Framing For Presentation
I am getting together some B/W prints that I hope to frame and present. The prints are of varying sizes from small scale contact prints to larger 12 x 16 inch prints. I have a framer that I will be using and clearly I can get some good advice from him but I want to do my work in order to get the very best size of frame and matt to suit each print.
To save me wading through endless websites which I have started doing (many which are simply commercial companies selling frames), does anyone know any good websites or online advice on frame and matt sizes? Many of my prints are square and I tend to like a wider matt but I want to really put some thought to this, to research the best frame and matt size and proportions in order to best bring out each shot. Clearly much of this is personal taste but I really welcome any thoughts on this. Many thanks for your help.
Just from my own experience:
for 4x6 and smaller: 11x14
for 6x6 to 9x12: 16x20
for 12x16: 20x24
For my 11x14-inch prints, I picked a 18x22-inch black aluminum frame.
This and some other information which might help you . . . .
I have always calculated the mat based on the border I'm looking for. You just have to get into the math of figuring out whether you want a consistent width all around, "bottom weighted" or something else.
If you're handy, you should cut your own mats. 4-ply mat is easy to cut with the Logan rail systems. 8-ply mat takes a bit more of an investment as it's thicker and harder to get clean cuts. However, once you start cutting your own 4-ply mats, you can double and triple layer mats.
One of the main problems for photographers is submitting the work to a framer and getting 90% of what you're looking for. Specifically, I just had a framing job done and the framer closed the back of the work without an opportunity to emboss my signature. Now, I have to take it apart. So, dumb. But, these are the kinds of things I'm talking about.
I would (1) invest in a Logan rail and blade system (should cost total around $50) and (2) find a wholesale framing outlet that will "cut and join" frame stock to order. To deal with a wholesaler, you might be required to get a resale number from your Board of Equalization (sales tax authority).
If you're moving into the art world, this is the way to do it. Frankly, I've tired of picking through marginal stock at Aaron Brothers for something pre-fab'ed that might work. Enough.
If you have any questions about the Logan system, drop me a line.
The question of mat boarders and frame size involves aesthetics, economics and efficiency. Furthermore, the aesthetics involves the space where the frame will be hung as well as the artwork in the frame. Mat borders usually vary from 1 to 4 inches. One general guideline is minimum border width:
Images 8x10 and smaller at least 1 ½ inch borders
Images 11x14 to 11x17 at least 2 inches.
Images 12x18 and larger 2 ¼ to 3 inches
I consider those to be absolute minimums and would seldom ever actually use borders that small.
Many mat border sizes are the result of trying to fit the image into a standard frame size which typically results in unequal borders such as 8x10 in 11x14 frame or 11x14 image in a 16x20 frame. Many photographers on the artshow circuit selling large number of unframed images will take advantage of this to make it easier for their customers. For instance, if you are selling 12x18 unframed prints it is difficult for your customer to find a frame for it without going to a custom frame shop. If you mat it to 18x24 then they can get a frame off the shelf.
If the frame will be hung in your house and you have limited wall space, and limited money for the frames then you might want to go with smaller 2 inch borders all the way around. If you are displaying in a gallery with large walls and high ceilings than you might go more for 4 inch or larger borders (depending on your artwork size) so that your frames have more presence on the walls.
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This would not work for me. How do you deal with mats and frames being different for every print?
Originally Posted by zinnanti
I do this in groups. 8x10, 11x14 and 16x20 prints all have their set of mat and frame sizes. Each print has slightly different dimension, but I only have to deal with three different mat and frame sizes. The borders are close but not equal in size. This is easier to store and maintain supplies.
I have a related question: If you drymount the picture, how do you match the matboard to the overmat? Do you mount the print to the same size of board as the overmat or will it be smaller?
Thanks guys for the kind thoughts, this will be the first time that I will want to frame and present work for an exhibition of my work rather than simply for myself. I understand that there are aesthetics that are very personal and issues such as presentation space can come into it also but I want to try and keep this 'first go' as simple as possible. Most, although not all of the prints are square, the majority have a prints area of 11 x 11, although some are not square and have a print area of around 9 x 12. I also have one or two smaller delicate prints of 7 x7 and even smaller. I have a couple of follow on questions:
(a) Again I know this is a taste issue and may seem a really daft question but for square format presentations is it usual to keep the frame square also? I have seen square prints in a bottom weighted frame i.e. not square. I can't clearly visualise what that effect will be like?
(b) I want to keep the presentation simple with black aluminium frames and a simple off white matt. All my work is B/W except some encaustic work for which I have made my own panels. I like the idea that you have three set sizes of frame but alter slightly the interior border size a little to fit each print. I can see that there is a cost benefit there too? Does this have any impact on the aesthetic?
(c) Last issue (again this is new to me). I generally like larger borders, fdi in your experience, using a 4 inch border is there a minimum print size that you think this works for? Clearly a small print may become dwarfed by an overly large border, then again I have seen tiny contact prints (say 2.5 inch square) presented with very large borders that really focus the eye into this delicate size.
Hope this is not too much of a drag but really appreciate your help.
Ulrich -- I use the same board front and back -- and they are the same size.
Mac -- When mounting an unusual size print that I have not dealt with before, I will get graph paper and draw out possibilities to scale. Another way is to trim a print and just place it on top of a board and just move it around until it looks good. I prefer to keep to square prints on vertical rectangular boards -- keeping the print rather high.
I do the same as Ralph and have set frame sizes.
5x7 and 4x10 on 12x16
8x10 on 16x20
12x16 on 20x24
16x20 on 24x28 I find 22x28 okay for verticals, by awkward looking for hortizontals -- so I have gone with 24x28 for both
In my college days due to $$$, I matted and framed 16x20 on 20x24 -- what a waste of money that turned out to be, as that just is not enough border.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
This site is infinitely useful:
You can experiment with any dimension of mat and opening you can think of using the program at the bottom of the page. I have saved endless amounts of time previewing what my work will look like using this resource.