Saturday, July 1, 2006

Display Your Photos Right

Though discussions about photography in magazines, classrooms, message boards and camera clubs often focus on the latest photographic equipment or the hottest Photoshop tip, in the end, it really comes down to one simple thing: the print. It's nice to share an image via e-mail or by allowing a friend to look over your shoulder at the camera's LCD, but there's no better way of sharing your unique vision of the world than by reproducing it on paper.

DPMag Published in Printing
Display Your Photos Right

An important step on the way to matting and framing the prints is placing interleaving tissue on the surface of the prints. Though resin-coated papers dry almost immediately, they still release a substance called glycol. The substance exists to help prevent clogging in the printer's nozzles, and while it won't damage the print, it can produce a fog or haze that appears on the surface of the glass.

To prevent this outgassing when a photo is framed, the interleaving tissue is placed on top of the print for a period of 24 hours. The release of the gas will be evident, as the interleaving tissue will display waves across its surface. Though cotton rag and swellable papers are less susceptible to this, it's a good idea to cover prints with this tissue to protect them until they have been properly framed and printed.

Mats and Framing
A mat is an important element for exhibiting your prints. Besides giving a professional appearance to your image, it prevents contact between the photograph and the glass of the frame.

Your choice of mat is just as essential as the paper on which you've printed your photograph. Like the paper, the mat itself needs be made of materials that are both acid- and lignin-free to ensure the longest life of the print. Some museum-quality mats are made of 100% cotton fibers and include calcium carbonate buffers to eliminate acidity. Even the adhesive tape used to secure the print to the mat should be made specifically for archival framing.

Companies such as Light Impressions ( offer a wide selection of mats and frames that are excellent for photographs. Many are available in precut sizes or can be custom cut for off-size prints. If you're submitting your images to a professional framer, ask what materials are being used to mat and frame your photographs.

For Turner, the size of the mat plays a big role in how his images will be displayed.

"For the show, we experimented with different-sized mats," he says. "We tried a three-inch and a four-inch mat and just compared them, and then we looked at the frames. We're going to have a light gray wall for the show, and I didn't want the viewer to be too focused on the frame. So we went with a very simple frame and ended up picking a three-inch white mat."

Whether you're a master photographer preparing images for an exhibit or an enthusiast decorating a home with your favorite photographs, you'll find that framing is as much of an art as the photographs that they showcase. By being methodical in producing your prints and choosing the best materials, you can ensure that your photographs not only will look their best, but also will last for years to come.


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