The hard reality I am facing is that the years of raising my kids are coming to an end. Yes, I'll always be their mother and they will always have my heart. But the years of daily homework, packing lunches, laundry for 5, school programs, class valentine's, home made halloween costumes (and ALL that stuff) are much more behind me then in front. Life isn't so much about the portraits I am going to take of my kids. My life is now about enjoying the photos I did create along the way and remember that ALL of it did actually happen.
After 2 years of planning and designing, I finally installed this Black & White gallery wall in my house and I am in love!!! This gallery will be hanging as my kids bring home their potential spouses and as they bring home their children (in the far far distant future). This gallery will as my daily reminder that we made some great family memories along the way. Basically, this is my heart hanging on the wall. There is nothing more important than my kids and family and there is nothing I would rather have to look at everyday then their beautiful faces. Portrait galleries like these truly impact the feelings inside a house and turn it into a home.
Creating a gallery in your home is priceless but it does require some effort and planning to have maximum impact. Here was my plan as I was working on this wall gallery.
1. Choosing images: I wanted all the images in this gallery to be light to mid-toned Black and white images. (I have a separate gallery for dark and low key images in my house and for color.) It is perfectly acceptable that not EVERY single image ever taken will make it into the gallery. Keep to the theme and the tone. All images were created right before Sasha was born until she turned around 8.
2. Fine Art Printing: All the photographs were printed on fine art watercolor paper with a hand torn deckled edge. Because I am a professional photographer I have access to great labs that create these heirloom prints. Asking a professional for help will ensure that your images are created on archival paper with ink that will last the test of time. You get what you pay for with photography these days... if it's cheap and easy it probably isn't intended to last for decades to come. "Invest in the good stuff and do it right the first time", lessons I have learned the hard way.
3. Keep framing simple so the focus is on the image: Framing wall galleries is something I see many different opinions about. Personally, the most important part are the photographs... hands down. I don't want the entire gallery to be so busy with different textures and colors and widths of frames that it feels busy. Keeping the framing simple is important because when you hang many things together it can become chaotic and confusing to the brain if the whole installation is overwhelming. A confused brain does not process or enjoy what it is seeing so decide on the focus and simplify the rest.
4. Frame to match the photographs not the room. Remodeling will happen, wall colors and couches will change through the years. But a well matching frame and photograph will look good anywhere.
5. Lay out your design on the floor in front of the wall to make sure it will fit. It took more then an hour just to layout the arrangement that fit on the wall. I admit I did not preplan how this gallery would hang. I just printed and framed and then rearranged until it all worked. Sometimes I slow the process down when I wait for EVERY LITTLE DETAIL to be thought through. I have learned sometimes just pull the trigger and make corrections as you go. I printed most photographs with a 10 inch width (Heights varied) to make hanging easier. Because I had consistent widths it helped with laying out rows easily.
6. Start by hanging the middle bottom and then work up and out. Because I had a firm limit on how low I wanted the arrangement the wall, I started with the bottom measurement first. First step is finding the middle of the wall and centering the middle of the first row. I used nails in the wall on this design because these portraits were heavy with glass and matting. I am having some minor issues on my other gallery that used command strips because of the sensitive nature of the historic walls. Those photos were much smaller and lighter then these portraits. After several months of display, I am having an issue with one or 2 images that used the command strips so I opted for good old fashion nails.
Creating gallery walls is not cheap or easy, but there is NOTHING I would rather have hanging decorating my home. I have no regrets on the time or money spent every time I sit and enjoying looking at my family history. Every single one of these images represents a moment I relish as a mother and as a family. Many of these images were created on vacation which makes the portrait even sweeter. I want my kids to know how much I enjoyed creating our life together. I am giving my kids wings to fly but these wall galleries also give them roots to remember where they came from and how much they are loved.
Let me know if you need help creating your own gallery wall, I promise you'll love it!