7 tips for choosing which images to print for your home

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Over the past month I set a goal to print some of my work and use it to decorate my home. As photographers, we invest our time and talents to develop our skills so that ultimately we can create works of art!  I like to think of prints as the icing on the cake. After all the hard work, there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing your images in print and displayed as art!

7 tips to help choose which images to print for your home

There are many tips out there on how to create gallery walls, and how to choose the right frames for your decor.  These are important decisions that need to be made obviously as well.  But since I’m a photographer, not an interior designer, I want to focus on choosing the right images (that will best compliment your work) for the spaces you are filling.

7 tips to help you choose which images to print for your space

These are not design rules, just suggestions from a photographer’s point of view.

1. Create a folder on your desktop where you save your favorite images. Be selective and only save the ones you absolutely love. Within this folder create other folders to break down the various types of images. i.e. macro, food, lifestyle, portraits. As you edit your photos, save your favorites to these folders. This will keep them in one organized place so they are easy to find when you are ready to print. And it will save you hours of time you would normally spend on combing your archives to find the right image each time you want to print.

2. Match the colors in your photographs to your décor. This is only a suggestion that may or may not be your style. I wanted the colors in my prints to compliment the colors of my decor. As you search your archives, either look for images that have certain complimentary tones in them, or you can change them in Photoshop or Lightroom to match!

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The flowers in these frames were actually more of a dark pink when they were photographed. I changed the tones to be more peachy and soft to match the lampshade they were next to. You can do this in Lightroom in the HSL and COLOR tab by experimenting with the hue, saturation, and luminance of the various colors in your photo.

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A quick way to change colors in Photoshop is by choosing Image, Adjustments, Color Balance in your menu. Then experiment with the color sliders for your shadows, mid tones and highlights. Make sure Preserve Luminosity is checked.

Another way you can match your prints to the colors in your home is to plan your next photo session with your display area in mind. What is the look and feel of your home? Choose a session location and/or clothing that will compliment the style of your home or the room where the prints will be displayed.

3. When using a collection of different colored and textured frames, choose black and white images to keep them from looking cluttered.  Black & white images can also give the display a more unified look. I had my friend Kristen from Studio7 Interior Design help me choose decorative frames & art for a small gallery wall in my entry.

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This was a wall that would normally go un-noticed. I wanted to turn it into a focal point.  I kept all my images in black & white except the family photo in the center. The goal was to draw the eye there first, then to the black & white images in the outer frames. Similarly as effective would be to choose colorful images for solid black frames or solid white frames such as this wall, also designed by my friend Kristen.

4. Choose larger sized prints and canvases for areas where you can see them across the room.  What’s the point in printing small 4×6’s and 5×7’s if you can’t see them unless you walk up to them?

The prints on my mantel needed to be big (at least 16×20) in order to enjoy them from across the room.  The big one is a 22×27 inch size. I actually could have gone bigger for the space available, but I didn’t want to cover the decorative trim-work of the entire mantel. So, obviously, take into consideration the space you are filling when deciding how big you can go.

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I also chose a more timeless, artistic image of my family walking, rather a huge portrait of our faces. This was a personal decision as I was going for a more artistic feel that went with the style and colors of the room.  Even though our faces remain unseen, we are very well represented by the composition in the image as well as in the close up of the kids in the image next to it.

5. Too many portraits all over your home? Try converting some of your images into art using the Waterlogue app! This is a good way to use your images, but give them a different look. My interior design friend recommends displaying art or still life/food in your kitchen, rather than portraits. An image converted through this app might be a good alternative. Here’s an example of an image turned into art using the Waterlogue app.  (Image by Liz Behm)

Painted in Waterlogue

6. Choose photos to display that were taken in that particular room of your home. For example, food photography in the kitchen, lifestyle images in the family room, bath images of your kids in the tub displayed in the bathroom, and more personal photographs in the bedroom.

Last week I decided I needed to fill the space above a doorway in my kitchen with some food images.

Considerations I made before I took the images:
1. How much space I needed to fill and how many images.
2. Appropriate size for that space.
3. The style/colors that would go well in my kitchen.
4. How those images would look from across the room.

Because I couldn’t go bigger than a 10×10, I chose to use my macro lens and tried to capture close-up textures of the fruit vs. a more styled shot with atmosphere that might be harder to see from across the room.

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7. Edit your photos to match the style of the space it will be in.  For example, light and airy, rich in color & contrast, black & white, etc.  Also, if you are displaying images together, edit them side by side in your editing program to make sure they blend well  and the color is consistent from image to image.

I did this with my fruit images. I moved them around in Photoshop to help me visualize how they would look hung.  I separated the blueberry image (mostly blue) and the grapefruit (blue background) with the yellow pineapple in the middle so each image would stand out and look balanced next to each other.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Tell us in the comments – Do you have any other tips for choosing which images to print?

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Photography Composition Series: Creating Movement in Your Images

Photography Composition Series: Creating Movement in your Images via Click it Up a Notch

Ever wondered why certain photographs seem to draw you in, making you feel an instant connection to the subject or moment within the frame? Chances are it’s because the image integrates movement, which can communicate mood.

Movement is actually a principle of art, along with other principles such as proportion, rhythm, unity, balance, harmony, etc. Integrating these principles into your photography compositions contributes to a more eye-pleasing, emotive image.

7 ways to use photography composition to create movement

1. Use repeating patterns and lines
You want to keep the viewer’s eyes moving throughout the image. When composing, look for lines and patterns, which can create a sense of motion, or a rhythmic feeling. Your eye follows the pattern from one thing to the next, leading you to the subject and comfortably throughout the image.

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2. Use sunlight.
A sunburst, light leak or a streak of light creates lines that seem to be moving…often leading the eye to your subject or enhancing the mood of the image. These streaks of light can create a dreamy, moving effect. A landscape image can suddenly feel alive if light accentuates certain elements. A portrait can be given that “wow factor” when light is incorporated to enhance movement.

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3. Use lenses.
They can have different effects on motion, creating a kind of optical illusion of movement. A wide-angle lens such as a 35mm or less can make subjects look slightly closer/larger in proportion to the rest of the image if placed close to the lens.  This intentional distortion can draw immediate attention to certain subjects and make the viewer feel as if the subject is moving straight towards them.

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A Lensbaby lens produces blurring effects, almost as if you are panning or zooming your lens as you hit the shutter. The result is blurred streaks leading your eye right to your subject.

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4. Use implied motion.
Yep, you can fake it! Pose your subject so they look as if they are moving, but are actually still. There is definitely an art to this type of posing and one that I am still working on! Walk behind your subject and ask them to turn and look at you briefly. Or, as you observe your subject being who they are naturally, ask them to repeat a certain motion again so you can capture it…i.e. a “look”, or a movement that looks natural. I’ve noticed a lot of fashion bloggers using poses portraying movement. It gives that non-posed look despite the fact that they are posing!

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5. Use Actual motion.
This seems obvious to mention, but don’t be afraid to crank up your shutter speed to freeze real moments of movement. Make your viewer feel as if they were there! Anticipate what will happen next and stand ready to press the shutter at the right moment!

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6. Freeze or blur actual motion in camera to emphasize movement in a scene.
This can add a dramatic effect, especially with street photography, and can give the viewer an instant connection with the moment at hand.

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7. Techniques for capturing blur. 
Two of my favorite techniques for capturing blur are panning and using long exposures.  Panning keeps your subject in focus while the background shows blurred motion. Likely subjects to use would be a moving car, a cyclist, a bird in flight, a child running, etc. Long exposures keeps your shutter open, causing anything moving in a scene to be blurred.

Panning tips:

  1. Use a subject that is going parallel to your body, follow it as it goes left to right, on a straight trajectory.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings so you don’t trip or run into someone!
  3. Have your camera set ahead of time and anticipate the next movement.
  4. Slow your shutter so it stays open anywhere from 1/100 to 1/8 of sec. Experiment with shutter speeds until you get the look you want!
  5. Use the lowest ISO possible for a clearer image.
  6. Use autofocus to lock focus on your subject as it moves. Start tracking your subject before you press the shutter.
  7. Using AF-C autofocus mode on your camera will continue to focus on a moving subject if the shutter is pressed half way.
  8. Remember, it is unlikely that your subject will ever be completely in focus! I can attest to this! Be patient and keep practicing. As long as your subject is more focused in relation to the rest of the scene, the image will achieve the effect!

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Long exposure tips:

  1. Movement can be emphasized by focusing on a still subject while capturing the blur of things moving around it. The contrast of still vs. motion in a single image can be captivating!
  2. Wind and clouds are actually your friend in long exposures! Swaying tree limbs and low moving streaky clouds will add movement when captured with a slow shutter.
  3. Experiment with shutter speed to get the desired blur effect. I usually start at about 1/30 of a second if I am hand-holding my camera. You can go slower if you have a tripod to eliminate camera shake.
  4. Use the lowest ISO possible because longer exposures have a tendency to introduce more noise.

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Now you know the secret to why certain images seem to grab you more than others! Next time you study an admirable piece of artwork or an eye-catching photograph take notice of the principle of movement.  It truly is that little kick that makes art feel alive!

Read more from our Photography Composition Series:

- Creating Depth in Your Images
- 4 Types of Framing
- Negative Space

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