best way to mount frame-free photos for gallery exhibition

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by and, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. and


    Hi all, I'm in the process of preparing my first photo exhibition.
    I would like to go frame-free, as the cost of framing 16 12 by 18 images might come close $1000, which is something I would rather avoid (I'm also partly driven by minimalist aesthetics, as my images are abstract, but cost is the main issue).
    Are there any good options/techniques that would allow me to save money while not compromising on presentation?
    I know people do it (Wolfgang Tillmans, for example), but I have no idea how.
    All suggestions will be appreciated!

  2. I don't get where 16 frames for 12X18 images could cost $1000!
    When I had an exhibition of my photos, I needed 22 images each 10X15. I bought pre-cut mats and backing boards from for about $7 per pair. I bought mimimalist black metal frames with glass at Michael's Art Supplies for $12 each, on sale from $18 each. With the cost of printing them myself (about $7 per print), it cost me less than $30 per print.
    All materials were archival, and mounting was reversible using archival corners and linen tape.

    A little research will find the resources you need. Using pre-cut mats makes mounting a cinch, no cutting skill is needed.

  3. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    Echoing Charles, and I buy my frames of all sort at Michaels as well.
  4. You could use pre-streched artists canvas in the next larger size & spray-mount adhesive.
  5. How about this:

    Supriyo likes this.
  6. Gatorfoam board photo mounting -- I like it.

    Is it available in Canada?
  7. You still have to hang them. My experience with gatorfoam mounting was that it wasn't durable. The least knock dented or bent the foam board.
  8. I've gone to all metal. No frame, and they sell better than matted prints. Look better, too. I use Adoramapix.
    tholte likes this.
  9. Like Marc says, metal prints are getting very popular for many reasons. They are light, easy to hang and with the mount on the back, stand out from the wall to give some dimensionality. They are good for many types of images, especially colorful landscapes, city scenes etc. If someone happens to slobber on the print, just wipe off with a damp cloth and you are back in business. I order mine from Nations Lab but there are many labs (Mpix, Adorama, WHCC, Whitewall, Aluminize etc.) that do a good job. A 12x18 metal print with mount is currently $44.00 but they have numerous sales where they are often discounted 33% or more. Getting a good print, matt and frame for less than $44 is tough to do. Free shipping on orders over $49.
  10. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I'm sure metal prints have their benefits, both in ease of display and durability, but to me they fall into the decor category. Like something from the store that starts with an "I". Usable, durable, well designed, even attractive, but entirely disposable. They will never be worth as much as when they were purchased.
  11. Different photographers sell different prints to different people for different purposes. For me, I sell only at art shows, and nobody is interested in buying as a collector. Only as a gift, or to hang on the wall to enjoy. Metal sells much better than a matted print, and to sell framed prints is much too difficult, considering the logistical problems of transport without damage, setting up, breaking down, packing, etc. Metal is extremely easy to transport from show to show.
    tholte likes this.
  12. I think that metal prints look OK for colorful subjects (the more colorful the better), but the majority of prints that I display and sell in a local art association gallery are black and white, so I go along with Charles's approach. A big advantage for me of displaying matted prints in metal frames is that when a print does not sell or the art association changes the theme of an upcoming show, is that I can simply remove a print from it's frame and insert a new print, saving storage space and the cost and effort of new framing. I have standardized all of my displayed prints as either 11" x 14"" or 10" x 15" size mounted in 16" x 20" Nielson black metal frames. Besides, at the risk of being considered a retro-grouch, if it's good enough for Ansel, it's good enough for me.
  13. "but to me they fall into the decor category" that's because most photography that people buy is for decorative purposes. Why do you think a framed and matted (especially when some posters said to get their frames at Michels) will be worth as much as when they were purchased? Not trying to be argumentative but am not following you. Not many photo collectors out there but there are a lot of people looking for "décor" to enlighten and enhance their offices, living rooms etc. Go to the really good art fairs and you will notice more and more metal prints of all sizes but mostly really big. Rich people with big houses and big vacation homes have big walls they like to fill up with big images (paintings, photos etc.) You gotta keep your finger on the pulse and understand the new paradigm of displaying photos.
    gordonjb likes this.
  14. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Actually, I don't. Since I don't need to sell photos, what sells to your customers is irrelevant.
    Taste is taste and has nothing to do with money. I haven't seen metal photo prints at any gallery or art show over the last several years.
    Flea markets, street fairs, yes. Art, it is not.
    Glenn McCreery likes this.
  15. I can understand Marc's and tholte's argument, and if I were making prints to actually make money, I would probably follow their advise. Fortunately, photography is mostly a hobby, and I can now afford to be a purist and follow my own personal aesthetic vision.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  16. You have to get out more Sandy!
  17. Don't quite follow the "purist" thing relating to matts and frames (especially from Michels) but you should do what is best for you and not look back.
  18. What most appeals to me are full tonal-range black and white prints. I have a long background in darkroom work and feel that making my own prints is part of the process, so I spend money on quality ink jet paper, and make the best prints that I can. I do not use frames from Michael's (but might not object to using them).
  19. If you do your own printing you can easily ignore my suggestion to the original poster about metal prints. However, if you get in an experimental mood, you may want to scan one of your b&w negatives and have a metal print made to see how it holds up.
    Glenn McCreery likes this.
  20. I see the OP has not commented on this thread. I wonder if he's still reading?
    tholte and Sandy Vongries like this.

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