My first experience with printing and framing photos was a nightmare. After receiving my photo from the print lab, I went to a local boutique hoping to have it framed, only to find just how expensive that process truly is. So instead of a custom frame, I bought a standard frame kit. You can probably guess what happened next… certainly not the results I was hoping for. Once I resized the picture for the frame, the gorgeous photo I had shot just wasn’t the same; the true image I had captured was gone.
Does this sound familiar? If so here are few tips to make things easier for you.
Successfully Printing for Framing Photos
- Once I’ve decided which photo I want to frame, I consider the potential aspect ratio always keeping in mind that standard frames usually work with standard picture ratios such as 2:3, 4:5, and 5:7.
- I select the location on my wall where I plan to hang the picture. By doing this, I’m more able to assess the correct frame size.
- With aspect ratio and wall location information, I select a standard frame that includes a picture mat that suits my needs.
- Lets suppose that the dimensions of my selected frame and photos are:
- Internal size – 16 x 20 inches
- Picture opening size – 11 x 14 inches
To be safe, your picture must be a bit larger than the opening mat opening. I crop my picture to 11.5 x 14.5 inches.
- Using Lightroom, I create a custom aspect ratio in the crop tool of 11.5:14.5.
- Most print shop prints are based on 300 dot per inch (dpi). This means that the resulting .jpg must 3450 x 4350 pixels. I export the picture to these pixel dimensions in Lightroom while allowing for enlargement if needed.
- If I send this picture to print, I’ll have to mount it on the back of the picture mat with adhesive tape which doesn’t allow for much flexibility in the future. Should I make a mistake while mounting my print to the matt, I’m screwed. To make matters worse, prints on paper have a tendency to enlarge or shrink a little depending on the humidity level.
So, in order to play it safe, consider the following two options:
- Option #1 – Using Photoshop, I add a white picture mat to reach 4800 x 6000 pixels. The resulting file prints at 16 x 20 inches instead of 11.5 x 14.5 inches.
- Option #2 – I give instruction to my local photo lab to center the photo on a 16 x 20 inch piece of paper when they print it.
Should you work with a local photo lab, chances are that you’ll pay only for an 11.5 x 14.5 print job. In both cases, I only have to open the back of the frame and inserted the properly-sized paper with the picture on it; everything is perfect. No tape, adhesive, or cutting. Furthermore, if I decide to replace this picture with another photo in the future, I simply remove the previous picture, roll it, and store it in a picture tube… then insert the new one in its place.
By following these simple steps, I am able to hang my gorgeous picture on my wall quickly and at a reasonable cost.
Feel free to share your own horror stories and tricks learned on framing photos.