Displaying photos in your home

As you probably realize from my last few posts, I recently moved to Arizona. With that comes a new place to live and for me a lot of thought on what to put where to make it a home. And, on a personal note, I haven’t given up on hard-copy photos in this world of social networks and digital cameras. Photos make for great, personal art. So, In this post I’ll share a little about displaying photos and where you can get good quality prints and OK frames for cheap.

Displaying photos without a frame

When I lived in China, I made my apartment a home by putting photos on the wall that I had taken with me and that I made in China. I knew there wouldn’t be anything homey about my apartment and took some enlarged prints I already had to make it a bit more like my own place. I didn’t have frames but just put them on the wall thoughtfully, and it looked pretty good. After I’d been there a few months and traveled a bit, I printed some more pictures and put those up too.

photos on wall in Hefei apartment at Christmas

Photos on the wall in my Hefei apartment at Christmas time, hence the lights

I knew that was a temporary home, so I didn’t bother with frames. Frames aren’t always necessary to display photos and make a statement that is beautiful and well-designed. I’ve done it again on a wall in my new apartment. It isn’t perfect right now, but each image has a specific story and memory associated with it. What do you think?

Photos on my wall in my current apartment

This is the current photo montage on my wall.

Displaying photos in frames

In my current apartment I also have some framed pictures on my wall because that’s what lends best to the look. When I work with frames I generally go with simple black frames because they don’t distract from the images. I try to use the same frames for pictures in the same groupings because I like to create cohesive groupings. Using lots of different frame styles can work too if you’re doing a grouping with multiple sized pictures.

Around my TV I put a few of my favorite pictures from my travels and a picture of each member of my family. (The frames cost $1 at Walmart.) I have high ceilings and needed something tall, so I also put some tall, thin images (cropped and enlarged from others) on a shelf above. This is something I had in my Provo apartment for a time too with five of them over the sofa. Here three serve the purpose very well. They draw the eye up and give a great focal point on the wall adding a bit of drama to the room.

my current living room set up

Images on display in my current living room.

Printing pictures

I do most of my printing at Costco. It is pretty inexpensive for enlargements, meaning the cheapest I know for the quality you get. For example a 20″ x 30″ poster is less than $10. You can order these posters online along with other enlargements and prints. In fact, as a guy who doesn’t need to buy food in bulk, this is one of the biggest reasons I’ve had a Costco membership. However, the tall, thin pictures, 12″ x 36″, can only be ordered in the store. It isn’t listed on the ordering system anymore, but if you talk with the photo center employee you can tell them what you want – they can make it happen.

If you use a newer camera, especially DSLR, you probably notice that when you print you have to crop your pictures to fit standard frame sizes. This leads to a couple of problems, the biggest being that you have to compromise the composition of the image you captured. Costco helps with cropping giving options to print without cropping or the tools to crop when ordering.

If you’re putting them in frames, crop them before you order them. If you’re gonna do a grouping without frames, don’t worry about cropping. Also, if you’re gonna make enlargements, use photo-editing software to re-size them yourself to make sure they’re the right resolution and size for printing the sizes you want.

A few more tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to use different sizes. It makes it more interesting.
  • Print with a matte finish. It reduces smudging from fingerprints that are bound to appear while putting them in a frame or on the wall. They also don’t glare as much from the light with a matte finish.
  • You can use large pieces or displays to help decorate for different holidays. For example, I have three tall, thin images ready to put in the tall, thin frames for Christmas.
  • If you don’t know exactly what images to display, print extras and then see what they look like together and in the place you want to put them. Pictures look very different on your computer monitor than on the wall, especially if they are enlargements or cropped pictures.
  • Don’t have your own pictures to use? Find pictures from friends or online, but make sure you can have permission to print them. Also, make sure they have a significance to you other than just liking them because people will ask and if the photos have a story they mean more.

Share your adventures through photos. Don’t be afraid. Why take so many pictures of travels, special events and other memories just to store them on a hard drive or share them on a social network to soon be forgotten? Print some of those memories; don’t let them fade into distant memory.

One response to “Displaying photos in your home

  1. Pingback: Thanksgiving Day 13: Costco Photo Center « Adventure Patches·

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