I am trying to make the monitor into a digital frame without a lot of work ?
there are dvd players with usb port and vga monitor out
Or you could use the DVD Player as a DigFrame by burning your pics to a DVD and letting the disc run. The beauty of this project is there are so many ways to do this and so many variables
A monitor just displays the image given to it by the computer. As UziMonkey said, a Hard Drive just stores data...a bunch of 1s and 0s. In order to display the images from the Hard Drive, you need a program to interface with the Hard Drive and be able to decode and display the image data. This then needs to be on Hardware that can interface with both the Hard Drive and the Monitor...the easiest solution being a computer. (I have seen very small form factors...such as this one: Whiskey Computer )
No. A hard drive just stores data. You need a computer of some sort to drive the display. The commercially available digital photo frames have a small embedded computer to do this for them.
You can get a small Mini-ITX machine to do this for you, or gut a laptop or something.