Collecting 1.0: Photography, Framing
Unlike contemporary paintings, which usually hang on their own supports, almost all photographs require framing and mounting since they are printed on paper and are much more vulnerable to damage from humidity, light, and physical wear and tear. However, with the proper structural support and mounting, photography is an extremely stable medium.
Smaller and vintage photographs often have a mounting mat (a tailor-cut piece of cardboard that lays on top of the photograph to focus the viewer’s eye on the image), while contemporary and large-scale photography usually use a slight shadow box frame (“floating” the photograph within a deep frame). Some artists make face-mounted works, where the photograph is directly adhered to the glass surface—this gives it a very sleek, shiny finish but can be problematic for long-term conservation.
Although most people don’t realize this, the glass used in framing becomes an integral experience of viewing the work. While regular glass is acceptable for works up to a couple feet in size, anything larger requires Plexiglas for flexibility and protection.
It's important to check that any glass is UV-resistant, which will significantly prevent color from fading. As well, for large-scale works or those with darker and monochromatic palettes, non-reflective Plexiglas becomes essential to properly viewing the piece. Though slightly costlier, the non-reflective quality can make an enormous impact on experiencing the immersive, hyper-clear quality of works like those by Andreas Gursky.