How to display documentary photos in your home

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” -Andy Warhol

We’re going to go on a little home tour of sorts today, as I show you some of my favorite ways to display our photos.

First stop… my workspace… it’s my place to be creative. It’s very “me” and all my girl things in a world surrounded with boys.  It’s my space to feel renewed and restful in my mind.

Filling the walls of my space are photos and quotes, book passages, art supplies, and anything that makes me feel happy.

But it all started with those Polaroid style photos you can see hanging up there.  Those images were found when we moved into our current house, stuffed in a random box that I probably thought “oh I’ll always remember that I put those in THERE…” except I didn’t and found them months after the move.

Those photos are some of my all time favorite photos of my boys in their early years.  I change around a lot of the prints in our house, but those images will stay there. They are grounding to me. They remind me that even though the boys are growing, they were once tiny little creatures who needed me so much. When I look at them, they make me smile. They also make me remember to never take these days we live for granted.

One of the main reasons I print and display all the many images I take is for this reason… so we remember not to take anything for granted. As we watch them grow, we hang the memories on the walls of our house so that we can really “see” them frozen in time. And the display itself holds memories… it’s actually my crib springs from my baby bed when I was little. My mom kept our cribs, and when we couldn’t use the actual crib, I decided to use it as a fun way to hold images and other inspiring things.

One of the main ways I print and display our images is in photo albums. I pretty much print every single image I edit that I’ve taken of our family. Might be a little overkill but oh well.

Over the years of our little family, I’ve done so many types of photo albums.  I’ve done the simple 4×6 albums you can buy at any store, the “vintage”  style of placing the prints in books with those photo corners that stick to the page. I’ve done digital photo books. I’ve done scrapbooks. One year I even used a calendar and printed out each photo I took of that day, using the pages to journal on.

The last few years though, I’ve been printing our daily photos in 4x6s and putting them in 12×12 pocket style photo albums. Even though it’s less cost effective, we love being able to touch each photos as we flip through the albums. I found this fun cube organizer at Walmart and it’s perfect for storing our photo albums behind our couch. I’ve also started printing out 4×4’s of some images and simply placing them in random boxes around our house!

This is what “print day” looks like. My print lab usually does a quarterly sale on 4x6s so I do a huge order and put them all out on the table to organize them before I put them in the album. The boys love looking through the photos as I pull them out of the packages.
Confession. I am extremely “Type B” while The Hubs is very much “Type A.” In our last house I had a ton of photos on collage walls. This house, he politely asked me to not put so many holes in the walls. So… off to Pinterest I went and found plans to build my own photo shelves! Such a fast and really inexpensive project… I even ended up building more to use as bookshelves in another room of our house.

The photos in this display change over time… I keep a few the same though… like our wedding photo… the boys as babies… and my favorite family photo of us. But the others change whenever I make new photos that I love and want to see every day.

As I was building the photo shelves, I had some remnant wood… can’t let that go to waste! These hold single 8×10 frames along another wall in the house.

Sometimes, as artists, we see things differently than other people. This display and the prints in them feel like that to me. To most people, they’re blurry and random… but to me, they’re a fun series of the life of my boys. They’re always a blur… they’re always doing something sneaky and funny, and always on the trampoline. We had a huge wall to cover, so I found a place to print them out as poster size prints, 18×24, and got some cheap poster frames from Walmart and ta-da! Custom wall art for a large blank wall!

In our entry way, I made these home made clip boards, more remnants of wood from another project.  I think I saw this idea on Pinterest as well… another confession… I’m not that creative… I’m just good at “re-creating” what is there.  They currently don’t have actual photos on them… but would be great for that as well!  And right as we grab our keys I see this photo that reminds me to be more adventurous myself, and also to let my boys be boys and do all the crazy fun things they think are cool!

Ok. Just look past the dull laundry room that I never got around to decorating… except for these photos. The idea was that this was the mud room… so why not display some cute “dirty photos” of the boys. These are just pants hangers! Pinterest again for the win!

The last display idea I had was simple… just a blown up funny photo that made sense to me. This photo is of a dairy farm back home where The Hubs and I grew up. If you look closely, the cows are all fighting to feed out of a trough that says “PLEASE KEEP OUT OF TROUGH.” It’s prominately displayed right over our kitchen table… where it feels like the boys are just like the cows in the photo… always eating and fighting over the food on the table.  Just like the big prints in our living room, I printed these as poster size and got another simple poster frame… great for a big empty wall! Plus, it’s funny and meaningful for us.

There are lots of reasons to display your photos… but this is one of my favorite…

That my boys love going through the albums and prints, seeing the memories, and remembering them.

When you take as many photos as I do, you have to learn how to be creative in displaying them all… I hope you get some inspiration from my hodge podge of styles!


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I'm Meg, family documentary/storytelling photographer in SC. I love capturing the beauty in everyday "real life" moments.

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