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Borderless Prints


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Borderless Prints

6 Jul 2021 6:51PM   Views : 323 Unique : 187

A long time ago when you received your printed photos they all came with a border, Then came borderless prints which are now the standard style. But what if you print your own, what do you choose?

When I first got interested in photography the borderless print had become the accepted standard. I'm talking just over 40 years ago. Borderless prints were simple to produce with automated printers using long rolls of paper. I don't know what method was used before that. It would be interesting to find out.

Home printing was entirely different. Each print had to be produced using an individual piece of paper using a printing easel that held the edges of the paper down so the whole sheet would lie flat. I have a recollection that there were devices that allowed a sheet of paper to lie flat without trapping the edges and so produce a borderless image.


I'm not aware of a printing service that offers prints with borders these days, though I guess there will be some specialists somewhere. Nevertheless, you could always produce a version of your image which includes a white border (or any other colour you like come to that, though I was initially considering the classic look) ready for printing.

If you print at home today you have the choice. There's a checkbox somewhere in the printer driver dialog that allows borderless printing. You need to ask 'is a border necessary'. If you're going to frame the print, using a mount inside the picture frame, then, depending on the aperture in the mount any border may well be covered. A borderless print is useful if you want a seamless look. This is likely to be the default as most commercially made mounts are designed for standard borderless machine prints. Alternatively, you may want a border between the image and the mount if you want to print slightly smaller than the mount's aperture and include a keyline around the image.

If you print your own photobooks it'll depend on the style you want whether or not you want a border around your page edges or not. And if so, how large.


I've only considered physical prints. As an aside, what about images posted online? Most images you see don't have a border and that's the easiest and most straightforward way as, apart from any initial adjustments, there's nothing else to do. Do you want to create a border to represent what a print may look like or to give the impression of how the image would look if it were in a picture frame? Going for the latter could fight against the image for attention. I've not seen it much for a while now but there was a trend for producing multiple outline borders around an image which was distracting and counterproductive especially with smaller size uploads. What is useful to demarcate an image, for example a low key image on a black background, is a thin keyline. It's subtle and I guess part of my style. I sometimes use thicker borders for images originating on film but on the whole I'd rather make the most of screen real estate for the image itself.


Fashions change, often driven by convenience and automation. These days you have so much choice regarding presentation, so make use of it.

To border or not to border, that is the question.

All text and images Keith Rowley 2021


6 Jul 2021 7:35PM
Hi, I'm an addicted printer, with an Epson P800 machine that is amazing. To answer your question, I always print with a border. Always. Several reasons - it gives much more flexibility with framing and matting. I think it is always good to see some of the paper white surrounding the image. Secondly - the overspray from borderless printing can collect on the feed mechanism and will need cleaning (eventually). It also uses up capacity in the maintenance cartridge - which isn't replaceable in many printers. Size isn't everything with printing you don't miss a couple of cm of image on A3 or A3+ paper
For online viewing I'd generally only add a border or stroke if it isn't clear where the boundaries of the image are. Then only a couple of pixels. In the above images, the middle one is my preference. The black on dark grey is a bit indistinct . The third one shouts BORDER and compresses the image.

Thanks for the blog! Andy
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 826 England
6 Jul 2021 9:01PM
That's a good point you make about printing Andy.
It looks like we have similar thoughts about online posts.
Rose73 1 Scotland
7 Jul 2021 11:18AM
For online viewing, I think a very thin keyline border around your image finishes it off somehow. Saying that though, some photographs look really good with a larger border depending on the subject matter...

Enjoyed reading your blog Keith.

Cheers Julie Smile
mistere Plus
9 20 7 England
7 Jul 2021 6:53PM
I think it depends on the image and the medium it's being viewed in. There are plenty of options available and its pretty easy to add a border
or to leave it out. Sometimes an image looks better with a frame, sometimes not.

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