The American Frame Story
Photography Frames – How to Prepare, Protect & Preserve your Photographs
Framing Photography & Digital Images
In this age of digital media, we are taking more pictures than ever. It’s not unusual for the casual photographer to snap hundreds of pictures in a year, and professionals click at even higher rates for sure. Although the majority of those files may be doomed to live in a phone or computer, there a few lucky enough to be chosen for display by their creators (yes, that means you). Once that decision to print has been made, how you decide to treat it will determine it’s life and value, intrinsic or otherwise, to its viewers.
Photographs that are improperly framed using inappropriate materials are susceptible environmental damage such as yellowing, fading, tearing, acid burn, scratching, and the ultimate “ick”, mold. This article will focus on how you can make the right choices for your work, starting with the first rule of framing....
Screen Your Work from the Sun
Images fade in the light, but we need the light to enjoy the images. Catch 22? Perhaps. Even if you’re not planning on hanging your photograph in a sunny location today, plans do change. Why take the risk? Be sure to choose a high grade UV acrylic glazing (also known as plexi-glass) for maximum protection. Unlike glass, it is also lightweight, acid- free, distortion- free, and shatterproof, all important qualities, and allows you to....
Let Your Work Breathe
This is another reason to abandon glass in favor of acrylic. It’s very important to keep air circulation within the frame treatment so that acids from the printed work or other materials in the frame treatment don’t build up and damage your photograph over time. If your budget doesn’t allow for the use of UV, at lease use standard acrylic so at least you can.....
Give Acids and Pollutants a Place to Go
Let’s talk about acids for a minute. Many of us are printing these days using Epson Giclee technology using archival papers and inks that have archival ratings ranging from 75 - 200 years. However, so many images are printed using various chemical processes (the discussion of which are outside the scope of this article) that do not have an archival rating and will emit acids that will eventually cause the work to yellow, crack or fade. Does that mean you forget framing those works? Absolutely not! Simply make sure the materials you use: your mat board, backing board, and any framing tapes you choose use Nielsen Bainbrige ArtCare Technology as opposed to materials simply rated “acid free”. ArtCare products actually absorb acids and secure them away from the photograph, effectively taking the “hit” like any great body guard, offering maximum protection to the image. Products labeled “acid free” offer “passive protection” in that they won’t contribute to the acid mix of the frame treatment. And now that we’ve covered the materials that will touch the photograph, our next directive to you is.....
Choose a Worthy Frame
This may surprise you: The most archival frame moulding you can buy is high quality anodized aluminum as it’s the most stable and preservation friendly and environmentally friendly material. Again, NielsenBainbridge is the most trusted manufacturer of these materials in our industry today and is the brand we choose to offer our customers at americanframe.com. If the look of metal is not your preference, the next best choice is a high quality, solid wood picture frame. Although it’s extremely slow (and we repeat extremely), woods can degrade and potentially create byproducts that will react to harm your art work, but damage can be mitigated by using the right boards and glazing as described above. Whatever you do, please avoid using what’s currently being touted in our industry as “Environmentally Friendly” or EF frames for work you care to preserve. These mouldings are made from recycled woods using laminates and adhesives that release toxic gasses (or formeldahydes) into the frame treatment. We don’t recommend its use although we do offer it in certain profiles for customers who want a certain look at a certain price point.
For more information on how to properly frame your art and photography visit www.americanframe.com/FramingBasics.aspx. Order our book, DIY Framing FunDaMentals at www.americanframe.com
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