Saturday, January 26, 2008

White Mats or Black Mats?

Venice, Italy © Mesman Images

As photographers, we've always tried to present our images in the best light possible. To that end, we've almost always preferred to display our images against a dark background, as this brings out the colors more or, as they say, it makes the colors "pop".

In the last couple of years or so, there has been a noticeable trend towards using dark mats when framing photography. This is obviously due to the aforementioned reason. For the most part, the question of whether or not someone wants a white or black mat is really just a matter of aesthetic preference.

Is there a time when using black mats should be avoided? Well, one situation that would definitely call for lighter mats is when there is low light where the image will be hung. A real-life example we're experiencing at the moment is our current exhibit at the Daily Market & Cafe in Northeast Portland. This is a great venue, but they haven't yet installed lighting to illuminate the artwork on the walls (With all of the great improvements that they've made to their market and cafe since acquiring it, it's certainly understandable that little details like this are still on the drawing board). For now, the overhang above the walls is producing shadows that leave the artwork displayed somewhat obscured.

We started out by hanging 30 framed images in black mats, but, realizing that they are somewhat difficult to see, we're swapping them out little by little for images in white mats.

All things being equal, which color mat would you prefer to have in your home?


Karine said...

I like to think of the mat as an extension of the art. As popular as black mats are, I am not a fan. I prefer a light neutral colored mat, even on photographs. One where you pick up on one of the light colors in the art. But that's just me. Nice blog! (from a fellow etsian)

Yvonne and Michael said...

Karine: I agree. I'm European and we lived in Europe for many years, where wall paper is more common, I was used to custom matching everything. When we first started out, every mat and or frame job we did was customized, based on the image. Somehow, it didn't work well here as far as sales are concerned. For better or worse, right now, black mats are far outselling white. We'll customize if someone asks for it, but it otherwise makes more sense to keep things simple. Thanks!