Final things to consider when finishing a photograph for exhibition
After you have spent all that time getting your photograph taken, edited and printed, there are still a few things to consider as you finalize your print for show or exhibition. If you are matting and framing you need to think about the matt and frame color and size. One of the key considerations should be the color of the frame and matt. You do not want a mat or frame color that creates a distraction to the image. If you use a color matt or frame, you need to make sure that it doesn’t distract or shift the perception of color in the image. Even the slightest color cast can affect our perception of the colors. You also need to consider the size of the matt. While there is no standard rule for the matt, the matt should support the image and make sense given the weight and size of the frame and matt. You also want to weight the bottom of the mat a little more than the top to overcome the illusion of the image being centered but feeling low in the frame. Although there is no hard and fast rule, you can use the chart below as a starting point for your mat size.
|Frame Size||Border Size|
|16-24″||1 3/4 – 2″|
|36-48″||2 1/2 – 3 1/2|
You also need to think about your signature and any other production notes that you want to include. You can sign either the front or the back of a print. If you sign the front it is known as en verso. If you sign the back, it is called en recto. Either way is fine, but many photographers sign the front. If you sign the front, I encourage my students to sign on the white part of the paper rather than within the image. That allows the image to remain free of distraction and the matt can then hide or reveal the signature as requested by the collector.
Other things to consider including with the print information include the number of the print or edition number. You can also include on the back of the mat or frame backing any details on what was used to create the print such as paper, ink, printer and any other details that would make it easier for a curator to know how to store and treat the print.
Finally, you want to make sure that your signature last so use a pigment pen to sign your images. I use Pigma Micro pens. When signing on a matte surface, I use a pencil or the pen. On glossy surfaces, you have to use a pen. The pencil can damage the glossy surface and often times won’t hold the signature.
No matter what you ultimately select to finish your print, just make sure that you give as much detail to these last steps as you have to the entire process.