Over the years I have heard many reasons from my clients why they don’t choose large wall portraits to display in their homes. And by large, they mean anything over an 8×10. One of the most common reasons is their feeling that somehow it is socially unacceptable – they feel that large family prints are “ostentatious” , akin to the ubiquitous Christmas newsletter bragging about little Johnny’s accomplishments. They also feel that photographs can somehow clash or cheapen their decor.
Those of you who know me know that I couldn’t disagree more.
Let’s look at the definition of ostentatious: characterized by or given to pretentious or conspicuous show in an attempt to impress others: an ostentatious dresser. I don’t know about you, but I think there is a fine line here. All of us take some pride in our appearance to some degree. We try to dress appropriately & attractively, and very few of us do it like Lady GaGa. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to look good. Same with photographs. Obviously an image taken with a giant rubber ducky at a volume studio isn’t going to look good HUGE on your wall, but grandma may love having it in her wallet. A custom photographer will help you create images that are meant to be displayed as the art that they are. I also think that the “ostentatious” feeling is a throwback to much earlier times, when photography was scarce and expensive and not as easily available and affordable as it is now. It actually was a sign of wealth. But, as in all things, it is all about the presentation.
I find it odd that most people try to decorate their homes beautifully, but don’t find it ostentatious when they buy quality furniture or paintings. What could be more real and down to earth than beautiful images of your family? Why would you feel bad about the fact that they are the most important thing in your life, that you are proud of them, and that you find them beautiful enough to display in your home? Why are big wall portraits of your family less important to hang on your wall than a stock picture from Pottery Barn that everyone else has?
The biggest reason that I love family portraits on the walls is that it creates a sense of belonging and love within a family, even when separated by distance. And it is very good for a child’s self esteem. David Krauss, Ph.D., co-author with Jerry Fryear, Ph.D., of Photo Therapy in Mental Health, advocates displaying photographs because kids who see themselves on view, feel loved and valued. The idea of a family photo gallery particularly appeals to Krauss. “What it says to a child is “I’m important in this family to the extent my parents acknowledge and honor my presence with wall space.” It also shows a child that he or she belongs there and is meaningfully connected to Mom or Dad and others pictured.
I, for one, proudly (and perhaps ostentatiously) decorate my home with the most beautiful art that I have ever seen. Just got some fresh prints today, which I will make my poor husband hang tonight as soon as he gets home from work. The last time that I decorated these walls Eislen & Ref were just a twinkle in their daddy’s eye, and Stacey had just started on her weight loss journey, so it is definitely time to refresh things!