Where do they get the pictures of characters in movies?

In several movies, pictures of the characters are seen, which may depict home life, baby photos, college and travel shots, family portraits, albums, the works, you know the kind of photographs every one has at home. Now the question is, where do they get these pictures? Some might be personal pictures of the actors, which they loaned. Baby and childhood pics for instance? But for example, if you see a family portrait, then it’s unlikely to be a real world shot, IMO, as you need all the actors in character. Or pictures of younger version of the character, when not enough time has passed in universe to convincingly use another actor in the shot?

Surely, it would be a waste of time to get actual actors to sit for these photos. I presume these are computer generated?

You already gave most of the answers. A production designer or (old school term) art director went through a library of images and found pictures that resemble the actor. (Sometimes too much so; people with distinctive adult faces often didn’t look like that at 6 or 12 or even 25 - but *damn *that little boy looks just like Tom Selleck!)

When a very specific setup is needed, digital work is used to de-age or change the actors, or they might be completely made up with hairpieces and so forth to look younger. Especially when the photo or “film clip” is really important and will be shown prominently, actors might be hired and made up for that specific purpose.

Many actors provide their own personal photos as well. Two that come to mind are the wedding photo that John Sheridan mourns over in Babylon 5 - it’s Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert’s real wedding photo, and she shortly reappears as his character-wife herself.

Another is a flashback scene in The Limey, showing a very young version of Terence Stamp interacting with his family. It’s a clip of Stamp himself from a much earlier and fairly obscure movie.

How much time could it take compared to the time spent filming?

The photo Weird Al Yankovic tears up in this video is a picture of one of his ex-girlfriends.

In modern productions, actors spend time doing a lot of things besides walking onto and around a set. Still photos and “film clips,” digital modeling, voiceover and looping, and makeup and posing for “old” photos are all pretty common.

Some of them are definitely doctored; nowadays computers can do it in just a few minutes.

We’ve come a long way in this regard. For example, in an episode of Columbo last week, there was a photo of Patrick McGoohan that was supposedly taken during the Korean War. You could tell it was obviously a composite in which someone used an airbrush to give him a receding hairline.

It was the moustache, right?

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did a similar thing with Corbin Bernsen, who was playing an actor turned producer. At one point, they find one of his old movies, and they show a clip from him in LA Law.

There is a picture in Still Alice of the character with her (now) children as toddlers. This is a movie that was shot for just a few million over a few weeks. With Julianne Moore on hiatus from the Hunger Games shooting. Spending a day or so with her sitting down for pictures seems a waste of time. Especially since they could simply choose one of the young actress with a one of her own children, or nephew/nieces, or make a digital manipulated version.

They mention on the commentary track for 21 JUMP STREET that the assorted pictures of Jonah Hill as a kid are, in fact, pictures of Jonah Hill as a kid; he swears his parents didn’t get why the audience was laughing, those had been on bona fide display in their house. Yes, even the one that looks like a chubby and shirtless Fred Savage.

So don’t spend a day or so on it. Why should it take any longer than a half hour?

I was watching Batman on late night TV last week, and the Dynamic Duo (Adam West and Burt Ward) were going through a rogue’s gallery on the Batcomputer in the Batcave. The first two photos were of William Dozier and Howie Horwitz, the series’ executive producer and producer, respectively.

I suspect that in a few cases they used a picture of the child of the actor as a picture of the actor’s character at a younger age. Certainly there are a few cases where it was necessary to have a flashback with the actor at a younger age, and the filmmakers just got the child of the actor to appear briefly playing their parent’s character. Of course, this requires that the child reasonably resemble the actor.

Here is the picture from Elf of James Caan as Buddy’s father back in college. I think it is pretty obviously a photoshop job.

The Chuck Jones crew did that kind of stuff, too. Animator and producer names abound in the on-screen lists. I’m thinking mostly of the Daffy Duck-as-Sherlock Holmes one, where he uses a ‘crime computer’ to find the bad guy. Of the dozen names on the keys, most are WB crew.

In the movie The Black Stallion Alex finds a collection of trophies and photos of Henry’s earlier days as a jockey. One seems to be a very young photo of Mickey Rooney(Henry) on horseback. I wonder if it’s a cutout or still from National Velvet?

Okay, I went to the IMDB and that was indeed a photo from National Velvet.

Another bit of trivia mentioned was that the white horse, named Napoleon in the movie, was the white horse that belonged to Neidermeyer, in Animal House.

It would take very little time. Acts already have be in costume and makeup on the set. Just invite the staff photographer, who is responsible for promotional stills, etc.

There are a ton of things that are done during a movie production other than actual filming of a scene. Actors spend the vast majority of their time being paid to sit around and wait. Why would having some photographs taken be a waste?

There are second units who spend the time getting close up shots of hands picking things up. Sometimes they’re the actual actors during downtime from the main shoot (though many times it’s their stand-in or a crew member). Those kinds of things are never a waste of their time, it’s what they’re paid to do, and they’re shots that end up in the movie. Same goes with photographs, or sketch drawings.

Some photographs are digital composites, created by necessity. They almost always looks awful and ham-fisted, which surprises me as most movies have hundreds of talented and competent artists at their disposal.

Along those lines, in ALIENS (1986) there’s a scene in which Ripley, having missed 57 years in isolated hypersleep, gazes sadly at a picture of her daughter. That daughter was eleven when Ripley departed, and died some years before Ripley’s delayed return.
The picture Ripley grieves over is of a woman in her 60’s who clearly resembles Sigourney Weaver. In fact, the woman in the photo is Sigourney’s mother.
Clever move by the director, sez I.

Obviously, you’re only going to notice the ones that are poorly done. But I have often wondered why the bad ones exist at all. I’ve seen more realistic ones in late night comedy bits.