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Family Portraits are Back in Style

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Family portraits are back—but not in the way you might think. “In general, [the formal] notion is completely outdated,” says Laura Novak, founder of Little Nest Portraits in Wayne and Glen Mills. “People want something that shows their family’s individual personalities, so you get a sense of who the people are.” 

Novak advises clients to think like stylists in their homes, first considering where they want the portrait to go. “One of our clients had the clothes her family wore in the photo matching the pillows and rugs in the room where she hung the portrait,” she says. “It just flows so beautifully.” 

To that end, think about the colors already in the home. “Thinking like a stylist will really help you get that must-have look, where people walk into your home and say ‘wow’ when they see the image,” she says. 

It’s also quite common to get the scale of the portrait wrong. “That’s one of the things we help the most with,” says Novak. “People will bring in a picture of the space, and we have an ability with software to show, to scale, what the photo will look like in their space.” 

Or you can take craft paper and cut out various shapes and sizes, putting them on the wall to see what they look like.

Another thing to consider is whether you want one large image or a collection that highlights different poses and expressions. “Usually, that high-impact piece is great for a large space, because a collection can get lost,” says Novak. 

Consistency is key with any collection. Novak prefers not to mix professional and nonprofessional photos. If you do, use the same frames, and don’t combine black-and-white and color. 

Ultimately, the style of the home dictates your display. If it’s more modern, you should lean toward no frame—or you might go with a thin, black frame and a thick, light-colored mat. In traditional or transitional homes, frames are usually best.