Tuesday 16 October 2007

Mounting and Finishing Photographs - Part 7 (Conclusion or Why Bother?)

So now you know what's involved in mount cutting, framing & generally presenting my prints for sale. If you are thinking of doing something similar, it is important to ask yourself if it is worth doing; You can buy ready cut mounts cheaply off the internet and there are plenty of picture framers out there needing the work.

The choices come down to the following:-

Get someone else to do it all
Outsourcing your framing/mounting to a trusted local supplier is a very attractive option. The advantages are you should always get a professional job, you don't have to invest in training and equipment upfront and of course you don't have to spend time framing when you could be out taking pictures.

The disadvantage is that the cost per picture will be more and the lead-times may become a problem if you have found yourself a good framer who is consiquently rather busy.

Do some of it yourself
It's possible to buy ready-cut mounts off the internet or from a framer and assemble the frames yourself. The advantages are that you save yourself the purchase of a mount cutter and holding stocks of mountboard.
This needs to be played against a lack of flexibility that may be required for more odd-shaped mounts. Again lead times may be unacceptable and you don't want your exhibition delayed by a post strike. You will still need to put the image together frame & wrap the image yourself so you are not saving a huge amount of work.

Bluebell Stripes ~ A panoramic shot which requires special mounting & framing
(Click to view large)

Do it yourself
The start-up costs and initial investment in time for the DIY approach can be onerous at first, but when you have got past these they offer a flexibility that is extremely useful. Streamlining the process, means that for me waiting for the print to come off the printer is the biggest time lag in my processes - framing and mounting have a relatively low amount of my time devoted to them.

In addition, mount cutting is a useful skill in it's own right and as you become involved in producing finished prints you gain an insight in to framing & presentation that is difficult to acquire otherwise.

That's All Folks.
I hope you have found these blogs on framing & presentation useful. If you have, or you would like to know more, please leave a comment. I love reading the feedback I get on this blog.

Other posts in this series (Mounting and Finishing Photographs)
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Preparation
Part 3 - Mount Cutting
Part 4 - Final Assembly
Part 5 - Framing
Part 6 - Equipment
Part 7 - Conclusion


Beau A.C. Harbin said...

What a great series of articles! Thanks very much for putting this together and sharing your process. It really helped me think through my own process and gave me some things to take away and us. Best wishes.

Chris Shepherd said...

Glad you fond it of use :)

Grant Kinney said...


Thanks for this series. I'm fairly new to displaying my prints and this information is really helpful for getting started.


Chris Shepherd said...

Thanks Grant - glad you found it of use.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to printing and presenting my photographs. So a big thank you for all the info. However, I have come across a framer that suggested that photographic prints need to glued/bonded onto a foam/backboard, otherwise they will not remain flat for long. Have you experienced any such problems? Maybe it's to do with the paper weight/quality? What do you think?
Comment from Greg Holba (Gloucestershire)

Chris Shepherd said...

Hi Greg,

I am no expert by any means but as far as I understand it the hinged mount (using just 2 bits of tape) allows the picture to expand & contract as it needs to.

Alternativly bonding it to the backboard stops it expanding completly.

I think the problem comes if you tape the edges of the picture down then the tape expands at a different rate to the pic.
You might want to take a look at this post as it is full of extra information.

Personally I have found no problems with hing mounting heavy papers.


Marty Hirst said...

Thanks Chris, this series of posts has been really useful. Having just finished an exhibition of 35 of my images (www.JokerXL.com/exhibition) I now realise where I was going wrong, with my sellotape and spray glue. Dust was indeed a real problem, in future a little compressor and air-gun might be useful, or would that just spread it about the place? Perhaps some kind of fluffy-static device.
I do feel though that bonding the printed image to the backing board gives a flatter, tighter finish, never actually considered the possibility of expansion/contraction though, is this a significant factor?
Thanks again for the insight into how to do it properly.

Chris Shepherd said...

Hi Marty,

Thanks for the comments.

I'm not sure I would go for the air-gun option. I have found the best way to solve the dust problem is:
Handle everything with white gloves. Clean the glass thoroughly. Lay the sandwich of backing board, picture & mount on the table & check it for dust/hairs. Then lay the glass on top & check, check and check again for dust inside the frame. Finaly put the frame on, turn it over & seal up the back with framers tape.

I believe what you are doing is called Dry Mounting (as opposed to the hinged mounting I am doing). Expansion & contraction will depend on the properties of the backing board and the picture I think. If you see ripples in the paper after a few month of it being hung up then its a problem...if not..it's not!

You do need to make sure you are using archival materials if you do it your way as the entire back of the picture is coated on glue that can attack the picture (as opposed to 2 little bits of tape).

The other advantage of hing mounting is that if needs be you can re-use a backing board and mount. Only last week I screwed up signing a print & had to do just that.