Framing and displaying photographs can be as much an art form as taking a good picture. Whether you’re wanting to hang family portraits, holiday snaps or stunning photographic art, there are a few things you’ll need to wrap your head around first.
In this guide to framing and displaying photographs, we’ll walk you through how to print photos, how to choose the right frame, how to use matt boards to your advantage and how to display your framed photos in the best way possible.
With a bit of careful thought and preparation, you’ll have your photos printed, framed and displayed in no time!
Pretty much any digital photo can be printed, but if you want the printed image to look high quality, you’ll need to make sure the image is the right size and resolution. This is especially important if you plan on blowing up the photo into a large size.
For printing purposes, resolution is usually measured in pixels per inch (PPI). The higher the resolution, the more pixels will be in one inch of the image. That means more information and a higher quality, crisper image.
For professional results, always print at 300 PPI. Lower resolutions may be ok if you are printing small prints, but it’s best to speak to a professional if you are unsure.
The size of a photo is usually measured in pixels. The optimal dimensions for your photo will depend on how big or small you want to print the photo.
For example, let’s say you want to print a 4 x 6 inch photograph to frame. If you print at 300 PPI, then you will need a photo file size that’s at least 4 x 300 pixels on one side and 6 x 300 pixels on the other side. In other words, you’ll need a file size of 1200 x 1800 pixels.
There are many options when it comes to materials to print on. Glossy paper will have a shiny finish to it, whereas matte paper will look more natural and less vibrant. Canvas is also a popular choice for photo printing.
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a frame. The guiding principle you want to follow is: choose a frame that showcases the photograph the best.
For framed art, it’s particularly important to not go the other way around and try to fit the art to the frame. In other words, let the artwork do all the talking.
If you want to get the best framed artwork or precious memories, get a professional custom frame. Custom frames are higher quality, will better protect your artwork and will show off your photos in the best way.
Here are some of the most popular frame styles and how to pair them with different types of photography.
Minimalist frames are a safe choice and usually work with most styles of photography. They tend to be slim and understated, giving all the attention to the picture inside. Black, white and natural wood tones are the most common colours.
Use minimalist frames for:
- Wedding and family photos
- Large landscapes
- Black and white portraits
- Colourful photographs
Natural frames are wooden frames that have the natural colours and textures of the wood showing. They can be a slim, modern design or thicker and more vintage-looking. Different species of woods have different tones and may work better with certain types of photography.
Use natural frames for:
- Nature based photography
- Intimate portraits
- Black and white photos
- Abstract photography
Ornate frames are frames that are more decorative compared to the minimalist and modern style frames. They may be moulded, contain a pattern or showcase an interesting texture. Gold and silver surfaces are common for ornate frames.
Use ornate frames for:
- Portraits and family photos
- Interior and architecture photos
- Black and white photography
- Simple scenery
Vintage frames can be true vintage – for example, found in a second hand store – or they can be made in a vintage style. Many vintage frames are ornate with decadent details. Others may look weathered or have a distressed texture to the wood.
Use vintage style frames for:
- Vintage photographs and portraits
- Simple landscapes
- Architecture photography
- Film photography
If you print a photograph on canvas, it can be stretched over stretcher bars and hung as is without further framing. If you prefer the framed look, a canvas frame can be added after the artwork is stretched.
Use no-frame canvas for:
- Large landscapes
- Colourful scenes
- Aerial photographs
- Artistic portraits
A mat or mat board is a thick paper material that is placed between the print and the frame. It provides space between the image and the frame to give the artwork a finished look.
In some cases, a mat board might not be necessary – it really depends on the final look you want. Two or more mat boards can be layered together to achieve a three dimensional finish too.
Mat boards can be white, black or coloured, depending on what looks best with the photograph.
You can also vary how thick or thin the mat board is, and where the photo sits relative to the mat board. Traditionally the photo will sit in the centre, but some modern styles may place the photograph off centre.
Photographs are a great way to decorate your empty walls. Before you commit to a particular location, it’s a good idea to use a paper or cardboard rectangle to imagine what it will look like.
If you have a series of photographs you want to display, consider framing them the same and displaying them together. Groups of three photos look great lined up horizontally or vertically.
Gallery walls are also a great option for displaying many photos at once. Cut out rectangles of paper the same size of each frame to help you plan out the composition.
Happy picture framing!