How To Make A Family Photo Time Line

Family Photo Time Line

When our sons T-Man and Brackenthebox had flown the coop and King-Man and I were empty nesters for the first time, we experienced the same emotions that most parents do. Our house seemed empty and quiet and we missed having our home filled with our kids and their friends. Over time we adjusted to it and found a new kind of happy in our home. But it did take time.

One of things that helped me during this nostalgic transition in our lives was to create a photographic family timeline. I went through photos of our family life through the years, selected some favorites, and hung them on the wall facing our staircase. I hung the photos in chronological order starting when T-Man was a baby and Brackenthebox was 3. As you ascend the stairs, our family gradually grows up in the photos. I can honestly say that a day has not passed since then (2003) that I haven't looked at these photos. They are a reminder of happy times through the years when we were all under one roof. They are a way to regularly savor those days.


Upper Wall Photo 1

I hung these photos primarily for sentimental reasons, but I also wanted them to contribute to the decorative look of our staircase. So, here's what I did:

  • I enlarged all of the photos to 8x10 and converted them to black and white. I'm a fan of black and white photos, and I like that they are more neutral than color photos and coordinate better with whatever color scheme you may have. 
  • I purchased matching frames for all of the photos. These are weathered black wood frames that came with mats. They cost approx. $15 each at Bed, Bath & Beyond. This was several years ago, but you can still find very affordable frames in many stores--Target has a great selection.

Upper Wall Photo 2vert

  • I used candid photos. Some of them not particularly "good" by photography standards. But they are real. They are us the way we were. Personally, I like these better than any professional photos we ever had taken. They capture our family in every day life, and that was the purpose of this photographic timeline. Life with all it's spontaneous imperfections.
  • I enlarged all of these photos and converted them to black and white on a scanning machine in the photo department at Walgreens. I'm showing my age here, but most of these photos were taken before digital cameras. In fact, the last photo was taken with my first digital camera in 2003. Today, most of us have editing software that makes it easy to convert color photos to black and white in a single click. If not, your local Walgreens or Walmart can help.
  • Below are the snapshots and how they looked after converting them to black and white. The proportions of the photos don't match, because some cropping was necessary when converting the smaller photos (3x5 or 4x6) to 8x10's. 

Here's my guided tour of our family's photo time line from 1985 to 2003:

This 1985 photo was taken in the desert in Tucson, Arizona, where we lived until T-Man was 1 and Brakenthebox was 3. It was shortly before our move to St. Louis.

Photo A  Photo B


This photo was taken in Abilene, Texas in 1992 when we were visiting my grandmother on her 90th birthday. T-Man is holding Raccoony, who was also a member of our family.

Photo C  Photo D


This was Mother's Day 1994. One of our family traditions is the self portrait. It's a King-Man thing. The fact that our heads are chopped off makes it all the more real. We took many self-portraits through the years, and someone's head pretty much always got chopped off.

Photo E  Photo F


This is my favorite of the whole bunch. Another self portrait. It's a great example of a photo that is poorly composed--you'd never see poses like this in a professional photo. But, it captures our very real family in a playful moment on Valentine's Day 1997.

Photo G  Photo H


Here's another silly moment, New Year's Eve 1998. We always spend New Year's Eve with our friends, the Marshes. For some inexplicable reason, we all decided to wear goofy hats to their house. I have on a Wisconsin cheesehead, Brackenthebox is wearing a sombrero, King-Man has on a Russian Bolshevik-type hat and a fake fur coat called "The Mobile Home" with a long ridiculous history, and T-Man is wearing a hat he fashioned out of a paper bag. What a motley crew! But a fun memory, nonetheless. (Just so you know, T-Man is only carrying the champagne--the kids drank sparkling grape juice--don't want to get into trouble here.)

Upload I  Photo J


This was a huge night for us. We had seats in the owners box at a Cardinals game in 1999. That's Mark McGwire warming up behind us. At the time, he was the local hero. That's changed with recent revelations about his steroid use. But 1999 was during his glory days, and this was one of those stand out memories for us. McGwire hit 3 home runs that night. Absolutely thrilling.

Photo K  Upload L


Here we are standing in front of what we like to call our "fixer upper" near King-Man's family's farm in central Wisconsin in 2001.

Photo M  Photo N


This is the photo that hangs at the top of our family photo timeline. It was taken in 2003. T-Man had just moved into his college dorm and King-Man and I had become empty nesters.

Photo O  Photo P


Well, that's it. A brief photo history of our family of four during the years when we were all living together under one roof. So many happy times to treasure. A family photo timeline is a great way to celebrate those years every single day. It's easy and inexpensive to create, too. And better than any expensive artwork I could buy to hang on my walls.

Wall photo 2 best

Although these photos will never go out of style, that red wall with the sage green carpet is a color trend that has definitely come and gone. I do need to go to the paint store one of these days. Let me know if you have any color suggestions for me. 

If you have more ideas of ways to display photos, please share them. I have photos all over my house, and I'm always looking for new ways to blend them with my decor. Would love to hear from you.

Make it a yummy day!

Posted on Friday, September 17th, 2010

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