Each month we answer a question from one of you. This month, one of our families wants to know if they can add to last year’s wall gallery, or if they need to take it down and start over with a new gallery.
Question: Can I add to an existing wall gallery and combine more than one year of family portraits in the same gallery?
Answer: For me, personally, I like to take down last year’s gallery and create a new one entirely of portraits from this year’s session. But if you do want to add to an existing gallery you can absolutely do that, it just takes a little extra planning.
First you need to decide if you’re going to add frames to your existing gallery or keep the number of frames the same, in which case you’ll be replacing some of the existing portraits with new portraits.. Swapping portraits out works best if your gallery has a fair number of frames – say seven or more. If your existing gallery has three or four frames, you’re best to add on or replace the entire gallery.
Add on to your wall gallery or swap portraits out?
When adding on to an existing gallery, I recommend keeping the same frame. The outfits will be different and everyone will be a year older (obviously) so using the same frame adds consistency and ties the old and the new portraits together.
On the left you can see this gallery as it looked when it was installed last year. On the right, we’ve replaced a few of the portraits with images from this year’s session, shown in grey.
When keeping the number of frames the same, I like to swap out formal for formal and candid for candid in order to keep the gallery balanced. Not always, but often a wall gallery consists of a formal family portrait, a more candid family portrait, one of the kids together, one of mom with the kids and one of dad with the kids. Swapping out like images keep the balance of the gallery so you don’t wind up with too many portraits of the entire family together or too many photos of everyone looking at the camera.
The portraits you swap out can be repurposed elsewhere in your home. For me, the kids’ rooms, our upstairs hallway, the playroom or my office are my go-to’s when I’m looking for a home for portraits from years past.
Your other option is to add additional frames to last year’s gallery. On the left you can see this gallery as it looked when it was installed last year. On the right, we’ve added in some new frames with images from this year’s family session. Note that I didn’t just add the new portraits on the edges of the gallery, I mixed them up so they blend nicely.
Choosing Outfits for your Family Portraits
We always recommend you consider your home décor when choosing the outfits for your family portrait session. So I’m going to assume that the family portraits you already have in your existing wall gallery, work well with the décor of the room they’re displayed in.
As you’re planning the outfits for your upcoming family portrait session, keep the outfits from your existing family portraits in mind.
Imagine that, instead of planning outfits for your family of four, you’re planning outfits for a family of 8 – the 4 “family members” in your existing portraits and the 4 “family members” in the new portraits. Obviously, the outfits for the existing portraits have already been chosen. It’s up to you to add 4 new outfits in a way that coordinates with the existing outfits but isn’t too matchy-matchy.
The easiest way to do that is to keep your accent colour the same and switch up your neutrals.
Let’s say that in your existing portraits you’re wearing blue, white and grey. Perhaps in your new portraits you can keep a similar shade of blue but pair it with cream and army green. If you keep your session location similar, your new portraits will coordinate nicely without looking too much the same.
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