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DIY, How To Guides

How To: Display your photos without a frame. A DIY project on the cheap!

Whew! It’s been a while but as promised, I’m back with another quick, easy, and fun tutorial. If you’re like me and have tons of 4 x 6 inch prints laying around the house from vacations, events, and just every day snapshots from your busy life – it can be hard to figure out how to share them in your home, rather than digitally online somewhere. Sure, you can create an album – but honestly, who really enjoys sitting down while you thumb through an album and discuss every last detail of the moment. Granted, I LOVE doing this and listening to people, but I’ve heard some people do in fact, dread it.

For me, framing a tiny 4 x 6 inch print doesn’t make much sense. There are thousands of different ways to arrange them on the wall to look nice but it can also be costly, or buying cheap frames can be ugly. But, have no fear! Here’s a cheap and fast way to display multiple small prints all at once to showcase them in all their glory. The possibilities are endless too.  You can clump together an entire year, or a specific series you’ve shot, one travel destination or many; how about , the love of your life, or a certain color scheme. Now that I’ve got you thinking — here we go.

ps. Before I begin, I shot this tutorial using my cell phone and I stand by my iPhone’s camera 100% but it was low light.. *ducks*


  • Any color or size foam core board
  • Modge Podge –  I used Glossy/Lustre
  • Foam Brush or Soft synthetic paint brush (You could use other things for interesting textures.)
  • Clear Tacky Glue (You can use modge podge or any “light glue” too.)
  • Exacto knife or straight cutter (Scissors if you have no other choice.)
  • 4 x 6 inch photo lab prints (I DO NOT suggest using inkjet prints as the ink will most likely run, not tested)

I bought a huge foam board and cut it down smaller using a mat cutter, however an exacto knife will work just as well. If you don’t have anything else, use scissors. If you don’t want to cut it into smaller pieces, than don’t!

Originally I started off arranging the photos onto the large board before I decided to cut it.

After trimming the board a bit, leaving an even margin between each print I set them on the board to make sure nothing looked funny.

Arrange the photos on the board before applying the glue to avoid irreversible mistakes.

Then, I applied glue one by one to the back of the prints that I was using for this particular piece.  I glued one down, fidgeted with the one next to it and did the same to the third picture.

I added a line of glue down each side of the print. Then, a nifty little wave from end to end in the center.

We’re half way done! The next part is super fun! Generously slather on the Modge Podge. This stuff comes in all different types of finishing results, but I used Glossy because It’s what I had. I generally avoid anything glossy, but what can you do.

I used a foam brush because I like the big streak mark texture it leaves. It almost reminds me of wood grain.

Keep on keeping on, slather away until the prints and the surrounding board are completely covered. You can try out different techniques here like dabbing, or cross hatching, vertical and/or horizontal strokes – experiment! You will, no doubt notice the white cast or glaze appearing on everything, but don’t fret.

This is perfectly normal. Don’t worry – modge podge dries clear!

And now we sit and wait. As your project dries the white cast will be come less and less apparent until it’s clear and you are left with just the brush texture that you created earlier. It takes about 30 minutes to dry completely.  When it’s done you can hang it. This will make less holes in your walls then using so many frames and nails. You can use tiny photo hooks to screw into the foam board and hang 25 pictures with just one nail and some string!

Ta-da! All done in less than an hour 🙂

This is a really great project for people in small houses, condos, or apartments. It’s a unique way to display series of images without the burden or cost of buying and coordinating many frames. Sure you ruin your prints, but that’s why they make doubles. This will also preserve your prints for a long time! You can always trim the excess border and have a mounted print. You can also try out different materials, like wood or metal.

Another neat idea would be to get some stick on letters, spray paint over that badboy and then peel. Maybe, I’ll do a tutorial for that next!


About PixelGrin

Photography. Punk Rock. Art. Travel.


5 thoughts on “How To: Display your photos without a frame. A DIY project on the cheap!

  1. Do you think this would work with larger pictures? I am going to redo my dining room and wanted to make a border around the walls near the ceiling with the 8×10’s of our family through the years. But I thought frames was a bit much. So, I would like something that I can put 8×10’s in to create something like a wallpaper border look, but with our actual pictures. Any ideas???

    Posted by Debbie | 11 August, 2012, 10:52 pm
    • Hi Debbie!

      It would certainly work with larger pictures. I would seal with an acrylic spray after the coat of modge podge to be on the safe side for longer preservation. You should also consider getting the matte finish modge too since it will be higher up to see and you might catch some glare. Acrylic spray is super cheap too and you can use it on all sorts of different materials.

      Posted by PixelGrin | 11 August, 2012, 11:10 pm
  2. Great idea! Just what I needed. Thank you!

    Posted by M | 26 May, 2014, 12:55 pm
  3. I love this idea!! This would be perfect for my daughters bedroom!! Thank you so much!

    Posted by tammy conrad | 14 September, 2016, 2:37 pm

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Hi Hello I'm Jennifer Jackson. ...and the world is my oyster...



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