Framing Photography & Digital Images, Advice from the Experts at American Frame

 

In this age of digital, the art of photography has exploded. It’s not unusual for the casual photographer to snap hundreds of pictures in a year and professionals click at even higher rates. Although the majority of those files may never be displayed, there are few lucky enough to be chosen for display by their creators (and yes, that means you).

Once that decision to print has been made, how you decide to treat it will directly affect its lifespan and value. Improperly framed photographs are susceptible to environmental damage such as yellowing, fading, tearing, scratching, and even mold. This article will focus on the basic rules of professionally framing photographs.

 
 

#1 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 the piece is not hanging in a sunny location today, plans do change. Why take the risk? For important works, invest in a high grade UV acrylic glazing (or plexi-glass) for maximum protection. Unlike glass, it is lightweight, acid- free, distortion- free, and shatterproof - all important qualities for preserving image quality.


 


#2 Let Your Work Breathe Here is another reason to abandon glass in favor of acrylic. It’s porous and allows for air flow. Keeping circulation within the frame treatment is essential to slow down the acid build up that can occur over time, affecting the photograph. All our acrylic products are museum quality, from Standard to UV and Non Glare, and serve this purpose.

#3 Give Acids a Place to Go, Embrace ArtCare™ Technology Let’s talk about acids for a minute. They can come from the photograph itself or any of the materials that touch it including the frame, backing boards, and mat boards used to frame the work. As far as photographic prints are concerned, many photographers today print using Epson Giclee technology with archival papers and inks , with archival ratings ranging from 75 - 200 years. However, so many images are printed using various chemical processes and will emit acids that eventually contribute to the acid mix of the treatment. In either case, as professional framers, we advise using materials with NielsenBainbrige 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 which is fine. They won’t hurt, but they won’t help either.

 

#4 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 physically stable, preservation grade and environmentally friendly framing material on the market.

Professional photographers have known that for years and Nielsen metal is the finest produced in the world.

 

Our most popular frame collections for photography are Standard (Nielsen #11), Standard Plus (Nielsen #50) , Radius (Nielsen #58) and Radius Colorcast (Nielsen #15) .

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.

Favorite wood collections for photography are the Basics , American Hardwoods ;(for photographic prints on paper and canvas), and EcoCare.

Whatever you do, avoid using what’s currently being touted in our industry as “Environmentally Friendly” 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 for framing high quality art and photography. Sustainably harvested, FSC certified solid woods are the superior product.

 

#5 Use the Correct Tapes for Hinging Last but not least, the way you choose to attach the artwork to the backing board or mat board is very important. The wrong tape or mounting method can cause the work to tear, buckle or yellow. This is often an overlooked element in fine art photography picture framing.

For more information on how to properly frame your art and photography visit How-To or order our our book, DIY Framing FunDaMentials

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