Wall Art: Presenting the Photos

Portraits and artworks on the walls make a great difference when it comes to the atmosphere and psychological comfort you feel in a room. A room with naked walls would lack personal touch even when filled with design furniture. And a single image (of course, I am not talking about mass production here) can turn a boring home into a stylish one.

Some time ago we have talked about decorating your walls with photography. There are several ways of arranging photos (and other wall art) in a pleasing and coordinated way. It’s about balance and composition: depending on your taste and the room’s interior you may choose symmetric, asymmetric or eclectic approach.

When you plan to put a photo or a grouping of photos on a wall a question often arises: what kind of material and framing to use? Shall you have the photographs printed, matted and framed or do you prefer unframed photos mounted on canvas, aluminium (dibond) or plexiglas (acrylic)? There are several factors to consider here when you make this choice.

An example of photo presentation on a wall.

Matted and framed photographs are the classic way of photo presentation – it never gets out of style. Mat protects your art and serves a decorative and artistic purpose as well. It adds neutral space, a clear transition area between the photo and the frame. The image is thus separated from its surroundings and the viewer’s eye is drawn into the photograph. The neutral space leading your eyes and your attention to the image gives it a stronger presence. Even a small-size photo or painting would stand out when put in a large mat and frame.

Example of a wall gallery with eleven matted photographs.

Here are some points of attention:

First, of all, it is the size of the mat and the frame. Ideally, the mat should be at least twice as wide as the frame. Thicker frame normally requires a thicker mat.

Secondly, think about colour coordination. Mats are available in various colours but white and black ones are the most universal solution. They both let the colours in the image stand out. Black can be great for images with bright colours while off-white is the most neutral colour. It remains a classic choice for any photographs on any walls.

Example of an art photos with a black mat with white core.

In some cases a coloured mat can add to the effect of your wall art piece and become part of the art. One can coordinate the colour of the mat with the tones present in the art piece itself or with the wall. In most situations you want to harmonise rather than use the dominant colours of the image or the exact tones of the wall. If you think of a coloured mat, then it’s a good idea to show the framer a snapshot of the room and to ask for his opinion.

Mats can also have a colored core (the inside of the mat board). For example, a white mat with black core would be perfect for black and white or for images with strong colors and contrast.

For a grouping of photos you usually want to use similar or compatible-looking frames. But you may also want to mingle various frame types or colour accents for an eclectic effect.

While matted images are classic, the unframed presentation can be called modern. We are talking about photos mounted on materials like aluminium (dibond), acrylic (plexiglas) and canvas, to name a few (dibond is usually my favourite here). The choice of material and finish needs a special talk. Here I will just mention that it depends on the photo (its style, colours, etc.) and the desired effect in a particular interior. An image of the same size would range from very light to very heavy depending on the material, and the costs would vary as well.

Grouping of images mounted on aluminium/plexiglas/canvas.

Matted image is like a window that draws your attention to another space, and unframed image has more directness and can create a sense of presence. It fits modern minimalistic interiors with large open space. It can be edgy and invites larger sizes than mats.

Matted photographs vs images mounted on aluminium or plexiglas add different style to the same interior. Here is a comparison of the same photographs in mats and mounted on dibond.

Matted wall art vs mounted on aluminium/plexiglas/canvas.

When you order prints or think about the right spot to hang an existing artwork, then size is a very relative concept. It’s not enough to consider the dimensions of the wall itself. You must always take into account the distance from which one will usually view the image.

Just to give you an example. My husband and I recently moved to a new home. When decorating the wall 6 meters from our sofa we noticed that a 70×105 cm dibond we originally meant for this spot looked too modest. It went to another wall, and for this distance we have chosen a 125×190 cm fine art photo. This is just an example: the actual impression would vary per image.

Can one combine classic matted photos with modern and edgy dibonds or Plexiglas within the same room? Why not? Eclectic approach works for various interiors when done right!

A combination of a group of dibonds and a framed photo on the same wall.

These were just a few general points of attention. Choosing the right photographs, size, frame, and combining several photos in a perfect way is something I can help my clients with. Pre-visualization is important here, so I use special apps to produce simulations. You can see how your photos will look like on your wall and avoid mistakes. I am glad I can offer you this special service: it’s all about letting your photos shine to make you and your family happy day after day!

Curious about a portrait session with or a family and children reportage with a complementary personal wall design advise? Give me a call and tell me about your ideas.

You can all check out more of my art images out my fine art website (www.lifefixation.com), they are available in limited editions.

Find out more about my photography workshops and one-on-one (live and distance) mentoring sessions.


  1. Mikhail 14 March 2015 at 09:35 #

    Excellent idea. Nicely done. Do continue. Thank you!

    • Olga Rook 14 March 2015 at 11:46 #

      Thank you, Mikhail, glad you found it useful. There are more tips to come!