Matting Decisions Made Easy


You can work with your framer and let them make decisions for you or you can use the tool above to get an idea how it will look and then speak with some intelligence to the framer about how you’d like it to look.  Of course, you can always ask for 3 inches around the photo and, maybe an extra inch at the bottom and a frame around that and you’ll pay for all those services and the custom frame.  I enjoy fitting the image in a ready-made frame and saving the money.  It’s another element for creating your look, either as photographer or interior designer.

Go extreme.  So how does a 10×10 photograph look in a 16×20 frame?  This is a situation that, when cut, brings back memories of the old Polaroids.  It has a cool gallery look that shows in the illustration.  Once matting decisions are made and I get a feel for how it will look from my illustration I can be comfortable communicating to the framer.  The conversation could be short and sweet.  ” I need a 16×20 mat cut, it’s very top-heavy with 6 inches at the bottom. My 10 inch photo has a half-inch border for the signature making the opening 11 inches square.  Framers are usually good with numbers, let them do the figuring based on your request.

matting decisions

Why do some, including me, make the space on a mat a bit more at the bottom?  I went looking and thought I’d find some deep thinking to explain some historic rule.  But no, nothing found so let’s think it through.  If a picture frame was hung above the viewer , the lower part of the mat would seem larger because it’s closer to the viewer.  So the opposite is true.  If it is lower, then the lower mat area is larger to make up for the fact that it is farther from the viewer and then it may seem equal even though it is physically different.  WOW it’s getting deep in here.  So ideally if the middle of the photo is at eye level of the viewer then the mat should be equal on top and bottom.  Yes.  Will I change my calculating? Not any time soon.  Should you make your mat equal top and bottom?  Totally up to you.  No hard and fast rule.  I also like it off-balance because it just gives weight to the base.


©Gary Culley, 2014

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