How to create your own personalised wall art

How to create your own personalised wall art

As you look around the walls in your home, what do you see?

Have you had the same pictures in the same spots for years now and feel like it’s time for a change? A spring refresh perhaps?

Sometimes we lack the know-how. Sometimes all we need is a bit of inspiration.

Sometimes it’s just that we never get round to it - hands up. Yep, guilty as charged!

In my ‘3 little words’ article I admitted my walls definitely need some attention and this is the year it’s going to happen!

With spring fast approaching (I so hope it gets here soon!) how about creating some seasonal art work? Something unique and personal to you. Wouldn’t it be great to display a touch of spring on your walls or shelf now, then switch them out for a new creation when summer, autumn and winter roll around?

It might be that you, like me, have amassed a huge stock of photographs which would look great on your walls or maybe you’d consider grabbing your camera and heading out with the sole intention of taking some pics specifically for this purpose.

An interview with Scottish wedding and landscape photographer - Anne Johnston.

In this article I talk to Scottish landscape and wedding photographer Anne Johnston. I pick her brains so that you (and me!) can be motivated to produce something very personal to fill our wall space and have some good solid tips and tricks up our sleeves to make it happen.

As well as being an awesome photographer - check out some of her incredible landscape work - Anne is also an accomplished photography tutor with her own extremely helpful youtube channel

So grab yourself a coffee and prepare to be inspired.

So Anne, do I really need an expensive camera or have I got any chance of a decent shot with my phone?

Thanks so much for the awesome introduction, Lynn! I always say that the best camera is the one you have with you as beautiful moments can happen any time or any place, even when you’re not looking for them.

Digital photography has never been more affordable than it is today and with DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras and point and shoot compact cameras there’s an abundance of choice to suit all budgets.

You can take great photos on your mobile phone and edit them with apps. Pixlr is my favourite iPhone app for editing my mobile snapshots on the go and with the blur tool you can fake the blurry background that everyone loves to take with their cameras.

Mobile phones are amazing for capturing little snapshots to share with your friends on Facebook and Instagram, but when it comes to printing I just don’t think mobile phone cameras are good enough yet. If you want to create wall-art for your home I’d use a camera.

What’s your favourite season to photograph and why?

Ooh, that’s a tough one because there’s different things I like about all seasons haha!

In the summer you have longer daylight hours to play with where the sun can rise after 4am in June and not set until 10pm. Perfect for going for long walks after tea, but not so good if you want to watch the sun rise at the beach.

I love going for woodland walks in autumn. At this time of year you’ll find scenes that ordinarily you’d overlook come alive with gorgeous brown and orange tones. When you’re aware of it’s so nice to be able to spot the trees changing colour.

During the winter months a lot of people want to curl up with a cosy blanket and a hot chocolate in front of a roaring coal fire and there’s nothing wrong with that. But  I love to go hunting for the Northern Lights.

After the winter is so harsh on the land, I love to watch the colours return in spring time, so let’s say spring! With daffodils and cherry blossoms appearing you’re surrounded by beautiful colours, even if it’s just for a few weeks.

If you want to plan your landscape photography in advance I highly recommend The Photographer’s Ephemeris. You can use it to check what time the sun will rise and set and where the light will fall on the land for any location at any time of year.

If I’m heading out to try and capture some shots, other than a camera, what top 3 items should I take in my bag?
(I’m really hoping chocolate is one of them!)

Chocolate is always in the bag so we don’t need to count it ;)

Don’t leave home without a spare camera battery, a spare memory card and a lens cleaning kit. If your camera battery dies or your memory card stops working you won’t be able to take any photos. And you want the cleaning kit just in case you happen to get dirt on your lens.

In addition - check out my 4 essential camera accessories you can’t live without.

What’s the one thing you wish you had known when you started taking photos?

It took me a few months to figure it out but I wish I’d known that sunset photos don’t stop when the sun has dropped below the horizon. If there’s a few clouds you should absolutely wait it out as your patience might be rewarded with an eruption of beautiful colours in the sky. Don’t forget to look all around you too as while you’re concentrating on one scene all the best action could be happening behind you.

What one thing can a beginner can do right away to improve their landscape shots?

One of the best things a beginner can to do improve their landscape photography is to invest in a tripod. Personally I wouldn’t take photos hand-held (without a tripod) for any longer than a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second. You want your photos to be as sharp as possible and using a tripod allows you to take longer exposures where the shutter is open for several seconds. You can experiment using long exposures to photograph waterfalls and seascapes. Using a tripod gives you the chance to show the nice blurry movement of the water that you wouldn’t be able to do hand-held. It opens up so many possibilities.

How about close ups? What one thing will improve close up shots?

Without a doubt get to grips with aperture, what it means and how changing it will affect your photos. I find most of my clients have no interest whatsoever in photographing flowers until I show them how aperture works.

With a wide aperture the aperture blades in your lens open up to let more light in, at the same time giving you a small area that’s in focus. You can then choose exactly the point where you want your camera to focus and get really creative with blurry foregrounds and backgrounds. Just think of all those beautiful images of spring flowers you could have on your walls!

If you’re looking to improve your photography check out more tips on my blog.

Is there a best time of day to take photographs in summer? winter? When’s your favourite?

There’s nothing stopping you taking photos at any time of day really but my favourite time of day to take photos in any season is at golden hour. For around an hour after the sun rises and an hour before the sun sets (so long as it’s not completely cloudy) the light from the sun is less powerful so it’s much more softer. It literally makes scenes glow with a golden light. It’s beautiful! 

Can you ever take great photos on a cloudy day?

Yes, for sure! Don’t we all love a dramatic cloud sky? Sometimes it’s the cloudy days that give us the best photos. While I wouldn’t recommend taking your camera out in the rain, you could always go to a nice sheltered spot and wait for the rain to pass. Once you’re tuned in to it you might be able to sense a change in the light when the sun returns and catch a glimpse of a rainbow.

So I’ve been out and taken a bunch of photographs. What should I look for in a photo in deciding whether it would work as wall art?

It’s a good idea to pay attention to the colours in your home. You want to choose images that will fit in well with and complement their surroundings and they have to be images that you want to look at everyday. If you look at an image and really feel an emotional connection to it, that’s usually a good indicator. You might want to choose a series of images that fit a specific theme or were taken in the same place.

Images with daffodils or cherry blossoms are great for giving your home a boost of spring colour and baby animals work well to tug at your heart-strings.

Don’t rush your decision though. Sleep on it and look at them again the next day.

Can we trust online stores to produce quality wall art products?

Absolutely, yes, but be wary of companies where the deals look too good to be true. You could be charged more than the value of the item for delivery and the products are likely to be of inferior quality. Like most things you get what you pay for and there are companies to suit all budgets. Whether you’re looking to buy canvases or framed prints, look for companies that have recent reviews.

Can you recommend any ‘bricks & mortar’ businesses who will produce wall art products?

I would shy away from using any supermarket stores. If you want to produce wall art from your own photography I’d recommend Jessops. They’re a photography specialist and have both an online service and stores throughout the UK. Unlike photography labs that can only be accessed by professional photographers, Jessops is a great option for hobbyists.

I’m not very good at deciding how and where to hang photos and/or wall art - any suggestions or good resources?

Check out this guide on Ideal Home’s website.

 

I want to thank Anne so much for all this great information and allowing us to use her fantastic photographs for this article. So much in here to get us started! I think these are my top 3 takeaways though..

#1 I'm absolutely inspired to learn how to use my camera properly. I might even sign up for Anne's 1-2-1 course. I'd better get a move on though! She's got a fantastic offer on and I know places are filling up fast!!

#2 'The Golden Hour' - What a revelation! It makes so much sense and boy am I frustrated at the number of times I've put my camera down the instant the sun's down and thought 'Show's over folks!' Nooooo! it's probably just beginning!

#3 Looking for an 'emotional connection' to a photograph - a special moment? A special place? You'll definitely want to feel connected to an image you're going to see on your wall every day. Love that.

What's your biggest takeaway? I'd love to know - and I'm sure Anne would too! Please add your comments below.

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