As a mother of three who loves to travel, I have countless photos to remind me of my loved ones and journeys. The problem is that those photos are either stashed away in boxes, stored on my computer, or languishing on photo websites. Though it’s easy to maintain our digital holding ground in this technological age, some of those photos deserve a rightful place in our homes to be enjoyed. Standing alone or artfully grouped, framed photographs are perhaps one of the quickest, easiest decorating staples we can all use to personalize our homes.
When selecting photographs to frame, choose photos that convey a certain mood or evoke memories that are meaningful to you. Photos that are not only beautiful but significant and fun will create an overall sense of delight every time the collection catches your eye. Although we all gravitate toward pictures of family, friends and vacations, you can also add interest to a grouping of photographs by including shots of buildings, still life, and abstract and architectural close-ups. Selecting images that are clear, simple and have good contrast between dark and light will also make a statement. Photographs that meet these specifications will reduce and enlarge well.
Going through old pictures may also provide inspiration for choosing images to frame. If you are still at a loss for which photos to frame, commit to printing and framing one or two shots the next time you get out the camera for an event. Starting out slowly will provide you with the inspiration you need to create a meaningful arrangement of photographs.
Frame Your Photographs
A frame can either distract from or enhance a photo; perhaps this pressure is what makes choosing a frame so difficult. Lamar Cecil, who co-owns The Silver Thistle with his wife Geri, has some ideas that eliminate the guesswork in selecting a frame. He suggests looking around the room where the collection of photographs will be placed, and ask yourself what color works in the room and what level of formality are you trying to achieve. He says, “Think of the subject matter [of the photograph]. If you have a picture of your grandmother in her wedding dress, you should not pick something modern because you will have a disconnect between the photo and the subject matter.” Also consider that while the frame needs to be attractive, it should not be the principal object of attention.
You must also consider if the frame will stand alone or be part of a grouping or vignette. This will help you avoid choosing a frame “that will be in a jarring relationship with the other photos in a grouping,” he says. For example, a whimsical frame is best kept as statement piece on its own, rather than being placed with other frames. If you are creating a grouping, use the same type of frame to keep the focus on the photos and not on the frames themselves. Cecil suggests wood or metal, but even sticking to one color will work for a collection. “Multiple frame styles will bring the attention to the frames, not the photos,” he explains. If you prefer the eclectic look, then opt for similar styles of varying sizes. Also keep in mind that some photos sit well in larger frames with a big surround (think 4×6 photo in an 11×14 frame), which will give the photo greater emphasis.
Before you start, you might want to set a budget for your photo vignette. Frame prices vary tremendously, so have a price range in mind before the shopping begins. Perusing local thrift stores, antique shops and yard sales will also help you build your collection of frames, especially when a fresh coat of paint can unify your found treasures.
Adorn Your Home with Photos
Creating a grouping of photos in your home will create a visual impact. Symmetrical placement is pleasing to the eye, yet an assortment of varying heights and sizes adds an element of diversity to the display. Be sure that the photos can all be viewed easily, as your family and even guests will enjoy perusing the mix of photos you have created; photos are great conversation-starters. Using easels will also create varying heights and add interest to your collection.
Bookshelves are an excellent background for photos. Stack books and place a framed image on top, or create a grouping to stand alone on a shelf without books. Even leaning larger framed photos against vertically stacked books will break up the monotony of an uninteresting bookshelf.
Rotating your photo collection from room to room or switching out the photos used in a display will help keep things lively and interesting. It may also help motivate you to get those images off the computer and into your home.
So wherever your photos are—in boxes, on your computer, or in frames from many years ago—take the time to revisit, reframe and rearrange. The vignettes you create will bring new life to old memories.
• House Beautiful The Home Book: Creating a Beautiful Home of Your Own by Carol Spier
• Photocraft: Cool Things to Do with the Pictures You Love by Caroline Herter et al.