How to Create a Family Photo Gallery

Family photos remind us of lifechanging events, joyful moments in time, the people we love and the people we've lost. They connect us to our past. For some of us, there is no such thing as "too many" family photos. We want to display everything. We don't want to forget a single moment, a single toothy grin, or any of those precious baby moments. But the success of a family photo gallery comes in being very decisive about what you choose to display. Displaying too many photos is just overwhelming; visitors don't end up looking at all because there's just too much going on. Frame after mismatched frame just results in a sense of clutter and disorganization, taking away from the precious images you're trying to highlight. With a few basic ideas, and a little brutal editing, you can have a beautiful, complete family photo gallery.

It All Starts With Editing

This is, by far, the hardest part. If you're like me, every single photo is a precious one (when it comes to photos of my kids, it's very, very difficult to be choosy!). But here's the great thing about a family photo gallery done this way: you can change the photos as often as you want! Just because you decide to display the photo of your little one wearing the cute pink jumper doesn't mean you can't decide next week to change it to the one where she's wearing the purple. You can even change the display seasonally, if you like, so that you have photos from the beach and swimming pool in summer, and wintry memories in winter (or vice-versa, if that's what suits you!) The goal here is to minimize the number of frames you have displayed. If you have six photos displayed of your little one's first few days on this earty, edit it down to one or two (I know, it's hard!) Pick your absolute favorites only. The main goal of the family photo gallery is to make you feel happy and to remind you of your very best memories. Pick photos from different stages of your child's life, some of your extended family and friends, wedding photos, graduation photos...anything that is really, really meaningful to you. The gallery kind of provides a "snapshot" of what is most important and treasured by you. Think of it that way, and editing becomes much easier.


Over the years, I developed a bad, but very common habit. Every time I had a new photo I wanted to frame, I went out and purchased whatever frame struck my fancy. What I ended up with by the time I decided to organize my photos was a hodgepodge of frames in different colors, styles, materials, and sizes. Does this mean that you have to go out and buy all new, matching frams when you decide to do a photo gallery? No! What I did, and what will work for anyone, is to choose as many frames as you have decided to hang (remember, we've edited already!). Look for frames that are similar in style. In my case, I ended up with several wood frames. Some were more elaborate than others, but they all kind of "worked" together. The next thing to do is buy yourself a couple of cans of spray paint. I went with matte black spray paint because I have a bit of a clean, modern thing going on in my house. If you're more country, go with an antique white, or a color that you distress a little. If you're very contemporary, there are metallic spray paints available that will look perfect. The key is to paint everything the same color so that you have a cohesive look. Something to remember here: we all have those very special, unique frames that we just love. I know I have some tile, stained glass, and silver frames that I would never part with. These can still be proudly displayed in your home, just not on the gallery wall. Consider highlighting these special frames, and the photos they contain, on a mantle, bookshelf, or side table.

Arranging and Hanging

Okay. So you've edited, and you have your favorite photos framed up in matching frames. The best way I've seen to figure out how to hang everything I learned from the Domestic Diva herself, Martha Stewart. Use some newspaper or computer paper to trace the shape of the frame. Cut the paper to that size, and mark where the hanger is. Write a label on the pattern (such as "Emily baby photo") so that you don't get mixed up; you'll be dealing with several of these. Use a little masking tape and try arranging all of these patterns on the wall. It's much easier to move a paper template around than to keep hammering nails in and moving a photo. Once you've got an arrangement that you like, install your hangers, right over the templates. This way you know everything will line up perfectly. Once you've got the hangers installed, simply hang the photos, remove the templates, and you're all set.

The Joy of Mini-Galleries

We've been talking so far about a fairly large, cohesive photo gallery. But another thing to consider, if you're like me and absolutely love photos, is to put up a few mini-galleries. These are small arrangements of two to six photos, away from your main photo gallery. For example, while my main photo gallery lines a hallway in my house, I have a mini gallery in the dining room that contains four frames. I can put two photos of each of my two children in these frames, and I change them out every time I have a new photo that I'm inlove with. As a bonus, they just love seeing new photos of themselves.

Family photos are a true treasure. With these tips, they'll get the attention they deserve.

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Comments 1 comment

Steve (photography nut) Mason 9 years ago

It is so easy these days with digital photography to just get in a disorganised mess with your photos. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

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