Most photos today are taken in digital format, whether it's with a DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera or a cellphone. One of the great things about digital photos is they allow for a lot of flexibility... they can easily be shared on social media, emailed to friends and family, placed on an endless variety of items such as mugs and calendars for gifts or personal use, or printed for display in your home or office. However, more often than not, great digital images stay on a phone or computer, buried among a multitude of... well, let's admit it... not so great photos and random screen shots. Because of this, they miss receiving the appreciation they deserve.
I love photos and I love to see them displayed! So I encourage you to take some time to find your favorites and display them! You took the time to take them (or have them taken) so why not show them off? There are an endless number of ways to showcase pictures these days... framed prints, albums, canvases, metal, aluminum, wood, acrylic, and a host of other non-conventional mediums. I'm highlighting a few of my favorites (and most popular) in this blog and give you some tips for each.
I start with framed prints because they have been the standard for years and remain very popular... and I have many in my home. There are several benefits to framed prints. First, they provide flexibility for change. Once you find a frame you love, you can switch the photos periodically. This makes frames perfect for annual family portraits, kids school photos, and vacation photos in addition to those you may want to showcase a bit longer. A frame can also add a personal touch to a photo since it can be chosen to match the mood of the room or the subject of your photo.
Printing and Framing Tips:
Prints - I HIGHLY recommend having a professional lab print your photos, whether it's online or at a local print shop. I know it is tempting to go to Walmart, Costco, or the local drug store and have your prints instantly, but these businesses don't specialize in photo printing and the quality will suffer. Color change is the biggest issue. Take a look at these examples that show the difference in prints from different companies.
You're probably thinking that a professional lab will be too expensive, right? Wrong! I use (and recommend) Nations Photo Lab for most of my printing. They typically sell an 8X10 print for $1.90 while Walmart charges $2.84. Seriously!! In addition, shipping is very inexpensive and many online labs frequently have deals of up to 50% off. If you are ordering a large print, I recommend asking the lab to ship it flat to avoid bends and creases. And, if you are printing photos taken by a professional photographer choose "do not color correct" when ordering prints. Good photographers take great care to ensure your photos are print ready with no additional adjustments.
Matting - While not imperative, I recommend using a mat between your frame and your print. Not only does this give your photo a more finished look, it also helps protect the photo because it is not touching the glass. Matting can be found online or at local craft stores.
Glass - You can purchase glass locally and many online companies will actually ship glass flat, although most won't ship glass within a frame (see the combinations section below).
Backing Board - This should be used to keep a photo from sagging and slipping in the frame. Backing board also helsp protect your photo.
Frames - While I have at times purchased frames online, I prefer to purchase them in stores in order to carefully inspect the condition, color, and quality. In addition, with many types of stores selling frames, I like being able to peruse a large selection. My favorite stores to hunt for frames are Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Home Goods... all have great sales or coupons on standard size frames.
Combinations - For ease, consider purchasing your frame with glass, matting, and backing already included. These can be found anywhere... at online specialty stores or retailers like Amazon as well as local department stores, home decor stores, craft stores and framing shops. NOTE: When purchasing large size combinations online you will likely receive plexiglass due to the potential for breakage during shipment. Finally, If you need acid-free or archival quality products for more expensive or sentimental prints, I recommend you either use a framing shop or purchase the above items separately, ensuring they meet your specific needs.
WHEW.... that's a lot to think about, especially if you are buying everything separately. Which is why the following display options may be beneficial choices.
Canvas prints are very popular these days and I'm often asked for recommendations on companies to use (keep reading for my favorite)! They are simple, clean, and give your photos a gallery feel. And they are particularly good for photos like landscapes or professional family photos that you want to keep on your wall for a long time. There are several different wrap options for canvases. I recommend a gallery wrap when possible. This is where the original image actually wraps onto the sides. However, this is not appropriate for all images because an important part of the image may fall on the wrapped edge. In this case I recommend a mirror wrap, where the image on the wrapped sides is a mirror image of the wrap on the front. I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical of wrapping in this manner at first but I have ordered many canvases like this and realized you really don't notice it's a mirror unless you look closely. Other options may include black, white or colored wrap borders, as well as color blurs.
A lot of online companies will print canvases in sizes anywhere from 8X10 to 40X60 and thicknesses of .75 to 1.5 inches. While size is a matter of taste and quite frankly wall space, I recommend thicker wraps for prints 16X20 and larger. The downsize to canvases? They can get scratched relatively easily. Some companies offer protective coating but scratches can't be completely avoided if canvases are mishandled so be careful with them and inspect them thoroughly when you receive them, especially on the edges. If you find any damage, contact the company... most will ship a reprint immediately at no charge if you send a photo of the damage. Finally, many canvas companies occasionally run discounts or have Groupons available, making them relatively inexpensive if you time your order right. One of these companies is Canvas on Demand, which I highly recommend due to their quality and great customer service!
Prints on metal is a stylish modern way to display photos and they are popular with younger generations. They have a glossy finish that brings out rich colors in an image and add a little variety in your home. They are ideal for those seeking modern or minimalist design. These types of prints are lightweight and easy to store and transport. In addition, they are water resistant. Finally, they can be hung like a canvas on purchased with a stand for displaying on a table or shelf.
An example of a metal print with stand, displayed on an end table.
Many of the same companies that process prints or canvases also do metal printing. I recommend MPIX for metal prints... they also do a great job on traditional prints.
I hope these recommends are helpful and I encourage you to take a few minutes and give your special photos the attention they deserve. If you have question about how to best put your photos on display, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'd be more than happy to help you out!
Please feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear about your personal favorites!!