March 10, 2022

Choosing the Right Size for a Wall Portrait | Size Matters

The Right Size For Wall Portraits Does Matter

When clients have their portraits created, they sometimes get stuck on what sizes they really need.  I think there can be confusion on sizes due to how we “normally” get photos created–i.e. school portraits or when taking them on our own.  Often, the largest sizes available through school photographers or when printing your own work is 8×10 or maybe 11×14.  In reality there are many more options than people realize.  And size does really matter.  Wall Portraits are a big investment, so choosing the right size for a Wall Portrait is a very important step.

Baby Portrait Photographers Saratoga NY
Here you can see a wall portrait vs. 5×7 desk portraits.  The large wall portrait is 16×24 with a matte and a medium size frame.

So let’s have a conversation about size and why it matters.  Let’s dispel the myth that an 8×10 is “really big.”  It is not.  It is roughly the size of loose leaf paper.  It is just not the right size for a wall portrait.  When people are contemplating purchasing a “really big” 8×10 for over their couch, I usually tell them to hold an 8×10 piece of paper over their couch and tell me how they like that.  Answer:  They don’t, not one bit.

What Is The Right Size For Wall Portraits?

right size for wall portraits
This was just a delightful session.

Generally speaking, anything 8×10 or smaller is considered a Desk Portrait.  That means they are appropriate for display on a small table or maybe a mantel.  If you are adamant on putting 8×10 or smaller on your walls, there are ways to do it correctly.  Mainly I recommend a wall gallery or a collage.  And 8×10 can be hung on a small wall if it is double matted and has a wider moulding for the frame so it looks larger than it is.

Senior Portrait Photographers Near Me Ballston Spa NY
This would look amazing over a couch.

So What Is The Right Size For A Wall Portrait Over A Couch Or A Mantel?

When most people make an investment in Family Portraits, they often want to display one over their couch or fireplace.  You want to make sure your portrait takes up roughly two thirds of the wall space.  Because a couch is horizontal, a horizontal print is preferred visually.  If you feel you must go with a vertical print over a couch, a wall gallery is the way to go.  You will want to do a vertical flanked by two other smaller portraits lending a horizontal feel to the display overall.  Definitely you should be doing at least a 16×20 over a couch or mantel, taking into consideration that framing will add a few inches on either size.  Because a fireplace visually “reads” as a square, you could go with either a vertical, a horizontal, or a square.  If you are purchasing gallery wrapped canvases or acrylic block prints, framing is of course not a consideration.  In that case you might want to go even larger.  One of my old fashioned suggestions is to cut out Kraft paper to the sizes you are considering and tape it to the wall.  It will be immediately evident if there is an issue with the size/shape.

What Are Some Other Options for Portraits?

Wedding Photo Albums Saratoga Photographers
We offer some very lovely options for albums for your very favorite photos.
Senior Portrait Photographers Near Me Saratoga Lake NY
We are loving these new acrylic block prints we got in as 8x10s and 5x7s

If you don’t feel comfortable with large wall portraits–don’t worry!  We have plenty of other options for your portraits.  We offer a wide variety of Image Boxes and Albums to display your favorite images.

Do you want to find out more about proper sizing  and displaying your Portraits?  This post on Wall Portraits would be perfect for you.  be sure to visit our Family Portrait Gallery as well.

Susan Blackburn is a Portrait Photographer located in the Saratoga NY area who provides clients with a full service boutique photography experience.



This is a great post educating people on the correct size of a wall portrait. These should be statement pieces in your home of your beautiful family! Size definitely matters!

Blackburn Portrait Design

We could not agree more!

This is such a great post about portrait sizes! Most people don’t realize how small an 8×10 is going to look on their wall when they get home!

Blackburn Portrait Design

Yes, you are right! Most people don’t realize how important the correct size is for a Wall Portrait. That is why we spend time educating our clients about this.

This is an excellent way to help families determine how to select the correct size of artwork for their walls and home. Not everyone loves a huge wall portrait, so a collage works great! I love that you also offer such beautiful albums!

Blackburn Portrait Design

Thank you Michelle! I love being able to offer my portrait photography clients a wide range of heirloom quality products for their homes.