How Not To Ruin Your Picture By Improper Framing

By Vadim Makarov for his Photo Pages

These notes pertain to photographic prints that you want to keep on your walls to last for many years.

Fingerprints warning  First, don't touch the front side of prints by your fingers. Even if fingerprints are not visible immediately, they can 'develop' into a distraction with time.

You don't need to touch the front to handle the prints. Hold them by backside and edges.

Indeed, for a long-term display photographs should be framed. You go to a camera shop or just a store that stocks frames among other commodities, pick one, insert the picture and voila. It must be OK because everybody does this?

Unfortunately not. Two things exactly are wrong with this way of framing.

A simple solution is to go to a professional framing shop, ask for museum-quality framing and consider what they can do. You should be careful in choosing, because not all techniques they may offer are truly archival and reversible.

If you are inclined to do it yourself, you can buy all the materials from mail-order suppliers. Be aware that whether you do it yourself or have it done in a shop, archival framing can cost several times more than the print itself.

Further Reading

Vadim Makarov

Reader's Comments

I got to your page through, it's very good and I would like to offer you a suggestion. Where you show the linen hinges coming over the front og the image, try attaching the tape to the back of the image with about an inch of tape sticking over the top. Then apply your linen tape over that to hold it to the backboard. It only takes a minute extra and doesn't require you to put anything on the front of the image.

-- Jeff C Measamer (, February 25, 2000
This is the technique I saw used at the Art Institute of Chicago photo collection. Archival Photo Corners.

We were taught to use no tape at all on the actual photo, but to use mylar archival "photo corners", which are 1 centimeter corners which stick to the matte, and the photo slides into a slot in them to keep it aligned, so that the image can be removed easily.

Light Impressions also has these corners.

-- Jeff Callen (, May 29, 2001

Ok, your article was good for the most part. The one thing that I think you said incorrectly was "museum standards". About ninety-five percent of framers do not do "museum standards". They do what is called conservation standards. The difference might seem small in literary terms. I work in the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and a conservation frame shop. They are two completely different animals. At the Corcoran they use hinges that take several hours to dry, a frame shop would not be profitable framing only seven or eight pieces a day. Conservation is most likely the best framing an ordinary person would need. Yes there are occasions that need museum framing, but most times not. It is also much more costly than conservation standards.

-- Dns Ynko (, January 30, 2003
Add a comment

Related Links

Add a link