Framing Ideas

Although many photographers offer their photograps mounted, I prefer not to do it for one simple reason. Selection of frame or mat depends not only on the photograph but also on tastes of the viewer and appearance of the displaying space: interior, furniture, other photographs, etc. Instead, I will give you some ideas of what I consider an appropriate mounting for black and white photographs, which you will hopefully find useful.

In general, selecting an appropriate size of a photograph, frame, mat size and color is an art by itself. It is influenced by the photograph, by size of the room, palette of the interior, furniture, and finishing of other photographs or paintings in the same room. Sounds quite complicated, doesn't it? In reality, it is simpler. Although a professional framer usually is the best source for advice and craftsmanship, but guided by a few principles most of us can do it as well.

Mounting not only preserves a photograph and makes it easy to hang it on the wall, but also enhances the photograph. It creates space in which the image can be comfortably viewed. If appropriately selected, it also brings out and strengthens mood of the photograph. Therefore, mounting should never compete with the photograph for attention. The frame and the mat have to complement it, create unity. It should also echo other objects and interior of the room, match style and palette.

Let's first discuss the frame. For black and white photographs, a very simple narrow frame works best. I personally prefer black metal or wood, but in some cases traditional wooden frames can be appropriate, especially in country-style or Victorian interior.

Sometimes the frame can be skipped at all. In particular I find this working well with compositionally busy black and white photographs. In this case backing is chosen heavier as it keeps the mount together. The glass is held to the backing by little non-intrusive hooks. Mat in this case should be big enough to create space around the image.

Talking about the mat, it is quite often overlooked. I find it even more important than the frame. Mat is what confines the image, creates viewing space and brings out the mood. For black and white photographs, natural white, creamy white, various shades of gray and black works best. Some people also like gray with a greenish tint, mainly because it seems to be equally suitable for neutral and warm toned photographs. This is important for those people who have to deal with several photographs in the same viewing space. Size of mat should correspond to size and orientation of the photograph. Square pictures often ask for rectangular mat and frame, especially when combining several photographs on the same wall. Shape of the wall and furniture may also have some influence here.

Size of the photograph is also important to consider. As quite often in life, not always bigger is better. While big photographs with generously sized mats look magnificent in big rooms or hanging alone, small spaces usually call for moderately sized photographs. Do not underestimate potential for big visual impact of multiple small photographs arranged in groups or even in one frame. Extra attention should be spent to avoid creating visual mess by carelessly mixing themes or colors.

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