I am ecstatic to be part of Kristen Duke’s Decorating With Pictures series this year! It is actually this series that got me hooked on her blog several years ago. It was totally an honor to be invited to participate this year.
After you read this post, hop on over to Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke and enter the giveaway on her site. The Decorating With Pictures series includes 2 posts per day for the entire month of February, and each post has a giveaway. Kristen arranged over $5,000 worth of giveaways throughout the month, plus you get all the amazing photo decorating inspiration!
It is a bit odd writing this post on one of the coldest days of the year, considering we took these photos on one of the hottest days of the year. But, sometimes it takes a while to get things hung up around here.
Over the summer we did a special photo shoot for the boys. In previous years, the focus had always been on them individually or us as a family. This time we wanted the emphasis to be on brotherhood. I also wanted to capture their imaginative and youthful spirit.
How to Make DIY Capes for Photo Props
I always admired the pictures of girls twirling in tutus in my photographer’s studio, and longed to do something similar for my boys. After years of watching them wear superhero suits during playtime, I realized I needed to do a photo shoot with capes.
I made both capes for less than $10. I bought two x-large bright yellow t-shirts at the craft store. I cut around the neck hole and down the back to create capes. The boys modeled when I was making them, but were not allowed to use them until the photo shoot.
We went to a nearby park for the photos. The boys had a blast running around on the edge of the woods in their capes. It was a morning that truly captured their playful energy and their relationship.
The cape props really made a difference. What could have been a boring posed session turned into a morning of fun. When we brought out the capes the boys instantly knew this photo session was different. It was all about fun.
In a couple of the shots, I was assigned to hold out the capes, and was later edited out by the photographer. That is how we captured the look of the fluttering capes. My oldest had a fabulous idea to use a crate the photographer brought to sit on as a support to capture pictures of them in flying position. Those turned out to be our favorite pictures!
Matching Frame Photo Gallery
When I previewed the photos from the session, I loved them all. I couldn’t possibly narrow this session down to one portrait. I used to prefer ordering one larger photo, but this time was different. I wanted to capture a story. I had to have 9 photos of this session. To stick within my budget, I ordered them as 8x10s, so I could create a gallery wall with them.
I am a huge fan of mixing and matching frames to create a gallery wall, but this time I wanted something simpler. I did not want the frames to detract from the beautiful images of a forming brotherhood bond.
I chose grayish-silver, slightly distressed frames to compliment the woodland photo shoot. I went with 9 identical frames. At first they might appear more rustic than I prefer for my style, but other than the pitted look, the frames are smooth with a silver finish.
I had the perfect blank wall in the family room just begging for something big to fill it up. This is the space you see immediately in front of you as you walk into the family room. It is the wall between the family room window and the game room area.
The gray frames pop off the white walls and repeats the gray and white graphic pattern on the DIY rug ottoman. But what really jumps out at you is the beautiful photos and those fun, bright yellow capes. I am so thankful we were able to capture these playful moments for our boys.
Pre-Planning Required for the Best Photos
To capture this amazing session, I met with my photographer beforehand to discuss what we wanted. We also went back and forth a few times about outfit plans and location. It definitely takes a little planning to pull off a great photo session, and it is well worth it.
When we first started working with our photographer and she asked where in our house we wanted to hang pictures, mind you this was BEFORE we took any pictures, I thought she was crazy. I thought you take the pictures and then decide where to put them. But, over the years I have learned there is so much more to it than that.
With some thought and careful planning you can coordinate your pictures to your home, both based on size and location, but also color and feeling. Once we started viewing our photo planning session this way, we were much happier with the results of every session. We never had to worry if a picture would look good if we hung it here or there, because we already planned the perfect spot for it upfront. The photos we do with our photographer now have more staying power in our home.
6 Tips for Coordinating a Photo Session with Your Decor
1. Consider where you want to hang the photos BEFORE the photo shoot. In addition to the room you plan to hang the photos in, it helps if you can give your photographer an idea of the size or type of image you want or orientation. With all this information they will better be able to capture the right photos. (For example, our photographer knew we needed a vertical image for this arched niche in our foyer and planned her shoot accordingly to get the right shot.)
2. Let your photographer know the feeling you want for the pictures. In general, this should be consistent with the feeling you want for the room where you plan to hang the photos. Is it a formal room, fun play room, family space, or relaxing bedroom? For the session above, we wanted something happy and playful to go in-between our family room and game room.
3. Bring the feeling you want to the session. If you want happy and fun feeling photos, you have to show up in a happy and fun mood. For our session, that meant having outfits pre-planned and me waking up early to get myself ready, before getting the kids dressed. For me, preparation = calm and happy.
4. Coordinate your outfits to the room. With the room colors and feeling in mind, choose outfits that coordinate. For our family room, we chose casual clothes in light blues with a little pattern. For other sessions we have chosen differently based on the room; see our bedroom gallery wall and living room gallery wall. (Note: Black and white options are a life-saver when you don’t plan upfront. Our photographer captured this amazing photo of my husband’s whole family. It was a one-off shot and none of the adults were even planning to be in pictures. Ordering it in black and white made it a perfect fit for our dining room.)
5. Use props to add an accent color. Yellow is a big element in our fun family room, but it felt too forced to try to make the boys wear yellow (which neither ever wears). Instead we added yellow to the photos through props.
6. Choose a prop that goes with the colors, theme, or feeling for your room. For our family room, we chose capes to catch the wonderful playful spirit of my boys at age 3 and 6. It also lead to a very fun and playful photo shoot. Our resulting images are more of a story, than a portrait.
Why I Love Ordering 8x10s
We used to order larger canvas prints of our family photos, but once we filled several of the display spots in our house, we started taking a different approach. Not only are the canvases and framed prints more expensive, but they take up more room (hanging or in storage). And after the spending so much on them, you don’t want to change them out as often.
We got wise to this and started ordering several prints we liked in the 8×10 gift portrait size, instead of one larger print. I use them together to create a gallery wall display. We have one gallery wall in our living room and this new one in our family room. They are easy to swap out when we get updated pictures. The best part, is unlike a canvas or framed print, the 8x10s tuck away easily into a photo album where we can continue to enjoy them when they are no longer on the wall.
Do you coordinate photo sessions with your room decor? What are some of you favorite photo props?
P.S. Don’t forget to hop on over to Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke and enter the giveaway.
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