When to Add a Matte Border to Your Photo

framed painting

Choosing a matte border for your photograph isn’t a science – it’s mostly a matter of personal preference. But it can also be a delicate balance to achieve, as a background matte that looks “off” may detract from the piece itself.

As a good, basic rule of thumb, you should choose a matte background that matches the background color of your photograph to allow the photo’s focal point to stand out. Softer colors compliment strong focal points, though there’s certainly room to get creative.

The tricky part can come with adding an appropriate frame to match your matte background. Size is certainly an issue (see the table of standard sizes below), but color, style, and material type all have significant impact on the visual appeal of your piece.

Metal frames, with their straight edges and sharp corners, lend themselves well to a modern, contemporary look whereas wooden frames are more classical and traditional in style.

Standard U.S. Frame Sizes: 

4″x5″, 4″x6″, 6″x8″, 5″x7″, 8″x10″, 8″x12″, 8-1/2″x11″, 9″x12″, 10″x13″, 11″x14″, 12″x16″, 14″x18″, 16″x20″, 20″x24″, 22″x28″, 24″x30″, 24″x36″, 30″x40″

While we don’t recommend adding a matte to most artwork or prints, smaller and medium-sized pieces that are deserving of additional wall space are better candidates for matte framing. Personal photographs and documents such as diplomas or autographed memorabilia look great with matte borders, but larger pieces and prints deserve their own full-bleed framing.

For more information on preserving and displaying those important pieces in your life, contact Frame Up Studios in Fremont, Seattle or stop by our shop for a consultation on your piece today.