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Framing Photography

Updated on April 28, 2011

There are two principal reasons for putting a photograph in a frame: so that it can be hung up easily and seen to better advantage, and to protect it from dust, damp and finger-marks while it is displayed.

The amateur, unless he is an experienced carpenter, is best advised not to attempt to make a frame. The result will almost certainly be a waste of time and timber.

A photograph that deserves a frame will usually justify the expense of having it professionally framed.

It is of course possible to buy frames ready made. All the photographer has to do then is fix the photograph in the frame-not quite such a difficult task.

The actual designs of frames vary considerably. In its simplest form a frame can be made of quite plain wooden molding; a more elaborate type may consist of a number of ornate borders of machine decoration. The modern trend however is to use a simple, narrow frame with plain sides.


Choosing the Frame

The frame should normally be plain and unobtrusive. Its purpose is to isolate the photograph from its surroundings so that the picture will attract and hold the attention. An ornate or showy frame only draws attention away from the picture or at least clashes with it.

If the photograph is to fill the whole space in the frame, the frame should be a wide one; otherwise the picture will not be sufficiently isolated. If the photograph is to appear on a mount, then the frame may be narrow, because in this case, the mount itself can provide a border. Generally, the bigger the mount in relation to the photograph, the narrower can be the frame.

The glass should be of the kind intended specially for framing pictures; this is much thinner than the glass used for glazing. The quality of this glass varies widely, so it should be carefully inspected for flaws and waviness. These faults show up much more over a black and white photograph than over a colored painting.

It is a good plan to run a narrow strip of gummed paper around the edge of the glass and the inside of the frame before fitting the picture in position. This prevents dust and damp from entering from the glass side of the frame.

Framing the Photograph

Before starting the actual framing, the print should first be mounted. The mount must be fairly thick and fit the frame exactly. If a cut-out mount is used it must be backed with card of the same size. The glass in the frame must be cleaned thoroughly, especially on the inside surface.

The mounted photograph is placed in the frame and secured along all edges with heavy gummed paper; this is stuck with half its width over the back of the mount and the remainder over the back of the frame.

Cord or wire for hanging the picture should be attached to the frame and not the mount. This is best done by fixing a screw eye into each side of the frame. The cord is attached to the eyes and kept short so that it does not show above the top edge of the frame (unless the picture is to hang from a picture rail). Normally it is better to hang it from a hook held by one of the special hard steel pins which can be driven into plaster or wood without leaving an ugly hole.


A cheaper way of framing photographs is to use passe-partout binding. For this type of framing it is essential for the print to be on a mount of least 1/16 inch thick. A piece of picture glass must be cut to exactly the same size as the mount or the mount may be cut to match the size of the glass, using the glass as a template.

The mount and glass are then bound together with the passe-partout tape. The latter can be used in one complete length, or cut into four strips- one for each side. This second method is the easier, especially when dealing with large pictures. The passe-partout in either case must be mitred on the corners of the picture.

In cases where it is ever likely to be necessary to remove the print from its frame or passepartout binding, a backing card or board should be used. The backing is cut to the same size as the mount and fitted over it before applying the binding.

Stick-on hangers can be obtained for attaching the cord or wire to the back of the mount.

These are surprisingly efficient although they may not look reliable. Another type has a ring on a split pin; the pin is pushed through the mount and secured by bending flat on the other side. If this system is used, obviously the mount must be backed with a second piece of cardboard; the split pin is then only pushed through the rear card. It is of course essential with this method to attach the ring before binding together the glass, mount and backing card.

Whether using a proper frame or passe-partout binding, some thought should be given to the color. This should contrast with the wall on which it is to hang; if it blends into the wall its purpose (which is to isolate the picture) is defeated.


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    • RenePogel profile image

      RenePogel 6 years ago from behind the camera

      There is a natural attraction to photos. And so too with a beautiful looking frame.

    • howcurecancer profile image

      Elena@LessIsHealthy 6 years ago

      I am always interested in good quality photos.