When you're back from vacation, or from a fun, local outing, rather than view your photos on a computer screen and toss mementos into a drawer, try something new, fast, inexpensive and fun: make a photo wall.
That's what artists do.
"For artists, it's an inspiration board," says Westchester artist David Licata, who makes glass sculptures. "It's a collection of photos, magazine pages, postcards—whatever catches your eye and inspires you—that you put on a wall. It lets you see what you're interested in at the moment."
In addition to being faster and less expensive than framing your photos, it adds a casual, spontaneous feeling.
"Why frame your photos at all?" asks Kenise Barnes of Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont. In her gallery's current show, not one piece of art is framed. "Once you frame it, it's a finished piece and not a work in progress. That forward movement is what's fun about taking more photos and collecting new items."
Hang it up—a new way
I wanted a fun, breezier alternative to a bulletin board, or taping photos to a wall. I also didn't want to put pins in the photos, so I came up with the idea of a clothesline of photos. It brings an old-fashioned, outdoor activity inside, and makes it easy to rearrange and replace photos and mementos—just unclip them or clip one on top of the other for more play.
Photos are better than you thought
Getting photos off a computer screen gives them more dimension.
When my son came from a Paris vacation (in lieu of camp), he said his photos weren't so great, but once we printed some out, he was surprised.
How to make your own inspiration wall
1) You can pick a bunch of photos you love, or look for a theme. My son and I noticed that many photos had business signs in them, which made us curious about how they'd look together. It was a graphic theme that our eyes gravitated toward.
2) Print the photos right off your home printer. Vary the sizes. Use matte paper for some, shiny for others (the latter works nicely with smaller photos).
3) Gather souvenirs such as postcards, business cards—even key chains, plane tickets, etc.
4) From the hardware store you'll need: clothesline, easy-to-remove plastic hooks, clothespins ( and, optionally, thumbtacks to help keep the hooks in place, if you need them).
5) Find a casual setting and an area that's not center stage but still is in regular view so that it can provide inspiration. For us, it was a neglected corner of the kitchen.
6) We ran four clotheslines in the corner, pinning up my son's collection in a casual manner. We started with colored clothespins, but went with plain wooden ones so the colors in the photos were the focus. Leave some pins on the line for additions.
7) Remember that you can pin mementos and photos on top of each other to vary the composition.
Your personal gallery
Once we had the lines just the way we wanted, we kept rearranging every time we entered the kitchen, feeling thoughtful and having fun. We liked the change in the environment—our kitchen had new creativity.
"It's for your own evolvement and edification," says Barnes. "You might look at certain elements and think, 'What aspect was catching my eye? Did I push it far enough, or can I go farther?'"
My son looked at one photo in particular on the wall and marveled in a way he never does when he looks at photos on his computer, "Did I take that?"
He reclipped the wall with new items, rearranging others. Later, I heard the printer whirring.