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Borders: Gilt & Ornate to simple or. none at all! The evolution of the frame!

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
We have all sorts of habits in photography for creating a frame for the already impressive photograph.

Having said that, and that your work is worthy of proper curation, think about the whole bistro of frames.

In the olden day’s of court painters and artists retained by wealthy patrons, the ego of the rich and powerful were displayed in thick gilded flamboyant frames.

Gradually we have learned that how the image you have made so wonderfully is presented to the public is of paramount importance.

In commercial galleries where bespoke oil paintings are resold in their original vintage ornate gold frames, the pictures, themselves are isolated and ordered so the change in framing does not disturb visitors.

There is, whenever possible, (and space is precious and costly), generous breathing space around each picture. But why? It’s because each work of art is a living breathing creature and needs freedoms to extend its influence and sing to the neighborhood. Clustering the pictures, unless you have a dozen Van Gogh originals, will decrease the chances of a sale.

So one must respect art and scrape up space for the work.

Now here is where we have learned to do better in curating art. We’ve moved away from frames that imprison and restrict the works. Frameless presentations are more common.

Now back to the canvas or the photographic composition. Having done so well in recruiting hard to please fellow photographers, peers who love you and adore your creative work and technical prowess, consider when it might be useful to your esthetics to purposely add empty space around the periphery.

I promise you that the well established academic aphorism
of respected instructors "to frame close and crop closer"
is, (likely as not), a tragic and destructive design error.

So let your work breathe and sing to the surrounding territory you allow it to influence!

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Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Here, no border works best, as we are packed richly to the edge.

Wolfgang has no border here as part of the esthetic of the design is that it is packed with matter, all the way to the edges.


another one ...

But then notice how he uses no border at all. this works athe the paicure frame has a motif of being packed with stuff. Leaving space near the edges would ruin the design and feeling of being so crowded. But then what happens at the edge. We have just white wall of the exhibition hall! That allows the picture to have power as sovereign over all the neighboring white space and it is vibrant and alive.


Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
A well-crafted thin black frame and generous white Matt!

Antonio Correia has developed a thin black frame and large white Matt combination that works absolutely perfectly in both marking off the zone of the picture in its larger wall space and also allowing plenty of room to beathe.

The content of hte picture extends all the way to the edge of the print, but some areasa are dark and some are very soft and light. So a white Matt unifies the borders and gently provides a zone of local rerritory for the impressive photograph to once again dominate the gallery wall.

Well done and a great consistent trade mark of your oevres.


Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Internalizing the frame!

Maggie Terlecki: Untitled

This is. an effective but highly unusual technique works well here, but I would warn others that it also requires on the part of the photographer an especially advanced appreciation of composition, as in other hands, this form of invasion to the apparent terrirory of the photograph itself, could be risky.

We end up with a fairly uniform black border at the edge of the frame and part of the picture itslef forms the Matt and protects the santitity of the main subject in the center.

Unless one has a lot of experience and insight, this may be one of the hardest styles to pull off as seemlessly as Maggie does here.


Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
No border but empty white space in one area.

Here, inm a sgot from an outdoor art show in sunny, high noon, Venice Californa, I have no border, and look at the problem in the sun-bleached upper right hand corner.

Asher Kelman: Mother and Daughter

5D 50 1.2L f1.6 1/200 sec ISO 1600
Avaiiable dim light, No noise reduction

This is not presented optimally as the bleached upper right corner lets the image down and prts of the composition gets lost in the surounding white space of a gallery wall.

It would have been betteer to have burnt that area in, added sky or else use a very light grey matt and a thin frame. This needs attention as otherwise the emotion of the image is let down by its delivery to the public.


Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Framing and white space on steroids.

Antonio Correia has really taken out all the stops here. It required first of all a fabulopus idea for a photograph, then it was made superbly and from nowhere we have it being broken up and reasembled in a fabulous and famlboyant fashion, exploiting the value of white space and matting.

This is simply top of its class.

I have learned a lot from this picture and it continues to enthrall me.


Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Gentle white Border

This is the heart of one of the best wine regions in the world; the town center and the monolithic church of Saint-Émilion. It is also a World Heritage Site.

Cem Usakligil: Roof tiles, Saint-Émilion, France

Thanks for looking.


Here, Cem has separated his image from the light blue of the b.g. Nicolas claris gave us for this wonderful OPF forum design. We do have an alternative "Look" one can choose, but that is not on a per image b.g. basis.

so for this forum, Cem chose here to use just a white zone. His actual printed prints I beleive get white matts.

This white separaton zone is not really bold enough to be a classical matt but it does do the job of isolating a soft image on the pastel b.g.