Smart Design With Suzette: Photography

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Los Alamos

Recently my youngest daughter had the opportunity to experience a photo session with local photographer, Paulina Gwaltney. From the moment we stepped into Paulina’s boutique studio, we could tell she had a great devotion for creating portraits. Her artful display of photographs was very impressive. As a professional that wants to help educate others, Paulina would like to share her knowledge with you, so you too, can artistically display your portraits at home. Paulina…

Beautiful photographs are something everyone likes to have. We enjoy capturing moments and displaying them in our home. Through many consultations with my clients I notice one common thing…there are so many options to have photographs printed, framed and displayed that it can be overwhelming.

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I have met clients who never printed their weddings photos and they are celebrating their second, fifth, or tenth wedding anniversary. They loved the concept of getting all the photos on a CD but now can’t find where the CD is. So how do you bridge the gap between capturing and having images created for you and filling your empty walls? No you do not go to Pinterest. I always say start simple.

If you have an existing collection of frames, I would advise on choosing a few favorite ones that go with your style and updated the rest. If your budget allows, I’d advise custom framing, especially for old photographs that are not UV protected and maybe in unusual sizes. A reputable custom frame shop will be able to fit the frame to the photograph and use UV glass to help preserve it for generations to come. Village Arts, an amazing local shop here in Los Alamos, has a lot of experience and expertise in framing.

If your budget does not allow for custom framing, there are many places to buy frames. I advise my clients to try Michaels first. Their frame collections are pretty standard year to year, which makes adding frames and photos on your wall so much easier. You will always be able to find something to matching your existing collection. See them, touch them, place them all in the isle floor and see how they look together. If you are adventurous you can try buying online but I would advise it only to more experience photo enthusiast.

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How about when you are starting from zero? You just moved into a new place and are restarting your life with new chapter. Well I always say print something you will love seeing on your wall every morning, something that will make you smile and appreciate another day. It is that simple. After selecting a photograph you will then be able to get direction for framing.

When I frame for my clients, I always select a frame and matting to compliment the image. So for example if the image has a lot of warm tones, I will select a warm tone frame (gold, wood).

Creating wall galleries in your home takes time but you should never be discouraged by the task. There are, however, a few rules to follow:

It does not have to match, it has to have the same theme…all white frame, black frames, etc.

Wall galleries should be created with the intention of presenting one large piece of art, so it should even on ends creating square, rectangular, triangle, oval, and circle. It will present images in harmony as a unit.

Try to stick to color photos in one gallery, you should not mix color and mono-color (black and white, sepias) photos together…why? Well color photos will absolutely over power mono color images.

Your phone photos are full frame format but the commons sizes of 4×6, 5×7, 8×10 are cropped formats. All “over counter” frames are cropped format. When printing photos from your phone you need to be aware that you will lose a couple inches from the sides.

8×10 is not a wall size photo. They are way too small, don’t waste your money to hang it. 8×10 is desk, dresser, shelve size. If you want to hang wall art, start with minimum 11×14 with a mat in 16×20 frame. Anything smaller than that will require squinting.

Your galleries should be at eye level and not higher than top of the window and door frame. If you are hanging several photos on different walls in same room they should be at the same height.

When you know the rules there are only three steps: Print images, go frame shopping and finally hang it on a wall! When hanging on a wall you do not have to drill or put nails in a wall.

Most of the frames are light enough for picture hanging strips (for example command brand). They are absolutely fantastic, and a huge plus when you are renting a space or afraid of power tools.

In the end of the day your photographs and art should not be stashed away in a closet. You should enjoy it. If you feel that creating harmonious galleries through your home is bit much, I am available to help. You are more than welcome to reach out with questions.

Paulina Gwaltney. Courtesy photo

Paulina Gwaltney Photography is located at 3500 Trinity Dr. Suite D1 Los Alamos. You can reach out to Paulina with questions at 910.333.6362 or You can check her work out at

Thanks Paulina!

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to help with your home. For more information, find her on and on her website