Hear ye, hear ye! Do you love taking photos of your family but get overwhelmed with what to do with them all? Are you sitting on folders of digital files that only bring you joy when you dig through the abyss of computer archives maybe once a year to see them? Do you want to display photos and art in your home but have no idea how to choose them or display them? Are your walls bare because you don’t know where to begin? Today, I’m going to do a quick wrap-up of some basic ways to incorporate those gorgeous photos in your home, mix them with other art and display them inexpensively. My advice comes not from a design standpoint as I’m not a designer, but from a “MORE JOY IN YOUR LIFE” standpoint because having my walls filled with beautiful things that make me smile bring me joy.
JOY: Art above my bed–a framed photo my grandpa took of their car pulling their Airstream on one of their trips. I had the digital file made from an old slide I found in my grandpa’s collection several years after he passed away.
Before you print and display your photos, a few questions answered about how I take photos, edit them and organize them:
Also, these questions relate to “big camera” photos, but I did do a phone camera post: 8 Tips for Taking Better Instagram Photos
I use a Canon 1D, and I love it. I bought it from my father-in-law when he upgraded his. But you don’t have to have a 1D to take good pictures. I started with a 20D, then got a 30D, upgraded to a 7D and used that for years. I have my eye on a couple dream lenses I haven’t splurged on yet, but for the most part, for what I use mine for, I get by pretty well with my standards that aren’t that expensive–my go-to 50 mm (1.4), and 24 mm (2.8) for wide angle shots. I also have a 70-200 mm and a 24-105 mm, but I don’t use those as much (I love prime lenses).
Edits and Organizing Photos
To save time, I make very minor edits to my photos (brightness, contrast, fill light and some specific color saturation/luminance if necessary), and I do it all in Lightroom. I try not to let my camera get too backed up with photos before I pull them to my computer to get edited. I edit in batches and name my batches by date and theme (such as “North Pole Party” or “Miami Weekend”) so I can find and recognize them easily. I’m sure there are better ways to organize photos, but I’ve stuck to what I started several years ago because my brain is used to it and it’s worked for me. I keep folders for each year, and within those folders are subfolders with all my edited batches. If you open up the 2018 folder on my computer, for example, you’ll see a list of subfolders in chronological order with titles to identify them:
1_02_18 New Years
1_13_18 Family Weekend
1_16_18 Miami Trip
1_19_18 Nella Kitty Party
1_27_18 Strawberry Picking
…and so on.
I store my photos on external hard drives and (need to) back up all of them online.
So you got your photos off your camera, edited, stored and backed up. What now?
My love language is photos, so I incorporate them in gifts, in my home and in books for my kids so that our memories can be cherished and relived. But the photos we choose to print go beyond just memories. I also love to capture beautiful things–light in a coffee shop, a field of chamomile blossoms, a colorful gumball machine that made me feel happy. I keep two extra folders every year–one marked “Favorites” and one marked “Beautiful Things”. When I’m editing, if I fall particularly in love with a photo, I drag a copy into favorites. If I’ve captured a photo of something beautiful that doesn’t necessarily represent my family, I drag it into the beautiful things folder.
As for printing and displaying photos, there are no rules and you should display what makes you happy. I do, however, find myself, choosing images that have certain display qualities that will work well on walls–good composition, colors that will pop, simplicity that will be recognized even if you’re standing far away from the photo and a timeless feeling.
If I’m grouping photos in a gallery, I try to choose images that complement each other–cohesive contrast and colors.
Where I Print Photos
I’m lucky to have a father-in-law who does amazing print work and has large scale printers, so he prints a lot for me. I also use White House Custom Color for professional quality (if you’re printing really large scale, you want to get the most professional quality) and, in a pinch, Costco because they’re super fast and inexpensive. If you have a digital file that you want printed and framed, you can get it all done in one place with Framebridge or Artifact Uprising. I’ve used both, and the results are beautiful.
The most cost effective way to display photos is to frame them yourself, and there are many ways to do that. Target has several frames I love that are great quality and come with white mats. I’ve also found good frames at Michael’s and especially love their gallery mats with off-centered openings.
When displaying photos, I love to mix in art.
Favorite Inexpensive Art Sources
Jenny’s Print Shop
Etsy (some of my past favorite purchases were from: Clare Elsaesser, Irena Sophia, Pooping Rabbit, Stories for Toys)
I also love to mix in other wall art like banners, pennants. letterpress quotes, quirky needlepoint, vintage art, etc.
And Kid Art! My goal is to get more of my kids’ art displayed. Check out the gorgeous kid art blown up and used as the focal point in the room at Lay Baby Lay (totally doing this).
Right now, I sneak it in where I can.
Finally, we have to give wall space a break and find other ways to print and see our photos. We love Artifact Uprising’s Volumes which are gorgeous linen bound books printed right from the photos on your phone. And, at the end of the year, we summarize the events of our year in a family album, organizing all our favorite photos from January to December in Pinhole Press’s Layflat Album.
The pages are uber thick–like wedding album pages, the quality is great, and the simple layouts to choose from make for stunning design.
This book sits on our coffee table, and we look at it all the time.
And one last thing because I get asked about it every time it pops up on Instagram stories–our travel book. Every time we go on a trip, I print one of these books for my kids from Pinhole Press.
If I had to choose one thing we do with photos, these travel books would be it. They are kid-friendly (thick board book pages and spiral bound) and the perfect size to throw in a basket and keep out for easy access. My kids look at these books almost every day, and they’ve brought so much joy to our family. Dash will seriously camp out on his bed with these books and stay quiet for a full half hour.
And if you’ve made it this far, I have one last thing for you!
I’m giving away the digital file to this gumball machine photo later this week in my newsletter–lots of freebie printables and fun you don’t want to miss out on. You can sign up here. Happy Tuesday! Carry on.