So, what’s the big deal with custom framing versus big box store ready-made frames? When doing research, I had to ask this question to a custom framer. “Why is custom framing so expensive?!” I just about dropped dead when I heard the prices. Here is what I found. The difference between cheap ready-made frames and custom frames, boils down to one single factor, PURPOSE. One is made to last and one is made to temporarily display.
The reason custom framing is more valuable is because it is made to preserve the photographic artwork. You will notice that all materials used are well thought out from beginning to end. The matting and backing are acid free archival materials as well . Why use acid free paper and backing? Because they are made to last more than 100 years.
There is no denying that you can get some stunning custom framing designs. You can find them in artisan carved and stained woods, beautiful veneers, intricate designs, metal and resins. They just look stunning. These are statement pieces that will have you oohing and ahhing. You will love coming home that’s for sure.
Whereas a ready-made frame uses inferior materials for temporary display purposes. It’s purpose is not to preserve the art which in turn exposes it to premature deterioration. As for the designs they are usually pretty basic. You can tell most materials used are cheaper plastics versus wood. Not to say that you cannot find inexpensive wood ready made frames but in general most are cheaply made. You will find regular cardboard or other acidic materials used for the backing, as well as glues that can damage your prints. These chemicals can make your pictures turn yellow and cause discolorations.
Take for instance the warping Mona Lisa. Experts with the national geographic say, “it’s nothing to smile about.” In the article on www.nationalgeographic.com by Stefan Logren…This is what he had to say,”it’s deterioration has aroused some worry. Nobody wants to touch it. It is an extraordinary rich portrait.” Another influential art professor from Columbia University David Rosand explains a photograph this way….”This is what portraiture is about…an effort to stop time. The beauty of that face will last forever, but in life it will not.”
Curators have enclosed the Mona Lisa behind a thick glass to guard against changes in climate temperature. This brings us to another topic glass. The natural elements such as light even a fraction of direct sunlight can begin to affect images.
The upside with ready-made frames is that they are a good cheap alternative for maybe an expo when you need to display lots of art temporarily. I did find it handy to buy a whole bunch of box store ready-made frames for an exhibition a few years ago. It was nice to find a few frames with a whole bunch of detail and the borders were thick. They were great as long as nobody touched them because they would figure out they were really plastic. My little secret:-) The real drawback was getting my prints into these standard frames. Even when my prints and frames were supposed to be the same size the ready-made frames where inconsistent with their sizes. Fitting the my prints in was a hassle and it caused my pictures to buckle. I had to reprint a few of the images because you could see the lumps in the image due to the inconsistency in the frames.
This had me convinced to make the switch for displaying my personal family images as well as my clients/friends and upgrade to durable materials. This last year I began to have a minimalistic approach to my life. I kept only the things that I love around. So, I figured if I’m going to only have less things, why not make sure they are well made.
If you are the type of person that has hired a professional photographer to take images of your family, you know the value hiring the right person and the value of capturing your family portrait in this given time.The fact that you know that these moments the photographer captures are invaluable makes sense that you would want to protect your investment by displaying it in a frame worthy of it’s contents.
So, the bottom line is a custom frame looks way better. It is made from high quality materials and is made to protect your beautiful family portraits for years to come.