Most often we use this blog as our way of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to our clients, but today we thought we would share an arti­cle that Kathryn was fea­tured in dis­cussing the evo­lu­tion of pho­tog­ra­phy. Since the arti­cle focuses on help­ful tips and sug­ges­tions as to how to hang your por­trait pho­tos or cre­ate a photo wall we thought we thought we would post. We have also included some pic­tures of some of our clients homes and how they put it all together to really cre­ate that “wow”!

Writ­ten by Megan Shel­don

Por­trait pho­tog­ra­phy has made leaps and bounds in the past decade, turn­ing the orig­i­nal ‘posed’ pho­to­graph into an artis­tic keep­sake that cap­tures the per­son­al­ity and energy of each sub­ject. Instead of being a one time ser­vice, pho­tog­ra­phers are look­ing to build rela­tion­ships with the fam­i­lies they pho­to­graph, doc­u­ment­ing the jour­ney the fam­ily takes over the years and help­ing them place the pho­tographs through­out their home to best tell a story.

When talk­ing with por­trait pho­tog­ra­phers, it seems that more and more of them are look­ing to the power of story to help pro­pel their work for­ward. “Peo­ple come to me because they want some­thing dif­fer­ent, some­thing that cap­tures a slice of their every day life, some­thing that is about con­nec­tion and expres­sions,” reflects Kathryn Langs­ford, a por­trait pho­tog­ra­pher in Van­cou­ver.  Another pho­tog­ra­pher in Toronto com­mented “I want the story to unfold nat­u­rally, yet I help cre­ate the atmos­phere for that to hap­pen — from the loca­tion, to the props, to where the piece is dis­played in the home.”  Pho­tog­ra­phers are spend­ing less time set­ting up the shot, and more time cap­tur­ing the unplanned moments that are rich in indi­vid­ual personality.

Fol­low­ing the photo shoot, more and more clients are look­ing to their pho­tog­ra­pher to help them posi­tion the pieces through­out their home. There are many ways that peo­ple are choos­ing to tell the visual story of their fam­ily, from the photo wall to using the entire house as a gallery to dis­play their photo art.

A photo wall can be any num­ber of pho­tographs, col­lected and dis­played closely together on a wall in your home or office, turn­ing that space into a gallery. The photo wall does not need to con­tain pho­tographs with match­ing styles, in fact the more con­trast you have the stronger the impres­sion. Yet, you want a com­mon ele­ment that ties every­thing together, which is why work­ing with the same pho­tog­ra­pher over time can enhance the qual­ity of your dis­play. Con­sider mix­ing black and white pho­tographs with sepia, or plac­ing square pho­tographs amongst rec­tan­gles. Also, you can play with the frames, incor­po­rat­ing gold, brown, black and char­coal frames, and even hav­ing some with­out a frame. The more vari­ety you have, the eas­ier it is to add to the wall over the years.

Many peo­ple are wor­ried about where to start with a photo wall. The best advice is to start with 3 or 4 pho­tos that you like, and posi­tion them on a wall with space to grow. Kathryn Lang­ford sug­gests start­ing with three 11x16 can­vases, hung close together (1–2”), yet not placed on the same line. The key is to avoid being too sym­met­ri­cal and to have fun with new styles. One pho­tog­ra­pher sug­gests using four square, 12 x 12 can­vases, which will work in any home, on any wall, and then adding larger, odd sizes to the area over time.

In speak­ing with the clients of these pho­tog­ra­phers, it struck me how many of them are emo­tion­ally attached to the process of telling sto­ries through­out their home. David Robens, a Van­cou­ver res­i­dent, com­ments on his family’s photo wall, stat­ing “the moments caught are incred­i­ble. The pho­tos invite me to ‘be’, to slow down all of the doing and just ‘be’. It’s a reminder to take the time and appre­ci­ate my fam­ily”.  In Toronto, clients seemed to be just as taken with the photo wall con­cept, say­ing that it adds con­ti­nu­ity and calm­ness to their home.

Another trend that is gath­er­ing momen­tum is the idea of using the entire house as a gallery to dis­play fam­ily pho­tos that are treated as art pieces. This con­cept is a won­der­ful option for mod­ern homes that want to add warmth through­out the house, or for peo­ple who don’t want to spend a for­tune on art but want to ensure that the art they do have is per­sonal and reflec­tive of who they are. Betty Kessel­men, in West Van­cou­ver, decided on this route when she was pre­sented with a soul­ful pho­to­graph of her daugh­ter (included). The Kesselmen’s built their own house, and every deci­sion was per­son­l­ized to their taste — the pho­tographs were the fin­ish­ing touch; “when some­one is invited into our home for the first time, they get to cap­ture the essence of who we are just by walk­ing through the home” states Betty.

To cre­ate a photo story that is threaded through­out your home, con­sider get­ting pho­tographs taken that are less con­ven­tional than tra­di­tional por­traits.  Kathryn sug­gests think­ing out­side the box and hang­ing your pieces where most peo­ple wouldn’t typ­i­cally think, “one spot I love is above a door­way. In my show­space, I have a huge 4x6 foot can­vas of Chip Wil­son’s kids. It is a per­fect space, espe­cially if you have high ceil­ings, to show­case your favourite pieces”. When a piece is hung high like this, it needs to be large as the view­ing dis­tance is far­ther than usual. Other loca­tions that peo­ple don’t often con­sider are spaces that are small, and rooms like the kitchen and the bath­room. These are rooms you are in and out of reg­u­larly and there­fore make great places to hang your favourite pho­tos. Kathryn goes on to state that “Markus and Lotta Naslund made per­fect use of a lit­tle spot of wall about 16 inches wide in the entrance to their kitchen, by stack­ing three 11x16 close-ups of their kids’ faces.” Con­sider what moments you want to share with the peo­ple enter­ing your home. You want to make sure they are taste­ful and time­less moments.

Many peo­ple feel that the log­i­cal choice for por­traits is to be hung in a hall­way, Kathryn would advise you to ensure that the hall­way is vis­i­ble from other areas of your home so that you are lim­it­ing your view­ing of the pho­tos to times when you are stand­ing in the hall­way. Obakki owner, Tre­ana Peake has a upper hall­way that is  vis­i­ble from the lower area of the home due to an open con­cept and plexi-glass walls. This lends itself per­fectly to her row of gor­geous stain­less steel pieces that can be viewed from all areas. The other inter­est­ing thing is that she has cho­sen to hang the work from a rail sys­tem so that they can eas­ily be inter­changed or swapped out over the years.

It takes a cer­tain eye, as well as cre­ative faith, to select pho­tos that work together and invite con­ver­sa­tion. The pho­tos in your house will be gazed at many times a day by you, your kids and those who visit your home. You want to choose pho­tos that chart your family’s growth. Erin Peters, a client of Kathryn’s in Van­cou­ver, com­ments, “I pause every­time I pass the pho­tos on the wall, and no mat­ter what is hap­pen­ing that day I smile when I see them. It’s those artis­tic, detailed glimpses into our lives that I love.”


Kesselman Photos By Kathryn Photo Story

Kessel­man Home

Treana Peake Photo Story

Unique Dis­play of Por­trait Photos

Photo Wall Inspiration

The Wilson’s Photo Wall

Denotter Family Portrait Photography

Col­lec­tion of black and white mixed with sepia

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