How to Display Your Photos
This is a quick, easy and CHEAP guide to displaying your photos. It’s long over due that I talk about how to display your photos. I talk about how to get the most out of your time in front of the lens – but I never seem to discuss what happens after the session is over and you get your photos, which is easily the most important part of the whole process. First and foremost it is totally and completely imperative that you PRINT OUT YOUR PHOTOS. It is so heartbreaking to hear the stories from people about how they lost their beloved memories to a hard drive crash or a malfunctioning disc or USB drive. This happens all the time to people! I know because I hear about it. Do yourself a favor and make a hard copy of all those photos that are important to you – don’t trust Facebook or instagram to keep them for you, because you never know. Not to mention there is something so much more touching about having a tangible photograph then just looking at a screen. I could not imagine going to my grandmothers and flipping through a Facebook photo album to see old photos of my family growing up and making memories. It just would not be as real.
1. Invest in simple frames WITH white matte and skip the canvas prints!
My first tip for how to display your photos is to invest in a set of nice matching frames with white matte board framing the image. A white matte on a photo turns it from a snap shot into a piece of art. It’s a totally classic way to frame a photo – meaning it’s never going to go out of style. I personally really hate the look of photos printed onto canvas. I know, I know, this is like everyone’s favorite thing for the past few years – but to me it’s just a fad that is going to look very dated in the future. Although canvas prints are a big money maker in my industry, I always try to talk clients out of buying them. I make less money off selling prints over canvas, but I honestly believe a print is just a better investment in your imagery. Your money would be better spent on a beautiful frame and nice matte that will never go out of style. Additionally, the print in a frame can be replaced while a canvas print is something you cannot ever change.
The other reason I love the look of a white matte on a photo in a frame is because it maximizes the size of the image. You can easily turn a 5 x 7 print into an 8 x 10 by adding a white matte – meaning it takes up more space on your wall, making it look that much more important. And again, it’s just a big money saver. The bigger the print, the more it’s going to cost, so if you spend less money on a smaller print, you can put more into the frame or buy more prints.
Below is my favorite photo I’ve ever taken. It was in Tel Aviv on the Port of Jaffa in Israel early in the morning. I walked up as the sun was rising to see an old man fishing off the port and a small cat curled up waiting for a snack. Putting this photo into a frame like this makes it feel more important and causes people to stop and really look at it. I have 9 frames just like this one, which I bought from Target for a very reasonable price. I have them hanging in a 3 x 3 square on the wall and they are from my travels all over the world.
2. Magnets on the Fridge
This tradition came from two different experiences: growing up my Mom collected magnets from where ever we traveled, so naturally I continued the tradition. Anytime I go anywhere, I buy a kitschy little souvenir magnet and proudly stick it on my fridge. The second reason I started putting my photos on my fridge was because one time I was at a friend’s house and she was telling me all these stories about people I had never met and didn’t know. She would just point to the person in the photos that were covering her refrigerator. It was like a little reference book of her friends – and I just fell in love with the idea. I constantly take polaroids of my friends (as you can see in the photo below) and they make the perfect little images to display on my fridge!
As a photographer, I take it as the ultimate compliment when someone sticks a photo I took on their fridge. I think it’s because I know that they’re going to look at that image every single day. It will be a reference for stories they tell family and friends. To me, it totally fills me with joy to see not only my travels proudly displayed with my magnet collection, but also the faces and memories that I will forever cherish. It makes me grateful every time I open my fridge.
3. A Simple Store-Bought Photo Album you Love
I have been taking photos for as long as I can remember – and I didn’t start with a big fancy camera. I started with box cameras when I was in middle and elementary school! Being the nostalgia addict that I am I kept every. single. photo. I think the best way to display these kind of silly photos is with a big photo album where you can just slide the photos into the pages. Find one you think is cute that matches your decor and buy it! They are not very expensive, and if you keep it out on a coffee table or on a book shelf, you’ll be surprised how many of your guests pick it up to look through it — and don’t leave out the embarrassing photos!! It’s like watching someone’s “Behind the Music.” We want to see it all, even the weird phases. It’s all part of your story and memories and we all had those awkward years (See images below for a glimpse at mine!) Not only will a photo album like this one help you to display your old photos from way-back-when, it will also serve as a way to protect the photos. If you leave them out and exposed to light, they begin to fade. So images that came from a box camera 10 years ago are totally irreplaceable (unless you are some sort of super human that also kept the negatives) it’s a good idea to keep them behind plastic and in the dark.
4. Professionally Designed Photo Album
While I’m a big fan of the easy and cheap ways to display photos, there is a time and place to spend some money – and that is on professional photo albums for big moments! These serve the same purpose as the album above – they invite people to look at them and keep photos safe – but they also are professionally curated to tell your specific story to future generations of your family. Most photographers are photographing your event with a story and layout in mind. We want to tell your unique story from the perspective of a fly on the wall – and we aren’t doing it so that the photos will live in a Facebook Album forever! We are designing your album as we are taking the photos. Good times to invest in a professional photo album are your wedding day, like the one below or a child’s first year (from birth photos to first birthday) a family vacation, or a “Day in the Life” session makes a great photo album because as your kids grow they’ll be able to look back and see what a day in their life was like at that age. Professional photo albums are designed to tell a story, and the quality is far beyond anything you can order yourself. NO, SHUTTERFLY BOOKS AREN’T LIKE THE ONES WE MAKE FOR YOU. The pages are big and thick, and the album as weight to it. Essentially it says to future generations : this was important. It’s not the cheapest thing in the world, but it’s an investment that will tell your story long after you cannot. Plus, they’re really beautiful!
Album designed by Kate McLean
5. Black and White Prints
There is this magical thing that happens when you make an image black and white. It’s suddenly old. It’s suddenly a very specific moment in time. It’s suddenly very cinematic in nature. This is probably the easiest way to take photos you have of your family and display them. Not sure what photo to hang on what wall because you don’t know if the colors go or if it’ll look ok? Turn it black and white. Now, that photo goes with any room decor. Again, this is a totally classic way to display images. I promise you that black and white photos, especially in a nice frame with a white matte, will look stunning in any room or on a wall or on a side table. I think the most compliments I get are on the black and white photos I have around of my family like the one below. It’s just a regular snapshot of my brother and mom laughing on a couch. But it’s black and white and in a white matte, which makes people take a second to look at it. They linger on the facial expressions a little longer because it’s black and white. They appreciate the image on a different level. It brings a whole new perspective to a rather simple photo. When in doubt, go black and white!
I hope this spelled out some of the ways you can display your favorite images and inspired you to print out some memories. I honestly believe surrounding yourself with happy memories from your life can make you a better person. It can lift your spirits on a rainy day to look up and see a happy moment from years before. So don’t be afraid to hang up all those photos! Also, If you have a special way you like to display your images – let me know! I am always looking for inspiration and I love to hear everyone’s take on this kind of thing.
ALL Sessions come with a free consult about prints and how to display them after we are done! If you want advice on what to do with your images, all you have to do is ask or email me at Kate@KateMcLeanPhotography.com