style tips (I do vintage hair as well, that can be an add-on)

One complimentary restored print of the original portrait

One free print up to 11×14 of your favorite composition, per vintage photo we work with

All the digitals

Print ordering options (orders may be made from your private download gallery)

Sessions Start at $150 and vary depending on intricacy of the photo and the session

It truly is a remarkable thing to be brought back together with your lost loved ones. The experience alone is something to write home about. Contact me if you have any further questions about what’s possible with certain photos, or anything else.



KC Union Station Retro Train Portrait Typewriter CameraManda Marie Kar

Photojournalist | Thematic Designer


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