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First, all pictures should be matted. This is to separate the
photograph from the glass. If this is not done, the emulsion of the
photograph will stick to the glass. This looks unpleasant and ruins
the photograph. Thus, the standard consumer technique of sticking a
photo up against a glass desk frame or whatever should never be used
for art photos. If you don't like the look of a mat for some reason,
dry mount and use frame spacers.
Second, use a professional framer if you can afford it. You are
probably earning more per hour than the people who work in frame shops.
It looks easy to frame photos, but it will take you at least one hour to
do a decent job, the worst part of which is cleaning the glass (if you
must do it yourself, try Ajax cleanser in the bathtub; nothing else
really gets the glass factory grime off). If you purchase the same kind
of acid-free materials and pro-grade materials the frame shops use,
you'll find that it costs you almost as much as the total framing price.
There are easier and more fun ways to save $15-50 than by trying to
frame something yourself.
A maximum of 10% of the frame shops in any town will be competent.
The others will ruin photos either by incompetently dry mounting,
using other bad mounting techniques, using non-archival materials,
etc. Ask at an expensive lithograph gallery to find out who
does their framing. Be very careful when any mounting technique other
than linen tape is proposed; it probably won't be reversible should
something go wrong. There is no law that says a photograph has to be
perfectly flat for display. Nonetheless, if you want it flat, dry
mounting onto Fome-Core isn't so bad when done by a super-professional
(less skilled shops do work that begins to separate after a year or
so, leaving unsightly bubbles).
Third, if you can't think of a really great color, go with a pure
(bright) white mat and a black metal frame. This is what I use. Not
only is it inexpensive, but multiple photos on the same wall share the
(In Boston, I recommend contacting Richard Siegel at Stanhope Framers,
Union Square, Somerville, at 617 666-2000. Artists and photographers
get a 20 percent discount when framing their own work.)