Sunday, July 01, 2007

So You Think You Can Frame Art?

Photo: The New Photo Wall

My longtime friend Beebe expressed some concerns about how to deal with odd walls and photos. As it happens, this afternoon I finished up a photo project I started a few weeks back. I thought I would post some tips in the hopes that it will help others not to fear photo displays. Good luck to you all.


Step 1: Find the wall you want to fill with photos and determine how much space you would like to fill with art or portraits.

Step 2: Decide whether or not you would like matching frames or an eclectic mix. I have done both styles in my house, but for this project I chose the eclectic mix.

Step 3: Go to a store and start frame shopping (I know, pull your arm a little harder).

In this case I was planning to do a montage of family photos spanning seven decades, which included my husband, my immediate family, my in-laws, and myself. Because the photos were so varied, and because this display is on an upstairs hall, size and style variations were optimal. In the store I selected a huge number and style of frames and laid them all out to determine which to keep and which to put back. I also found several frames marked down on clearance bringing the price down to $3-5 for several of them.

Remember to check discount stores, clearance bins, and consignment stores. You never know what you'll find. For this mix I used three types of leather, including suede, several types and stains of wood, grass, metal, lacquer, and silver leafing.

Photo: Planning Stages

Step Four: Lay your frame design out on the floor in the pattern you think will work best for your wall. It may take several tries to get something you like and you may decide you want to take some frames back to the store later if they aren't working for your display. Take a digital picture of your floor plan to use as a map later.

Step Five: Determine what photos you want to use. You are not a slave to your existing photo sizes. Your scanner is your best friend when doing a photo montage. After writing down what dimensions you have available in your frames, and whether or not they are horizontal or vertical, start selecting photos for scanning (please be advised that professional photos are copyrighted and may not be duplicated without permission from the photographer or studio -- fines are steep and most labs won't process them without a letter giving permission).

Scan your photos at a very high resolution, then crop and resize at 300 dpi in the size and dimension you need (i.e. 4x6 or 9x9). Be sure to increase contrast, fix red-eye, or convert to B&W when appropriate. Google Picassa has a great program for editing images if you don't own Adobe PhotoShop. Remember that you can create odd sizes if you have alternative frames sizes like a square, long rectangle, or oval.

Tip 1: Cropped snapshots of your favorites make great wall art. If scanned at a high enough resolution, you can comfortably go up to 11x14 inches.

Tip 2: Photos on a wall appear much smaller than they really are. Don't be afraid to go 8x10 inches or larger for some photos.

Tip 3: You can submit photos digitally online to be processed. Wal-Mart uses matte finish for sizes up to 8x10, which is much better than glossy.

Photo: Finished Product from Top of Stairs

Step Six: After you have framed all of your photos, you can begin measurements for hanging. It is best to start from your largest and most centered print and move out from there (like a spider web). You should space frames 1-10 inches depending on the effect you are going for.

Tip 1: Use frame hangers rated for 20 lbs. or higher for larger prints found at any home improvement store.

Tip 2: Be flexible and make small changes if you like the arrangement a little differently on the wall.

Tip 3: When hanging standard prints on standard walls, measure your print to hang with the top of the frame at 6-feet. This height is museum height for most artwork and is considered eye-level.

Tip 4: For groupings of two or three images, try stacking images one on top of the other, or side-by-side in a row. This can add interest to an otherwise boring display. You can use same size frames or different size frames.

Photo: Finished Product Looking Up

There you have it. If you have any more questions or are confused about anything, please ask me in the comments section. I hope this will remove some fear from anyone trying to figure out what to do with a wall or some old photos you want to look at all the time. Have fun and remember that if you like it, that's good enough.


K&B Brown said...

What a great explanation.

Now what if you have 3 but are planning on adding more, do you have to rehang with additions?

Ali-kat said...

If you are planning on adding more later, you may need to reconfigure. A little spackle never hurt anyone. However, if you know what your end result will be, you can make a plan that uses your current three as the center to build out from. Try drawing your plan on paper to see how you can grow into the photo display you ultimately want.

Emily said...

What a lovely tutorial! Someday I hope to develop my wedding pictures, and that ought to come in handy.

Karen B said...

Just so you know, I did not think I could frame art as your title suggests. The evindence is a laundry basket overflowing with empty picture frames and all the bare walls in my house. The only pictures hanging were framed and hung by you. So thanks for that.

Jake said...

Here's how I roll.