What Goes Round: Using Round Picture Frames

Round picture frames are distinctive and unique. For one, they make for a great mirror frame. They can also effectively showcase your finished needlepoint projects. The question is, how well do round picture frames work with certain photos, which usually have a rectangular orientation?

Admittedly, not all pictures will best be displayed using a round picture frame. But if used wisely, you can have a very attracting and eye-catching frame to display. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you effectively work with circular picture frames:

  • Do use it for baby pictures. Display that cherished picture of your baby’s rounded cheeks and face. You can highlight your baby’s face or go for a whole-body shot.
  • Do consider balance and symmetry. When framing a picture on a round frame, try to place the focal point of the picture right in the center of the frame. This is applicable for artwork and whole body shots. For personal portraits which display the head and the upper torso, the shoulder will ideally be in the middle line of the frame.
  • Don’t overcrowd. The elements of the photo should be simple. For instance, round frames work best with single photo subjects or with a few subjects grouped tightly close together. If you are planning on displaying a group picture of a large group of subjects, it is better to go with a rectangular picture frame so that the overall picture does not look too crowded.
  • Do go for a classic, antique look with convex glass. If you are framing a formal portrait of your grand or great grandparents, fit an antique circular picture frame with a convex lens for a more antique old-fashioned look. Convex or “bubble glass” lenses were used during the early 1970s when framing portraits to prevent the portrait’s surface from sticking to the glass.
  • Do use round frames to display artwork or landscapes. As long as the main subject of the landscape and artwork is not cut off by the frame, a rounded frame can actually work and give a sense that the viewer is looking into a magical window that displays great views of the outdoors. This landscapes and artwork should ideally be ones that feature scenery at a distance.
  • Don’t use full close-up head shots. Otherwise, the picture would look like a floating head – definitely not attractive. Displaying a close-up can also make a face look more rounded so that it is unflattering. Apparently, round frames work best only for close-up shots of babies and pets, but not of adults.
  • Do create more visual interest with matting. Round frames with thin moldings can also use additional layers of matting to highlight the photograph. The matting colors should complement the colors of the photo. If you must use a dominant color in the picture for the matting, it has to be further lined with a light matting color so that the matting does not overpower the picture.
  • Do use round frames for other design elements. As previously mentioned, round frames can work well with mirrors, needlepoint work or small prints or drawings. Be sure to experiment and try which element matches the round frame.
  • Don’t force a picture into a round frame. There are some pictures that will be complemented by a round frame. However, resist the temptation to crop a photo too tight just so that it fits with the shape of the frame. This may leave some part of your subject out of the picture. The focal point of the photograph should some “breathing room”. Ideally, this space should go around your focal point so that the frame mimics the photograph’s overall shape.
25th Aug 2014 Eric Morgan

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