Without realised it you can end up spending a lot of money framing a photo, especially if it is considered a “custom” framing. Frames that are made to measure can easily escalated to well over the AUD$150 mark for the 16” by 20” size being considered.
There are three key decisions to make.
- Matte (Type & colour)
- Frame (Several Materials/Styles)
- Glass (or Plexi-glass Perspex)
Whilst these decisions can in practise be made independently, on the different components of the frame. It is usually best to combined and made at the time you order the frame.
A good matte makes a lot of difference to the look of a photo when framed. You also need to allow for a decent margin for the matte around the photo. The general advice for a 16” by 20” size would be a minimum of 3” on each side of the narrowest margins. Also it is common practice to make the bottom border slightly wider (see the embeded video at around 1:25:00 for an explanation) that the top margin. However there are no hard and fast rules for width and fashions change. The mattes should be cut from archive quality boards, which means either acid free. The mattes should also be cut to cover part of the photo being framed (a good reason to leave a small 1cm white margin around your image when getting it printed.
The glass or plexi-glass for the frame must be cut to match the internal dimension of the frame picture housing(the rabbet) for frames up to the size we are considering and perhaps a little larger glass is the usual obvious choice. However larger frames can become very heavy and plexiglass is a better alternative here as it is considerably lighter
Finally A good way to save cost of framing is to buy premade frames. Unfortunately the quality varies so it is important to look and feel them rather than order of the internet. A lot but your local framing shop is likely to have a range of the basic sizes in the more popular styles (simple black style wood frame with glass is likely to cost between $40-$90 for the desired 16” by 20”. If you are preparing a larger exhibition it is worth asking for a discount and buy a “Job Lot” (10 to 12 frames). It worked for me.
Cutting mattes & making your own frames takes considerable practise, skill and the right equipment. It will be expensive and probably unsuccessful on the first few attempts (eg don’t get enthusiastic and buy lots of tools and expensive mouldings for that one print for an exhibition) but can be a rewarding additional hobby that will save you a lot on framing costs over time. The B&H video on matting and mounting (embedded above) is long and given by a product rep but is full of sound advice (Including the secrets to cutting a double mattes (1:29:25 in the video).