PRINT MOUNTING - e-news136, April 2015
Print numbers have not declined but poorly mounted prints are an issue.
Permission of the Author and the WCPF Newsletter Editor
Quite suddenly the projected digital image displaced the transparency as a way of displaying our work and It seemed likely that mounted prints might decline in popularity. That does not seem to have happened and prints retain an important place in club competitions and in exhibitions. The computer controlled screen display has obvious merits but it lacks the opportunity for the more leisurely study offered by prints on a gallery wall.
As a result, the craft activity involved in mounting prints has endured. Many photographers take pleasure in this but for some it is just a troublesome chore and that often shows in their results.
Most judges have had to juggle with poorly mounted photographs. Masking tape comes away and sticks to the fingers. (This product [masking tape] is designed to come unstuck). A backing board the same size as the mount may have been assembled with double sided Sellotape which either dries out or can’t cope with such heavy duty and the assembly falls apart. A badly secured print may move in the mount and look very sad.
Along with all of this, downright carelessness can ruin things. A jagged aperture may look as if cut with a blunt knife, be out of square or, perhaps, of the wrong proportions.
Does a badly mounted print influence the judging process? It would be good to think that it doesn’t but first impressions are difficult to ignore. Most make sure their car is clean when it goes for its MOT, even if cleanliness is not part of the assessment.
Strongly coloured mounts almost never work. The mount is there to support and complement the picture - not to compete with it.
In the interests of economy, it might be tempting to reuse the same mount for more than one photograph. That’s fine if the size and proportions of later pictures are exactly the same as the original but it fails completely if there is an obvious misfit, showing unwanted white margins on two edges,
which is what sometimes happens. It’s also time to dump the old mount when the corners have been damaged or other signs of wear and tear begin to show.
Pity the long suffering judge who has to contend with all of this and more besides. Where a backing board the same size and thickness as the mount is used, so as to double the thickness of the 50 x 40cm assembly, it adds weight. Not a problem for just one picture but a club competition might include at least seventy five prints and the collection, contained in two boxes, will weigh nearly 36kgs (70lbs).