Updated: Nov 8, 2020
As photographic art becomes more and more popular, I would like to spend time discussing options for those who are considering photography for your wall. In this blog, I will be answering some important questions that are usually asked by our clients before investing in art photography.
So let us start with addressing one of the most frequently asked questions:
Why has photography become so popular?
Well, I think there are several reasons for this, one being that it is a reality driven art form. One of the legends of photography, the late Ansel Adams said, "Not everybody trusts paintings, but people believe photographs."
Also, one cannot ignore the popularity that photography has reached with the advent of social media on platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook in recent years. Therefore, no surprise that photography as an art form has connected with a younger audience as it continues to gain momentum.
I believe that advanced camera technology has also contributed to the rise in the popularity of photography. Let us not forget that no less than twenty years ago, before inkjet printing, colour photographs would fade fairly rapidly, making it an impractical medium for decor or art collection.
However, with ink printing today, a photograph, if kept out of direct UV light and away from solvents will preserve its original colour for well over a hundred years. Not only that but as the digital camera and print technology has improved, photographs can now be enlarged to impressive sizes with unbelievable detail, bringing the "wow" factor into play.
Turning our attention specifically to those folk who are keen on investing in photography to display in their home or office, here are several pointers that you may find useful before taking the plunge.
You must be aware from the outset, that when it comes to the quality of a print, several pitfalls can certainly spoil the party from the start. My first bit of advice would be to make sure that you invest in a reputable photographic artist's work.
You get photographers that work with light and have mastered the photographic process right through to printing to achieve quality prints, and you will get others that simply use a camera to take a picture. Likewise, you also get printers that understand the printing process and can print adequately and others that simply press a button. There is no secret, it's like with most things in life, quality and experience ultimately cost more, but it the long run its worth it.
When viewing options on social media or websites, do not get hypnotised. There could be a massive difference between what is viewed online, in comparison to the actual printed piece in reality. The final print is an ultimate policeman in showing up errors within the photographic process, from exposure to processing and through to print settings and media, all will be revealed on the final print. Seeing is believing, so before you finalise the order, insist on seeing the artists work printed to the same size that you are considering to purchase.
I also recommend that you do some research on the photographer's reputation as there is no place to hide in today's digital society with social media and online reviews. Great reviews from real customers will give you an excellent indication to ensure that you will be pleased with the final result - instead, go for consistency and stay away from one-hit wonders or unknowns. In this game, knowing a friend who has a friend who has a fancy camera is not going to cut it.
So what subject choice should one consider?
This question is like asking how long a piece of string is? If you are unsure of where to start looking, I would suggest visiting reputable galleries and interior decor shops to get some ideas. Searching gallery sites on the internet can also be helpful, but don't forget choosing a print for your home is very personal, and even more so if two or more people are living in the same home. I would caution you to be careful about asking too many people for their input. You are the one who is going to wake up every morning to that print, and it needs to bring you joy every time you look at it.
I promise you; you will know when you see an art piece that you connect with. It may evoke a childhood memory, and perhaps it will bring forth a calming reflection like a beautiful seascape or a breathtaking landscape that reminds you of a place you have been, or a nostalgic memory of a specific time in your life. Whatever it is, it must be unique to you.
Unfortunately, I have seen so many people choose a print based on the colour scheme of the room or the shape of a wall. This can sometimes work for public spaces, but in a home, I believe the artwork selection needs to be less superficial and more of a personal choice that reflects your personality and style.
Choosing art for one's office can be a little more tricky, especially where the public will get to view the print. Here the best advice is to stay away from an artwork that is controversial, political, religious or expresses a strong individual view.
The choice here would depend on the type of business, customer profile and in some cases, corporate colours, all of which could play a role in the selection. For example, we recently completed a waiting room and office area for a psychiatrist, where the nature of counselling required a soft and peaceful environment. The tones and decor of the room were kept very neutral. Initially, we tried gentle ocean and landscape scenes which worked well but finally settled on a soft botanical photograph which added a hint of colour, yet remained calm and serene in the neutral space. The choice was finally made from digital interior options which were presented to our client. A choice that she would not have been considered unless she saw the mock-up options.
What is the best size and must the print always be framed?
Let me start by saying that size does matter; it matters a lot. Depending on the scale of the room, the height of the walls, furniture, and styling, the proportion starts to play a big role. If the print is too small, it will look insignificant and feel like an afterthought. Too big and it can feel like overkill.
Not everyone can gauge the right size artwork at face value as an experienced interior designer or architect would. If you are struggling, the one way to gauge size is to cut out the actual size of the framed print on a large piece of cardboard, then tape the cardboard cut-out to the wall and stand back to visualise. This will give you a much better idea before committing to a purchase.
To take the guesswork completely out of the equation, we offer a unique and extremely helpful interior mock-up service to assist our clients in seeing how a print will look in the actual interior. Here we digitally superimpose different print selections on the wall for consideration in various sizes and framing styles offering suggestions and choices. You cannot believe what a difference a print size makes, even small changes can have a definite visual effect. Get the proportions and frame choice right, and the artwork will hang beautifully almost as if the room was created for it.
As far as the choice of medium to print on and display methods available nowadays, you are spoiled for choice.
Unlike a few years ago where we could only offer prints on photographic paper, today we can print directly onto aluminium, wood, glass, perspex, wallpaper and canvas to mention a few.
Here your choice of printing and display method will more than likely be determined by logistics. For example, reflections in the glass caused by opposing windows and doorways need to be considered. If you are not careful, the artwork you have spent time on choosing and money on buying can become a mere mirror during the day, only to be enjoyed at night when it's dark or when the curtains are drawn.
So, depending on where the print will hang, whether it's a limited edition, will determine whether it should be displayed behind glass or not. Several new printing techniques suited to decor purposes allow us to display artwork creatively without glass. For a decor feature with high impact, consider wallpapering an entire wall. With today's products, you can be assured of a stunning impression in brilliant colour.
For investment prints, one can also choose to have the print framed using museum non-reflective glass, an expensive option, but a brilliant solution. If you need to advise regarding what medium to print on and how to frame an investment piece, I would suggest consulting with a reputable gallery, or an expert in the field.
How many prints should one consider hanging in a room?
As a general guide, my advice for photographic art is simple; less is more. In my opinion, artwork should be used as a focal point in a room, and too many prints can become visually busy. As already mentioned, photography generally looks more impressive when printed large, but ultimately one or two stunning pieces printed and displayed correctly will do the job. Alternatively, a grouping of a triptych or a cluster of prints on a single wall can also create a beautiful display. Again, this is where the advice of an expert or making use of our interior mock-up service is invaluable.
And lastly, a bit of advice on picture hanging, installation and lighting.
Firstly for framed prints, I would stay away from simply using a piece of string or wire on the back of the frame, where the artwork hangs off a single anchor on the wall. Guaranteed it is always going to hang skew plus it lean forward off the wall which looks awful. On large, heavy frames, this method places a lot of force on the corners of the frame, which could eventually cause them to come apart.
Instead, install with two small anchors one on either side of the frame. This will ensure that the artwork installs flat against the wall and will never hang skew. Regarding the height to be hung at, as a guide, position the middle of the frame at eye level when standing then adjust accordingly. If you live near the coast have small cork spacers, approximately 3mm in depth placed on each corner behind the frame, this will help with airflow which will keep the back of the frame dry.
Lastly, wherever possible, try to install an accent spotlight from above to illuminate the artwork. You will see the print come alive on the wall. Just be careful with the colour of the light bulb. Usually, a daylight or neutral colour is the best option, it should not be too orange or to blue.
For more information on our interior consultancy and mock-up service, visit our website or send us an email and we will gladly assist.