How to Frame a Photograph

wedding photo in a silver leaf frame

Wedding photo in silver leaf frame

Framing a photograph can mean a lot of different things.  It can mean putting a 5 X 7 portrait into a simple photo frame to display on your desk.  It can mean an elaborate framing treatment for your enormous and valuable fine art photo.  It can mean the perfect double mat and simple wood frame for your latest family reunion photo.  It can mean a photo collage of a dozen of your favorite vacation photos.  All these photos look great in the right framing, but they are all very different.

Framing a Photo Portrait

Even photo portraits can be very different from one another:

  • Some are formal and done in the studio
  • Some are informal, either in the studio or outside
  • Some are close-ups and some are full body shots
  • Some are of individuals, some of small groups, and some of big groups
    graduation photo framed

    Graduation photo

Photo portraits can be framed in several ways.  Close-up studio portraits can be matted and framed, but depending on the background, mat colors that look good with the photo may be difficult to find.  Sometimes a larger frame with no mat looks best with this kind of portrait.

When you want to display a smaller portrait on a desk, dresser, shelf, or table, often a frame with an easel back will be necessary.  You can also place the framed photo on a free-standing easel for display.  Keep the photo size reasonable if you want to display your photo on a flat surface, probably no bigger than 8 X 10, or it will become too unwieldy in the frame.

More informal portraits often look best with a double mat and simple frame, although some light-hearted portraits can look great in a more playful frame.  Select mat colors that coordinate with the background colors of the photo to enhance the photo without calling too much attention to themselves.  Let us help you with a beautiful framing design for your photo portrait.

Framing a Snapshot

The new digital cameras and even the cameras on our phones are now so good and so handy that fewer beautiful moments of our lives go unphotographed.  Some of these photos of our family and friends, wildlife and nature, sunrises and sunsets, landscapes and landmarks clearly deserve to be framed beautifully and displayed.  With today’s digital printing, there is a wide variety of sizes of photo prints available to us, from miniatures to enormous poster-sized images.  Keep in mind that the print quality is always a function of the amount of data in the photo as it was captured with the camera.  Some low-quality photos do not look good when blown up too large.

fine art photo of boy in boat

Boy in boat photo

Framing for snapshots varies from double mats and frame for many photos to frame only poster framing options for extra-large photos.  Of course, proper mounting and conservation glass to reduce fading will be important when framing photos.  Again, mats that coordinate with the photo’s background colors often look best.  Often there are elements in the photo that give us clues as to what type of frame to select.  Maybe the gray texture of the bark of the tree suggests a rustic textured gray frame to highlight that element of the photo.  Maybe the sand on the beach suggests a washed and weathered frame to capture that feeling.  Getting the right mat and frame will definitely make your photo look its best.

Framing a Fine Art Photo

Fine art photos come in all sizes and styles, and photography can be mixed with other media to make a whole new art form.  Fine art photos will need conservation quality mounting, backing, and glass or acrylic.  Generally mats or spacers will be used to keep the glass off the surface of the photo.  Some fine art photos look great in neutral colored mats.  Some people like the gallery-look white mat look.  And surprisingly, black can act as a dramatic neutral for many fine art photos.  Frames tend to be simple and classic so as not to distract from the photo, although sometimes the right funky frame can add to the visual impact of the piece.

white wolf photo framed in a rustic gray frame

Fine art white wolf photo

We Can Help

We have framed tens of thousands of photographs over the years, and we know how to do it well.  Stop in with your photos and let us help you find the framing design that will enhance and protect your beloved photos.