hey, wanna see this picture of me looking awesome doing fun things?
November 22, 2012 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Narcissism filter: I love looking at pictures of me and my loved ones. I'd like to have more photos of my family up in the house but there are some snowflakey, silly issues...

I have always loved having and looking at photos of the things I have done with people. When I was in university an entire wall in my doorm room was completely covered with photos that sticky-tac'd up. I started every year with a core set of "these were awesome times" photos and then added more throughout the year as I did things and got more awesome pictures. By the end of each school year I had probably between 75-100 photos up. I loved that wall.

Now that I'm all grown up and adult and stuff, I'm almost worse because I have a fiance and a step son and I love every minute of it. I/we take a lot of photos of our family activities, from the mundane (lawn mowing, playing boardgames, random pictures of the stuff we do day to day) to the more special (trip to the beach, decorating gingerbread house, vacations, etc). I love to look through them and see them. My wallpapers on my computers (home and work), my phone wallpaper, my phone lock screen, etc. are all pictures of me with my fiance and step son.

Sidenote: I'm not one of those "so busy taking pictures that I forget to enjoy what I'm doing" type. I usually take a few of whatever is going on and then put it away unless something totally photo-worthy happens.

So here is the thing: I actually think having pictures up on the walls to be often tacky. When I see personal pictures up I always think of old grandmothers that have their mantles and walls plastered with photos of every family member and every person they know. That, or I think of Samantha from Sex and the City where she got a giangtic picture of herself naked that she put up in her apartment because she thought she was so sexy and attractive. (I think I have the Samantha/vanity association because I am a bit vain, I know that I am photogenic, and I like to see pictures of myself because I frankly think I look better in photos than I do in real life. On top of that, one of my sisters has made fun of me for how I look in photos because she thinks I'm doing this whole act and posing thing when really I'm just smiling. She happens to be pretty unphotogenic so to her it is my flaw for not being unphotogenic as well I guess... Anyway, this has led me to be a little hesitant to put up photos of myself where I look nice lest she make fun of me again.)

So how do people put up photos of their family and themselves without it looking 1) tacky and cluttered and 2) vain? My fiance and I just got some really beautiful, modern, classy enagement shots done, including some fantastic family shots with his son, and I would love to print some off and hang them up but I don't know how to do that. I considered an digital photo frame that I can load with a whack of pictures, but I actually find those really distracting, what with their being backlit and their constantly changing photos. I would love to have a framed photo on my desk at work but even that makes me feel really vain or prideful or something. I have no clue what the hell I'm going to do when we get married and get our wedding pictures. I/we purposefully opted for NO prints of our engagement/wedding photos (getting them exclusively electronically) because I'd feel weird about hanging them up.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Having photos of awesome times spent with friends and family is NOT tacky.

In terms of it not seeming vain, as long as most pictures are not "here's me looking totally HAWT last year at the beach, here's me fricken OWNING at monopoly, here's another one of me and my AMAZING gingerbread house I made from scratch...", you're fine. Share the wealth. Make sure the photos you put up are not just of you looking gorgeous and winning at life, but of your friends and family being equally awesome.

I'd probably err on the side of less pictures of you in them and few if any pictures of just you alone. But otherwise, I think you're way overthinking this.

That said, I have a gorgeous picture a photographer friend snapped of me back in college that I've been carrying around for years and refuse to hang in my apartment for similar reasons. So I feel you. But still. Take down the plate of beans and hang some photos!
posted by Sara C. at 10:45 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think it helps if you make the framing / arrangement of your photos interesting. Try looking on Pinterest for examples of photowalls. Some of them are fantastic.

Having a few pictures of your family around is totally normal and not vain at all.

If you choose frames that are easy to replace pictures in, you could update them periodically. This kickstarter, for example.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:50 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

The other thing is: photobooks.

It's might be way less weird to have a few photobooks sitting around as coffee table books that you can occasionally leaf through, that visitors might pick up and idly browse. They're less clunky than photo albums and work well in this era of digital photos.

Putting them together can be fun, and it can be pretty easy with a lot of the tools out there for making them.

I've done a whole bunch of them, and I just did a big one for my mom for her Christmas present that I'm wildly excited about giving her.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:52 AM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

jacquilynne brings up a good point. The key to your photos looking nice and not cluttered/grandmotherly is to get nice, simple frames and avoid all that chintzy LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE and I <3 MY DADDY type stuff. Hanging on the wall is also better in my opinion than standing on a surface, but free-standing ones can look good in the right frame and used in moderation.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

There are definitely classy and sleek ways to do photo or collage walls. I'd go on apartment therapy or another design site and explore different (modern!) ways of displaying your pics.

For the emotional side I think Sara C. is right on about just balancing it out. Make sure it's just as much (if not more) about your family and friends as about you and most people wouldn't think twice about it. Maybe mix in some pics without any people in them of places you've been?
posted by brilliantine at 10:54 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you just need to get over the idea of it being "tacky." It's not; it's putting things on your wall/mantelpiece/shelves that you enjoy looking at.

Get some nice coordinating frames (they don't all need to be the same, but they do need to look good together) and mats, and go crazy. You can always switch then around or take them down if you get tired of them.

Also, it sounds to me like the lady doth protest a smidgen too much about vanity/how much you love pictures of yourself. It might come off as a little obnoxious in person.
posted by lydhre at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2012

One of the most prominent pictures up in my house is a picture of me surfing. A friend took the photo, and it's one of the biggest waves I've ever ridden, and I get so few decent pictures of myself surfing that I think I can be legitimately proud of this one. My wife had it blown up and printed on metal (I don't know what this process is called but the prints coming out looking nice) at like 16"x20".

It's a picture of me doing something I'm proud of. I don't care if other people think its vain or not, it's my house, they don't have to look at it unless they're visiting me. And it's nicely printed and hung, so I think that makes it not tacky. Besides, tacky is in the eye of the beholder.

But really, it's your house, fill it with your favorite memories. It doesn't matter what other people think.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Hallways. Hallways are the appropriate place for family photographic displays.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know someone who has about 200 photos of herself scattered throughout her house. It's pretty cute in the hallway - but when you see photos in the bathroom, in the guest room and in the downstairs lavatory, it's just pretty weird. And that's not including the novelty fridge magnets with her face on them.

Don't be that girl.

Rotate your photos. Get some fab frames and rotate your photos on a monthly basis rather than have a gazillion photos on display. That ways you get to coo over precious memories every time you look to change the photos and you can keep things fresh.
posted by kariebookish at 11:12 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a collage of photos pinned on a 36x24-ish framed piece of foam core, of which I just took a photo for you. Of the 50-odd snaps, there are about 13 that are of me or have me in them. (I like pictures of myself too, but that amount seems reasonable and not showy to me.) As I have new pics printed, I swap them out, so there's always something new-ish up there. Folks come over and peruse it, and as I'm walking by I'll often pause and look and reminisce.
posted by Specklet at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2012

Response by poster: Also, it sounds to me like the lady doth protest a smidgen too much about vanity/how much you love pictures of yourself. It might come off as a little obnoxious in person.

Couldn't agree more, it would be totally obnoxious in person, and that is sorta my point. My loving to look at photos of the things I've done isn't something I think I have ever talk out loud about. My facebook isn't plastered of pictures of just me, my profile picture is always of a thing or of me with someone else, never me alone. I don't go around telling people I'm photogenic or being all "TAKE MY PICTURE!", etc. The fear of being obnoxious, frankly, is what is keeping me from displaying photos. It is one thing for me to like seeing pictures of me with my loved ones and feeling photogenic. It is another thing to go on about it to people.

Having all simple, plain, matching frames sounds good. And I hate all of the "Live love laugh" crap like that, so no worries there. Hallways aren't really an option in our house. It is a very small house all on one floor and any "hallways" (I don't know if I should even call them that) are very short. Photobooks are a good idea, but not really practical in our home. Again, it is small, and we don't have the space to burn with always having a book on a table (and for that matter, we don't HAVE a coffee table, only side tables).
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2012

I know you said no to digital frames but I'll just give you some points in case you decide to reconsider.

I too found them distracting, but then my parents got one of these. Aside from all the cool features (it has an email address, so sometimes we surprise them with photos) it is a great conversation piece -- a photo from 15 years ago will pop up and we can all talk about how great it was. I think it's really fun, and a= great way to show off memories while still keeping uncluttered and un-vain.
posted by AmandaA at 11:28 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

A photo album doesn't need to stay out -- I made one for my daughter, and one family one, and usually they are just on the bookcase. But every so often we get them out to look through. Only one time did I have them out on the coffee table for family to see when they were visiting (open to a page with my Grandmother in it, so she could see it). I think this can help channel all your many pictures, with a few framed pictures around the house (and maybe a photo wall in your bedroom).
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:44 AM on November 22, 2012

Sit down and collect your favorite pictures from, say, the last two years, and have them made into a bound coffee table book with a discreet year range on the cover (and no pictures.) Place it on the coffee table, and make sure the first few pages show pictures of people other than you, or where you're not the only/primary person in the picture.

Repeat this, going further and further back in time.

Frankly, the pictures-on-the-wall thing is wonderful, but -- like good scenery through a window -- you'll quickly get used to them being there and won't look at them any more. That's what makes the books so much nicer, because your guests will occasionally pick them up and leaf through them, no worse than having them on the wall, and in some ways better, and you'll do the same, which will keep the pictures surprising and fun...because there's nothing wrong with you enjoying your pictures, so why not maximize that?
posted by davejay at 12:45 PM on November 22, 2012

I love seeing pictures on my friends' walls. not tacky at all, and even if it were who cares? it makes you happy! make one wall or hallway The Gallery, and go nuts.

I would definitely say that the answer to "hey, wanna see this picture of me looking awesome doing fun things?" is yes!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:03 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a large collage-style picture frame on my living room wall that holds some of my favourite pictures with various friends and family and loads of other framed pictures around my apartment besides. Not only do people not think it's tacky, they absolutely love seeing themselves in the pictures and it's a conversation piece.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:18 PM on November 22, 2012

Pictures of yourself on the wall? in various poses and acts of valor? Unless you're a Roman Emperor, very tacky.

You don't know, because none of your friends have the motivation to tell you this.
posted by Kruger5 at 1:38 PM on November 22, 2012

It is a very small house all on one floor and any "hallways" (I don't know if I should even call them that) are very short.

Then hang them vertically in your short halls, floor to ceiling if necessary. The only other really acceptable option is the bedroom. It is sounding like you want the internet's permission to hang family photos in the public spaces of your home without it being tacky, and some of the internet is not going to be prepared to do that.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:57 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know people who have a photo wall of themselves and their families, and I've never found it tacky. One acquaintance has, in his photo wall, an awesome series of the photo holiday cards of him and his brother that their parents used to send to customers of their business in the 1950s, and they are just fabulous (great old-school commercial design). Also cute childhood photos of his daughters, who are now very elegant ladies in their forties, which is adorable.

I do think that more than one location for family pictures makes it a bit much. Also, it's creepy when one partner's pictures take up way more space than the other's.

A photo of your family in the office is the opposite of vain. It shows you're thinking of them when you're not at work.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:57 PM on November 22, 2012

I hate photos of myself and would sooner put out my own eyes, than display any pictures with me in them, and I don't think you are tacky AT ALL. I think it's fantastic that you have pictures of yourself with other people, doing things you enjoy. They are happy memories! I agree with all the groupings of minimal frames suggestion, but also want to second the digital frame, and the books. You can have books made up with whatever you want in them. You could have yearbooks of what you and your loved ones got up to!
posted by thylacinthine at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2012

I think it is okay if you limit them to ONE LOCATION. The grandma thing is to have them in every room on every surface. Choose one small wall (and not one that people will be looking at whenever they sit down in your living room/dining room) and put photos on there. Not any of yourself alone. Use simple frames, as others suggested.

The hallway is a classic suggestion precisely because people can stop and look if they want to, but aren't forced to stare at it the whole time they are visiting. Since you can't use the hallway, find another wall that works in the same way.
posted by lollusc at 3:33 PM on November 22, 2012

posted by oceanjesse at 4:35 PM on November 22, 2012

Just asadata point, I worked with a person whose office was kind of creepy...one day a coworker figured out what it was: creepy office had a bulletin board of photos. They seemed pretty innocuous at first, but then you realized she was in every single photo. None of just her husband, none of just her family,none of just gorgeous scenery, she was in every shot, and there were more than 50 on a small pin up board. So be careful

I think a mix is fine, and probably concentrated in one spot,but if you're in every photo, I would find it a bit narcissistic.

Counterpoint: It's your place,do what makes you happy, as long as your loved ones are cool with it.
posted by maxwelton at 5:21 PM on November 22, 2012

How about the good old refrigerator? Does yours take magnets? Mine is covered in photos of friends and family. It gets changed up and added to now and again. People seem to like it.

I've thought about doing a couple strings in the hallway and getting tiny clothes pins to hang more casual, candid photos but my hallway is very narrow so I'm not sure it works.

I have one of these magnetic photo ropes by the front door which gets birthday cards around birthdays. Xmas cards around the holidays and sometimes photos. A couple of these grouped together could be fun.
posted by amanda at 8:40 PM on November 22, 2012

It's your house and you should do what makes you happy but if you're worried about being judged why not just put them up in a private area of your house, like your bedroom or office? That way only people who would enjoy the photos see them.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 10:15 PM on November 22, 2012

I disagree with the whole premise. I love when I go to someone's house and here are tons of photos up, and I think it would be weird if they weren't mostly of the people who live there -- or, to put it another way, it would be weird if they were mostly of people who didn't live there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:00 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older I don't like being me   |   Going with the family to the Poconos in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.