A Short Course Book
Displaying & Sharing
Your Digital Photos

Framing, Hanging & Storing Prints

Display ledges come in a variety of lengths and let you display images without hanging them.
Frames come in a variety of woods (top) and aluminum (bottom). Courtesy of light Impressions at www.light impressionsdirect. com.
Picture frame hooks come with needle thin nails that don't mar walls.
Flat files are used by professionals and galleries to store prints. This one is an old vintage model originally used to store railroad maps.
"L" pins mount a glass-covered photo to exhibition board or other material. These pins eliminate the cost of frames and are ideal if you want to change exhibits often.

The traditional way to display prints is to have them matted and framed. In metropolitan areas there are frame shops that help you choose frames and mats and then do the job for you. In more remote places, and when seeking out the truly unique, the Web is a great place to look.


Frames come in an almost endless variety of styles, colors, finishes, and materials. They come ready made, as kits, or as custom sizes. When looking for framing ideas, visit local galleries and on-line stores. Here are some of the frames you might consider:
  • Ready made frames are already assembled in a variety of sizes. The problem is that the entire industry is still geared toward film photography and the traditional 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, 11 x 14 and 16 x 20 print sizes. Meanwhile, digital photographers are creating prints on 8.5 x 11, 11 x 17 and 13 x 19 inch paper.
  • Frame kits are sold as pairs in a variety of lengths so you can assemble frames of almost any size and shape. You pick one pair for the height of the image and a second for the width. You then purchase a piece of glass separately and assemble the frame and photo. One of the leading manufacturers of these kits is Nielsen-Bainbridge.
  • Custom frames are made to order so they are usually more expensive. But if you want a unique frame or your print has an unusual size or shape, this may be the only way to go.
  • Old wooden printing frames from early darkrooms. Originally used to hold a glass negative and paper in contact while printing with the sun as the light source. The great thing about these frames is that they have spring backs that can be quickly removed so you can instantly insert another print for an ever-changing gallery.
  • Magnetic frames hang on the refrigerator.
  • Swiss corner clips eliminate the frame and use four small clips to hold a matted image against a sheet of glass.
  • Acrylic frames, often used to hold sales literature and available in office supply stores, also work with photos. Your print just slips in through the side of the frame. Some models stand on a table and other models hang on a wall.


When hanging prints, avoid places where direct sunlight or other bright light hits them to reduce fading. If you can't avoid strong light, you can rotate your images or look into plexiglass or acrylic that filters out UV light.
  • A hanging system uses a rail along the top of the wall with thin descending cables on which to hang your pictures. You can position the pictures at any height, and any position along the rail. You can even hang more than one picture on each pair of cables.
  • Picture hanging hooks are available with very thin nails that leave almost no hole.
  • Adhesive mounting tape or squares lets you hang frames without using nails and leaving holes in the walls. 3M is one of the best known companies making these sticky products.
  • "L" pins are used to mount a glass-covered photo to exhibition board or other material. These pins eliminate the cost of frames and are ideal if you want to change exhibits often. One way to do this is to paint a sheet of homasote or cover it with fabric and mount it on a wall as a gallery background. You can then pin your glass-covered photos up in any arrangement and change them at will because the holes don't show.

Archival Storage

As one print after another emerges from your printer, if you don't frame them immediately, you need a way to store them safely. One of the simplest ways is to use boxes, but they (or any other storage system) should be archival. For the ultimate protection, you can use acid-free tissue between each photo and wear white cotton gloves when handling them.
  • Boxes protect prints from light, dust, and mechanical damage. They come in a variety of sizes and styles—including aluminum. Some cardboard boxes have metal reinforced corners that protect the boxes and allow you to stack them higher without the lower boxes collapsing.
  • Portfolio cases are storage boxes with flair so they can also serve as presentation cases. In fact, some actually are portfolio cases or look like them.
  • Flat files may be familiar from museums, art galleries, and offices. They have large, but shallow drawers used to hold prints.
Storage boxes are usually cardboard, but Pina Zangaro makes some that are for those special prints or when you want to store and present.

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