So you’ve snapped some lovely photos on your last holiday and are ready to show them off like a pro in a gallery? Or you’ve purchased photographic art work and want to expose it in a way that does it justice? You’ll have to choose how to hang up your prints: framed, laminated, in a light box, taped straight to the wall…
Hanging option may seem like secondary when you’re looking at a print; they’re definitely not usually in the photographer’s mind as he/she snaps. But when exposing photos in your home, the way you choose to dress them will have an impact on your whole home decor, and on the way you and visitors see and interpret the picture. Let’s have a look at four main ways to expose your photos and prints: frames, light boxes, plain hanging, and laminating.
They’re the most classic solution and were inherited from painting. Did you know? Framing is an occidental tradition. The Chinese and Japanese never used to hang their drawings. The frame as a decorative and furnishing element only really surfaced at the end of the 15th century.
Frames have several functions: they act as a window for the work contained, situating them in their outside world, they isolate the piece from the surrounding environment, and they attract the eye onto the picture. Frames create a typically classic point of view, though they could be used to create contrasts.
They are frames or rather boxes with a certain thickness. The photo, on the outer layer, benefits from the shine of backlighting. This presentation method, which appeared in the 70s, finds its origins in the transparency of slideshows, and the bright neon lighting of street ad panels.
Nowadays, light boxes are not as popular, perhaps because screens and other numeric displays have made backlighting and LEDs unsurprising elements in our daily lives. But placing a photo in a light box remains an effective way to create a focus point in a room, especially in the absence of other screens or bright light sources.
Photos that are simply taped or pinned to a wall or surface retain that freedom and fragility. They have escaped from boxes, frames, cages. Hanging your pictures as such gives a sense of authenticity, generosity and light-heartedness to a space. It is ideal for, say, holiday photos or other gleeful souvenirs, or for raw, honest photos. Don’t worry too much about the photos being perfectly flat, straight, or free from pin holes – what matters is to expose them as they are.
You could have your photos laminated onto a canvas, a dibond panel, an aluminium panel. This slightly industrial feel doesn’t offer the same separation from the space as a frame does, but does create a bit of space between the wall and the photo, and accentuates the picture’s sharp corners. It’s a clever way of creating a continuity between the surrounding space and the photo, all while making it stand out more than just plain hanging or pinning.
Obviously, with these different methods you should feel free to play around: create collages with different photo sizes and hanging methods, use a variety of materials to expose your photos around, or even chose to project your photos on a digital screen rather than print them! Whatever you decide, it is worth taking a moment to think about how you will expose your prints to fit into the decoration of your home.