So we all have
them. And we all want to display
them. But how do we get started?
Whenever I pick up the latest Pottery Barn Catalog, I have
to say that even though the furniture is beautiful (as long as you don’t look
at the prices), and the displays are eclectic and engaging (because no one
really lives there), the thing that really strikes me are….the photos. Granted the family photographs in such
publications are most probably made up of fabulous models treated with a secret
airbrushing formula not accessible to the average joe, but they still draw me
like a moth to a flame. Yes, the people
in the pictures are usually abnormally beautiful, but more so than the
subjects, the placement and arrangement make me drool. Somehow, the editors of such catalogs have
the enviable talent to make family memories feel organized, artful, yet casual
and unexpected at the same time. And
that of course is what we all want to pull off in our own homes.
It would be wonderful if we could just throw our favorite
family photos into a few frames, hammer a nail or two, and call it a successful
day, but for me, it really does take a bit more effort than that. At the same time, the techniques many DIY
experts recommend involving the creation of frame templates et al (picture
Elizabeth Perkins and Kevin Bacon in She’s
Having a Baby with their newspaper furniture layout) are a bit high maintenance
for those of us juggling staff meetings, cub scouts, and an 11-year old with
the flu, so a set of guidelines that falls somewhere in between might be the
most helpful. In light of this, here are
a few thoughts to consider when you are making your personal photo extravaganza
Get Creative with Your Favorite Subjects. It would be fantastic if every member–or sometimes
at least one member–of our family was naturally photogenic, but that being a perfect
world where none of us actually resides (aka Pottery Barn Land), sometimes when
it comes to family pictures you need to (and I can’t stand this phrase but here
goes…) think outside the box. Do you
have a non-smiler? I do, and one of my favorite photos of her is of her
adorable little face peeking over a hydrangea blossom, so you can’t tell if she
is grinning or not. Is it hard to get
everyone to look in the same direction, much less have a look of happiness on
their faces? Try taking a photo from
behind…it will feel contemplative and eccentric. Also, try getting in close–on hands, feet,
eyes, your subject’s best feature if you
wish–and see what cool results you end up with. And when you do get that great shot but the colors are dull or the angle isn’t what you hoped for, don’t be afraid to use the magic of digital photography to play with your pic!
Common Thread and Run with it. Some
designers can put together a mix of frames and photos that have nothing to do
with one another and make them work, but for me, I need one trend to resonate
throughout for my display to make me smile.
In this way, I suggest keeping all the frames the same finish (or get out the spray paint and make your existing frames match), or the
photos all black and white or all color, all the mats in the frames the same
width…pick one thing to tie your wall or shelf all together and your display
will feel finished and on purpose.
have One Connection, Mix Up the Rest.
Once you find that one thing that ties all the parts of your collection
together, mix up the other elements to keep it fun. Combine close-ups and more traditional
pieces, choose frames for your black and whites in various shades of silver and
black…or pink and green for that matter, to keep things fresh. And just because your main objective is to
display your picture, don’t limit yourself to photos in your display. Use mirrors, monogram letters, framed
postcards or correspondence, shadow boxes with special trinkets or momentos,
anything that enhances the feelings you have when you look at the pictures of
the ones you love. This type of approach
will keep your vignette fresh and unexpected, and make your guests pause and
look longer at what you have created.
Memories Make Sense in Your Room.
When we hang a piece of artwork or add an accessory to our space, we
usually tie it to the rest of our room through color, style, or some connection
to what we have already designed. The
same needs to be true of our photos…they need to have a connection and make
sense in the space we put them in. For
this reason, think carefully about where your photos should be placed–connect them
to a piece of furniture or an existing display so they enhance the spot they
are in, or have a color or a theme tie the photo/s to what else is going
on. And if your pictures are going to
stand on their own, like on a big wall in a hallway, or going up a set of
stairs, go big or go home—have enough of them , close enough together, that
they can make a statement and, in turn, make your guests gush.
So be intimidated no more!
Get out those beautiful photos and get to work making them a part of the
design that makes your house not a catalog, but a place where real people live
and love and grow. Because, with a few
guidelines in mind, your memories can only prove to enhance the space you call