When I am talking to families about planning their documentary photography session, one of the most common challenges moms face is “I don’t know what I will do with the photos from a session like this.”
I totally get it – the options are overwhelming. Having just made an international move and finally settling into our new rental, the one decorating task I’ve been contemplating 6 months later is how to fill our walls. For one, it’s a rental so I can’t drill a ton of holes into the wall to hang heavy art like huge framed prints. I have been compiling my own list of ideas for the walls of our new home, and I thought you would love these ideas too. I want to show you that real memories are oh-so wall-worthy!
1. Collage Galleries
Creating wall art from story-telling documentary style photos is a slightly different process than creating wall art from stand-alone portraits. Documentary photos sometimes need other photos so that they can tell a story together. Think triptychs (series of 3 images — groupings of 3 are very aesthetically pleasing to look at) and wall collages.
You can get really creative with placement of your images. I think it would be fun to have a series of bathtime images hung in the bathroom (I have such a hard time thinking of anything else to hang on my bathroom walls!); and a collage of photos of the kids cooking with you would look great in the kitchen or dining room!
One of the weirdest places to decorate can be the walls of your stairs because if the change in height. I love the way Rachel Myers created a collage of family photos on her stairs! She used many different frames but kept the look cohesive with choosing black for all the frame colors and white for all the matted prints.
A triptych is a group of 3 and this odd number is pleasing to look at. When doing small groups, going by 3’s is a safe bet! I love love love this triptych by Hannah that divides one wide landscape photo into 3 vertical canvases for the wall above her couch! You can also do this grouping with 3 different vertical images spaced a few more inches apart.
3. Statement Entryway Art
Our homes’ entryways say so much about our home and who we are as a family. It’s the introduction to what our home is like. Amy Peters created a stunning statement wall gallery with six 20″x30″ prints of family photos in her entryway. She chose all black and white images to suit the neutral color palette of her home and this gallery looks so incredible!
4. Hanging Small Prints on Twine
This is the perfect way to make use of smaller gift-size prints. The Memory Box I offer can also be used to display prints in this fashion. Hanging 20+ photos together is a great way to display the best moments of a day spent together, or even a family vacation!
5. Stacked Frames or Canvases
Sometimes there are small walls that you have no idea how to decorate. I love how Chris Loves Julia got creative with this small wall and added a triptych of 3 stacked framed prints to this area to liven it up! (Yes I know this isn’t family photos, but I loved this idea too much to NOT put it on this post! I think it’s so pretty!)
6. Standalone Frames for Bookshelves or Wall Shelves
Framed standalone photos are a wonderful accent to sprinkle real family memories throughout your decor. I love placing matted 5×7 and 8×10 prints throughout our home on shelves, mantles, and any empty spaces that need filling.
7. Grid Wall Gallery
Some may gawk at the thought of a collage because they can sometimes look more cluttered than a well thought out collage. If this is you, fear not, and embrace the organized look of a grid gallery. The extra white space of this sleek 3×3 gallery of square canvases is a great look for those with a minimalist decor style.
You could also pull off this look with square frames and large matted for smaller prints, like Candice did below.
8. Storybook Albums
I rave about albums to EVERY client and for good reason. I LOVE when families bring me into their life annually and begin a collection of yearly “a day in the life of the _____ family” albums!
I love flipping through pages of my own albums and taking a stroll down memory lane. My dream is to fill our shelves with albums of allllll of our family photos so we can flip through tons of our family photos any time we want! It does my family no good to selfishly hoard our photos on my phone and computer.
“Surrounding myself with images that show our everyday life and my family interacting together just makes me happy! Every time I glance at them I can’t help but smile a little. And *sometimes* they even affect the way I talk to my girls… I’m a little more patient with them or I decide to say yes instead of no to one of their inconvenient requests. Not only that, but my family loves them! All three of my girls will sit around together and quietly flip through our photo books. I make it a priority to create a book that is an overview of each year and these are the definite favorites!”– Hannah Cross, Photographer
9. Photo + Artwork Shelves
I love love love this artwork + family photo combo for wall shelves. Andrea, a contributor to Chris Loves Julia, explains her motivation for printing her family photos to display in her home:
I wanted to curate a wall that was full of a lot of moments that would make us happy when we look at it. I wanted to curate a wall that included those nostalgic photos that pop up on Facebook memories or the ones that are buried deep in subfolders that make you so happy when they’re found again! I didn’t want to hold back putting up framed shots of our son, even if there were two on each shelf. I also liked the idea of including original art I’ve collected over the new years, and maybe throwing some new prints into the mix.– Andrea, Chris Loves Julia
10. Combine with other prints
In this wall grouping, Caitlin combined images from different photo sessions (engagement photos and wedding photos) to hang above her couch. She created a cohesive gallery by choosing the same frame and same size print (16×20) for all the photos.
Now you have no excuse to keep your photos on your device!
When you work with me for your family photo session, one of the things we will discuss during our consultation is what empty walls you’d like to fill, or where else you’d like to sprinkle family photos throughout your home. I love making personalized recommendations, and I will come armed with suggestions for custom wall art during our ordering session!
PS – these ideas aren’t just for professional family photos. Print your phone snapshots as well! They quality won’t be as great to enlarge for a huge print, but smaller pieces of artwork will be just fine! Do what it takes to get your memories off of your device and into your real life!