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Pictures on display, Part 3 (07/04/2004)
By Tom Hirsch

Who says photographic displays have to be dull, commonplace, monotonous or hackneyed? Probably nobody, but that doesn't mean you can't make them more interesting. Following are a few ideas for creating eye-catching photo arrangements. You're free to use these suggestions, reject them, or modify them as you see fit.

Remember that when you have pictures framed for mounting, you are preparing to make them a significant part of the room in which they will hang. If you have a single photograph, center it above a chair or other small piece of furniture. Two or more prints can be hung over a larger piece of furniture, such as a buffet or a long sofa. Pictures displayed on a wall that lacks furniture give the impression that they just don't belong.

Most photos should be hung at the eye level of an average-height adult, unless they are to go in a child's room. Some pictures, such as a shot of the Grand Canyon taken from the rim, can be hung slightly below eye level. Prints hung above eye level might as well be placed on a wall without furniture.

The effectiveness of some prints can be enhanced by mounting them on colored mounting board, but be careful. If the color of the board is too strong, it can compete with the photo, or even draw more attention to itself than to the print it's supposed to strengthen. The mounting board should compliment the photo, not the other way around. Take the print with you when you go to buy the mounting board and hold it against various colors. If nothing seems to work, stick with off white.

Individual photos in a grouping of related or even loosely related pictures can strengthen the impact of other prints in the group. This works best if all prints in the set are mounted in similar mounts.

Another idea is to arrange groups of related photographs in a pattern that best expresses the concept that they portray. For example, static images such as scenery photos work well in a symmetrical arrangement; a series of action shots would be more dynamic in a diagonal pattern.

Prints in a grouping need not be of the same size. An arrangement might be more interesting with one or two predominant photos surrounded by several smaller subordinate prints.

A picture story can be a colorful reminder of a trip or some special event. Select a good variety of pictures representing incidents that commemorate the occasion. Keep the number of prints to between four and eight, and display them in sequence.

When working on an idea for a print display, don't get too carried away. Usually, the simple arrangements work better than complicated or elaborate ones.

When selecting mounts for your prints, you might want to buy the type that allows prints to be inserted and removed easily. In this way, sets of prints can be changed with the seasons, or varied based on some other agenda.

Here's an easy way of determining where the best place is to hang a picture: Cut a piece of cardboard to the exact outside dimensions of the picture frame. On the back of the frame, measure the distance from the top of the frame to the V of the wire used for hanging when the wire is taut. Measure this distance on the cardboard and make a hole at this point. Tape the cardboard to the wall and step back. When the cardboard is exactly where you will want the picture, make a pencil mark through the hole, pound a nail at that spot, and hang the picture.

Liven up your home with photographs. They not only show off your photographic skills and interests, but they also give each room in which they hang a unique personality, one that reflects your personality. 


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