How best to give/present a photo as a gift? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I realize this isn't technically a large-format question but it's only been since I started shooting large-format (well, medium-format, using movements) that anyone's expressed interest in having any of my prints so it's kind of on topic (maybe).

Anyway, just giving them a naked print seems tacky but a framed one is beyond my budget for all but the most formal of gifts. Should I mount it and/or mat it myself or just give it to them as-is along with a few suggestions about how I think it should be matted and/or framed? What is the conventional wisdom in handling this type of situation?


Jeff Goggin Scottsdale, AZ

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, March 16, 2001


I usually give away fotos that are only matted. I figure if you just give someone a print, they won't get around to displaying it. If you mat it for them, you'll probably prevent your work being presented in a manner you wouldn't like. With a mat, all that has to be done is framing. Many people would rather pick out their own frame style anyway.

-- Bruce Schultz (, March 16, 2001.

I'd say it depends on the size of the print, the nature of the friendship, and the degree to which you can do prep work yourself.

If it were me (I have no framing/mat-cutting capabilities) I'd go to a you-frame-it kind of store and have a mat cut, along with a same-sized mounting board (i.e., in 16x20 if it's an 11x14 print). If it's a fiber-base print, you may have to dry mount it to get it to look decent; otherwise I'd corner tape it in position and let the recipient decide how/if to mount it more permanently. I'd present this lightly-mounted, matted photo as is.

Assuming you have these two pieces (mount and mat) in a standard size like 16x20 (11x14, 20x24, 20x30), the gift recipient could buy the metal Nielsen-type frames for about $25 at any art store (plus maybe $6 for the glass)--or if they're REALLY cheap they could buy a pre-framed 16x20 poster at Target and substitute your photo for the poster.

In other words, you want to invest enough so you don't look cheap and the photo doesn't look too bad, but not so much that the gift takes on more meaning than you wanted it to--or so that the recipient is uncomfortable rematting and framing it.


-- Simon (, March 16, 2001.

Jeff, ordinarily I present a nicely matted and framed print in just a simple silver aluminum frame, the Nielsens are nice and not very expensive, and tell the receipient that they won`t hurt my feelings if they reframe it to thier tastes. Curiously, the only ones that I`ve ever seen reframed have been gifts to my inlaws...

-- Steve Clark (, March 16, 2001.

I usually present the print matted and mounted, with an occasional framed print given to really close friends or family. I once gave unmounted prints to a few friends. One of the prints, a closeup of dogwood blossoms, was framed upside down by at least two of the people to whom I gave the prints. No more! One of the nicest ways to present prints unframed is to mount, mat and sign them, then place them in white boxes with tissue paper. It really looks impressive, but I have a problem finding the right size boxes. I really advise against giving just plain prints, even though you will have to spend a couple of bucks on matting.


-- Doug Paramore (, March 18, 2001.

Thanks for the input ... I'd pretty much come to the same conclusions myself -- I am looking around for a good, used mat cutter -- but it's always nice to have my decisions confirmed by independent opinions.

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, March 20, 2001.

If you're just going to be cutting a few window mats, a handheld mat cutter like the Dexter, and a good straight edge are about all you need. Plus another scrap board to cut on. You can usually get one of those for $20 or so.

-- DK Thompson (, March 20, 2001.

My matted print was displayed upside down, eventhough I left more room at the bottom of the mat than at the top. Strange no one noticed that the tree trunks got wider toward the top of the print! Shows how uncritical are viewers may be.

-- William Marderness (, March 20, 2001.

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