How to Hang Your Family Photos: A Step-By-Step Guide

Jul 13, 2021 | Tips & Tricks

person aligning framed decor on gray wall

I don’t know about you, but I love seeing my family photos in a physical format that I can hold and enjoy without having to pull up my phone (if you can’t decide how to display your photos, why not take my quiz?). However, I will be the first to admit that I often put off hanging a picture. I’m always afraid I’ll mess it up. But guess what – it actually doesn’t have to be that hard! Follow this foolproof guide to hang your family photos right the first time (no extra nail holes necessary!).

Step 1: Decide where your piece will go

This is embarrassing, but deciding where to hang my family photos is often the step that stumps me the most. Sure, it would be easy enough to just throw it on a wall that’s looking fairly empty. But I want to be intentional about where I put them. After all, getting professional family photos was an intentional decision – shouldn’t I follow that intention all the way through to the end?

The best piece of advice I can give about where to hang your family photos is to put them in a place that you and your family spend most of your time. Do you often hang out in the living room together? Maybe the dining room? Hang your family photos where they will be viewed and enjoyed often.

The opposite is also true here. You don’t want to hang your photos in a place that doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Have a front door that no one uses? Don’t hang your family photo in the foyer where it will be completely forgotten about. This one comes from my own experience!

Another great option is to display your family photos in an entryway that folks use often. That way guests will be greeted by your family as soon as they enter. It will make your home feel inviting and welcoming!

I know many people like to hang gallery walls of photos in hallways and I can certainly see the appeal to dressing up a space like that. However, I prefer to display other art pieces in my hallways. While we pass through hallways often, they aren’t a place where we linger. You’ll see the photos, but you won’t have as much of a chance to really enjoy them as if they were in a more cozy space.

Step 2: Determine your ideal hanging height

Ok, so you’ve decided on the perfect spot to hang your photo. Now the fun part – math! Alright, so maybe I’m the only weirdo that loves the math part of any project (I blame my engineer side), but I promise this isn’t difficult math!

Most people tend to hang their art too high. It’s best to hang your pictures with the middle of the piece at eye level. After all, your photos are meant to be viewed without getting a sore neck! Now, I understand it’s not always easy to come up with a measurement for eye level for everyone that will be enjoying the images. My husband and I have definitely experienced this dilemma since he’s 6′ and I’m 5’3″.

assorted paintings on white painted wall

Most museums and galleries use 57″ on center, so that seems like a great place to start if you’re stumped. Definitely use the measurement that best suits you and your family though.

Of course, there are situations where 57″ on center won’t work perfectly. For instance, if you’re hanging the piece above furniture, a good rule of thumb is to have 4-8″ between the bottom of the artwork and the top of the furniture piece. If you have extra high ceilings, definitely adjust the center placement to balance the empty space above the piece.

Step 3: Measure and more math

Time to bust out that trusty tape measure! In order to make sure your picture ends up with the center at the height you designated in the last step, we’ll need to do a little measuring and a little math.

  1. First, measure the height of your piece.
  2. Divide that number by two to determine the center height of your piece.
  3. Then measure the distance from the top of the piece to the hanging hardware.
  4. Subtract the number in step 3 from the number in step 2.
  5. Add the result from step 4 to your ideal center height.
  6. Measure the number from step 5 up from the floor in the place you’d like your piece to hang. This will be where you place your nail, so go ahead and make a small pencil mark there.

So for instance, say your ideal center height is 60″ and you want to hang a piece that is 24″ tall and has hanging hardware 1″ from the top of the piece.

  1. Height of the piece = 24″
  2. Divide 24″/ 2 = 12″
  3. Distance from the top of piece to the hanging hardware = 1″
  4. Subtract 12″ – 1″ = 11″
  5. Add 11″ + 60″ = 71″
  6. Measure 71″ up from the floor and mark where to place the anchor/nail.

Step 4: Anchor your piece

Let’s talk about hanging hardware. We all know the ideal place to hang a piece of art is at a stud. But that’s not always going to work with the rest of your room. You can absolutely break out your stud finder and go from there, but when that’s not an option there are still ways to safely hang your art in drywall alone.

While you can hang a picture in just drywall using a standard finishing nail (provided it’s at an angle of about 45°), it’s definitely better to use wall anchors. This is especially true when hanging larger or heavier items. A spiral anchor is the easiest and most common type of wall anchor for this purpose. Simply screw the anchor into the wall where you placed your mark in Step 3. You can do this with a Phillips screwdriver or with a cordless drill fitted with a Phillips bit. Then drive the screw into the anchor.

Step 5: Hang your photo

Now you just need to hang your photo. Line up the hardware on the back of the photo with your screw and viola! I recommend using a level to make sure your piece is straight (I find I can never trust the whole “stand back and eyeball it” method).

person aligning framed decor on gray wall

Step 6: Enjoy!

Step back and marvel at your skills and soak in the love emanating from your family photo. Now go enjoy those warm fuzzies and feel free to brag about your handiwork to all your friends and family – you deserve it!


Want your own beautiful family photos to showcase around your home? Let’s set up a call so we can chat about your vision!

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