Display Those Photos
Back when film and developing cost real bucks, we somehow always managed to accumulate piles of family photos, tucked away in moldering cardboard boxes. Today, thanks to digital cameras, that pile has turned into an avalanche. Our digicams are clogged with snaps of family, friends and pets. We dump them onto our hard drives in a folder called “pictures”, we upload them to Facebook, and download them to flash drives. However, what we hardly ever do with them is display them in our homes. If you have mega-gigabytes of digital images or dusty albums full of old prints, here are some tips for sorting and displaying them.
Generally, for display purposes you want to choose photos that tell stories or communicate a theme, such as a family tree or an event. It’s fine to mix different sizes, even to mix color with black and white. The initial sorting process should focus first on the quality of the photo and its emotional impact. You can always enlarge or crop, so don’t get too bogged down about size or composition at this point.
According to Gael Towey, editorial director for “Martha Stewart Living” magazine, when it comes to sorting photos to decide which to display, it’s great to make it a family project, but it will go faster if one person is designated as the final decision maker. Otherwise, your kids may vote to toss those adorably goofy pics of them.
WikiHow.com offers a simple process to organize and catalog your digital shots, which is the first step to deciding which you want to display:
• Download an image organizer such as Picasa
• Get in the habit of immediately filing your photos into dated and labeled subfolders when you transfer them from your camera to your computer
• Go back and create subfolders for all the stuff you’ve already dumped into your giant pictures file
• Regularly back up your digital photos using CDs, DVDs or an online file backup service
Now for the fun part. The way you frame and display your photos is limited only to your imagination. Here are a few ideas from the experts to get you started.
Paige Johnson, a Calgary, Alberta-based interior designer, says you can create a clean, crisp look for a modern home by having all your selections mounted or framed with the same backing and finishes. Keeping the images in the same family of shapes (all square or all rectangular) creates a polished look, even if the actual sizes are different. However, Johnson says, “Having a more eclectic look is a bit easier because you probably already have frames around the house… Once you’ve picked your images and frames, arrange them on the floor in the design that you like.” Johnson recommends that you snap a digital picture of the preferred arrangement before you begin hanging so that you have a point of reference.
Or, you could follow Gael Towey’s suggestion and tape photocopies of your selected images to pieces of white paper the approximate size of the frames you’ll use. Use removable tape to position them directly to the wall. That way, you can live with the arrangement for a while before you commit to it.
Want something that lets you change or rearrange your photo displays more easily? Amy Lucy Lockheart recommends ledges, which provide flat surfaces for arranging framed or mounted photos at different eye levels. For a rustic look, hang a piece of twine and suspend photos from it using wooden clothespins.
If you really want to get off-the-wall with your photo displays, Anjelika Temple has “30 Creative Ways to Repurpose Photos” that include:
• Turning them into clothing items like T-shirts or handbags using an online service or do-it-yourself kit
• Making them into gift tags for presents
• Applying them to the vertical surface behind shelves to create a family photo backdrop
• Using them to create coasters (nice gifts for grandparents!)
• Creating refrigerator magnets
• Grouping computer printouts of multiple photos together to create a table runner
Your digital photos can live in cyberspace forever, but any prints you choose not to display should be carefully stored to prevent damage and deterioration. The National Archives recommend “climate-controlled storage rooms… kept at a constant moderate or cool temperature (e.g. 65-70 degrees) and moderate relative humidity (e.g. 35-50 percent).” Since that’s hard to maintain at home, consider renting a climate-controlled self storage unit.