A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are just a few.
A Message From Grandmother
Pictured is a letter from Nicole Kennedy's grandmother dated January 14, 1985. In the letter, she tells Nicole about a "really nice 11 year old boy named Gabe" who comes over to help with the cattle and sheep.
Nicole kept the note all these years for good reason. As the universe would have it, she married Gabe and they now have four adorable children.
Grandmas always know best.
A Love Story With Sole
This is a modern day Cinderella story.
"Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl leaves her tennies behind. Years later, boy and girl find each other again and tucked away in his closet... she finds her favorite tennies," writes interior designer Leslie Martin of Chicago based design firmM+M Interior Design. She commissioned this print on behalf of her clients, the Barlow family.
They lived happily ever after. The symbolic photograph now hangs in the entry way to their client’s Lakeshore Drive home which, in addition to their art, now includes a Mr. and Mrs. Barlow and three spirited kids.
Bennett's Tiny Collection
"Our story isn’t a sad story, it’s a love story,” writes Katie Anne Lester of her daughter, Bennett, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 2 1/2.Bennett got a lot of gifts while in the hospital for treatments. She’d tuck tiny parts of them away in her bedside drawer. And so began her “Tiny Collection”
“Her dad and I would lay in the bed with her and look at the “collection” while she rested. During her chemo, she was so weak. Picking up those little pieces was really all that her body could do.”
Bennett passed away shy of her 4th birthday in 2015. The “collection” had been in a metal lunchbox since. The Heirloomist had the honor of turning Bennett’s tiny collection into a huge tribute to her spirit. Katie Anne wanted the photo to be bold and bright so that it kept Bennett present for her kids in a happy way.
New York, NY
A News Correspondent’s Combat Boots
ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on January 29, 2006. A traumatic brain injury resulted. When Bob was transported from Iraq to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, his wife, Lee, received a bag of his belongings containing these boots. She couldn't look at them for 10 years. Bob has since made a miraculous recovery. Every January 29, his family, friends, and ABC News coworkers celebrate his recovery by observing an “Alive Day.” Lee commissioned this portrait of the boots her husband was wearing on that fateful day in celebration of his “Alive Day.”
Lee and Bob recently founded The Bob Woodruff Foundation in honor of the care Bob received after being injured. The foundation aims to bring the same high level care to veterans when they return home.If you'd like to learn more, get involved or make a donation, visit http://bobwoodrufffoundation.org/
The First Date Note
First comes love, then comes marriage. Or if you’re Kevin and Marissa, this has all been figured out by the end of the first date.
Kevin slipped this (incredibly sweet and articulate) note to Marrissa as they said goodbye on their first night out. Years later, they married. Marissa held on to the note for years and had it photographed as a surprise one year anniversary gift.
"I think he was half joking,” Marissa said, admitting that she never told him she tucked the paper into her wallet. "But I held him to it."
Wear Your Heart On Your Art
Robert “Spive” Cliff’s family remembers him as an enigma having lived a full and complicated life punctuated by a hard fought battle with cancer. While sick, one of his son’s asked him a favor-- to write the most important piece of advice he could give on a sheet of paper.
“Our entire family gathered as he came home from one of his last treatments at the hospital,” Robert’s granddaughter, Whitney told us. “A t-shirt was made for each family member and we greeted my grandfather at home, all of us wearing his piece of advice.”
"’Do good’ is forever my family's mantra."
The Fortune Cookie Called It
One night in Boston, a table full of old friends gathered to celebrate the newly engaged Michael Driscoll and his fiancee, Michele.
When the waiter brought a tray of fortune cookies after the meal, Michael declared he would take the last one— to let fate decide his fortune.
The entire restaurant erupted in cheer when his cookie broke open. “You and your wife will be happy in your life together,” it read.
Michele slipped the fortune into her purse. Decades later, the couple now has five amazing kids and lives in Orlando. The print was a gift for Michael’s birthday.
A Serving of Sibling Rivalry
This Lenox china plate belonged to Deb Baum’s mother, Ann. The dinnerware set, stored away in Omaha, NE, reminds Deb of happy family times. Deb wanted a creative way to make those memories part of her home in Baltimore which she shares with two ridiculously adorable kids and her equally as handsome husband, Matt.
Deb also made a print of the plate for her sister, Becca. Deb jokes that she and her sister have a healthy sibling rivalry going over who will one day inherit their mother’s beloved set of china.
The Blankie Trifecta
When choosing what to have photographed, Kathy Smith went straight for the heart-- mom style. She sent us all three of her kid’s BLANKIES. “They've each had them all their lives and are part of the family,” Kathy said of the tattered, well-loved blankets belonging to her tween-aged daughter and two teenage boys. Pictured are the “owners” as Kathy calls them-- Jack, Annie and Henry. “A million thank yous for depicting the blankies so joyously,” Kathy said. “I love knowing I will always have a little piece of each of their hearts here.”
New York, NY
The Homerun Gift
This is what it happens when the entire family gangs up on Dad for his birthday.
"He is a difficult person to give a gift to because he has everything," Arielle Schwartz said of her father.
She and her sister secretly stole his prized baseball glove and had this photograph made in honor of his 70th birthday.
Music to Our Ears
Emily Blasko's husband had a lifetime's worth of incredible concert tickets stored on a bulletin board. Which is no place for stubs signed by the likes of Eddie Vedder and Warren Haynes.
Emily edited the whole collection down to just the VIP pieces and sent them to our studio. We in turn meticulously pieced them all together keeping alll dates and venues visible and made them into a 3ft tall tribute to this guy's very good taste in music.
Dad's Cowboy Hat
This cowboy hat arrived at our photo studio with one request--”please capture the toothpick.” The hat belonged to Dawnda Daniel’s father. It had been packed away in a closet for 17 years.
“He always had a toothpick tucked in his hat band,” Dawnda remembers of her dad. “I love the way you captured it and the worn spot on the crown where you can see his hands went to put it on and take it off,” she said.
“This is clearly not just a photograph of a hat, it’s a photograph of a life well- lived,” she said.
A Simple Gesture
Chelsey Wilson's boyfriend gave her this note when she was 15 years old..
"I’ve carried the note with me now for 23 years," she said. "From backpacks to purses and eventually diaper bags."
But Chelsey didn't just keep the note-- she kept the guy who wrote it, too. The Wilsons have been married for 15 years and have three adorable girls.
The Note Collection
Lara Wilinsky was secretly plotting her mom’s birthday gift when she found a collection of handwritten letters from her grandmother.“Hi my kids,” many of the notes begin. “Be careful!” most of them are signed. And our favorite, “I’m sending you 20 bucks.”
The notes illustrated the timeless connection between a mother and daughter. We worked with the family to turn that into art. The result is this collage-style photograph of Letty Goodman’s greatest handwritten hits. It was presented by the family to her daughter, Betsy Wilinsky, on her 60th birthday.
“My Dad kept this clipping on the table and re-read it each morning while he sipped his coffee,” Kaylea Nixon says of the well-loved page from “Life’s Little Instruction Book”. “It was something I grew up seeing, but not realizing the value of.”
Kaylea’s dad passed away five years ago. “At his celebration of life, many of the stories his friends and colleagues shared were about how he actually put this wisdom into practice every day,” she wrote.
Kaylea wasn’t sure how to properly preserve the page. The coffee stains were her favorite part. We were thrilled when we got the call.
Bringing out the personality and texture of paper is a really interesting process in photography projects such as this. And bonus: we’re over the moon seeing Kaylea’s gorgeous frame and Texas-size smile.
“We hung it in a place we can see from every angle, walk by a hundred times a day, and it feels like just the whisper I need when I’m having an off day. “
St. Paul, MN
A Family's Ode to Buddy
The Schroeder family recently lost Buddy, their beloved labrador retriever but they have managed to inspire us with their graceful transition from grief to celebration.
“He taught us to love your people hard,” Jennifer Schroder writes of Buddy. “He lived everyday for his family. He protected us fiercely and he was the happiest with our hand resting on him.”
In honor, we got to make this 60″ high definition metal print of Buddy’s collar in all of its well-lived glory. The family wanted big energy in this art and we were honored to deliver.“Buddy taught us to enjoy life’s simplest gifts,” Jennifer wrote.
Tiny Hats, Big Art
What’s a mom to do when her kids are about to grow out of their sweet little Winter caps? Turn them into modern art, of course.
Chicago mom and designer Liz Sherwood commissioned this photograph as an ode to her kids’ playful spirit. She hung it in their bedroom and they appear to really be enjoying it.
*Disclaimer: Liz used chocolate chips to bribe the kids into this photoshoot.
Mt. Pleasant, SC
“I have so many pictures of my Dad where he’s traveling - surfing in Costa Rica, sipping on rum runners in the Bahamas and just living life to the fullest,” says Brandon Dawson of his late father. “ In a lot of the pictures, he’s wearing these sunglasses. I was 9 years old when I lost my Dad and not a day passes that I don’t think of him. On Father’s Day, my wife gave me several cards, each with a different picture of my dad. The last card was in a gift bag and in it was a picture of my dad wearing the sunglasses and the actual sunglasses - which I didn’t realize my mom still had! Then I walked downstairs to see this incredible photograph hanging on the wall. It immediately brought tears to my eyes. It’s the perfect marriage of art and sentiment and a constant reminder that my Dad is always watching over us. Thank you, Heirloomist for making this all possible! Best gift ever.”
Palm Beach, FL
They Grow Up So Fast
We're nominating Alison McNally for Most Fun Ever.
To celebrate the fashionable fun that is having little girls and watching them grow, she commissioned this print of every single Lily Pulitzer dress the girls ever wore as kids. It now hangs in the family’s Palm Beach vacation home giving the sun room a fun vibe.
A Koozie Living Room
Mary Nolan’s husband is a highly esteemed collector-- of beer koozies.
As their anniversary approached, Mary contacted us to make a special photograph of the crown jewel of the koozie collection— the one they gifted to all the guests at their wedding nearly 15 years ago. It reads “To have and to hold and to keep your drink cold!”
Originally, the photograph was destined for her husband’s man cave bathroom. (Which we thought was hilarious, by the way.) Turns out, we made it to the big time…front and center on Bill and Mary’s gorgeous living room bar.
A Hero's Air Force Helmet
“During the Vietnam War, my father flew 100 missions. He accompanied President Kennedy’s Air Force One during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was one of the pilots at the flyover for his funeral. He loved Arlington National Cemetery so that’s where we buried him this last December next to my sister. That was the most amazing experience of my life and this picture is right up there with it.....it brought tears to my eyes... So many of the Vietnam vets were never appreciated like they should’ve been and this says a lot to me.” -Margi Young
The Human Safety Net
Once while responding to a residential fire, fireman Lt. John "Jack" Burton caught a toddler who fell from a burning building. As he bent over to put the child down, a falling baby landed on Burton's back. The chance encounter broke the baby's fall and saved its life. It also earned Burton a nickname in the press--the human safety net. This is Jack Burton's helmet along with his son, Paul, great grandson, and great-great grandchildren.The image was comissioned by Ann, Paul's wife, as a gift.
Lenny Rubino was a hardworking Long Island gentleman and nothing was more important to him than family. Except his bright red convertible MG roadster. The stories of this car are family legend—Mr. Rubino cruising the East End’s Route 27, top down, baseball cap on, happy as a clam. The kids loved to blast the radio. This is the car’s license plate— a 1964 World’s Fair special edition.
A Collection of Hearts
Last September, we were expecting a package at our photo studio from —a box full of glass hearts to be photographed as a gift for her husband on their anniversary. The package never arrived.
Four months later, we got the email.
“I apologize for the delay on sending the hearts. My husband had a stroke.”
The next line of the email had our hands in the air. “He recovered 99%.”
This was our cue. It was time to celebrate.
Jamie and Andy fell in love in Cabo San Lucas. In Cabo, glass hearts hang from the trees. Jamie had been collecting them for years so they began adding to the collection as couple.
“We always say it's the heart that brought us together,” Jamie wrote.
2020 brought their first child together and a pandemic. And then, Andy’s stroke. After a year of enduring and eventually, triumph, it was only right to give Jamie and Andy’s glass hearts a bold and happy starring role in their story.
The Lucky Sweatshirt
Here’s a pro-level tip from the Seersucker and Saddles playbook: if life is being a jerk, throw on your favorite sweatshirt and hit the town with the girls.
This is exactly what happened for Beth Chappo.
“I was in a VERY difficult season of life and looking for NOTHING,” Beth wrote of the night the universe introduced her to her future husband. She was wearing this sweatshirt.
“You don’t look like you’re having a good time,” he joked when he approached her at a local restaurant. But they instantly connected. And then dated. He met her girls. They married. They had a son. And now they’re all navigating this crazy world together as a unit.
“Have faith that the rubble is paving the way for something bigger and brighter,” Beth writes. “I truly believe we come out wiser, stronger, and dare I say thankful for these challenges and hurdles.”
Long beach, NY
An Ode To Dad x 2
Pictured are Grace and George Costello– two smart talented kids from Long Beach, NY. Their mother, Eileen, commissioned Heirloomist portraits as their Christmas gifts to honor their father, George, who passed away 2 years ago. In a move only a mother could pull off, Eileen personalized each photograph right down to the interests they shared with their dad.
Grace got a composition of her school penny loafers paired with her dad’s favorite novel. “They were a lot alike,” Eileen wrote.
George got a portrait of his basketball jersey paired with his dad’s jersey from when he was a kid. “They shared extreme passion for not just basketball but most sports,” said Eileen.
“They were so surprised and moved,” Eileen said of the moment the kids opened their gifts. “We all cried.”
And that’s the part that’s worth noting. We know this family has been through heartbreak but they are celebrating, too, and we love it.
New York, NY
The First Date Matchbook
Patrick and Dave had their first date at New York City restaurant Fedora NYC. Years later, they were married.
We worked with Patrick to surprise Dave with this 2 ft tall print on their wedding day. The matchbook is from that night.
Congratulations, you two! Two of the kindest and funniest people we know.
Wonder Woman Lives in Chicago
Shannon Buth is outstanding at this “adulting” thing—she’s a career fashionista, commander in chief of four young boys, married to her high school sweet heart, and a new business owner. But she’d be the first to tell you it hasn’t been perfect.
And so began House of Shan. “I wouldn’t have made it through those early years without a connection to other incredible women who lifted me up and supported me,” Shannon writes. She founded House of Shan as a way to give back. Since its founding, House of Shan has donated thousands to women's organizations.
Big Shoes To Fill
Leah Hasenoerl of Marin County, CA recently lost her father. She named her son after him.
Leah commissioned this photograph of her dad's cowboy boots for her son's bedroom
"To help us tell our memories of grandpa Craig," she said. The boots were caked in California mud but that only added to their charm.
Our heart melts when we look at this little guy standing under his grandfather's cowboy boots.
Days of Our Lives
These three handsome guys are starting to drive and think about college. They spend their days at school or sports practice. Behind them is a giant tribute to the moments that got them here.From a pile of old handwritten calendars, their mom, Laurie Scott, saw a chance to celebrate family, motherhood, and growing up.“I wanted to preserve the times when they were young and we spent our days entirely together,” she said of the calendar pages she kept from her boys’ early years. “Memories to remind them of activities that helped shape who they are now.”
Sag Harbor, NY
The Ultimate Housewarming Gift.
Moving can be stressful especially for kids. But a genius mom in Sag Harbor, NY found a way to make it fun.
WhenDiane Wayne's family moved to a new house, she commissioned this gigantic photograph of her kids’ beloved stuffed animals to personalize their new space. The photograph hangs in the hallway directly between their bedrooms.
Wait....an Heirloomist housewarming gift for the kids to help them feel at home? Brilliant!
Stuffed with Generations of Love
We’re not crying you’re crying! This is Constance. She’s almost 2. Her mom commissioned a 40 inch tall Heirloomist photograph for her nursery of the doll her 103 year old great grandma Kathryn knit and passed down through generations.
"The photo has sparked conversation about my grandmother and the doll, which is what I wanted. No one really asked about the doll before when they saw it. Something about photographing it makes people ask," wrote Gahan Gordon, Constance's mom and previous owner of the doll.