How to: guide to framing photography – part 2

In this blog: a word about photographic papers and inks in relation to framing.  A guide on how to take care of your photographs before they come in for framing

Today, it’s a mine field when considering framing materials and techniques.  There are so many options, conflicting information and differing opinions!  My primary advice would be to gather as much advice, research as far as you can and don’t rush into anything!  At some point you will have to put your trust in someone!  Even within the framing industry the “experts” can disagree.

With home printing abundant, it has become more accessible and affordable.  Whilst this is great, it can present the framing industry, professional printers and photographers with big problems in terms of quality and handling.

A word about photographic prints and inks

It is often hard for us to tell, what kind of paper it has been printed on or which inks have been used.  For a start, I’m not a photographer or a printer.  Paper of any kind is extremely unpredictable and susceptible to the environment (e.g. moisture and other conditions).

Many inks are not stable and can easily be smudged or damaged.  The other day we were working on something that had been printed from home and it was a nightmare to work with.  The inks were wrong for the paper and wouldn’t dry, even weeks later.

I’m sure professional printers will agree that it makes it very difficult to make people understand the difference in quality.  If you are wanting to keep a picture safe that holds special memories, it’s important to look at your options.

As I say many times over on this blog, not every framing job is going to warrant the same levels of framing.  We understand about budgets, but it is frustrating at times!

We get photographs printed up for our own examples at exhibitions and we spend quite a bit of money getting it right (and that’s before we even think about the framing side!).

I had a mind blowing conversation with a fine art printer the other day in Bristol about the type of paper he would recommend.  Fascinating!

So, unless your photo has no value whatsoever (in which case you probably would buy a ready made frame anyway), it’s worth thinking about the materials.

Taking care of your photo’s before getting them framed

This is such a common problem that Framers have to do deal with.  This applies to all pictures actually not just photography.

The most common nightmares are:

  • Rolled up pictures in a tube or otherwise

Bain of a Framers life I’m afraid!  It’s a contradiction really because it’s the best way to keep a picture safe especially when storing or posting.  The problem usually comes when you come to get them out of the tubes and unravel them.

Quite often even if you are extra careful, the picture can get damaged or creased when you are rolling or taking it out.  There are ways that you can minimise this happening.

Don’t use your fingers to pull the picture out of a tube, shake it out instead (there is a knack to this).  Of course, the Framer will need to look at the picture, to measure it and for you both to choose a suitable frame, so take care when flattening it out on the table for viewing.

I’m sure someone will shout out, there is some sort of gadget for this, but to be honest we’ve tried quite a few things and talked to other framers about this, we all seem to have the same problems.

Some of the damage can be “ironed out” with dry mounting or other methods (more on this in the next blog) but some are unable to be rectified.  Sometimes the damage can be made worse by using some flattening out methods.

Mostly, people don’t notice they are damaged until we point it out.  Sometimes, it can only be seen in certain lights, but it will show when it’s up on the wall.

  • Finger Prints

You would be surprised how many lovely glossy newly printed photo’s come in with big finger prints over them.  Please make sure you handle them with care or with cotton gloves.

Again, normally what happens is, you can only see them in certain lights and that light is bound to be when you put it up on your wall, it will glare at you forever!  Personally, we won’t try to get any marks off as it could end up damaging your print further.  This goes back to the not knowing which inks and paper have been used.

  • General

It may sound obvious but whatever or however you decide to store your item, just handle and transport it with care.  It may save you money in the long run.

By the by, in writing this blog and it being the Eurovision Song Contest today, I now can’t get Bucks Fizzes song “the camera never lies” out of my head.  It’s going to be a long long day …

Next blog – How To: Guide on framing photography – Part 3

Note: This article is meant as a general guide and the opinions and procedures are my own.  For help on a specific item, talk to your local picture framer or seek further clarification from the Fine Art Trade Guild.


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