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Framing your pictures, prints and photographs

Tips for framing

Although we can supply prints fully framed, we find most people prefer to choose their own frames to fit their decor and tastes.

The ordering page has information on obtaining your own prints.

We have also collected below, some information and resources from Keith Cooper about the art of picture framing.


Some framing tips

Good framing should enhance your picture, drawing the eye to the image. Unless you are advertising picture frames, framing should be complementary to the picture and not the main event.

Take care of your images. if you are using glass, then make sure that there is a slight air gap – this is where the mat comes in. Inkjet prints outgas for some time after printing, and I’ve seen deposits build up on the back of the glass if put behind glass too soon.

Choose your glass with care. Anti-reflection or non-glare glass and UV filtering glass may be appropriate for some locations.

In my Landscape exhibition (right), there were several places where anti-glare glass might have helped.

Photo exhibition at the Richard Attenborough centre

Good clear borders

Don’t be stingy with your mat border size – small borders rarely enhance the image.

Also, how are you going to hang the pictures? If you are choosing a large picture for your home or are planning to exhibit very large prints, make sure the wall you are hanging the picture on can safely take the weight of the framed picture and the fittings needed to hang it.

Note the black edged frames I’ve used above – this is a pretty safe option for most display locations, and preferred in many shows/competitions (do make sure you read all the mounting/framing rules when showing works at such events).

How do you measure frames?

Frames are always measured  from the inside (rabbet) of the frame. That is the size of a piece of glass that will fit in the frame. The actual size of  the frame  is 1/8″ larger than indicated to allow room around the glass, mats, image etc. The actual rabbet size of an 8″ x 10 ” frame is 8 1/8″ x 10 1/8″.

How do you measure mats?

backing board and mattMats are measured at the outside. They are not measured by the size of the cutout (hole). When determining what size matt you need remember that the mat must cover the artwork or photograph. If your artwork is 8 x 10 you need a mat with an opening of at least 1/8″ smaller.

Matting / framing your prints for exhibition and archival purposes

First of all, if your are going to matt and frame, then don’t print right up to the edge of the paper. I like to leave at least an inch of paper round prints to give enough space for the print to be held in place, and a place to sign (and number if a limited edition).

Coloured matt board is a bit of a no-no at most exhibitions, but if you’re selling a print that relies on a colour, then pick what works (just remember to get someone else, you trust, to look at it first – most photographers are better at taking the photos than deciding how best to show them).

If you’re getting someone to make mats for you, consider thicker mats, which can set your prints off nicely. I use a Logan Mat cutter for smaller prints, but if you get the chance, buy a cutter bigger than you might first think of – it just makes things easier. Cutters appear on auction sites every so often, but do try and see one in use if you are spending much.

With many commercial prints, I’m happy losing a fraction of an inch around the edge of the printed area, i.e. the hole in the mat is slightly smaller than the print area. With larger prints for shows I prefer a ‘reveal mat’ that leaves half an inch or so of the plain paper visible – particularly where I have a paper like a lightly textured rag paper. If you are going to do this, make sure that the white of the matte doesn’t clash with the white of your paper.

Prints like this are held in place by the pressure of the overlying mat. You can use mylar corner mounts, or even ‘stepped’ mylar mounts for larger prints.


For recent exhibitions and some commercial prints, I’ve taken the print (with border) along to a local sign making company and had them laminated onto foam board (aka ‘Foamex’) with a layer of slightly matt clear film.

This is hardly ‘archival’ but large prints look excellent, particularly if you then have a frame made to go round the laminated print.

In the example below, wooden battens were used for mounting, but you need to be careful of warping (you can see that some prints have already bent slightly). Warping can be prevented by adding wooden stretcher bars to the back of the print or by adding a frame around the picture – glass won’t be needed as the picture is protected by the lamination process.

Colour and black and white prints laminated on to foam core, before mounting

Framing information