Digital Image with Eucalyptus

Top Three Things to do with family portraits

Mar 18, 2021

Ok, you’ve had amazing family portraits taken. You’ve purchased all the digital images, or at least the ones you literally can’t live without. But what do you do now?

You are not alone! We hear this literally all day long. Folks fall in love and buy all the digital images from the family portrait session. Because obvi, how can you possibly not have all those amazing images! The kids won’t look like this in six months. And you can share them on social media so all your family and friends can see how stinkin’ adorable your kids are.

Fast forward six months and the digital images are still saved on the computer, or the flash drive is stuffed in a drawer. Not to fear, here are the top three things to do with your family portraits.

1. The Best Way Store Digital Family Photos – An Album

This isn’t your mama’s album. You know the kind with the images taped in, or behind a piece of plastic that peels up. I’m talking about an album that’s custom designed. It looks like a piece of art. And what better art than your memories?

I have thousands of digital images of my kids. Ok, I also own a portrait studio, so if I didn’t — that would be weird. But I find images from every single session that I love, love, love! And can’t possibly image deleting any of those images. So, each year I curate all my favorites and create an album

I personally decided to stick with the same album cover finish each year – cream suede. And I emboss the year on the front. Then I use them as home décor. A stunning way to personalize my bookcase!

2. The Best Way to Display Family Photos – Framed Pieces

Every session. Every single session. There is the one photo (or two, or three). It’s the image that makes you teary eyed, even if you aren’t a crier. It’s the perfect image. It’s the one that so perfectly captures your kiddo’s personality.

This is mine. I know, you aren’t supposed to have a favorite because every photo is perfect in its own right. But this image is mine. It perfectly captures my little ladies.

This is an example of a 30×40 piece — which yes, is huge. Which is why it works over a console table. It fits the size and scale of the room.

When thinking about one framed piece, make sure it balances the room in size because this is what’s going to make it look like art rather than a picture. And find the frame or finish that fits the style of the room.

3. How to Create a Gallery Wall of Family Photos

All the rage. We’re obsessed with the gallery wall! Here’s the fun part, there are no rules to creating the gallery wall that’s perfect for your space.

If you have a clean and modern vibe, think about using unframed pieces and displaying the family portraits in a grid format.

If you have a classic or transitional vibe, consider varying the size and orientation of the images. You can also mix frames and play with matted verses unmatted pictures.

If you have a boho vibe, select a multitude of frames and finishes but consider integrating larger scale pieces in unique frames. Also, think about the texture of the frame. A large piece of the boho look is varied textures, sizes and variation of color.

Personally, I build my gallery wall year after year. This example spans 10 years truly documenting my little ladies’ growth. You can see I’ve stuck with the same frame. Not-so-subtle hint: This is another reason you go to a professional family portrait photographer/full-service portrait photography studio. I would never be able to find this exact frame at Home Goods a decade later!

They are also all in black and white. This allows me to mix outside and in-studio sessions and not have to worry that my outfit this year clashes with what I wore 10 years ago, because honestly who can remember that.

Five questions that will help you determine your personal style:

Ok, so now you have three ways to use digital images from your family portrait session, but what does that mean to you? Let’s break it down and really determine what will work for your family.

1. Are you in your forever home?

Ok, so this is a trick question. Not fair, I know. It doesn’t matter. You are going to still have the same style. Your home might change, but you won’t. I’m giving you permission to love your kids and your home just as much in your first home as your forever home. Check out how here, how I transitioned my first collection (2 20×30 and 2 20×20 pieces) from my first home to my forever home.

2. What art do you currently have up in your home?

  • Is it curated by a designer? If so, consider either albums or one large piece that is selected for a specific area and change out the image every few years.
  • Is it the perfect color that you picked up at Pottery Barn or Home Goods? If so, think about a gallery wall for the ultimate flexibility and the ability to add to it year after year. That allows you to spread out the cost.
  • Are you in a loft-like space and have nothing on your walls? If it’s because you can’t commit, that’s cool. But honestly, you’ve already committed to those cute kids so go ahead and pull the trigger. They might make you tired, but you won’t get tired of them! If it’s by design, go all-in on albums.

4. What’s your vibe?

This is a super important question. As a family are you playful? Reserved? Formal? Sporty? Honestly, how you live in your home should dictate how you display your family portraits.

For example, my family is casual. Folks enter my home through my garage mostly. It drives me crazy but it’s because they are comfortable just making themselves at home, which I love. My family and friends come and go. We always have music playing, a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies (vegan of course), a cup of coffee and a good bottle of wine!

This means I don’t have formal living spaces. It also means that I if I had an ornately framed portrait of my family in fancy dresses and suit, it would look out of place. The pictures that adorned my walls are of us laughing, making faces, and having fun. There is a good chance Nick is wearing his baseball hat. They are casual to fit my life.

My parents’ home, on the other hand, is full of antiques and definitely had the room you’re not allowed to go in (like… even as an adult). We recently did a family session at my parents place on the Chesapeake. What I think it so telling, is that my Parents have framed pieces up in both homes. The Chesapeake is casual with the second image, bare feet dangling in the water, in a reclaimed wood frame. Perfect for the casual home. But in their State College Home, the one full of antiques. She has the first image in an extra thick, ornate frame. Both the frame and the style should match your vibe.

3. What Room Do You Hang Family Photos In?

This is a big question. And will ultimately determine the finish of the frame. The most popular places for Family Portraits are:

  • A gallery wall up your stairs. This helps you grow your collection over the years!
  • A large statement piece over your fireplace. This is the right size and scale for a a room while adding vertical lift to your space.
  • A series of three over a couch. This is perfect for 2 kid family’s – single image on either side and kids together or full family in the middle.
  • A collection in kids room. Only if it’s fun and playful.
  • The Office. But now that we’re all working from home, that might be your kitchen table. Still too soon to joke?

My personal belief, every room! Check out this sneak peak into my home which showcases a living room, kitchen, and kids room. Ok so I might be a bit obsessive but I the take away should be, it’s a personal question.

The key is to decide where you want your piece and then work with a pro on scale, finish and vibe.

Final Thoughts

Digital images of your family portraits are great. Save them. Share them. Love them. And then do something with them!

TO CURATE is to select, organize, and build a collection. I feel like there I nothing more precious than curating your family memories. And frankly, it’s easier to do it one year at a time.

Look at your lifestyle and determine how you will look back in time. Albums, Framed Pieces, or a Gallery! And just do it.

About the Author

Lara Aman Mattey

Founder I Owner I Ivory Tree

Lara is the coolest person alive, according to her husband, Nick, & two little ladies, Caitie & Lorelai. But she thinks her time is limited on that statement as they continue to grow older. Lara comes from a large family, with whom she is still very close with & you’ll often see shared through the blog and on social media. She went to Penn State (We Are…) where she met Nick.

Ivory Tree's very own photographer, Marcy shot her newborn photography sessions & Lara was hooked! Lara is not a photographer, super weird, we know. But lives for the experience, creative direction, and meeting all the cool folks who come through the Ivory Tree Portraits studio!

In addition to studio awards, Lara was also recognized at a Women of Influence on the Main Line in 2023.

Follow along as she shares studio antics, personal antidotes, & fun stuff going on in the community.

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