Quick Picture Mounting Tips

Mounting refers to the securing the photo into the mount board so that it is displayed properly, whether you plan on using a picture frame. When a photo is properly mounted on the backing, you can more easily have it matted and framed while minimizing the possibility of damaging the photo.

With mounting, the photo does not have to be an exact fit of the rectangular or oval picture frame you plan on using. You are not limited to a standard picture frame size or shape. In fact, a photo that has been mounted properly can be placed into a bigger frame or a frame with unusual dimensions, as long as you are able to shape the mounting board to correspond to the shape of the frame.

There are a number of mounting techniques, depending on your preference, the kind of conservation required and whether you have an antique picture frame or a more contemporary one. Here are some considerations when mounting a photo:

  • Different methods of mounting. Decide on the type of mounting you require for your photo. Not all photos need the highest conservation methods of mounting and framing. You just need to decide which photos you want to last for the next decades or so. The following are some of the mounting techniques you are use:
    • Dry mounting. With this method, you will attach the photo to a backing that is rigid enough to hold it. Dry mounting is usually accomplished with the use of a heat press or a vacuum press. This produces a smooth and wrinkle-free surface for the photo. However, this is not reversible and should not be used for photos that need conservation framing.
    • Adhesive mounting. This makes use of a pressure-sensitive adhesive. This special adhesive only works once pressure is applied to the photo. When adding pressure to the photo, do not forget to use the protective paper so that the pressure applied will not damage the photo. This is also not a conservation framing method.
    • Wet mounting. With this, you apply wet paste or glue to the mount board. And then the photo is attached to the board. You can place flat surfaces such as large books or a piece of glass to ensure that the photo has really adhered to the backing.
    • Conservation mounting. By archival, we refer to the technique of mounting and framing a picture in such a way that the damage caused by the elements is kept to a minimum. The method should also reversible. The photo can be removed from the frame without any damage or change to the photo. The disadvantage of this type of mounting is that it is time-intensive and the cost of the materials is usually higher than the materials used for other types of mounting.
  • Expansion and contraction of materials. A picture frame has several components made of different materials. These materials react differently to changes in temperature. When mounting the photograph, it has to have some space to move.
  • Using photo corners. This is an archival mounting technique that uses paper, polyester film or plastic pockets that support the four corner edges of the photo. With corners, you do not have to use any chemicals that directly touch the picture. If you want to preserve your photo much longer, use photo corners that do not contain any acidic compounds or PVC plasticizers.
  • Using hinging tissue. This allows the photo to contract or expand more freely. The hinging tissue attaches the photo to the mounting board at its top edge. For mounting projects that require a high conservation level, the suggested material is Japanese paper equipped with rice starch or wheat adhesive or water-activated gummed linen hinging tape. 
6th Jul 2014 Eric Morgan

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