Most of have vast digital archives of photos these days – most of which never see the light of day outside our phones. Now that we have a load of empty walls in the new house, I figured that I’d learn how to print, mount and frame my photos. Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to properly frame your own photos.
Now just to caveat, I’m into photography in a big way, so there are definitely ways of doing this that are less hassle, but that’s not what you came here for! (If you want someone to do all the hard work for you, I’ve had great results with Canvas Works in Kinsale, and Whitewall in Germany for really high-end stuff.)
- Digital Camera – I shoot with a Canon 6D which is much more expensive and complicated than most people need, but is an excellent full-frame DSLR. I use Adobe Lightroom to tinker with the results.
- Photo Printer – I use a Canon Pixma Pro 100s which gives me lab-quality prints, but is an absolute beast weighing 20kg and about 70cm long
- Photo Paper – I use the Canon Pro Luster photo paper which is their hybrid between gloss and matte
- Picture Frame – you can buy these from a lot of places (including Ikea), and you certainly get what you pay for. Good sites are Strand Framing (based in Ireland), or Trade Picture Frames (based in UK).
- Picture Mount (this is the rectangle with a “window” cut out of it. The Americans call these “mats”) – same place you get your frames. The “outside” length needs to be the same size as the glass on the frame.
- Picture Backing Card – same place you get your frames. This needs to be the same size as the glass on the frame.
- Sticky tape – proper photo conservationists would have you use acid-free tape which you should use if your print is old/valuable or you’re selling the image, but normal sticky tape will work just as well if your image is replaceable
(1) Find your image
(2) Figure out your dimensions
This is important to get right up front before you order your paper, frame, mount and backing card.
- The frame will probably be listed primarily in inches, and the size quoted is the size of the glass. The actual wooden/plastic/metal frame is an additional thickness.
- If you want to add a mount (you should – they look great!), subtract this from the frame size
- The opening (or the “aperture”) of the mount is the size of the image you are going to use
- For example – I’m using a panoramic frame which is 20 inches by 10 inches. This is the size of the glass – there is also a 1 inch frame on the outside of the glass. I also want a 2 inch white mount all the way around. This gives me an image size of 16 inches by 6 inches to work with.
Top tip: don’t be mean when picking a mount width. I wouldn’t really use one less than 2 inches wide.
(3) Print the image
This one was from an early morning Autumn sunrise in Clontarf Strand in Dublin with the Poolbeg towers in the background.
(4) Create a hinge between the mount and the backing card
- Place the mount face down (so you are looking at the “bad side” of the mount)
- Place the backing card face up (so you are looking at the “good side” of the card)
- Line them up and then tape the edge where they meet – this is the inside of your hinge
(5) Line up your image
Top tip: take care not to leave finger prints!
- Place your image on the backing card. The hinge should always be above the top of the image.
- Fold your hinge closed
- You’re trying to align the photo perfectly within the opening of the mount window so there is only the image visible in the opening of the mount
- Rest a clean dry cloth on top of the image, and then put a book on top of it to weigh it down.
- Lift the mount by opening the hinge you have just made. The image shouldn’t move at all – if it does, you’ll need to close the hinge again and move it until it lines up.
(6) Secure your image to the backing card
There are a lot of ways to do this, but the way I’m going to show you is the simplest. It also means you can replace the image very easily without damaging the front of the image.
- Cut two lengths of sticky tape, about 2 inches long each
- Create a T-shape with the sticky tape where the two sticky sides are touching. You should be left with a double-sided sticky shape, with three sticky tabs
- Slide this T-shape behind one of the corners, so that the “top of the T” attaches to the backing card, and the “bottom of the T” attaches to the back of the image.
- Repeat steps 1-3 for the remaining three corners of the image.
Top tip: The image should never be secured to the mount.
(7) Finishing touches
- Close the mount and remove the cloth and book
- Sign the bottom corner of the mount with pencil if you want to feel like a pro (I definitely do this!)
- Give the image and the glass a good wipe with the cloth to get any dust or fingerprints off
- Turn the frame upside down, put the glass in first, followed by the hinged image. Add the MDF backing that comes with most frames if you want to use the hooks or stand built in.
Top tip: read my guide on how to hang pictures without drilling holes.
That’s it – you’ve got a lovely professional looking image!