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How to frame your photos

How to frame your photos - Ben Boswell shares his presentation tips with ePz.

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Category : General Photography
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Words and images by Ben Boswell.

Much of what we do as photographers in 2011 will never make it out of the computer. It has become a feature of modern photography that the default viewing mechanism is a computer screen. Printing your pictures gives them a different character and a life beyond the moment. However, to give them an even longer life you should consider your presentation.

 This Deep Rebate mount needs to be constructed from foamcore board and covered in tape.
This Deep Rebate mount needs to be constructed from foamcore board and covered in tape.

Mounting and framing are skills that any practical person can acquire. I started because my wife is an artist and taught myself to make good but simple frames and to cut bevelled mounts. Once learned, these skills can be used to create a wide range of different ‘looks’ for your photography, enhancing their appearance and presenting them to their best advantage.

These examples were done by Richard Buttle (who is a framer) and show how much difference can be achieved by altering the components. All are the same size and all use the same neutral mount board. Detailed instructions are available online at DIY Framing.

This double mount has become the baseline for quality framing and is easy to achieve.
This double mount has become the baseline for quality framing and is easy to achieve.

A simple bevel mount can be cut with a hand tool that costs just a few pounds, though buying a mountcutter like the Logan 301S which has a rule built into it to guide the cutter, will make the process very much easier and quicker. It is then quite simple to add ‘quality’ by making a double or triple mount. This does require a bit of practice, but the accuracy is pretty much built into the tools so once you have learned how the tools work the mounting is a doddle! The examples all use a white mount but you can also introduce colour (if you are careful) to complement the picture.

A triple mount adds more depth and looks great.
A triple mount adds more depth and looks great.
 
I’ll admit that framing is a bit harder and that the accuracy is something that you have to achieve yourself, but having attended a course recently where most of the participants were complete novices, the results they produced in just a few hours were fantastic. A good frame is based on accurately cut 45º mitres and exactly matching lengths. These two measurements will produce a good looking frame. Assembling it can be done quite effectively with PVA wood glue as long as the frame is not too large: up to about A3 will work. For a long time this is all I used, gluing and then using a strap clamp to hold them together while the glue set. Using V-nails will hold the joints better as they dry, these are pushed into the corners using a tool that presses them straight into the wood grain – don’t try and hammer them in, it will ruin the frame, use the right tool or leave them out altogether.

You can also put spacers between the mounts to add a shadow line.
You can also put spacers between the mounts to add a shadow line.

When you get to the point where you can produce a well made frame and cut elegant mounts, you should be able to show your work in a way that will highlight its quality; enhancing the photograph rather than demonstrating your practical carpentry skills. Never forget that the point is presenting your photography rather than presenting your framing prowess.

This one requires great care, V-groves are cut into the front of the mount with a special tool.
This one requires great care, V-groves are cut into the front of the mount with a special tool.

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