Family Tree Photo Wall Part 1: Getting Started

I should start off by asking you two questions “do you have a heap of family photos either in albums or scanned and in folders on your computer?” and “do you have a wall that is in need of some redecorating?” Well I do have the photos, and I did have the wall. So I got to thinking, it seems silly not to display these gorgeous photos of our ancestors, and putting them in ‘tree’ format makes them fit into context, so the idea for my Family Tree Photo Wall was born!

If you already follow me on Facebook or on Google+ you will be familiar with my Family Tree Photo Wall as I have been putting up photos of the progress as I go, and have been getting wonderful feedback from people. Dick Eastman was one of those saw my pictures on Google+, and has since featured my Family Tree Photo Wall in a recent post of his titled The Ancestral Wall.

I had always expected to do a blog post about it once I had it completed, but that is going to be at least several months away, and I am getting people asking me about the process, so I figured I’d break it up into two. With this one detailing the materials I used, as well as the process.

I should thank Mr Lonetester, as though he’s not into genealogy personally, he likes to see photos of his ancestors, and understands my passion, so allowed me to do this. And even though my wall is not yet finished, he acknowledges that it is much, much better than the picture that was there before!

So if you are wanting to create you own wall, there’s just a few things you’ll need, fortunately not a whole lot though.

62 – 10cm x 15cm (6″x4″) photo frames (for a 5 generation tree of my side & Mr Lonetester’s too)
a few rolls of black electrical tape
a few packets of nail in hooks  (enough for your 62 frames)
black card
roll of double-sided tape

tape measure
pen or texta that writes on black card
craft knife (or stanley knife)

the wall before it all began!

the wall before it all began!

– Very first up, I cut out the black card into 6″ x 4″ size cards (enough for 62) as these represent my photo frames, and wrote the name of each direct line ancestor on the cards for 5 generations.

– Then I measured the wall (from top to bottom, and from side-to-side), to determine where I should be starting my tree from.

– From there I used blu-tac to stick on the black card to the wall (temporarily), so I could use that as a guide for my layout, while making a few adjustments along the way.

working on the alignment using some black card and blu-tac

working on the alignment using some black card and blu-tac

still doing the alignment

still doing the alignment, and seeing how the electrical tape works for the ‘tree lines’

I was hoping for 6 generations as this shows on one end, but it got too squeezy so reworked it back to 5

I was hoping for 6 generations as this shows on one end, but it got too squeezy so reworked it back to 5

– Now if you an organised type person, you will have gone to your local photo printing place and got photos of at least some of of your reli’s so you can start off with. I use Kmart as they are cheap ($0.15 /instant print), do great quality, and their machines allow you to edit on the screen (enlarge, crop etc, recolour etc.)

– Something to keep in mind is to make you card the EXACT size the outside of your frame is. I didn’t, I only allowed for the size of the photo, and as my frames has about a 1 2/2cm borders I had to do some readjusting along the way.

– The frames I chose (as shown below) are the StudioMoment 6″x4″ frames, which come as a pack 4 from Big W for $6.00. Apart from being nice frames, they have a nice flat edge so I could put my name label on, and they weren’t ridiculously expensive either!

StudioMoment photo frames 6"x4"

StudioMoment photo frames 6″x4″

pile of StudioMoment photo frames

pile of StudioMoment photo frames








– I also chose to create a label for each frame showing the persons name, date of birth and place of birth. For this I just used a design program, and  I created a box the size I wanted the label, filled it in black, made the text white, typed in the details for each person, printed it out, and wallah … I have my name label.

the printed 'name plates'

the printed ‘name labels’

– So it was then easy enough to cut out each name label, and using the double-sided sticky dots tape I have, simply affixed it to the bottom of each frame.

the name label attached

the name label attached

– Then starts the nailing. I found this a little hard as my cards weren’t the exact size of the frame, but measured from the hook to the top of the frame, and got it worked out.

– Then you can work on the tree lines using the electrcial tape.

a few hooks up and photos in frames, and working on the tree lines

a few hooks up and photos in frames, and working on the tree lines

– Stick the tape on in long lines for the whole generation, and use a shap bladed knife (I use a craft knife with a scapel blade) to cut the lines square.

the curling of the 'family tree' lines

the curling of the ‘family tree’ lines

– After putting some of the lines up and leaving them for a few days I discovered the corners curled. This was because I pulled the tape too tight when I put it on. [Hint – don’t pull the tape too tight!]

this is it as it currently is.

this is it as it currently is. Not yet finished, but getting there!

So there you go … that’s my Family Tree Photo Wall as it is at present. There’s no real trick to it, and I’m learning as I go. But hopefully by sharing this if I have inspired someone else to do the same, and they will learn from my mistakes.

One other tip I should mention is to make sure you have a REALLY good supply of photo frames, or buy them all in one go. As that’s where I’m stuck at the moment (well part of it), as I’ve run out of frames, and can’t seem to locate anymore yet, and the stores I’ve bought them from tell me they have them on order but they can’t tell me when they’ll arrive.

Happy family tree wall-ing!

2 Responses to “Family Tree Photo Wall Part 1: Getting Started”

  1. Rosemary says:

    Who is in the centre of your family tree?
    How did you arrange the family members?

    • Alona says:

      Rosemary, I started with myself and my hubby in the middle. My family going to the right, his family on the left.

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