How to Get the Most Out of Your Photos

Do you display your photos in your home? Or are they all sitting on your computer? In this age of digital photography, we are so fortunate to be able to take as many photos as we like without having to worry about cost. My daughter can't imagine how we used to take photos with a camera that didn't have a screen. "How did you know if the picture looked good?" My, she knows how to make me feel ancient.

But along with the blessing of being able to capture every moment we want to remember comes the tragic loss of actually enjoying our photos. When I was a little girl, one of my favorite parts of visiting my grandmother's house was sitting down with all of her photo albums and spending hours looking at each photo. I have so many fun memories from my childhood ingrained into my mind, not just because they were memorable experiences, but also because I revisited them as often as I had the chance. 

Now we take a zillion photos with our phones but those photos almost never make it any farther than Instagram or Facebook. Don't get me wrong; I love sharing photos on social media. If you know me at all you know that's the case! In fact, I kind of look at Facebook as my personal scrapbook. But I don't often have the time to sit down and look through my Facebook albums the way I used to look at my grandma's albums when I was a kid. And my children certainly never get to see whatever is posted on social media. That is why it has become increasingly more important to me to print my photos and to display them everywhere I can!

So let me share with you how I have photos displayed in my home to maybe inspire and encourage you to get your photos off of your phone or computer and into your home! Before I share, just let me say this: I know I am not a talented home decorator. So if I can find a way to display my family's images, then anyone can do it!

Let's start with the obvious, shall we? The easiest place to display photos is in your hallways! My hallway display has various sizes and groupings of photos which makes it super easy for me to change photos out whenever I want to without having to change every single photo if I don't want to. I try to keep my hallway photos pretty current with nothing over a year old. But there are no rules about that sort of thing, so put whatever you want in those hallway frames!

The mantel is another super easy place to display your photos. I am still searching for the perfect smaller frames to add to my mantel, but I plan to layer two or three more photos in with the things that are already displayed on my mantel. A lot of people like to put a large canvas on their mantels, which I LOVE, but I chose this frame because when I saw it in the store I knew I couldn't leave without it! And since large prints are more affordable than large canvases, I'm able to update this photo every year and keep it current. As fast as my littles are growing and changing, those annual photos are a must!

I love frames that hold multiple photos for lifestyle and documentary (or candid) shots. I feel like sometimes it's easy to assume that there is some kind of rule that only perfectly posed and styled images belong in frames on the walls. This just isn't true! If it's a moment you want to remember, or an image that perfectly represents the subjects (say, perhaps your 3-year-old rolling around on the living room with her favorite blanket and no pants) then hang it up and enjoy looking at it often! The images in my white frame are such perfect captures of what I like to call "our extraordinary ordinary." I stop and look at these every day!

I also love displaying older photos. In our master bedroom we have these photos on display from the year we got married. Almost ten years have passed since then and we both look a little different now. (Okay, a lot different.) But these images take me back to some very vivid and extremely special memories. And I think it's important to keep those magic moments close by!  

I love my cheap little Ikea bookcases! I have absolutely no idea how to style them and I don't have enough books on them yet. (It could be because I still have a box of books in the garage that I haven't unpacked since we moved in over a year ago, but let's not focus on that.) But I do know that they are the perfect place to put smaller photo frames! They are also where I store my photo albums and books. In the past I have ordered books from Shutterfly. I now order them from a pro lab, but the idea is the same. Make at least one book a year documenting the highlights of our year in photos. I love to pull these out and go through them with my girls. My littlest will point at each photo and tell me who and what she sees. My oldest likes to look through the books from when she was really small and ask me about everything that she can't remember. It's so fun! 

I also love Chatbooks. They are very inexpensive and require no effort at all on my part. I simply connected the Chatbooks app to my Instagram account and after 60 photos have been added they ship me a new book automatically. It's a nice way to preserve the photos I take with my phone as well as the fun little shares from my "big camera." And since they're so inexpensive, I don't mind the kids looking through them as often as they like. They are such an easy way to make our family photos accessible to the kids! You can also print Chatbooks from other social media accounts or just add photos directly from your phone. They are so fun!

Don't forget to display your photos in bedrooms and even bathrooms! In my older daughter's room I hung a message board to put her favorite photos on. I try to be purposeful about taking photos of her with her friends. We often take photos of our kids with family, but how often do we remember to capture their friendships? She loves having these photos in her bedroom! And her friends feel so special when they come over and see their pictures hanging on her wall. 

I also love these bathtime images hanging in the girls' bathroom. It's kind of hard to know how to decorate a bathroom that doubles as the children's and guest bathroom. I'm not big on things like nautical and beach themes, as they don't reflect anything about our family or experiences. But I loved this idea when I first saw it because it just makes sense in the bathroom and it's so darn cute!

When it comes to hanging photos be as creative as you like. Group small photos together or hang great big giant ones. Put them in frames or mod podge them onto painted plaques. Layer them on shelves or place them on tabletops. It doesn't really matter how you display them, just display them!

One final note about printed images: Where and how you print them really matters. Please, please don't pick up your prints from the drug store. There is a reason those prints are so cheap! If you have gone to all the trouble to dress your family nicely and have professional photos taken, why would you then take those gorgeous photos and have them printed somewhere that doesn't do them justice? Finish what you started and order them from your photographer; or at least order them online from a reputable printing company. (I recommend MPix.) Trust me, you'll thank me once you see the difference in quality!

How do you display your family's photos? I'm always looking for ideas! Leave me a comment below! And happy photo framing, y'all!