In an age of comparisons, how do we know what size is best when considering our home’s wall decor?  Consider this, why would you go to all the effort and investment of hiring a professional photographer to capture your child and family portraits, only to hide your beautiful memories in a dinky tiny frame?  If you like to walk around your home with a magnifier glass or have your guests squish their noses right up against your portraits, steer away from small portrait sizes (keep those for those family snaps).

Now what is small you ask?  Portraits should be 60-70% real life size to accurately see the detail in a person’s face.  With each additional person in the portrait we need to go up a size so that each face can be appreciated.  Let’s do a test.

First thing, let’s assume you’ve had your photographer capture your photo session with quality lighting where each person’s eyes are properly lit.  We’ve all heard the saying “the eyes are the window to the soul” and they should be the most important part of a portrait .  Although the “in vogue” thing you’ve heard lately is “natural light”, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better or worse than artificial or strobe lights.  Studio strobes require a more advanced skill set from the photographer as each aspect of the light in a portrait has to be designed.  I personally prefer using studio strobe lighting because it’s far more controllable than the sun, in studio the eyes are bright and skin tones are accurate and creamy.

Now we have our well lit portrait, a good test is to hang the portrait up then take 3 steps back.  If you can’t see the color of the person/s eyes the portrait is too small.  This means that the family portrait of 4 family members needs to be a minimum of a 20×24 inches to fully appreciate it.

In design terms, the wall where you hang your art  creates negative space around your portrait.  This negative space “swallows” the portrait and makes it appear smaller.  So even though you may have thought an 8×10 is “big” up close, when hung on the wall it truly looks pitiful.  Here is an example…

An even better way of deciding on the most ideal size for your portrait is before it is printed with projection display.  At my studio each client returns after the session for a design appointment where we guide them through the process of selecting their wall art.  A computer screen is not the most ideal way of comparing your favorite poses and expressions – it’s overwhelming how do I choose?  How can we accurately judge how our portrait will look on our wall when we see it at 10% it’s ideal size?  For many of us,  imagining what a portrait will look like in a room is very hard, the human brain needs something to compare it to.  This is why we love reading those fashion or home catalogs, we can see how the clothes fit on the model and we can see exactly how big the furniture looks in a room.  It’s much easier to see something you like and say “I want that!”

Our piece de resistance at my studio is our room view feature.  I’m tickled pink to see how easy it is to display our portraits accurately in a photo of an actual room.  Better still is the wall grouping feature where we can put together a complimenting display of sizes to create a WOW showcase.  A group of portraits hung together have far more impact and design style than a single small image, thereby occupying more positive wall space.  Besides so many homes today have gigantic walls just begging for beautiful artwork!


TIP #1:  Take a photo of your room with your cellphone, include an common object in the photo for size calibration (like a yard stick, a broom or furniture) and email it to us.

TIP #2: Measure the available wall space from left to right indicating where you have windows, and bring the measurements with you to your ordering appointment.

We will use the room view to design your perfect wall grouping and we will use the common object to give you an accurate size display of your portraits.  Voila! No more guesswork.