If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the importance of friends and family.
As many of us find ourselves missing those we’re closest to, we can still surround ourselves with loved ones even when COVID-19 is keeping us apart. Enter the wonderful world of photos.
With so many people spending time at home, there hasn’t been a better time to get that photo project started (and hopefully finished).
Here’s how to tackle it in the six easy steps:
Step 1: Curate your photos
When starting a photo project, many would start by buying frames. But it’s easier to go through your photos first. Whether you’re scrolling through your phone or digging through boxes in the attic, finding the photos you want to display can be a daunting task.
Emily Dubin, senior director of innovation at Artifact Uprising, recommends highlighting favorite photos on your computer or phone as you go and deleting poorly lit or accidental photos to avoid accumulating too many. From there, she encourages people to organize themed albums based on occasions and create folders on your computer printing them.
“We have a saying that blurry is beautiful, meaning that sometimes the best photos are not the perfectly posed or staged photos, but those photos that capture those perfectly imperfect moments,” Dubin said. “When you’re choosing photos of family and friends to display, you want photos that bring the feeling of connectedness alive, like a shot of Grandpa giving his trademark wink. … It’s these intimate things that help remind us of those bright moments.”
Step 2: Pick a project
When it comes to photos, your wall is not the limit. There are many options to showcase those you love.
“We offer freshly sourced, custom goods like photo art, puzzles, calendars and pillows that you can personalize,” said Becky Levin, a spokeswoman for Minted.com, a design marketplace with over 15,000 independent artists from around the globe.
She also recommends pairing art with photos. “Your home should be a reflection of you, and mixing personal photos with art is a great way to show your style and tell a story.”
Photo books — those where the photos are printed directly on the page — are another popular choice to display photos in a different way. Companies such as Artifact Uprising specialize in this.
“We love how a photo book filled with meaningful photos can be displayed in place of a traditional coffee table book or on a photo ledge or open shelving, inviting you to flip through favorite memories with family and friends more often,” Dubin said.
For someone who wants more flexibilitya digital frame is the perfect solution — and it makes a great gift even for digitally challenged loved ones. With a company like Aura Frames, you download a free app, plug in the frame and start adding photos. And with unlimited storage, you won’t run out of space.
“Aura not only stores digital images you upload yourself, but allows others to send photos to the device as well from wherever they may be — keeping families and friends connected without Zoom fatigue or relying on social media,” said Abdur Chowdhury, CEO and co-founder of Aura Frames.
Step 3: Consider location
Once you find the photos you want to display and decide how, the next step is finding the perfect location. There isn’t a bad place to hang a framed photo, but keep your audience in mind, said Tessa Wolf, creative director at Framebridge,
“If it’s in an entertaining spot like a living or dining room, curate a collection of pieces that will make you happy and tell a story you’ll want to share with family and friends, like funny moments from childhood or backpacking across the country,” she said. “If you want to make a gallery wall of your wedding photos, consider hanging them in a bedroom or other private space for just the two of you to see and appreciate.”
Fox Point resident Claudia Martin created a gallery wall of black and white photos leading to her basement representing four generations of family.
“Many of these family members are no longer living, and the photos are a way of keeping them with us,” Martin said. “I liked the idea of displaying everything in black and white to make it classic and timeless.
“I purposely wanted a variety of shapes and sizes, as long as the frames were black. It’s made it really easy to add to the collection over the years because I never had to worry about finding an exact match.”
For her clients at a Pine Lake home, Leslie Dohr, president and owner of Leslie Dohr Interior Design in Whitefish Bay, displayed family photos in bookshelves.
“When doing this, you want to choose frames that are similar in material and size so they all work together,” Dohr said. “It allows the eye to take in the more unique elements on your bookshelf.”
Step 4: Unleash your inner designer
Options for frames and prints range from photos printed on canvas to floating frames. How do you choose?
Lauren Henesy, a Milwaukee-based influencer and blogger at henesyhouse.com, created a gallery wall above her living room couch using the same black frames.
“Once I decided on nine frames, I knew I just had to find the center of the wall and the desired height,” she said. “Luckily, these frames came with templates to help you with spacing and placement. I started with the top center frame and worked outwards from there.”
One of the biggest mistakes she sees people make is mixing too many styles and colors of frames, she said.
“This gets too busy and distracts from what’s inside the frame,” she said. “Whether a gallery wall or a grouping of standing frames, choose one to two colors of frames to create a calmer and more cohesive look.”
Creating a vignette of frames on a table can also make a statement on its own, said Keven Weber, interior designer with Peabody’s Interiors in Brown Deer.
“I’m usually a more is more designer, but not when it comes to family photos. Select a few of your very favorites or most memorable and put them in the most beautiful frames you can find,” Weber said. “Pick frames that have varied heights, patterns and colors to complement your interior.”
Step 5: Get it made
Before hitting the green light on print, edit your photos.
“You don’t have to be a pro to make a few slight adjustments that will help your photos print beautifully,” Dubin said. “Some of our go-to steps include adjusting the brightness, contrast and saturation and ensuring the photo is cropped to emphasize the scene.”
This you can accomplish on your phone, within Google Photos or through apps like Adobe Lightroom or VSCO. When it’s time to print your photos, online companies like Mpix and Artifact Uprising can tackle your printing needs as well as professional framing. Because everything is digital, it’s simple to upload photos.
For professional framing of printed photos, people can mail them to companies like Framebridge and choose between multiple framing options.
Step 6: Install, sit back and enjoy
When deciding how to display your photos on a table, it’s easy to move everything around before deciding on a placement. When you’re hanging framed photos on a wall, be more precise.
People tend to hang art too high, Wolf said. If you are hanging something above a piece of furniture, the bottom of the frame should be eight to 10 inches above the furniture. If the frame is going on a blank wall, the vertical center of the frame should be about 57 inches from the floor.
For a gallery wall, think of the collection of frames as one giant piece for hanging purposes, and follow the same rules for placement.
“Always keep between two and three inches of vertical and horizontal space between each frame in a gallery wall,” Wolf said. “Less and you’ll have trouble controlling the arrangement, more and it will look like you didn’t plan to hang them together.”
To create her own gallery wall, Whitefish Bay resident Ruth Wallace used the large, blank wall in her upstairs hallway to display wedding photos of her and her husband’s parents and all four sets of grandparents.
“We wanted our daughters Danielle and Emma to know where and whom they came from,” Wallace said. “We look at the wall and remember that our ancestors survived pogroms, wars, The Great Depression, influenza and polio epidemics. And no matter what we are going through now, we will survive and thrive, too.”
Alysha Witwicki is a retail copywriter and food writer living in Whitefish Bay. Contact her at email@example.com.