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Portrait photographer offers tips on guilt-free framing


The final step before hanging a piece of artwork on the wall is choosing what to put around it – choosing the right frame.

Audrey Wancket, of Spring Grove based Wancket Studios, is a master of what goes inside of a frame. A consistent winner at national photography competitions, her portraits have a look about them that leaves the observer wondering at a glance, "Is that an oil painting?" No, it's another masterpiece from Wancket Studios. But, Wancket is also a master of framing images.

She said that, when choosing a frame, it's all about proportions.

"One of the rules – really more of a guideline – is that the width of the frame should generally be the same width as the face in the portrait," she said. "There are exceptions. It's just a guideline."

An exception would include when there are multiple faces in the work. In such a case, the photographer will probably have to move back further and, in the process, the faces will be proportionately smaller.

"The biggest rule is that you frame the piece," Wancket said. "If the frame doesn't look good on the image it's not going to look good on the wall. It doesn't matter where you hang it."

By that, Wancket means that some people will choose a frame based on the surroundings where the picture will hang; they'll choose a frame based on what's outside of the frame rather than what's inside of it. For instance, someone may have a lot of oak furniture in a room. That doesn't mean an oak frame is the best choice for any given portrait.

Another example, and a major faux pas, is framing an image in the wrong style. A formal image does not belong in a contemporary frame and vice-versa.

If there is one framing mistake that stands out from the others, in Wancket's view, it's the idea of putting a quality portrait, painting or other work of art in a low quality frame. However, her feelings about poor frames isn't based solely on appearance.

"Low quality frames are often made from pressed particle board," she said. "They have chemicals – glues, formaldehydes and such – that will eat into anything that's inside of them. These frames shorten the life of the work they seek to present."

Wancket said that a fine black-and-white portrait should have museum quality glass with UV protection.

As for matting, Wancket said it's always used to upsize or direct more focus to the image. When matting, she said the matt and the frame should be the same width.

"For a gallery look, you'll usually leave a little more matt at the bottom of the portrait," she said. "It's called a weighted bottom. You usually don't want much, though."

Wancket said many mattes are also made with chemicals. As much care is appropriate when choosing a matt as when choosing a frame.

For more information about Wancket Studios, visit: or call 847-587-3350.

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