Photo: Courtesy of the Heirloomist

Frame of Mind
"After my grandfather died, my grandmother gave me the silverware they had received as a wedding gift. At the time, I was working as a commercial photographer, making products look sexy, but I also wanted to shoot objects that would fill my soul. So I placed my new—old—knives and forks and spoons on white paper, fanned them out in a circle, took a photo, and gave my grandmother a print. She was thrilled! Two years later, I founded the Heirloomist to help other people celebrate their prized possessions."

Photos: Shana Novak

The Big Picture
"Clients have sent all kinds of objects to be shot: a violin, a dog collar, a Superman light fixture, even a paper bag from a hamburger stand. These items are heirlooms because someone says they are—and because they have stories to tell. For example, one woman sent me her husband’s Lucky Brand jeans that had protected him from being burned in a fire 20 years earlier. The fly read LUCKY YOU, so I focused on that.

Toy Story
"Believe it or not, stuffed animals are the most challenging to shoot. If you don't get their expression just right, they can come off as creepy—and no kid wants a disturbing four-foot print of a teddy bear in their room."

Picking Up the Pieces
"A young woman once shipped her family's cow-shaped cookie jar in a box without any packing material. When the jar got to me, it was in five hundred pieces. My girlfriend and I glued it back together, and thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, I was able to make it look perfect again. The family might not have the original heirloom anymore, but they do have the photo to hold on to."