DPP Home Business The Keys To Proper Print Display

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Keys To Proper Print Display

There's an art and a science to framing photographs. Steve Gorman is a professional photographer who also runs one of the most respected framing shops anywhere.


Gorman prefers to use simple materials when he's framing up a job. “A few years ago, there was a trend to use all sorts of elaborate frames and mats and inner frames and inner mats,” he says. “It all just looked terrible. Fortunately, that era is mostly over, but every once in a while we still get someone who wants that kind of a treatment. Usually, we try to steer them to something a little simpler.”

Of course, when it's done best, you hardly even notice that the frame is there. When it's not done well, the frame draws attention to itself, detracting from the overall impact of the artwork. Plain rails and mats will help to emphasize the work inside.

Sensitivity to the image is natural for Gorman. His career as a professional photographer gives him a perspective that most people in the framing business don't have. There's a saying that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Many framers have a tendency to get overly creative with a frame. Gorman prefers to be more restrained. He approaches the job from the other side, as though the image is the hammer and the frame is the nail.


In any creative field, there's always something that's “hot” and “in.” Says Gorman, “These days everyone wants heavy eight-ply mats. We used to do these only on the big images that needed extra support, but now everyone wants that feeling of depth. Basic black rails never go out of style, and we also get a lot of requests for natural wood. Those are my favorites.”

Every once in a while, Gorman gets a request to do something specific and unusual. For these requests, he maintains an inventory of out-of-production frame rails that have been collected from any variety of sources. Deep in his warehouse are long strips of rare materials, some of which were nearly relegated to a trash bin. That cache gives Gorman the ability to come up with something unusual if he gets the request.

Digital Concerns

As we've said, digital prints require special handling with regard to framing, and you can't always trust your framer to be as knowledgeable as Gorman on these issues. Among the more common problems that arise with a digital print in a frame is a ghosting phenomenon on the glass called gas-ghosting. This happens when the ink and paper don't completely cure before the print is framed. Some paper-ink combinations are more susceptible than others because of the rate at which curing occurs. Typically, glossy papers need more curing time than a matte or watercolor-type paper. It's interesting to note that the ghosting can happen with any manufacturer's ink-paper combination; it's not limited to third-party ink makers.

To prevent ghosting from being a problem, Epson has general guidelines that should work regardless of the printer and ink you use. Allow your print to rest for about 15 minutes after it comes out of the printer. Don't let anything sit on top of it in this period (meaning you should remove it from the printer tray if more prints are coming out). After this initial rest, place a sheet of plain paper (not photo paper) on top of the print for 24 hours. The plain paper will act like a sponge, absorbing gases and helping to accelerate any out-gassing. After 24 hours, if the sheet of plain paper is wavy, repeat the process for another 24 hours with a new sheet of plain paper.

If you have a framed print that has exhibited gas-ghosting, the fix is relatively simple. Take the print out of the frame and remove the glass. Clean the glass with a good household solvent to remove all of the residue. While you're doing that, place a clean sheet of plain paper on top of the print and allow it to absorb anymore out-gassing for 24 hours. After the 24 hours, reframe the print and you should be fine.

Art And Science

The art of framing an image is subtle. When it's good, you never really notice it, but when it's bad, your whole presentation suffers. Anyone can put a photograph into a frame using archival materials and the right glass, but making that framing treatment a natural extension of the image requires a special kind of talent. People like Steve Gorman are exceptional.

See more of Steve Gorman's work and his framing shop at gormanframing.com.



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