All about Prints and Frames

Frequently Asked Questions About Prints

How to decide what size prints you need

Deciding what size prints to choose is a very subjective thing. You need to take into account: where the print will be displayed, how large the wall is, how it will be framed, whether it will be displayed alone, or with other prints aound it in a grouping etc. Once you can answer those questions, you can begin to make an informed decision.

Also, take into account the typical distance from which the print will be viewed. The size of the print itself is what we're talking about, not the frame. Following is a table that may help:

Optimum Viewing Distances for Various Print Sizes
Print Size (Inches)
Viewing Distance (feet)



Print Sizes and Shapes
Size (inches) Description Aspect Ratio
2x2 US Passport 1
2x2.75 Canadian Passport 1.375
2.5x3.5 Wallet 1.4
4x6 standard snapshot 1.5
5x7   1.4
8x8 Square Portrait 1
8x10 Typical Portrait 1.25
8x12   1.5
10x15   1.5
11x14   1.27
16x20   1.25
18x24   1.33
20x30   1.5
24x36 Poster 1.5


I Highly recommend choosing print sizes that have an aspect ratio of very close to 1.5 (like 8x12 or 10x15), and using a mat to properly mount it in a standard frame.


Aspect Ratio: Is the larger dimension divided by the smaller dimension. For example; A print that is 10 inches by 8 inches has an aspect ratio of 1.25 (10/8 = 1.25). Modern digital image formats have an aspect ratio of 1.5, which is the same ratio as 35mm film. When the aspect ratio of the print size you choose is significantly different than 1.5, careful cropping will be needed to maintain the "look" of the image.

Landscape Mode: A "landscape mode" image is wider than it is tall. Like a picture of a landscape would be. Some people also call this a "horizontal" image.

Portrait Mode: A "Portrait Mode" image is taller than it is wide. Like a portrait would usually be. Some people call this a vertical image.

Crop: To crop an image is to remove content around the edges. In order to change the aspect ratio of an image, we need to crop the image. Cropping can also be used to remove unwanted subject matter near the edges.

Mat: A mat is a heavy piece of acid free ragboard, usually about 1/8" thick, in which the print is mounted. Behind the mat is a backing board to which the print is fastened, usually with artists tape. The mat's primary purpose is to maintain a separation between the print emulsion and the glass of the frame, and also to adapt the shape and size of the print to the dimensions of the desired frame. It has an inner opening, usually with a beveled edge, that is slightly smaller than the size of the print. The outer dimensions of the mat are made to be a size that will fit into the desired frame. A mat can be any color, but usually a neutral color is chosen so as not to take attention away from the image in the print. I recommend simply using white mats, and that's all I stock, but other colors may be custom ordered.