The Northern Image Photographers club has a membership of about 25 people who gather every month to share their best work and to learn something new.
The most recent session was on the delicate art of how to matte those precious pictures after the fun part of clicking the button and the drudgery of post-processing are long done.
“Matting is a necessity, you can’t just take an un-matted photo in (to a gallery) -- it won’t be accepted,” said the session instructor, John Eagle.
The club displays their work in a few locations around the city such as Victoria Hospital, on both the fifth floor and the in the cafeteria, and in the South Hill Mall. They change the images that are on display every four to six weeks, all of which must be matted.
Eagle has been doing photography and cutting mattes since he was a teenager and believes they are vital to a finished piece of artwork.
“When a picture is put in a nice looking matte that compliments a picture, it makes all the difference in the world,” he said.
“It adds a lot of depth to the picture …(and) that double matte leads your eye into the picture,” Eagle said.
“If you want something to decorate your wall in your home, you need it on a matte.”
Most of the club’s members will cut their mattes and frame their work at some point, said Eagle.
“The important thing with any of these pictures of course is getting the right matte on the picture,” Eagles aid.
Skill is needed when cutting matte to ensure the edges are clean, the frame and corners are square and there is no over or under cuts.
“This is something that is learned with practice,” Eagle said.
“When you cut a matte, you cut a window out of the matte where the picture goes and that window of course can be used for a smaller picture if you want to be frugal about the cost of matting,”
Then there is the double matte.
“Double mattes are actually much more attractive and set the picture off much nicer than a single matte,” he said
Matte colours vary along with textures.
The colour of the matte must be suitable for both the image and the wall it is hung on.
Matting materials not cheap, but doing the work yourself can reduce your costs by about two-thirds, Eagle said.
While a regular sheet of matte-board costs about $20 for a 32-by-40-inch matte, the much more luxurious velvet matte is more than double that at about $48.
Other important parts of matting include foam backing, the actual frame and the glass.
Those who are particularly picky about presentation might want to go for the non-glare glass although it does add to the cost.
The picture is then sandwiched in between the foam backing and the matte.
“Some people do their own framing, some people take their work to a frame show and have them do it,” he said
To matte a photo well can cost $80 to $100.
“You would probably pay three times the price to have somebody matte and from the picture for you than you would if you did it yourself,” he said.
It might be cheaper to do the job on your own but only if you have the equipment or intend to use it again and again.
“You need a matte-cutter of course. You need a decent matte-cutter and this all costs dollars,” he said.
Eagle has high standards, he admitted.
“I’ve done it for years and I’m very serious about it and I’m very particular about my work. I paid in the neighbourhood of about $2,000 for my matte-cutter,” he said.
For those looking for a less expensive option, there are reasonable matte-cutters out there for about $200 that will do a decent job of it, he added.
While digital photography is cheaper than film these days, making it truly wall-worthy by Eagle’s standards still costs a pretty penny.
To Eagle it’s worth the time, effort and money.
“A (well) matted picture that is hanging on the wall is much, much more pleasing to look at than a picture that doesn’t have a matte.”
“I’ve been very serious about photography and matting pictures since I was a teenager – and I’m an old man now ... I get a great deal of pleasure from doing it and I make a little bit of money, but not much money.”