Photos on Parade

05 Jul 2022

How to create the perfect photo gallery wall

By Alli Steinke

Photo by Caitlyn Motycka

Gallery walls are a common fixture in home decor, a way to showcase your loved ones, favorite travels and more. You may find yourself wondering, how do I create the perfect gallery wall? Many elements go into it, including taking the right photos for the collection and then actually designing the wall. Charleston-based photographer Caitlyn Motycka shares her tips on how to not only take the best images for your gallery wall, but also how to design it to make sure it stands out. 

Find the Perfect Backdrop

Luckily, we have plenty of gorgeous backdrops right here in Charleston. Caitlyn’s favorite shots include lots of texture and color, whether you're having a beach day on Sullivan’s Island or roaming the cobblestone streets downtown. At the beach, focus on the grass on the dunes or up close on the waves. For city scenes, pay attention to the cobblestone or the gates to the gardens.

Think about the Composition

Composing the perfect photo isn’t for the faint of heart. There are lots of things to consider: perspective, lighting, shutter speed, etc. If you want a photo without people in the background, angle your body differently. Golden hour creates beautiful images without harsh shadows or bright spots. To capture movement — in a rainy photo for example — opt for a fast shutter speed. Caitlyn notes you can also play around with slower shutter speeds if you want to catch crashing waves on camera. 

Make Sure to Capture Connection

Caitlyn is a mom of two, and she loves capturing imperfect images of her kids bonding. “As long as it’s meaningful to you, that’s what matters,” she says. Don’t worry about the perfect pose, just make sure there’s interaction: hand-holding, looking at one another, snuggling, etc. 

Pay Attention to the Rule of Thirds

A common term in photography is the Rule of Thirds. You can use this with wide-angle images by centering your subject slightly off-center to the right or left. In the Rule of Thirds, your subject should always lie between the lines or on the lines dividing the overall image. 

Mat Your Images

By matting your images in your frames, Caitlyn notes the image will be protected from sticking to the glass or acrylic of the frame and will help keep the focus on the image itself. 

Use Consistent Colors in Your Photos

If you want black and white in your gallery wall, stick with black and white images. If you opt for color, pick a consistent color, such as blue, to be seen in all of the images. This will help pull the whole thing together. 

Mix up the Pictures

Don’t be afraid to switch it up and frame some wide angles, close-ups, and in-betweens. According to Caitlyn, this helps create an interesting and beautiful gallery wall design. 

Don’t Make it More Difficult than it Needs to Be

It seems that people think they need frames in varying sizes and a trickly placement, but that isn’t the case. Caitlyn suggests keeping it simple and using either two large, side-by-side, statement frames or six same-sized frames placed equidistant apart. 

Instagram vs. Gallery Wall

You might be curious about using Instagram photos in your gallery wall. Caitlyn’s belief? Keep the candids for social media and spend more time lining up the perfect shots worthy of being placed on the wall. 

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