#AtoZChallenge | Travel gallery wall puts our memories on display

I use to travel with a large black camera bag. It had padded dividers that you could move around and secure with velcro to change the storage configuration. There was enough space to hold my 35 mm camera along with a telephoto lens and multiple rolls of film. Depending on the destination, I needed to have enough film for the entire trip. When I was finished shooting a roll, I would insert the end of the film all the way into the canister so I wouldn’t mistakenly use it again. The system worked for me although it was heavy to carry around.

During our trip to Costa Rica, after one long transfer that included crossing a lake by boat, I realized after arriving at our hotel, that I had left my camera bag on the boat. While heartbroken at losing my camera, it also meant all of my pictures that I had taken of our trip up to that point were also lost. For a memory keeper like me, that was the truly devastating part.

The hotel called the tour company that managed the boat transfer and they located the bag. We were only at this stop for another day but the tour company promised they would send the camera bag on their next transfer. Miraculously, the camera bag showed up at the hotel the morning before we moved onto the next stop on our itinerary. Everything was still in the bag including all of my film. It was such a happy surprise. I really thought it was lost forever.

After returning home, we went from the airport to BJs Wholesale Club where I dropped off twelve rolls of film to be developed. I was so anxious to see the photos from our trip. In those days there was no instant gratification, you had to wait for the film to be developed and I wanted to expedite the process as much as possible.

I now shoot digitally which means I can take even more pictures and curate the best ones for my travel albums. I can also see and edit my pictures throughout my trip often uploading as I go. The end results is a more professional photo album but so many pictures that it can sometimes be daunting.

It was time to move them out of the photo books and onto my walls.

I have pictures and art work throughout my house but have always been a little intimidated by the trend in gallery walls. It feels impossible to get the composition right. Fortunately, we have the perfect wall in our master bedroom. It has the height and depth to really create a strong statement and with the location of the bed and current layout of the room there isn’t space to put furniture or other items against the wall.

I started buying picture frames at Goodwill anytime I saw something in a design or shape that I liked. I didn’t care about the color or design as I planned to paint all of the frames a uniform color. It was more about amassing options so I could play around with the final look and feel of the wall.

Once I had a decent number of frames stashed away, I started working on how to lay them out. Here is the way that I brought my travel wall to life.

Step 1)

I laid out the frames in a rough design of how I thought they would work on the wall placing the two largest frames as my anchors.

Step 2)

I made templates of the frames using scrap paper. There were so many frames that I was worried I would get them confused so I numbered the templates and the frames so I could swap them out once I had the look that I wanted.

Step 3)

I measured the distance from the edge to my large anchor frame to get a sense of where I wanted to place them on the wall. I used painter’s tape to attached my templates to the wall. The painter’s tape was repositionable which allowed me to move them around until I got the configuration that I liked.

Step 4)

I sanded down and primed all the frames.

Step 5)

I brought the frames outside to paint them. I have been using the same set of small paper cups to raise up things I am spray painting for years. They work great.

I spray painted all the frames in one uniform color. Typically, gallery walls are done with white or black frames to keep the focus on the images but I’m all about color so instead I chose a rustic orange. I knew it would work for my room although it’s probably not for everyone.

Step 6)

I brought my frames back inside and after they were ready to be handled I removed any stickers from the glass and cleaned them before reassembling the frames.

Step 7)

I started swapped out my paper templates with the actual frames.

Hanging frames can often be stressful but we found a method that really worked. I placed my paper template on the back of the frame and marked the location of the hanging hooks. I then put the paper template back on the wall making sure to measure the distance between the nearby frames as I was keeping everything about 1 1/2″ apart. We put our picture hanger in the wall while the template was still up using the marked spot as our guide. We then removed the template and hung the frame. This worked amazingly well.

Step 8)

Simultaneously, I started curating the pictures that I wanted to display and ordering prints to add to the freshly painted frames.

I also had some images of our completed Maine Beer Trail map. I ordered frames to fit as they were an odd size and painted them orange as well. They make a nice addition to my gallery wall.

Travel Wall (2)

It’s still a work in progress but so far I’m liking the way the gallery wall is coming together. I really want this display to be able to grow and change as life moves forward. I don’t want it to be a snapshot in time but an ever evolving album of our travel adventures. The outer edges of my gallery wall can continue to expand and grow as you can see by the additional frame I added after my first layout.

It is wonderful to wake up and immediately get immersed in all the amazing memories we’ve made during our travels.

Do you frame your travel pictures? How do you display them?

I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2021. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Craft Projects for my Home. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.

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32 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge | Travel gallery wall puts our memories on display

  1. Lisa Elliott says:

    Your wall looks great and I’m going to remember your tips about how to hang them with the templates!! I have some photos in frames around our house — I have a small gallery wall upstairs – all of the frames are black and it looks pretty good.


  2. Keith's Ramblings says:

    You took me back to when I developed photos in my own little darkroom under the stairs! How things have changed.
    On all my trips I take backup shots on my phone just in case I lose my camera, or have it set up wrongly! Better safe than sorry.
    Right now I have 60 framed travel photos running three deep the length of my hallway – all in black and white!


  3. Lisa says:

    It looks great! Picking up frames second hand saves hundreds of dollars. I would guess a hundred on just one framing job the way they cost here! I need to get some of my travel photos out of digital form. That’s what was nice about film, you had real photos. I feel like I will never catch up now with so many “trapped” digitally!


    • Weekends in Maine says:

      It is amazing how much frames can cost. It is so much cheaper to buy them used and there is generally a good selection.

      I agree that our digital pictures can feel “trapped”. I still have all my old photo albums from when we used print ones.


  4. Crackerberries says:

    That looks so good. I used to have frames of pics all over the walls in the other house we lived in. When we bought this house almost 6 years ago now, we said we weren’t going to cover the walls with pics until we painted. Well we just finished the living room in January and after all of the work it took to get the walls smooth I have no desire to put a nail or screw in the wall at all. I know they have those nice command strips for hanging which we did put up one frame. I’m too scared that they won’t hold and the frames will fall and shatter. So for right now all of my favorite framed pics are in a pile on the floor behind my office door. A shame isn’t it? What I would like to do is put them in those nice photo books and have them printed like from snapfish or shutterfly… it just takes time…everything takes time. Have a great day and weekend.


    • Weekends in Maine says:

      We used monkey hooks to hang them. I love those hooks because they only leave a small little hold behind if you take them out which is barely visible. They work amazingly well.

      I also love the photo books and usually do those for all of my travels too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      I have a love-hate relationship with spray painting. I love how quickly you can transform something but I’m not a fan of all the preparation and work in getting it done. The fumes aren’t great either so it’s definitely an outside project.


  5. Martha says:

    I’m so glad you were able to get your camera bag back with everything still in there, that would definitely be a heartbreaker if it would have been lost for good. Your wall looks fantastic, you did a great job!


  6. Anne Nydam says:

    Our guest bedroom is decorated with one particular theme of travel pictures: sand castles. Whenever we go to a beach we make a sand castle. Usually we try to make the sand castle fit with the architecture or culture of the area. We have 18 sand castles, dating all the way back to our honeymoon — but we haven’t been to a beach in a long time.
    Black and White: T for Tatooine


  7. Jeanne Bryan Insalaco says:

    Was happy to read your camera bag was found and returned. It would have been devastating if lost! I also lugged around a bag with attachments but now a much smaller one. I think in this world of digital prints that many will be lost. Nothing like immediately printing your rolls of film snd the anticipation of the results. I need to better organize my digital photos as it takes me forever to find the one I’m looking for. I do have all my printed ones organized – which I’m thankful for. Kudos to you on achieving your gallery wall… great job and tips offered.


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