People often tease me for taking too many photos; Nonetheless, they admire the gallery walls I’ve created in our homes over the years as well as our dozens of photo books. Friends often remark, “I am so overwhelmed by how many photographs I have, I don’t even know where to start.” So they don’t and sadly, their photos remain in their phones, cameras, computers or in a printed-stack collecting dust. Today, I am going to share the process of creating a Gallery Wall.
- Be realistic. Dude. You haven’t gotten this mess together in how long? You aren’t going to do this in one day. So go ahead and tone down your expectations. Everything that I write below should be done in steps- phases, days, months. Whatever. You’re doing the best you can- give yourself credit for taking the pics to begin with and for each step you successfully check off this list. You’re amazing.
- Download all of your photos from your phone and/or camera to your computer and create a “Favorites” folder. This could be inside the photo program on your computer (I have a Mac so I use iPhoto) or in a file on your desktop. If you have already printed your photos, go through them and select your favorites.
- Choose your wall space. Use a tape measure, or even better, painters tape to measure and visualize the space that you plan to cover with frames.
- Map it out. If you have already printed your photos then lay them out on the floor, in an area comparable to the wall space you have selected and rearrange them until you like what you see. Sometimes I will do a pocket area of black and whites, sometimes I mix BxW with color prints. You may want to organize them chronologically, by event or theme (wedding, birthday, holiday, location, professional photos) or you may like seeing them all mixed together. It will be easier to decide once you see it. If you haven’t yet printed photos, you may want to order inexpensive 4×6 copies just so you can use them to visualize your space. If you don’t want to bother ordering the 4x6s (I often don’t) you can do what I do- sketch it out! Sometimes I number the photos I have saved in my “favorites” folder on my computer and then I draw really horrible pictures to help me visualize:
- Determine Frame Size. When looking at your sketch or the photos you have arranged on the floor, decide which ones would look best enlarged. This is when sketching really comes in handy. You can draw larger boxes for 11x14s, 8x10s and 5x7s. This will also help you narrow down your list of favorites- chances are, this is when you discover that you won’t be able to fit them all on one wall (time to find another wall for your next gallery project!).
- Purchase Frames. After you have visualized your space, start shopping for frames. I am SUPER cheap when it comes to frames because we just don’t have money set aside for home decor these days. I get most of my frames from Walmart, Dollar Tree or Amazon. The nice thing about getting them locally is that you can buy a variety of sizes and colors and then RETURN the ones you don’t end up using. Do you want your frames to be all black? White? Silver? Do you want to mix-and-match colors and patterns? This sounds cheesy, but let the photographs and frames speak to YOU. This is not about doing what you “should” do or what has “been done”. This is about your personal aesthetic. You should look at this wall and feel happy every time you see it, so if you see something you like, buy it! You can always return it. (Side Note: Make sure your frames include the necessary hardware to be able to HANG your frame on the wall- some do not include this!)
- Purchase Quality Prints. After you have purchased your frames and returned the ones you do not want, you will now know which prints will go where, so buy nice ones. I CANNOT STRESS TO YOU ENOUGH HOW IMPORTANT QUALITY PRINTS ARE. Cheap frames are not the focal point- the images inside them are!!! The lowest-priced, best quality prints I have purchased are from a company called Mpix. You order them online and they ship them to you. Easy!
- Hang them. Fill your frames, smile, and get ready to hang. If you are my husband, you will put on your tool belt, grab the largest level known-to-man and measure the exact distance between each frame for perfection. If you are me, you will stand back, eyeball it and go for it. His way takes hours longer, my way results in unnecessary holes along-the-way. Your call!
Practice makes perfect. The more “gallery walls” you make, the better you’ll get. The goal is to get them on the wall, so if you’ve accomplished that- congratulations! Cheers to you 🙂
Dee Akright (wedding) & Camille Vaughan Photography