In this article we are going to look at how to matte and frame one of your own photos. Having a framed print that you have taken yourself is a great way to add some color and personality to your home, as well as reminding you of a favorite place or moment. However commercial framing services can be expensive enough to put off many people from getting a high quality frame.

The first concept you need to understand is matting. A matte is the rectangular card window that you see in front of a framed photo, between the photo and the glass. Your photo will be mounted behind the matte, which will hold the photo flat against the backing board. You can buy mattes with the window precut at a lot of craft or framing supply stores. Harder, but with more flexibility, is the option of cutting your own matte.

To cut your own matte, you will need a piece of matting board, pencil, heavy metal ruler or something else long, straight and heavy, and a matte cutter or craft knife. A matte cutter is recommended - this is a device that holds a blade at an angle, allowing you to cut a sloped opening in the matte that will help to lead the eye in to the picture. If you don't have access to a matte cutter, try using a craft knife held at an angle while you cut. Choose a color of board that will complement your photo but keep it simple. Black, Grey, Beige or White are popular choices for a matte.

First, cut your matte to fit inside your desired frame size. Next, measure your photo. You will need to cut a hole in the matte that is around 6mm smaller than your photo in width and height, so that the photo can be mounted to the matte. For example if your photo is 10cm by 10cm, you should aim for a hole that is 9.4cm x 9.4cm, which allows for 3mm for your photo to overlap on all sides of the matte by 3mm. If you don't feel confident cutting and ruling this accurately, it is better to go on the safe side and cut a smaller hole, maybe allowing for a 5mm overlap.

Once you have cut your matte, you will need to fix your photo to the matte. You can either use archival quality masking tape, or a spray adhesive. Conventional wisdom is to fix the photo on all sides of the matte, but an old picture framer once told me to only fix the photo to the top of the matte. This apparently allows the photo to breathe and flex a little bit, without pulling against the fixed part and creasing.

Now you should have a beautiful matted photo! The next step is to choose a frame. Premade frames can be found at photo framing stores in a huge range of styles. However a cheaper option is to hunt around for a vintage frame at second hand shops, garage sales etc. Often you can find a frame with an old picture in it for much less than the price of the frame on its own. Here is some more information about picture framing choices. Whatever frame you choose, it should be a simple matter to open the clips holding on the backing board, and drop your matted print into the frame. Now you just need to find somewhere to hang it!