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Printing Old Vintage Photos
By James M. Theopistos


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Wouldn’t it be nice if you had access to a huge collection of images in which many people would want? And all you have to do is take orders and have someone send off the order for you? What if you could do all this from your kitchen table? No, I am not talking about any sort of pyramid scheme or multilevel marketing. Actually I am going to leave the aspect of marketing up to you and simply tell you where you can get these valuable images. What I am talking about is the Library of Congress image archive. The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog has literally thousands and thousands of high resolution images which you can print copyright free.  This means as a business venture you can reproduce, publish and make money off the prints you make from those images. It sound almost too good to be true but it is actually something commercial print publishers have been doing for some time.

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog breaks down images into collections but you can also browse by creator, subject and format. The collections can range from old maps, Civil War photos, vintage baseball cards, to photos taken by Ansel Adams during World War II’s Japanese Internment. Each collection has its own menu. The link within the menu you want to click is the “Rights and Restrictions”. That will spell out explicitly how if you can use images in the collection. From the casual browsing I have done I have not seen much in the way of any sort of printing restriction however if you plan on turning this into a serious business, I would at least make sure you have a clear understanding of the wording for each collection you get images. To access the image you want, click either the largest jpeg or tiff version. This will either open it open it in your browser from which you can save to your computer or download it directly to your computer.

Many of the very old images could use some touchup work so if you are an Adobe Photoshop user and enjoy restoring old photos then this is a great opportunity. The good news is many images may not require much if any work. You might even decide the aged look of some pictures actually enhance the overall appearance. The image on display below is an example of one such image as a stretched and mounted photo canvas. I did not do any touch up work at all on it and created beautiful 18x24 canvas print.

 

I am not familiar with actual cases or how often people are already sending these images to FinerWorks for printing on canvas and fine art paper but I know of a recent instance in which the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services commissioned FinerWorks to print a number of large canvas prints from photos depicting people fresh off the boat who went through Ellis Island in the early part of the 20th century. The lady who was with the USCIS and who placed the order said that all she did was download them from the Library of Congress website and send them to us for printing. The prints we produced were incredible, each a 36x24 gallery wrapped canvas. I could definitely see them hanging in a government facility and being appreciated by the general public somewhere.

So aside from the situation described above, why or who would anyone want some of these images in print. The answer is people with an affinity for old photos that can be used for décor, fans of various topics covered by collections, government buildings and even history buffs. I would also assume this as a great resource for interior decorators in some instances. I am sure there are quite a few niches that can be filled if one thought through this.  When combined with our print order fulfillment services, you might have the beginnings of a very profitable home based business with little out of pocket expense other than the cost of your time and what you put into marketing.

Category: Selling and Self Promotion
Created: Saturday, June 9, 2012, Last Updated: Wednesday, April 8, 2015


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About James Theopistos Aside from being an enthusaistic promoter of the visual arts field as it relates to individual artists' success, he also serves as the acting Chief Development Officer for FinerWorks.com, an online color print lab for artists and photographers.
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