By Joseph Pubillones

June 24, 2011 4 min read

Open the pages of any shelter magazine and you are likely to find stylish interiors with framed photographs on the walls. From small, colorful instant prints to black-and-white mural-sized images, photographs have found acceptance as art. Almost any image can be studied, taken out of its natural context and, under the right light, shot to produce an artful wall hanging. The themes are endless, from real and imagined landscapes to close-ups of plants and even photographic reproductions of your DNA.

Photographs have become a popular art form, in part because of technological advances but also because of the economy. Nowadays, a simple inexpensive camera can be very precise. The incorporation of such cameras into mobile phones and multimedia devices empowers almost any Joe Schmo to carry a camera, don an artful beret and bandanna, and consider himself an artist or a roaming paparazzo.

Artistic photographs and photographs by famous photographers have gained strength in the art market because of the softened economy. A new wave of artists has focused its artistic endeavors on less time-consuming and highly innovative forms of expression. Generally, photographs are priced reasonably and are by all means alluring. The themes vary from new interpretations of the still life to Photoshopped scenes of daily life and are full of social commentary.

Family photos can be fun to decorate with, as well. Rather than display photos all over your home, concentrate on a grouping of your family on one wall. Resist the urge to showcase that picture of your baby in the buff over the living room sofa. Family photos are best displayed in a secondary area, such as a hallway, den or family room.

If you have mingled with celebrities and have autographed mementos or photos, those are best kept in a private room of your home, such as a library or den. They should not be displayed to show off. This would be the equivalent of bragging, which no one appreciates. Only displaying photos of people who would display photos of you is a good rule to keep in mind.

Some additional tips:

--A starting point in decorating with photographs is to concentrate the photos on a particular theme. Sailboats, flowers or beach scenes, for example, can make a cohesive display.

--Start with a larger central image, and add smaller secondary images around the perimeter.

--Sometimes certain powerful images are best viewed on their own without any other distracting images around them.

--Trust your intuition when grouping photos. This is part of your personal expression.

--To reinforce your grouping of photographs, consider painting the wall a color that contrasts with the rest of the room. Black-and-white photos show especially well on colored backgrounds.

--Use a unifying color for matting and frames for a random grouping.

--Don't be afraid to mix vintage frames and photographs with newer ones. The mix can create a lot of visual interest.

Joseph Pubillones' weekly column, "The Art of Design," appears at creators.com.

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