Stylish Ways to Display Black + White Photos

By Kate Riley January 23, 2013

I met a friend at her house a few weeks ago, she has four cute kids and an empty hallway, and she was asking what to do with the “blankness” of it all.  I’m a big believer in “bigger is better, make a statement!” when it comes to displaying photographs, and you cannot go wrong with black and white – they are undeniably classic and oh so sophisticated when gathered in a group on display.

For her hallway, I suggested four extra large black frames and white mats with their darling faces enlarged and all four hung in a grid; or a simple hallway collage like this one I created for another friend years ago.

But it got me thinking…beyond the hallway, there are multiple ways to display black and white photographs, it just depends on the space and whether you prefer a more eclectic and asymmetric display, or if you favor a symmetric or streamlined look.

Symmetry is the easiest look to pull off, just gather up the same size frames in a grid – bonus points for large off-center mats, and then hang your favorites in a series.  The bigger frames and mats are an investment but worth it, the look is timeless.

symmetrical grid black and whites

Samantha Pynn

The best part about a gallery like this is you can change out the photos as you please since photography enlargements are so affordable.   Showcase your favorite vacation, your wedding, silly faces, your family members, whatever is meaningful.

symmetrical black and white photos over console



This image has been seen by many, but it’s still one of my favorites.  It took some thought to achieve the look, but I love how this display keeps your eye moving around and yet it is still so well balanced. Notice the mix of black and white frames in different sizes and that one black mat thrown into the mix, all of it hung on a blue painted plank wall – lovely.

black and white photo display pottery barn

Pottery Barn


In a hallway, Martha has an interesting take on near reflective symmetry – here the photographs share black frames in different sizes.  Despite their variation in size, the balance is achieved by the continual rotation from large to small in reverse and the fact the frames are positioned off of one straight center line.

black and whites in a line martha stewart

Martha Stewart

Here’s an asymmetrical variation on the same concept but over a sofa – notice the singular thick white line that separates the top and bottom frames.

black and white photos in line


An entry is the perfect place for a smaller arrangement over a console table.

black and whites over console



Who says your black and white collection needs to be in black or white frames?  Paint them a vivid color for big impact, quite the statement!

black and white photos in green frames bhg

Better Homes & Gardens

black and white photos in red frames

Elle Decor


To get started with your own gallery of photographs, Ann Beck Photography has plenty of suggestions for combinations of frames to inspire you.

wall gallery inspiration

Another idea is to install a floating ledge in a dining room for layering different sized frames.  Angle them so they sit up against the wall or hang a few for variety.

black and white photos on ledge



Dining rooms are always in need of a conversation starter, so make it your photography on a ledge filled with nostalgic moments you’ve captured and framed.

black and white photography in dining room housetohome

House to Home


If you’re ever at a loss with how to decorate a blank wall in a living or family room, take a cue from this sophisticated space filled with enlarged black and white photography arranged in a tight grid.

black and white gallery styleathome

Style at Home


How do you display your collection once it’s assembled?  I’ve always loved this simple trick from Better Homes & Gardens – simply cut any paper (newspaper works great too) to the size of your framed photography and position the paper on the wall with painter’s tape until you’re satisfied with the arrangement.

trick for arranging photos or art

And don’t forget this tip when you get to the hanging part – again it’s painter’s tape to the rescue for perfectly positioning nail holes.


beach bungalow black and white photography gallery

House and Leisure


Want to minimize your TV?  I love the way Emily has combined both black and white photography and art in a clever gallery wall arrangement to detract from the flat screen – a smart design solution if your television is out in the open.

black and white photo art gallery wall emily clark

Emily Clark


A few more favorites looks. . .

photo wall black and whites


black and white gallery on ledge apt therapy

Marcia Prentice for Apartment Therapy

black and white photography in kitchen


There are so many places and so many opportunities to place your life on display in the form of black and white images or artwork.  How have you incorporated black and white photography into your home?


**some images from Pins without link to original source, so if you know the source of these images, please share.




  1. THanks for all the great inspiration. I have a long hallway upstairs waiting to have pictures hung.

  2. Having previously worked at PB, I would often help clients with this type of project. The one by Martha Stewart is not one I would have thought to do, but I love it.

  3. I love black and white photography! It takes any picture and makes it seem more elegant and artistic. Great collection of display ideas, I’ll definitely be pinning this to refer to when displaying clients photos. Thanks!!

  4. The black and white photos always look good and never go out of style. Love your posts. They’re always so thorough. Thank you!

  5. Thanks so much for all this inspiration in one place, Kate! I’m pinning this right now–what a great reference.

    I do so love black and white photos–and it’s hard to beat them framed with white mats, isn’t it? I used them to create a family portrait wall clock–inexpensive to make with a Hobby Lobby wall clock kit and simple PB frames to mark 12, 3, 6, and 9. It fills up a big, blank wall and is a lot of fun. :)

  6. Thanks! I have a wall gallery in my home. It is a combination of color and bw with a mixture of frames that are unified by mats. The key is definitely the vertical and horizontal lines. I love asymmetrical but crave order. The spacing helps.

  7. I love gallery walls… especially when all the frames work together. We recently put one up in our house. It was so much fun gathering so many pictures to display all in one place. Thanks for showing all these unique ways to create a gallery wall.

  8. Love the painter’s tape nail hole trick. Now, why didn’t I think of that? Thanks for sharing. BTW, I love gallery walls. One of these days I might just do one myself.

  9. Love this post! Just the inspiration I need to do something about the long blank hallway in my house.

  10. I love this and have done this in my stairwell. It’s changed over the years and currently, I have old black and white family photos in different sized black frames and it looks fabulous. I scanned the old family photos and printed new copies, to preserve the old ones (some are from circa 1910) and everyone comments on them. A very simple, easy and inexpensive DIY project.

    Walmart has great frames for reasonable prices. I’ve also taken old frames and spray painted them black.

  11. I really find this idea excellent if you have a lot of memories…..I love symmetry and I feel sory that I don’t have a big surface to cover like that. Thanks for the great article! I would like to share this post in my facebook page ( if you don’t mind.

  12. I like this idea so much, but loathe the green and red frames. I think it looks better with black or white frames.

  13. I love gallery walls, especially in black and white! We just got our wedding photos and I can’t wait to do something with them. Thanks for the inspiration! PS – I hope you get to visit wit YHL! Love them!

  14. I love these galleries but the red anf green frames are a bit much for me, especially with black and whie photos.


  15. I usually love symmetry when designing, but there is something so interesting and eye pleasing about scattering picture frames instead. I think it makes each photo stand on it’s own just enough so that people are drawn to each one. When they are all framed the same, and arranged evenly they tend to look like a unified grouping. Whereas if they are scattered they tend to break out onto their own.

  16. This has nothing to do with this fabulous post, but I need your help, please. A long time ago you wrote about an upholstery cleaning product that you use from Bed Bath and Beyond. Could you please remind me of the name of it? Thanks! You are the Best!

    • Hi Debbie, sorry to say I don’t think it was me who posted about an upholstery cleaning product.

  17. Love the galleries; i love the new velcro command strips that i use on my cork and chalk boards to allow me to move them around, one on opposing sides of the back of the frame or four for larger frames; no nail holes on those big walls would be worth the investment…

  18. Love this idea! We are similar to your friend and have a blank wide open hallway in need of decorations. We have so many wedding pictures and engagement pictures we love, but felt we couldn’t have them everywhere. So having a cluster of them in one place seems like the perfect option, plus, I absolutely love the look of black and white photos!
    Thanks for the inspiration!


  19. I love gallery walls. We have ours up our stairwell that I am currently expanding and next up is working on one for our bedroom. By far one of my favourite things to do is use picture ledges b/c you change it up and no refill holes in the walls. These are really great examples!

  20. Thanks anyway, Kate. I thought for sure that I read about cleaning fabric chairs and sofas on this, my favorite blog. I am 40+ so I guess that explains my error! ;)

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