Decorating with Portrait Photography, Displaying the Memories of a Lifetime
Happy homes seem to be filled with meaningful personal treasures. They’re a tangible way of saying, “This is who we are and what’s important to us.”
Family photos, whether they are carefully posed portraits or images caught during a memory-in-the-making, are perhaps the greatest treasures of all. Therefore, they are worthy of our consideration about how and where we could best display them in our homes.
Something is always the impetus that prompts the decision to have a portrait taken. There’s been a change, something new to celebrate, a special spot to fill in a special room. A professional photographer helps clients analyze their needs and come up with a plan to meet them.
So, instead of haphazardly displaying your photographs along with the clutter of life (or worse, leaving them forgotten on a hard drive act will eventually crash and be lost), it’s wise to take the opportunity to plan just how and where you will display them, thoughtfully weaving your portrait photography into your everyday décor.
It’s because of that careful forethought and attentive planning that a professional portrait session will entail at least three separate appointments:
the first one, to define and set the goals for the project;
the second one, the photography session itself;
and the third, to preview and select images. This is what professional photography service is all about.
Besides lending an artistic eye to the subject a professional photographer can also help you decide the best way to display your images. We [professional photographers] can help you decipher which images look best hanging on a wall versus in a book… or which ones will look best in a frame on the desk or as a holiday card.
When her primary assignment is to provide a portrait to hang in a specific place in a client’s home, We visit the home so we can see that spot for ourselves. What I’ll do is photograph the place where the portrait will eventually hang so that when we meet to review proofs after our photo session, I can show you exactly what your portrait is going to look like in your room. We can digitally mock it up—choosing layouts and trying out processing techniques to specifically suit that space.
Since certain settings—both the location where the portrait is taken and the place it will hang in your home—will convey certain feelings and meanings,WE advise clients that even though “your art doesn’t have to match your couch, you don’t want a complete mismatch, either. Homeowners should put some thought into where the portrait will eventually hang when choosing the location for the photography session and the attire that will be worn in the portrait. Perhaps the family portrait is planned to hang in a warm, woody setting, like in a masculine gentleman’s study. A Lilly Pulitzer-clad beach scene might not be the best fit for that space.
Even so, don’t let that be a deal-breaker if your family’s tradition is to go to the shore and wear beach pinks and greens. Besides People move, they repaint walls, they take a new family portrait and move the old one somewhere else. To ensure you’ll be pleased with the outcome of your photography session, planning in advance and thinking through all facets of the project will be time well spent.
Where a portrait should be taken? … at a particular location or in the studio? The answer always points back to the original goal of the assignment: do you want a framed photo for your desktop or something large for the mantel?
There are times, however, when the photograph’s environment is secondary to its subject. An example, a traditional bridal portrait focusing on what’s important—the bride: the expression on her face, her special dress, the moment in time. In this case, the bride herself will always know where the photo was taken, though essentially it doesn’t matter. This photo is about the pretty girl on her wedding day—not the room.
Unframed photographic display techniques, like “gallery wrap” prints (sometimes called “canvas wrapped” prints) offer a contemporary look that’s perfect for casual photos of children and families. Compared to matted and framed portraits gallery wraps are lightweight and easily moved.
When deciding where to hang a photograph, it’s important to think about the furniture and objects that will be around it—to anchor it, give it life and integrate it into its new setting.
One nice effect is to hang “found” objects or a small painting related to the scene in the portrait, to bring the display to life and tell the story of your family’s memorable moment. For instance, a large family portrait taken by the seashore could be hung in a grouping that includes smaller, candid outtakes of individuals—plus a sand dollar, framed in an acrylic shadow box, found that very day. Casual arrangements like this thrive in odd numbers and a mix of textures and tones. A display like this would be ideal in the family room or kitchen—the family hub.
Before putting hammer to nail, carefully work out your casual arrangement on the floor.
:different colors and styles for the decor:
Gallery Walls Go With the Flow
A gallery wall is a look that homeowners can use with great effect. A gallery wall display will be of a much larger scale than the aforementioned small-scale grouping. Whereas a casual arrangement may have three, five or seven items on display, a gallery wall may feature photographs hung virtually from floor to ceiling over an expanse of wall. This arrangement is especially interesting because viewers take in the entire effect, rather than focus on just one piece. Hallways and stairways are great places to set up a gallery wall because these spaces tend to have a long run of wall space that makes it easy to add more photos as life goes on. A gallery wall, in other words, evolves over time.
Use Black and white photography for times when it’s difficult to coordinate people and their outfits—or if you’re taking a new photo that needs to fit in with other photos that were taken at a different time, in different locations or with different people, such as in a gallery wall.
Because a gallery wall has a wandering nature, some people like to add to the contemporary vibe by mixing in paintings and colorful prints with the photos. Doing so helps break up the sea of faces and allows the gallery to have a more organic, free-form feeling. Choose two, three or even five photographs to be the landing pads for your gaze and place them near the middle of the gallery.
It’s best to establish a layout for your gallery wall before you start hanging pictures. If you’re just getting your gallery wall started, find the focal point of the wall and start your arrangement there. Over time, your gallery wall will fan out from that point and eventually fill the entire expanse.
Remember, for most people, a gallery wall doesn’t happen all at once—it grows over time. But, you’ve got to start somewhere, right? So that you don’t end up feeling like you have a lone cluster of activity on an otherwise big blank wall, find the most interesting part of the wall to be your starting focal point. You might be living with your gallery this way for some time, until you can add to it and expand it. Not sure where it is? Look to the landing area in the stairwell or that bit of wall you first see when you enter the hallway, and see if either of those spots beckon to you.
When you have a particular theme you wish to uphold (or if you simply prefer a more formal look), have all the photos in custom frame materials with identical style and size, and hang them evenly spaced. Whether you wish to display individual portraits of your children, or a collection of wedding photos from several generations of family members, a symmetrical arrangement is the most formal display and perfect for a living room or foyer.
Your family’s portraits are works of art, and an at-home gallery is sure to enliven your home with great personality and flair. After careful planning, perhaps even with the help of a professional, you can admire your family’s beauty on a daily basis when you thoughtfully display their photographs throughout your home.