Special Treatment for Special Photos
Are you a "closet" photographer? Someone who takes beautiful photographs of friends and family and promptly stacks them in a shoe box on the top shelf of the front hall closet?
Instead of burying your work in the family time capsule and waiting for the year 2001 to rediscover it, why not put the best of it out for others to enjoy? You can purchase several inexpensive photo albums and fill them with family treasures. Albums make interesting conversation pieces and are a nice alternative to coffee-table books. Everyone enjoys rummaging through other people's lives--all it the voyeur in us all. And what better opportunity to show off your photography?
For greatest effect, organize your prints into chrono-logical order. Attach self-sticking labels to the backs of prints for captions like "Yosemite, 1972, Janie, Paul, and John" and mount the prints chronologically into the albums. Label each album with a number and the dates of the photos inside. If you're really ambitious, tape an index of each photo to the inside of the album cover. In that way, you'll be able to retrieve prints more quickly. Personal computers make indexing simple and easy, and printouts can be created to accommodate albums of various sizes.
You can also have your favorite prints or slides made into enlargements-from 5 x 7 inches to poster size-for framing. Start out with acid-free archival mat board, available at framing shops and many photo stores, to highlight each print. Mat board comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and finishes.
Next, have a sheet of glass cut to size. You can use either inexpensive window glass available at hardware stores and home centers or specially made non-glare photographic-quality glass available at framing shops. The choice is a matter of personal taste and budget. Finally, finish the job by choosing a frame that complements the matted print. Frames come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes from oval and round to pentagonal and everything in between. If you find your-self overwhelmed by the options available, ask for advice. Although framing costs vary widely depending upon style, size, and material, a typical 11 x 14-inch frame with matting and glass may cost anywhere from $3 "off the rack" to more than $40 for a custom job.
As a viable alternative to high-priced custom framing, you can go to a do-it-yourself framing shop. Although the materials will cost about the same as at a custom frame shop, you'll save approximately 1/2 the total framing cost on labor. The clerk will instruct you on how to use the equipment.
For a more creative framing job, you might consider combining several photos into a single photomontage "matted or not, as you desire. It's an especially creative an inexpensive way to display several photos in a single frame. Whichever way you decide to proceed, just remember that framing is a once-in-a-lifetime proposition. Once the job is done, it's done for good.
When it's time to hang your photos, take a few moments to organize them into groups. It helps to lay Out the framed photos on a large table or on the floor. Move them around, interchanging one with another until you find the arrangement you like best. In that way, you'll get a preview of how the prints look in various combinations-without pounding unnecessary holes in the wall. Then sketch the arrangement on a piece of paper so you don't forget what prints go where and start hanging.
You photographic displays need not be confined to conventional forms. One creative way of displaying your favorite images is to make a mobile out of them. Apply non-staining photo cement to the back of one print and press the end of a two-foot length of lightweight monofilament fishing line against the glue. Then take a second print of the same size and glue it back-to-back with the first. One the cement dries, you'll have a two-sided photographic "sandwich" with a line extending from the top.
Repeat the process with other prints of varying sizes and attach the lines to a wooden dowel, a piece of driftwood, or a wire hoop suspended from the ceiling. The result: a beautiful and creative free-hanging photographic mobile. Still another fun way of displaying photos is the use them to cover various objects such as boxes, jars, and tin cans. The result: instant receptacles for such possessions as paper clips, pens, pencils, and assorted knickknacks.
For a personalized paperweight, cover a pint-sized cream carton with photos, fill with sand or pebbles, and seal. For a special family treasure, cover a plastic flower pot with photos, spray with water-resistant photo varnish, and fill with soil and a plant. Remember, there are thousands of ways to display your photographs around the house and in the office. And every single one of them beats hiding them away in a shoe box!
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