Saturday, November 8, 2008

Matting and Framing Photographs

This article also appears on our Italian Journal page.

We receive so many questions about matting and framing that it seemed like a good idea to share our process in an article. We hope it will add to the conversation about how to best enhance photography or showcase any artwork.

On our website,, if you click on the Photography link on the left hand side, you’ll find yourself at the page that lists Regions and Subjects. We’ve added a new Category under the Subjects heading, entitled Custom Framed Prints. This category shows how we’ve chosen to mat and frame a selection of images from the collection, Italy, Through the Eyes of Love.

The photographs can be displayed in a variety of ways. We’ve included smaller size prints in ready-made triple frames, which you can purchase in many stores. In this way, the photographs can be mixed and matched to achieve whatever theme appeals to you; whether it’s subject matter, color, shape or your personal memories.

We’ve also included larger prints, approximately 12x18 inches, that we have had custom matted and framed. When it comes to choosing the right frame and mat, we pair each photograph with what we believe brings alive the color, vibrancy and mood of each image. Sometimes elements of the image itself are extended onto the mats or frames. At other times, the mat and frame emphasize the image that lies within.

I’d like to add a word about matting here. Many people believe that only black or white mats should be used for photographs. I believe this reflects a concern that a colored mat will distract from, rather than enhance, the photograph. However, we’ve never subscribed to this point of view. Although there may be times when a black or white mat best serves the image, we’ve never felt limited to those choices. Instead, we chose each mat color with the same care and specificity with which we choose each frame.

With all of our custom framed works, we use non-glare glass. It’s a little more expensive than regular glass, but is well worth it. Regular glass is highly reflective and this interferes with your ability to view the photograph. Any light source, including sunlight or a television set, will reflect off the glass and create a visual obstacle to the photograph and the mat you’ve chosen. But non-glare glass allows you to enjoy the photograph without strain or interruption.

Here are some examples of our custom frame choices and the reasons behind them:
For Chianca Beachouse, we started with a photograph that is very bright, colorful and intense in its geometry. We chose a mat color that compliments, rather than competes with the colors in the image. This mat also has a geometric design of its own which extends the geometric theme of the image. The frame has a plain design, again so as not to compete with geometric depth of the photograph.

For Benvenuti, we chose a purple toned mat to compliment the colors in the photograph, especially the predominate shades of yellow. The frame is deep burgundy that picks up the color of the pipe that runs vertically down the left side of the image. The frame is also textured in short sections that mimic pipe sections.

For Harvest, we chose a dark grey mat to emphasize the lighter colors of the grapes in the center of the image and also to mimic the dark cantina in which the grapes are stored. The frame is made of gnarled, twisted wood reminiscent of grape vines and bark.

Capri Rocks is a majestic image and its strong, masculine tone is repeated in the mat and frame choices. Here we used double matting in colors that pick up the colors of the rocks themselves and compliment those in the sea and sky. The frame is wide and substantial, mimicking the heaviness of the rocks.

I hope these examples provide a window into the process we use when creating finished works. I hope they help you set your own imagination free. If you would like to discuss possible matting and framing choices for any photograph from Italy, Through the Eyes of Love, please contact us.

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