You know those favorite family portraits you have hanging on the wall – the ones that often stop you as you walk past, warmth spreading outward from your heart? Well, there’s a reason they make you feel so good. And feeling good is just one of the reasons it’s a great idea to have them there.
Here are just five wonderful benefits to getting your images up on your walls, on your desktop, into albums, or any other way you can think of to display them.
(01) Displaying Family Portraits Boosts Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Numerous experts in the field of psychology agree, having family portraits displayed in your home can help your children develop healthy self-esteem. (1)
First, it shows them they belong to a family unit. “It is so helpful for children to see themselves as a valued and important part of that family unit,” says David Krauss, a psychologist and early pioneer of Photo Therapy, a method which uses personal photographs to aid in mental health counseling. “It says we love you and care about you. You’re important.” (1)
Psychologist Judy Weiser, considered the leading expert on the emotional significance of personal photographs agrees. “They learn their genealogy and the uniqueness of their own family and its story. When a child sees a family portrait with them included in the photograph, they say to themselves, ‘These people have me as part of what they are, that’s why I belong here. This is where I come from.'” (1)
Creating opportunities for your children to be involved in planning the portraits can be an added boost. Even giving them a choice of what to wear (with direction, of course) or allowing them to suggest locations gives them a sense of power and control.
Looking at the images with your children and using them to foster conversation can be powerful as well for both younger children and teens. It gives them opportunity to express their thoughts and emotions. Being heard in this way can make them feel valued and loved.
Give it a try! Ask your child a few open-ended questions about a family photograph and see where the conversation takes you.
(02) Displaying Family Portraits Strengthens Family Bonds
Again, we look to the experts to find out how family portraits can impact family relationships. Judy Weiser explains how looking at photographs can help people feel less lonely and more connected to those that matter most in their lives. “Because photographs can remind us of good times we’ve shared with our family, they have the power to improve and sustain our relationships.” (2)
“The moment we look at [a photograph], inside its borders, is ‘now’, we are there, within the space and time of that image, as if really physically there ourselves. Our mind does not separate viewing the visual contents of a photograph from viewing those visual facts themselves, it is a transitional object that bridges without our even realizing this is happening.” (3)
Because of this we can not only deepen connections with family members we live with, but also foster connections across the miles – and years. Weiser states, “Looking at a photo of our relatives of a hundred years ago, we conceptually process the image as if we are seeing them alive in front of us at that moment, and we are right there, across from them looking on. Our mind achieves a cognitive leap that equates looking at the photo with being in the actual scene.” (3)
Not only can the photographs themselves have an impact on your family relationships, but their creation can as well. When your family photographer facilitates meaningful interaction during your session, she is not only creating moments that will result in emotive images. She is giving you an opportunity to connect and focus on how much you enjoy and love one another.
Doesn’t a family portrait session that’s more like a family date night sound like fun?
(03) Displaying Family Portraits Lifts Your Mood
It likely comes as no surprise to you that photographs have the power to lift your spirits. You’ve no doubt experienced this when an image of a loved one or a special memory gives you all the feels. But, do you know why photographs have this effect?
As psychologist Judy Weiser says, “Looking at a photo of happier times will put you right back there again and leave you feeling the same way you did when you first experienced it.” (4) This kind of “mental time travel,” says Fred Bryant, professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago, “can bring about a sense of fulfillment or love and can be good for our psychological wellbeing.” (5)
Reflecting on our memories can reduce anxiety and increase contentment. It can also have positive effects on how we see ourselves. “Waxing nostalgic about valued past experiences makes us feel as if our lives are full of purpose and meaning. It increases our self-esteem,” says Bryant. (5)
So the next time you’re feeling blue, pull out a family photo album, or take a tour through your home to view each family photo you have displayed. Combining this with a gratitude exercise (like thinking of one reason you’re thankful for each person in the photograph) can have you feeling more joyful in no time!
(04) Displaying Family Portraits Protects the Longevity of Your Images
You might think that the best way to preserve your portraits is in digital form, but printed photographs actually have an important role in archiving your images. While digital images do have their advantages – they take up less space, they can be backed up in multiple locations – they also have their shortcomings.
As stated in Digital Trends in a 2017 article, changes in technology could result in the loss of stored digital files in the future. Unless you consistently modernize your digital archives, there’s no guarantee that “the computer of tomorrow will be able to read the photos you take today.” Not to mention potential problems with being able to access your photos on the devices that hold them. Case in point are CDs, which used to be the gold standard for photo backup and are now nearly non-existent. (4)
On the other hand, an archival quality print that is stored and cared for properly can last for generations. Your great grandchildren will easily be able to add that framed print of you and your family to their gallery wall. They may not even know what to do with your thumb drive.
To increase the longevity of your photographs I recommend you do all of the following:
- Create at least one back up copy of all of your important digital images on an external hard drive and/or in cloud storage.
- Keep up to date with technology and transfer images from older storage systems to newer ones sooner rather than later.
- Print your most important images on archival paper. Care for and display/store them properly (this is a topic for another day).
(05) Displaying Family Portraits Adds Style and Warmth to Your Home
Ask an interior decorator for tips on creating a warm and inviting atmosphere in your home and you’ll likely hear one or more of the following in the list:
- Fill your rooms with items you love, that are a reflection of you and have personal meaning.
- Add things that spark conversation.
- Display items that have a history or a story.
- Add art to your walls – it makes the space feel less empty.
All of these could easily be accomplished with one item – a family portrait! Having photographs around your home also makes a statement to visitors about the importance of family in your life and gives them an intimate glimpse into your world.
A family portrait can easily fit into any decorating style given the wide variety of ways they can be displayed, from the more traditional framed print to a modern metal print. There are also ways to incorporate your portrait into just about any room of the house, from a large statement piece over the fireplace, to a small print adorning your desk or shelf.
Now that you know the power of displaying family portraits in your home, what can you do to put this knowledge to good use?
If you already have numerous photographs around your house, first, give yourself a high five! You recognize their importance and you and your family have been reaping the benefits. To increase those benefits even more, here’s a recap and some additional ideas to try.
- Use photographs as conversation starters. Grab a family album and as you flip through the pages, ask your children open-ended questions about the images.
- As you look at photographs of family members from past generations and those that live far away, tell your children stories about them, what they were like and special memories you have with them.
- Look through photos of your children from when they were younger and share stories that they may not remember, such as when they were born or lost their first tooth. Tell them how they made you laugh or feel proud.
- Play photo identifying games with young children. When they see their own image they begin to get to know themselves. Place photos of them in a prominent place, like over the changing table or crib (out of reach, of course).
- Place two photographs next to your child’s bed, one showing them happily engaged in an activity they love, and the other showing family togetherness. According to child psychotherapist Stephanie Marston, “Research has shown that the 30 minute time period just before bed is when children are more receptive and listen and absorb more than any other time.”
Are your walls a little bare?
If your home is not currently filled with lovely family portraits, consider making a change in your decor and adding some in! You can either take the time to print some of the many images you have taken in recent years, or schedule a session with a professional photographer for updated portraits.
Whether you bring older images to life in print or create new ones to display, your home and your family will certainly benefit!
Would you like help getting family portraits displayed in your home? I would love to assist you! Contact me today and let’s chat about the possibilities.
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(3) Phototheraphy Techniques: Exploring the Secrets of Personal Snapshots and Family Albums pg 4