Framing Art Photography to Protect It

Why frame art photography?

It's important to frame art photography to ensure that you can continue to cherish it for a lifetime. The best way to protect and care for your art photography purchase is to have it matted and framed soon after it arrives. Sizes are rounded to the nearest unit (inch or cm). Please wait for the artwork to arrive before purchasing framing.

Your photograph arrives packaged with glassine, a translucent archival wrap. The tube, outer carton, and other packaging are intended only for transport and not long-term storage. It is recommended that you frame your newly acquired art photography or transfer it into appropriate archival storage within a few weeks.

Protect your artwork

Photographs are sold unframed to give you control of presentation and greatly reduce the cost of packaging, shipping, and insurance.

Don't be intimidated by the process involved to frame art photography. You're not the first customer to walk into a frame store and admit you have no clue what you want. You also won't be the first customer wanting to frame art photography nudes. Frame shops have seen it all before!

The frame has two purposes: to protect the art photography and to present it well. The mat is an integral part of both functions.

Frame art photography

When your artwork arrives, Aaron Knight recommends taking the unopened tube to a professional framer. Your local frame shop will be able to help you choose a mat and frame that suit your personal style.

A custom made frame is required for almost every art photograph available on this site. Because you'll want the signature in the margin of the artwork displayed as part of the presentation, custom framing is the perfect choice. Your professional framer will need the physical artwork in their shop to take precise measurements and confirm the visual suitability of the mat and frame with you.

Because the photographs are shipped rolled in a tube, your framer must flatten them prior to matting and framing. The framer will gradually unroll the photograph(s), with the glassine (translucent paper they are packed in) remaining on top. Flat, smooth weights are placed on the glassine as the photograph is unrolled to keep it flat. Please don't attempt to flatten the artwork yourself unless you have expertise in this process.

Suggestions to frame art photography

In addition to enhancing the presentation, the frame and glass will seal the artwork from possible contamination. The style of mat and frame are a personal choice and there are many options. Here is a basic suggestion to frame art photography:

  • Frame: 1 inch or wider black matte/satin wood (MDF on a budget)
  • Mat: 8-ply white museum board
  • Backing: acid-free foam board or equivalent
  • Glazing with 99% UV protection (photography up to 36 inches: glass; over 36 inches: acrylic)
  • Two D-rings and bumpers on the back allow for level hanging with two wall-hooks. A wire is neither recommended nor necessary.

Choosing a local framer

Choosing a shop to frame your art photography is a personal decision, and it can be tough to know where to start. Your primary concern is the safety of your artwork. And you also want excellent crafting for a beautiful presentation.

Choose a frame shop that uses materials that are archival, beautiful, and acid-free for the protection and enjoyment of the artwork. It is important not to skimp on protecting the artwork. Use the list above to start the conversation with your framer, who will also provide expert consultation and specific advice.

If you're looking for a framer for the first time, here are some recommendations:

  • Aaron Knight prefers owner-operated shops instead of chains, for less employee turnover and greater accountability.
  • Expect to pay for, and receive, quality. Don't be shy about asking for a quote (see specifications above as a starting point.)
  • The shop should be organized, well maintained, and visually pleasing.
  • Look for museums, galleries, and other prominent clients on the frame shop's client list.

Once you've selected your frame provider, take the tube with the artwork into their shop. All you need to say is, "I've just purchased this photograph and I want to get it framed." Hand them the tube and they should guide you through the steps of selecting a mat, frame, and any other decisions. They should give you a copy of the work order that includes a firm price and an estimate of when the work will be ready to pick up.

Display environment

For works on paper such as Aaron Knight's limited edition archival photography, a climate-controlled environment is a must. Unheated or unairconditioned locations can damage artwork or allow gaps in the framing which may allow insects or contaminants to harm the artwork.

For reference, museums typically maintain a temperature of 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit/20-22 Centigrade and a relative humidity of 45-55%. Excessive humidity (70% and above) can support growth of harmful mold and bacteria. However, museum-like conditions are not required. Typical household HVAC systems are adequate to keep artwork at a stable temperature and humidity.

Collectors are warned that direct sunlight is harmful to artworks, even archival ones produced at Aaron Knight's studio. Always hang your artworks away from direct sunlight. An additional defense against sunlight is to install UV (ultraviolet light) blocking window film rated at 99%. Almost all LED lights are safe for artwork, but avoid continual, close fluorescent or halogen bulbs because these can emit damaging UV light.

Your home may not meet these exacting standards, and that’s okay. The more consistent the environment, the better. Avoid direct light, direct heat sources, and HVAC vents.

If you do not frame art photography right away, make sure it only comes in contact with archival materials.

Framing alternatives

Sometimes you can't or don't want to frame art photography immediately. In these cases, it can be stored unframed in archival storage. There are several storage alternatives to framing art photography. These are explained below. Archival storage can be portfolio boxes, archival tubes, or drawers.

Note that the standard shipping tube used by Aaron Knight is not an archival tube. Your art arrives protected by archival glassine. This translucent paper that directly contacts the artwork during shipping is intended to isolate it from the shipping tube for a few days or even a couple of weeks. The shipping tube is not intended for long-term storage. If weeks turn to months, it's time to transfer it to archival storage.

An archival portfolio box is a good start. Additionally, place each photograph in an archival sleeve, archival envelope, or interleave with glassine. The strategy is to seal out contaminants (such as acids from wood, cardboard, paper, dust, and dirt) with a series of tight-fitting, neutral barriers. Stored flat, the photographs can be viewed from time to time.

An archival drawer system (flat files) can store the sleeved photographs with or without the use of a portfolio box. While an archival flat file system requires adequate space and budget, it is a good option for a large, serious collection that cannot be framed. Flat storage is used by many museums for items which are too numerous to be displayed.

For space-saving archival storage, archival tubes can be used to store rolled photographs. If you prefer, you may request that the artist ship photographs in an archival box or tube. Please note there is a labor charge included in the cost of substituting long-term storage for standard shipping materials.

Archival art storage resources:

Why doesn’t Aaron Knight sell pre-framed art?

The art of Aaron Knight is not available pre-framed or ready to hang. This is because:

  • Art collectors often want a presentation that is personal to them and their space.
  • Framing art photography is a distinct specialty. The service of your professional framer, as well as your dialog with them, is a valuable step in this process.
  • Shipping framed work uses acrylic, rather than glass. Many art collectors prefer to have this replaced with quality picture glass, necessitating a trip to a local framer.
  • The shipping cost of unframed work is significantly lower.
  • The 100% money-back guarantee is feasible based on the cost of unframed art. Custom framing generally cannot be returned.

Please note, Aaron Knight's archival photographs are from limited editions. Photographs that are damaged in shipment will be replaced. Photographs that are damaged or lost after intact delivery cannot be replaced with an exact duplicate. Precedence provides that the option would be to purchase from remaining stock, if such is available. Please frame art photography or properly store your artwork to prevent damage and consider if your insurance will cover loss.

More about glazing

When you frame art photography, glazing is the glass or acrylic transparent barrier that protects the photograph. UV protection is a must. If you have control over your lighting options and art placement, standard UV glass will suffice. You may optionally ask your frame shop to upgrade to a higher grade or different type of glazing.

If a glare or reflection problem cannot be satisfied by adapting the lighting or display location, you may opt for non-glare or anti-reflective glass. These types of glass are either etched or coated to compensate for lighting problems. If you choose one of these, Aaron Knight recommends the anti-reflective glass which uses a thin film to control reflections with less than 1% reduction in light transmission.

Frame art photography to protect it | Art of Aaron Knight

If, after you frame art photography, it's going to be transported, or if there is other risk of glass breakage, you may opt for acrylic picture glazing. Be sure to choose acrylic glazing with anti-static properties to minimize the attraction of dust. Acrylic scratches more easily than glass, so take care to clean it in accordance with manufacturer's instructions available from your frame shop.