Photo Secrets: Show Off Your Photos Using Materials You Can Find for Free!

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2, 3

We LOVE mail.

Sending and receiving packages, mailing out photo postcards, and even that newfangled electronic “e-mail” stuff.

We love sending you emails packed with the coolest photo stuff, but we extra-specially love when you write us back!

Recently we’ve gotten a few emails asking for tips on what to do with all those extra photos you have around your house.

The thought of our photo friends being tucked away in a dark closet or between book pages for such a long time makes us sad!

In an effort to fix this photo nightmare ASAP, we’re going to let you in on two of our easiest, cost-free, and most creative ways to display your snapshots in DIY style.

How to Make Photo Displays Out of Free Materials!

p.s. Check out our pal, Thrillist, a free email that delivers the one cool new thing you need to know about each day. If you sign up now, you’ll be entered to win a $1000 Apple gift card!

So what do I need?

beforeAlthough we wish it were, we know not everything in life is free.

Fortunately, most of the ingredients you need for these sweet project are things you can get for free, or things you should probably already have around your house!

    The stuff you probably already have:
  • Photo prints you want to show off.
  • Tape (we prefer white artists tape, but any tape will do).
  • A pair of scissors
    The secret ingredients:
  • Disposable wooden chopsticks (and ribbon if you have it)
  • OR

  • Paint color sample cards (Usually found at the hardware store)

If you don’t have all of these items, we have solutions!

Read on to see how you can still participate in this project even if you don’t have the free items at hand!

Part 1: The Chopstick Method.

before For this method, you should start saving up the extra chopsticks you might get from any late-night takeout orders.

You’ll use 1 chopstick for each photo, and about 6″ of ribbon.

If you don’t have any chopsticks or ribbon, you can follow all the same directions, just use a colored pencil instead of a chopstick and cut thin strips of paper to use instead of ribbon!

The Chopstick Ribbon Loop

beforeWe’ll be hanging photos from tiny loops of ribbon that are attached to the top and bottom of each chopstick.

First, we cut the 6″ ribbon into 4 even pieces.

Next, we fold each ribbon piece in half, and use tape to seal the open end. (You’ll end up attaching these folded ribbons to the back of your photo print before hanging.)

Try to make each loop even in size and as uniform as possible. This will help later when you string all your photos together on the chopstick.

You should now have 4 ribbon loops. Now, you’re going to tape 2 of the ribbon loops to the back of the photos that you want to hang…

(It should look something like this. Plus, click this photo for more detail & instructions!)

Place your photo face down on your table, align the taped end of the ribbon loop with the edge of the photo, and stick a piece of tape over it to attach it to your photo!

Ribbon, meet Photo. Photo, meet Chopstick.

beforeNow that you’re done preparing, you can start to hang your chopstick photo hanger!

Take the 2 ribbon loops that you haven’t attached to anything yet, and use thumbtacks to attach them to your wall about 4 inches apart.

Grab your photo with ribbon loops and hold it up next to the loops that are attached to the wall.

Horizontally align the ribbons on the photo with the ribbons on the wall.


Now, as if it were a giant sewing needle, take your chopstick and thread it through all the ribbon holes one by one.

Each ribbon should fit on the chopstick, and the chopstick (and photos attached to it) should hang evenly.

If they don’t, you can simply adjust the length of your ribbon loops by detaching them from the back of the photo and taping them back in a different position.

(First) Mission Accomplished!

beforeYay! Now that you’ve finished one row of the chopstick photo ladder, you can continue to add as many as you want!

Simply cut more ribbon strips, attach half to the chopstick above it (as you did with the ribbon loops on the thumb tack), and half to your new photo(s).

Now that you’re used to the process you can experiment: Try painting your chopsticks, changing the length of the ribbons, or having a bunch of tiny prints hold up a great big one!

Now you’re wise to the basics of the chopstick method. But don’t run out to get Thai food yet! We’ve got another great way to show off your photos that you can use at the same time!

Part 2: The Paint Sample Frame

If you’ve ever painted a room before, you know there are about a gazillion different colors to choose from.

We usually come home with a handful of colorful paint sample strips, eager to pick out a new color for our walls.

But what do you do once you’ve picked out your paint color? Use the paint samples as photo frames, of course!

For this method, it’s best to use small photos that will easily fit on 1-2 paint chips. Instax Mini prints work great for this, and cutting the prints we get back from our half frame camera in half was a dream come true!

Paint Sample Frames: Getting Started

Time to put the cards out on the table!

The first step of making a paint sample frame is arranging all the paint samples you have available next to the photos you want to frame.

Group together any photos and color samples you feel look great together, and put them aside for the next step.

Paint Sample Surgery:

Once you’ve decided on a good fit for your photo, you’ll probably have to do a little trimming to make it look nice and snazzy.

Try to arrange your photo on top of the paint chip so that it covers any words or markings that are showing.

If one paint chip isn’t enough to cover the entire back of your photo, tape more together until it fits!

Now, tape or glue the photo directly onto the paint chip in the place you have decided on. Wait for it to dry and you’re done!

We have to warn you though, the results look so good, we found it hard to stop playing!

Spice Up Your Sample Frame:

You might want to try adding a little something extra to your new colorful frame by drawing on it, writing a caption for the photo, or layering more than one paint chip for a multicolored effect!

We recommend using a permanent ink marker for drawing directly on the surface of paint chips- their glossy surface can make for a lot of ink smears if you write on them with other inks!

Want to do even more with this cool stuff?


  • These two free framing methods are so friendly, they work even better together! Add even more color to your paint sample frames by hanging them on brightly colored ribbon and hand painted chopsticks!
  • Use the front of your paint chip frame as the front of a home-made birthday card for a friend! Simply tape an extra piece of white card paper to the back of the paint chip, and use scissors to cut off the excess paper!
  • Try making a giant scene out of many smaller photos with the chopstick method.
  • Use the paint chips to mount all your photos, and you’ll have a most excellent collection you can display on a wall as a big rainbow of photos!
  • Think of an even cooler way to improve this method yourself? Just want to share your results? Interested in showing off the paint chip collection you’ve been building for the past 14 years? Well, what are you waiting for! Join us in our forums and show us what you’ve got!
  • Have we also mentioned that any photos submitted to our flickr group are automatically seen by the fine folks at We love their website, and the photos they’ve picked so far have been fantastic! We can’t wait to see what gets submitted and chosen for next weeks picks!