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Thread: Matting & Framing for Display

  1. #1
    Large Format Curious
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    Matting & Framing for Display

    I have a few large prints (42x42cm) I've made recently that I want to frame for display (gallery and/or home).

    It's been a while since I've shown any of my work publicly, and I'm a bit out of the loop as far as current aesthetics goes. Is there any standard or certain look or approach that's common and recommended?

    The two prints in question are both very low key, taken at sunset after the sun went down and at night with only artificial light, and I'm concerned that a clean, crisp white matte will only serve to make them seem darker and possibly reduce apparent detail. Would a 18% neutral grey matte still look professional? Or could I go completely crazy and choose something in a dark color that compliments each of the prints?

    My second question relates to framing. Previously I just pointed at whatever frame I liked and that was that, I'm trying to be a bit more professional now. Are there any common methods or looks for gallery framing?

    Thanks for any suggestions and advice.

  2. #2
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    There are a zillion shades of white for matte board. Don't go too crazy unless you know how/where it's going to be displayed.

    I wouldn't do a 18% matte for a low key B&W photo. I'd do it for a colorful bright photo.

    A clean bright white matte might make your dark tones extra tasty. Find a bright spot to display it. You need a selection of matte board to try out. Then pick a shade of white that works well for the group of images so that matte board is consistent and not drawing attention to itself because it is different for different photos. I was in a group show of five photographers and the organizer specified an exact matte board for all the photographers to use! It worked out well.

  3. #3
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    Slight off-white mat and Nielsen-style metal sectional frames is pretty standard and looks good anywhere. And fairly cheap.
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  4. #4
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    I prefer vertical rectangular frames rather than square frames for square images. Horizontal frames for square images just look wrong to me...and waste a lot of wall space. Personal tastes, of course.

    I am going to work in inches here, so your images are about 16x16. I prefer to give the image some space to breathe in, so that would be a 22x28 (a standard size mat), but I actually prefer 24x28 (my usual size for 16x20 prints). Tight framing to me yells non-professional and cheap...and the images fight with the frames and the surroundings. To save money I use to mat 16x20 prints 20x24 -- I have regretted it ever since. A good thing to do in your case would be to get some graph paper and draw out several variations to scale and see what feels the best for you.

    A slight off-white (not too yellow) might suit nicely, but white would be fine. A black frame to work with the blacks of the prints. I like wood...about 3/4" wide as not to overdo it. Elegant, which metal frames do not feel to me.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  5. #5

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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    Typically, white matte board is acceptable, and black matte board is not acceptable.

    Depending on the application, too white can be distracting, and not white enough can "dull" the overall effect. A very good white matte board that I use is Rising White Rag Museum board. With larger prints, I would mount on 4-ply, and then use either 4-ply or 8-ply as an over-matte.

    In some cases, like a brown-toned image, I will use an off-white, warmer color board, versus Rising White. But, it will be a rag, museum type board.

    Rag museum board is expensive. So, I don't over-matte prints, until they're ready to be sold or framed. (And, I rarely sell prints.) My prints tend to be on the smaller side (8x10 paper); I mount my prints on 2-ply.

    Personally, I would stay away from the Crescent, Bainbridge, and similar products, unless I was doing color prints with color over-mattes. I guess one can get a Crescent or Bainbridge "museum" board. But, I have trouble finding a white that I like with those brands.

  6. #6

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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    I don't buy the acceptable, not acceptable schtick. They are your images so you can frame them or not frame them any dang way you want. If you want to mat them with black mat board, grey mat board or purple mat board then go ahead and do it.

    If you are concerned about white against the dark print, then you could just not mat it. Trim it, mount it, then put it in a thick black frame with no glass. Or you could float the print off the wall with nothing over it. Mounting it on aluminum is another way to go. Lots of options.

  7. #7
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    I have a few large prints (42x42cm) I've made recently that I want to frame for display (gallery and/or home).

    It's been a while since I've shown any of my work publicly, and I'm a bit out of the loop as far as current aesthetics goes. Is there any standard or certain look or approach that's common and recommended?

    The two prints in question are both very low key, taken at sunset after the sun went down and at night with only artificial light, and I'm concerned that a clean, crisp white matte will only serve to make them seem darker and possibly reduce apparent detail. Would a 18% neutral grey matte still look professional? Or could I go completely crazy and choose something in a dark color that compliments each of the prints?

    My second question relates to framing. Previously I just pointed at whatever frame I liked and that was that, I'm trying to be a bit more professional now. Are there any common methods or looks for gallery framing?

    Thanks for any suggestions and advice.
    I see you're in L.A. If you are on the westside, I recommend Reclaimed Frame in Santa Monica. The prices are reasonable and you can go over different matt and frame options with your prints. Generally, gallery frames are simple and either black or white.

  8. #8
    Large Format Curious
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    I see you're in L.A. If you are on the westside, I recommend Reclaimed Frame in Santa Monica. The prices are reasonable and you can go over different matt and frame options with your prints. Generally, gallery frames are simple and either black or white.
    Hi Pieter,

    I am indeed on the westside, heading over to Blick now to see what they can offer (50% discount this week only on framing), but will check out the place you mentioned as well.

    Thanks!

  9. #9
    Large Format Curious
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    It's been a while since I've framed anything, and last I did it was in a different country.

    When Blick told me the prices, I assumed they were retail, and I would get a 50% discount. Nope, the prices were *including* the discount.

    Are people really paying $500-600 to frame one 40cm square print with plain white matte?

    Like I said, it's been a while...

  10. #10
    Roger Thoms's Avatar
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    Re: Matting & Framing for Display

    I'm sure not spending $500-600. I often buy from Frame Destinations. The nice thing about FD is that I can get my frames and mats custom sized to the 1/16" and I can buy anything from just the frame to a complete package that includes the frame, mat, mount, glazing, d-rings, wire, felts bumpers and anything in between. Everything is extremely well packed, and their lead times are quite good. I also find their pricing quite good. You do have to mount the photograph and install it in the frame yourself, but that's where you save a lot of money.

    Roger

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