Best way to present a photo on a wall

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Letters | 8 Comments

The question

I am planing (as you may know based on indications in previous posts) some step (not clear yet what, I know). For this I was wonder what is best way to prepare (print) photograph when you like to put photo on a wall. I mean not only what frame and pass-par tout (matt), but mainly what paper use and what glass if any.

The situation

Where I am heading? Simple: you like to hang a print of a photo in your room. It is nice in frame and possibly behind a glass. It is evening and it looks good. When you wake up at the morning, it may look like print in the following picture. The one on the left side.

reflection or not reflection

You wonder, how it is possible that there is no reflection on the print on the right? Well that frame doesn’t have a glass and it is printed on mat non-reflective paper.

There is however a bit of down side. Such a mat print is very very sensitive to any physical handling. What I mean, you touch it and there is a smear on it. You try to blow dust and you get small wet drops on this print.

The solution?

It would be great to have it like this, but can you trust people not to touch it? I have tried different papers and printed following images on baryta (optically exposed, chemically developed) (left-bottom), Normal C-prints from lab (both print on right side) and the color print at top left is done same way as the the mat winter country on the image at the top. So first let us take a look when they are on the table next to each other:

On a table

You may see that colour image on left top has no reflection, but the colours are much less bold (saturated) then on C- print right from it. You also can see that reflection on left bottom baryta (left) is different then on C-print right bottom. Yes it is less reflecting, but in certain way, I feel it as more disturbing. Let us look at next image when I position a viewing angle the way I get most reflection:

Most reflectionYou can clearly see that only mat print is 100% non reflective, but as I mentioned, it is very, very fragile. Funny is that colour is not that sensitive, but black and white is very sensitive to handling. Next thing what I have done was place the baryta print without glass next to the mat print:

baryta reflection

The future

Now my next step would be to try some non-reflective glass on mat print and also frame glossy C-print without glass. In any case I wonder what would be your preference so far? And one more question:

Would fragile mat print be a problem for you and your wall?


  1. Iurie
    Thu, 17. April , 2014

    Hi Richard!
    I am no expert in this field, hence no opinion from me on the subject. In addition, opinions will differ greatly depending on preferences.

    However, I would like to suggest that you offer finished solutions. I mean, you could find someone (a small business workshop which work with glass and wood) who could make the frames and glass tiles, so you could offer buyers a customized item.

    All the best with the next step! :)

    • richo
      Thu, 17. April , 2014

      Hello Iurie, sure I like to offer best product and finished as well, but I also like to offer them quality of viewing an image as well as good price. If I like to make here anything, as you suggest, to the small business workshop then one frame will costs me over €100. Which is not realistic for me at this point in time. If you have possibility to provide frame of size 60x40cm for price under €30, you know how to find me ;-)

      My question was more about how you like to see an image:
      – behind glass with reflection
      – behind non-reflexive glass with less reflection
      – without glass with no reflection but risk that you can damage the art piece in frame?

  2. Iurie
    Fri, 18. April , 2014

    Started looking for suppliers :)

    • richo
      Wed, 23. April , 2014

      Iurie, looking forward to your report. I believe you were right, when you suggested to do this as special product.

  3. Dirk
    Mon, 28. April , 2014

    It’s really a tough question. It depends on lighting of the target location, doesn’t it? For example in a gallery environment you would not see glass, would you? It seems the “purest” form to display a photo. But it is not handled much in a gallery and does not hang there too long. The glass is just protection from handling and environment so there seems to be a good reason to have it. I am not sure what I would prefer at home. If the lighting situation allows it, I would prefer glass, but if not I probably would remove it.

    • richo
      Tue, 29. April , 2014

      Dirk, thanks for write your view on the subject. You mentioned gallery, well, what always annoys me in gallery is glass and bad light. YOU go to proper gallery with paintings and there is no glass.

      When I look at the image without glass hanging no in my living room I am happy to look at it. It is not just piece hanging on my wall, it is something I like to come back and see again.

  4. Laurent Bompard
    Thu, 24. November , 2016

    I was discussing this very topic with an art consultant today. The most perfect way to view a beautiful print is without glass. If the picture will be displayed in an area where it is relatively safe (not a kid’s height, or next to a wet or smoky area) then you could simply frame it without glass (mount it if you can or print it on thick art paper). You may want to try some UV protective spray (I don’t live in the US so I cannot recommend brands but any decent art store (more “arts” than “crafts”) should be able to give you some recommendations. Of course, try it first on a print that you don’t mind losing in case it doesn’t work well with the surface (and also, your first try might be messy if you are not experienced by spraying).

    • Richard Vanek
      Wed, 15. February , 2017

      Laurent, thanks for stopping by. I do not live in USA so not issue there. I did try many things in past. Even making coating with special rot on carbon print on rag paper.
      This article was more about asking people if they would be ok with print without glass. Would you?


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