Welcome to our week of posts celebrating the two-year anniversary of this here blog! In case you missed it, yesterday we kicked things off by sharing photos from an awkward-but-not-as-awkward-as-the-first-one photoshoot we did for the occasion.
For Day 2 of our celebration, we’re doing one of our favorite things — challenging each other’s creativity by each taking on the same project. Not only do we thrive on
vicious healthy competition, but we also love seeing the different directions that we each take the same makeover or prompt.
So as you can see, when we do this we really both win, because we’ve both been inspired to do a fun project. (Except not really because THAT’S NOT HOW COMPETITIONS WORK AND THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE WINNER!!)
While we’ve usually done this by finding two identical items for us each to transform, this time we challenged each other to do a craft from the same prompt:
What can you do to turn your mediocre, everyday snapshots into something that you can actually display in your home?
We’re not professional photographers so we all have these shots — meaningful, decent photos that would be perfectly fine to post on facebook but are not nearly nice enough to print out and frame. How can you get use out of these images? Fortunately for you, we each had a pretty good idea!
Sage’s Colorblock Travel Posters
This idea came to me while Sam and I were on our trip to Iceland and Scotland this fall. I liked the idea of displaying some photos from the trip, but it feels high stakes to frame one’s own photos and call them art — my photography skills don’t exactly rise to that level (especially when using my camera phone). Instead, I decided to play around with some artistic effects in Photoshop Element, and found that the “cutout” effect made a cool drawn poster-like appearance that preserved the image but punched it up a bit.
Here’s one from our time near Loch Lomond in Scotland — I took the photo on my phone while out for a long run (original photo on the left, poster version on the right):
And here’s one of Reykjavik from the very top of Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic church in the heart of the city:
I like these because the original photos really don’t have to be anything show-stopping for them to make attractive posters, and I can easily make more over time as we travel. In fact, I liked them so much I made a few more using photos of places I love. I had them printed at Kinkos (for $1.25 each) and then framed them in simple black frames with mats I cut myself (using my mat-cutting kit — best purchase ever).
Here’s a closer shot of each one:
I hung them up in various locations across the house. Unfortunately most of them are in places that are really hard to photograph, like our back hallway. But here’s the one that landed in our bedroom so you believe that I did actually put them up:
These are super easy to make yourself if you’re interested! Here’s how:
- Pick a photo you like. I found that the simple ones with a few contrasting colors worked best.
- Crop the photo to your desired proportions. I wanted my final prints to be 11×14.
- Using Adobe Photoshop Elements (which is a $99 version of Adobe Photoshop that I like for photo editing), pump up the saturation a little and then play with the “cutout” effect under “artistic filters.”
- If you want, add text that indicates the photo location
- Get it printed at a place like Kinkos or Staples
- Frame and hang
- Enjoy being reminded of your favorite places in the world
Naomi’s Modern Couple Portraits
Brad and I don’t have any photos of us together up in our home, so for my project I wanted to use some shots of us together. We’ve never had a real photoshoot done, even though I’ve promised my parents that we will do one eventually, so I only have casual in-the-moment photos of us. I looked through my files, and chose this one, taken by my neighbor at a friend’s wedding last year.
I knew I wanted to end up with something a little modern or edgy, but still calm enough to go in our bedroom. I played around with it for a while, and eventually turned it black and white and bumped up the contrast really far.
I then had a lot of fun with a very sophisticated graphic design software called “Paint.” Calling back to my childhood love of making-squiggles-and-using-the-pouring-paint-can-to-fill-them-in-with-colors, I did the same to this image. I came up with a lot of combinations and it was very satisfying!
However, I eventually decided on a pretty simple one, using a nice yellow that resembles the yellow of our interior doors, which is a feature color throughout our house.
(As a bonus, this is also approximately the color of the sky on Mars, which is the setting of the novel I am working on.)
I had so much fun with this, that I decided to try it out on a bunch more photos. The other that I ended up actually printing and framing was this one, an uber-casual snapshot of Brad and I at a picnic with my parents several years ago. For some reason, I’ve always really liked it.
Rather than just use contrast, for this one I tried out the Graphic Novel effect in Photoshop Elements. It got to a fun line-drawing look that was just begging to be filled in by that little pouring paint can. However, when I went to do it, the color bled everywhere since the lines weren’t complete.
I used the line-drawing feature in Paint to finish closing off some of the areas. Can you spot the differences in the below?
I then filled it in with all sorts of colors, picked a couple of my favorites, and lined up several in a row for a modern look.
Weird? Absolutely. But also very me.
I got both of these images printed at Staples, and then framed them using the same mat cutting kit as Sage, which I had enthusiastically bought after reading her post about it a while back. (I needed silver frames to go with most of the ones in my house, and I found affordable ones here, which came in a wide variety of sizes.)
The first I made pretty large to fill a good-sized wall space in our bedroom. I love the yellow in there, and it’s really nice to have a picture of us up in our bedroom.
For the second, I swapped out an image in our gallery wall that I never really loved. I think the colors go really well.
We guess we’re both winners, since we both have nice, new art up in our homes. So what do you think — would you try these art techniques? How do you display your personal photos?