Large Scale Instant Film Display

How to make fake polaroid picturesGiant polaroid display In college I was obsessed with all kinds of photography. I took classes on how to develop my own film. I worked part time as a wedding and portrait photographer. And everywhere (cool) I went, I made it a goal at the time to take an instant film picture or two. Because of this era, I have old (square) instant photos of the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel tower, Big Ben, the Empire state building, Platform 9 3/4 (from Harry Potter!), Salvation Mountain, Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World, and the Lehi Roller Mills (where part of the movie Footloose was filmed). Yeah, it's a random list. I just took my instant camera wherever I ended up and apparently I ended up in some random places. :) 

My giant polaroid displayI have saved and displayed these photos in so many ways over the years. In my first apartment, I taped them up along the top of my kitchen. In my current house, I framed them and hung them in a gallery wall (see here). And now that we're *probably* moving to a new house, it's time for a new display. Trey owns a piano that has been at his parents house for well over 20 years. Neither of us have ever lived in a space big enough for it, but our new house will finally have enough space. So I'm thinking this latest creation will eventually be displayed over the piano. That's my vision. 🙂

New (gold) printer! (from Canon)I wanted to create a large scale display because I felt that would look more stunning in the space above the piano. The only problem is I only have 8 photos total, and I don't really use an instant camera anymore. I love the framing of the photos though. Working with our friends at Canon USA, I decided to create some additional photos using my PIXMA MG7720. Do you see the printer in the above photo? Oh yes, they have a gold printer now!!!!! I love the new color, and the quality of prints (as always) is topnotch too. 

I could have just printed photos and cut a white border around them in the same size as my existing instant photos. But, I wanted them to really "match" with the slightly off white color as the subtle texture of my existing prints. So instead I took a photo of one of my old instant photos and used Photoshop to replace the inside photo with a new photo, but kept the outer frame. This took a little extra time, but I really like how it turned out because you can hardly tell the difference in all the frames. So my old photos actually look like they fit in instead of sticking out like a sore thumb.

Staining the woodFor the frame of my display I used:

2ft x 4ft plywood
2ft x 4ft plexiglass
2 cabinet pulls
ebony wood stain
power drill + drill bit

The display ended up costing me around $50 (not including the drill, drill bits and stain, which I already had). 

First I stained the plywood. I used a rag (and gloves) to do this because I wanted to create a more textured look. 

Adding the pullsNext I measured and marked where I wanted my cabinet pulls to go. This is how the plexiglass and wood are held together. I left the plastic covering that comes on plexiglass on until I was completely done with my project to help protect it from scuffs. 

Taping down the photosLast I decided where to place my photos. I had printed a little over 30 (plus my existing 8 photos) and taped them in place. I recommend a good, acid free double-sided tape or glue dots for this as I originally tried washi tape and it didn't stick very well. I turned it up on its side and about 1/3 of the photos shifted or fell from their spot—NO! 

How to make faux polaroid picturesCan you spot the instant film from the fakies? You can see I also repeated a few photos as well. 

Giant polaroid display  I really love how this turned out and it was so simple to put together once I had all my photos ready. I can't wait to display this above our piano soon. 🙂 Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • Gorgeous ideas, I love the photos and concept. Cool frames and very inspiring!

  • I loved this idea! It’s such a cute way to display memories! Thanks for the tutorial!


  • Love this ? I am just about to print photos for my son to take to university. Using an instant photo in photoshop is a great idea! I wanted to create a vintage feel using his Instagram pics of his friends. Thank you!

  • We have a pile of mini polaroids just waiting for somewhere to be displayed. Awesome idea!

  • ***Living in the tropics… (Whoops typo right there. Yikes! Haha.) Painting it black would indeed make it look brand new Emma!

  • I would have definitely wanted the newer prints to match the old ones, too. So I completely understand the time you spent in Photoshop. 🙂

  • So gorgeous! I’m in the progress of making my own decor above my bed using polaroid pictures!

  • This is awesome! although I’m quite a fan of bare wood and would be just as happy with this DIY if it wasn’t painted 😀 And I’m still loving the faux fireplace as much as the first time you posted about it ^-^ -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  • Where did you get the plexiglass? Is that something you can buy and have cut at Home Depot or Lowes?
    Although I don’t have any instant photos to display, this is a great idea for any number of art projects – I am specifically thinking of over sized engineering prints to keep them protected.

  • Omg you’re such an artist! You always come up with the most fun things to make!! 🙂
    As usual, this turned out great

    Xoxo Jessy

  • This is an adorable idea! Polaroid cameras are one of my favorite things and I still haven’t splurged to buy one.

  • I have been using my mini instax a lot and looking for ideas about how to display the photos. Thanks!

    xoxoBella |

  • It’s awesome right? I’m thinking of painting the green part black and giving it a new home soon…. 🙂


  • I love how easy this one was. Come to think of it, I have a block of wood lying around. Time for a DIY then! Also, that faux fireplace is one of my favorite projects from you guys! Leaving in the tropics, we don’t have winter and there’s no need for one. But there’s a certain charm about a fireplace that I like though so I was elated to see that tutorial from you. 🙂

  • Love this project! It looks so nice over the fireplace!

  • i might need to do a smaller scale version of this for my instax mini photos. i have taken a ton and they are just sitting in a drawer. not doing much good their.
    love the this diy.

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