How to fill the walls of your home with photographed memories

  • picture of kid standing on a couch with photos on the wall behind him by Andrea Moffatt

How to fill the walls of your home with photographed memories

As a documentary photographer in love with shooting real, un-posed moments, I hear these laments from clients often: “Oh, how I love this photo, but I just don’t know how I would display it!” or “I love candid photos, but I need a posed family portrait for the wall.”

While every mom (including myself!) loves a good posed family portrait and certainly should have one or more on their wall, you can also have beautiful, moment-filled walls in your home.

Imagine being surrounded daily with your all-time favorite memories: summer sprinkler runs, fall leaf piles, winter snow angels, and spring puddling jumping, right where you can see them every day. I’ve welcomed these memories into my home, and you can too. Here’s how I display candid, joyful moments all over my house!

The Framed Gallery Wall

Above the couch in our main living room, I have twelve 8x10s of my favorite images from the past year framed and matted. I switch them out only once per year, so it’s really hard to choose!

In Lightroom, I make a collection and fill it with some of my favorite images from the year. Then I narrow down the moments so that they span the seasons, show a mix of my kids alone and together, and look good as a set. I find that, for above a couch, 8x10s are still a little small, so I tend to choose clean images with contrasting colors and uncluttered compositions for this collection.

picture of a boy sitting on a couch with photos on the wall by Andrea Moffatt

framed gallery wall in living room by Andrea Moffatt

The Bulletin Board

While I love my gallery wall, I shoot a lot. I wanted a way that I could enjoy more of our favorite moments on the wall – something with lots of space that would enable me to frequently change out the photos. The bulletin board is the answer!

The board holds seventy-seven 4×4 square prints. It’s in our kitchen, right above the table, so it often serves as the centerpiece of our dinner conversation. One child will pick out a photo that had previously gone unnoticed and say, “Remember when….”, and we’re off. It’s a lovely backdrop for a place we gather daily.

I change the bulletin board more often – either 3 or 4 times per year, so that it stays fresh and relevant. I used to order new pictures after each season of shooting and display them in the following season. But that proved to be too much work in culling, ordering, and changing the display. Now I order all my photos for the whole year in the summer (the twelve 8x10s for the Gallery Wall and more than three hundred 4×4 square prints for the bulletin board).

When I get the piles of square prints from our daily life, I just rubber band them together according to the four seasons. This way, I display last autumn as we experience this autumn, and I have last year’s winter all separated and ready to display when I start to wish for snow and hot chocolate! The entire family enjoys looking back at last year’s memories. It reminds us of things we want to be sure to do again and shows the kids how much they’ve grown since last year. We are in a constant state of looking back and moving forward. After all, what are photo stories for if not to remind us of our shared history?

how to display photos on a bulletin board by Andrea Moffatt

Photo Ledges

And finally, in a spot tucked high up in our attic library are some of my favorite prints for me as an artist. They are 5×5 textured matte prints from Artifact Uprising. These thick, gorgeous prints are a pleasure to hold and a treat when they arrive in my mailbox! I used four Ikea 40 inch photo ledges to display them.

When I build a set of images I would like printed this way, I am always inspired to choose my favorite work. Of course, most of my favorite work still includes my kids, but it also includes sunrises, spider webs, and the light on the wall. The attic library is my special place, and these prints simply make me happy. What also makes me happy is the ability the ledges give me to rearrange, switch out, order varied sizes, or give a print as a gift whenever I want.

pictures on Ikea photo ledges by Andrea Moffatt

I can’t begin to express the feelings of happiness and gratitude these moment-based prints bring to my family and I every day. It’s a physical reminder that even when we are knee-deep in the hard parts, there is still so much beauty and so much for which to be thankful. I encourage you to go out and curate your own walls of memories!

Here’s how I display candid, joyful moments all over my house! After all, what are photo stories for if not to remind us of our shared history?

Here’s how I display candid, joyful moments all over my house! After all, what are photo stories for if not to remind us of our shared history?Save

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About the Author:

Andrea is a photographer, former elementary school teacher, Click Photo School Instructor, and mom to 2 boys in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA. Andrea has a Click Photo School family storytelling breakout called The Stories that Make Us and a workshop called The Family Story Keeper, in which participants learn to mindfully make family photo stories that will be passed down and become part of a rich shared history. Visit Andrea Moffatt online.
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13 Comments

  1. Oceana Sep 24 2016 at 7:10 am - Reply

    I love that bulletin board! It’s such a good idea and I absolutely want one 😀

    • Andrea Moffatt Sep 24 2016 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Take the plunge, Oceana! I always figured- if printing that many 4x4s got old, I could always switch to 8x8s OR a mix of 4x4s and 8x8s and I could pick less images.

  2. Leya Speasmaker Sep 25 2016 at 2:23 pm - Reply

    Hello! I think I see tacks as the way you attach the 4*4s to the bulletin board? Is that right? Any reason you chose 4*4s instead of 4*6s? Thanks for the great idea! I’m definitely going to do it.

    • Andrea Moffatt Sep 27 2016 at 9:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Leya! Yes- I do use tacks to attach them to the bulletin board. And no- you could use 4×6’s just as easily. I just like the look of squares. 🙂

  3. Paco Sep 28 2016 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    The concept is awesome!

  4. AJ Sep 29 2016 at 7:58 am - Reply

    Love the bulletin board idea! But what do you do with all those pictures after they have been displayed? Store them or toss them? Tossing them seems a waste but storing them seems a hassle and space consuming.

    • Andrea Moffatt Sep 30 2016 at 8:17 pm - Reply

      AJ– GREAT question! I have a photo box for every year. Right now, I simply throw them in the box labeled for that year. I like it because if the kids need a picture for school, they are loose. Or, at birthdays, I fill our chalkboard with my favorite images of just that child from the past year. Or, at New Years, we dump them all out and talk about our favorite moments. I like having them loose, but if you didn’t, I know that companies like Project Life sell scrapbook pages that are grids of 12 per page and I could envision that being a very fast and effective way of viewing a whole year’s worth of pictures.

  5. Claire Oct 04 2016 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Hi Andrea Moffat,
    The bulletin board and the pics looks great. I also like the 4*4s bulletin board. Do you change the photos from the bullion board frequently or after an year or two?

    • Andrea Moffatt Oct 14 2016 at 11:36 am - Reply

      Hi Claire! Thanks! I change the board seasonally (about 3-4 times per year), but I only order the pictures now ONCE. Summer is when I have time, so I order around 300-350 pictures that cover the whole year (Summer to summer) and then I rubberband them into four seasons and I display them through the year. So we are looking at pictures from one year before when I put them up. I really like looking back like that, and ordering them once is way easier to keep up than ordering them as I go. (Plus, I didn’t like looking at snow pictures in the spring and early summer.)

  6. Sylwia Nov 03 2016 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Hi Andrea, my favorite are the Ikea photo ledges. Are these the Mossalanda series, I am not sure I can find it in Ikea catalogue.
    Thank you so much for sharing the Artifact Uprising. I got my first prints from them and am very pleased. 🙂

  7. Ashley Jan 22 2017 at 10:22 pm - Reply

    Such great ideas! I am always looking for more ways to display my pictures 🙂

  8. Lori Jan 23 2017 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    These are fantastic ideas and this article is such good timing for me as my goal is to try and print more. Thank you!

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