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The art of displaying and hanging photographs
By Gina Joseph, Macomb Daily Staff Writer

March 04, 2002

Columnist Gina Joseph: "Family photographs, when properly framed and hung, become works of art."

Gina JosephA weathered lighthouse brightened by the smile of a summer sun.

A boy toting a fishing rod, a bucket of pink salmon and a prideful grin, flanked by his parents.

The chubby cheeks of a baby covered with her first taste of chocolate birthday cake.The family's Christmas kitten playing tag with a bow tied to her tail.

All of these are family photographs, but when properly framed and hung, they become works of art.

"Placing pictures on a wall can be a difficult proposition. You need to place the pictures in the right place so they can be viewed at a comfortable eye level by most of the people who will be in the room," said Pat McNulty, a professional photographer from Pennsylvania.

McNulty is the owner of, an Internet gallery where people can buy scenic photographs he's taken during his visits to more than 20 countries and 37 states.

Each photograph ordered off the Web site is an original print processed at his Gwynedd Valley studio.

McNulty's site is great for people who can't take a photo without shooting their thumb.

For those who have great prints but don't know how to display them, McNulty's site offers the following advice:

Mats always make a photograph or piece of art look better. Like the frame, it enhances the photograph or artwork.

As a general rule, frames should be hung at eye level. Exceptions to the rule would include areas where the eye level changes. In the kitchen, for example, eye level would be measured from a seated position.

If you're doing a collage, arrange the artwork on the floor first. It allows you to move pictures around without marking up the wall. It also helps determine spacing.

Artwork can be hung symmetrically, or balanced. A series of photographs showing the moves of a young karate student, for example, could be hung in a two-, three- or four- pattern arrangement, evenly spaced.

Artwork can be hung asymmetrically. McNulty said this works best if you have a lot of different sizes, colors and shapes. To avoid a cluttered collection, be consistent. If you're going to use a dark blue frame, for example, make sure the other frames match it. You could use another shade of blue or a contrasting color such as red.

Four equal-sized pictures can be grouped and arranged in a square.

Be creative. If you're going to hang your son's dinosaur sketch on the wall, add a photograph of him taken at the age he drew the picture. Need an item to finish an arrangement of photographs? Add a clock or spray of dried flowers.

It's easier to hang a frame properly if you have an extra set of eyes. Have one person stand back about 4 feet from the wall and have the other hold up the picture and adjust the frame, McNulty said.

Questions or topic ideas for this column? Gina Joseph can be reached at (586) 783-0252 or
ŠThe Macomb Daily 2002

Please check out our breathtaking pictures.

Fine Art Photography Picture Gallery