HANGING AND FRAMING
How Photography Should Be Presented
How Photography Should Be Presented
A beautiful photograph can transform a room. Whether it’s the commanding presence of an austere art print or the simple coziness of a cherished family photo, a well-considered photograph has the potential to turn a blank wall into something much more.
But designing one’s home with photography goes far beyond choosing beautiful photographs. Equally important is the way those photographs are presented—how they’re framed, and how they’re arranged in a space. Indeed, deciding how you want to present your photographs can be a creative endeavor unto itself. Here are some tips to get you started.
The frame your photograph sits in will depend on the photograph itself, and on the decor of the room you plan to hang it in. Black-and-white photography looks excellent in metallic frames—especially black, white, and silver ones—which tend to complement the gray tones in the images. Of course, much depends on the room you intend to show the piece in, but generally speaking, darker frames convey a more austere energy—perfect for fine art prints—where lighter frames offer a more casual look. The frame we recommend for our Special Edition photographs, for example, is a premium welded frame, made exclusively for our gallery in Ansel’s own Zone V gray.
Of course, there are a wide variety of frame choices out there beyond the simple blacks, whites, and grays. But when you’re hanging a gorgeous landscape like an original Ansel Adams print, you can never go wrong with something simple. Sometimes the classics are classics for a reason.
Your next decision is the glaze—that is, the transparent surface that protects your photograph from physical damage and sunlight. Acrylic glaze tends to be more durable than glass—it’s strong, shatter-resistant, and withstands abrasions.
If you’re looking to keep your photograph in good shape, be sure that your glaze is UV-protective. This will help ensure that your photograph stays in perfect condition for years to come. The Ansel Adams Gallery offers two types of acrylic glaze: Standard Acrylic, which blocks 66 percent of UV rays, and Museum Acrylic, which blocks 99 percent. It’s important to consider both the art itself and its location in your home when choosing a glaze. While a fine art print might benefit from a museum-quality glaze, a casual family photo might not. Still, if you’re planning to hang something in a particularly sunny corner, more protection can never hurt.
Most photographs—and particularly black-and-white ones—look better matted. The negative space around the image should serve to emphasize the image itself. So while it can be tempting to use colorful mats, photography shines when you keep things simple—a nice white or off-white will usually serve you just fine.
Arranging a collection of photography in a room is an art form unto itself. Of course, the geometric interplay between your photographs can define a space or a wall, but you should also consider the narrative interplay between your images. The way you present your photographs—and how those photographs play off one another—can tell a story about your interests, identity, and experiences.
A larger photograph can sometimes anchor an entire wall on its own, but often you’ll find yourself hanging multiple pieces together. The best advice here is to embrace some irregularity. The best gallery walls aren’t lined up with grid-like precision—they tend to flow more organically from one piece to another. Trying to line up each piece perfectly is a surefire way to end up with a stuffy-looking room (and give yourself a massive headache in the process). Do make sure, however, that all your photographs are level. Nothing is more frustrating than a gallery wall with a single picture askew.
If you do find yourself hanging on a mostly blank wall, experts recommend hanging your art so that the center is 57 inches from the floor. This is known as “gallery height.” And of course, it also never hurts to consider how your space is actually used in day-to-day life. Looking to hang a photograph above your nightstand? Leave room so that a stray glass of water won’t obscure the image.
When it comes to framing and hanging your favorite photographs—whether it’s a beautiful Ansel Adams print or a beloved vacation snapshot—the best advice is to always trust your gut. For every “rule” above, there are dozens of exceptions, so go with what you think looks good. After all, it’s your home; if it puts a smile on your face to look at it every day, you’re probably doing something right.
The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit. – Ansel Adams
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Last Updated on July 19, 2022