Re: Source for mat board?
I agree with the 3:2 aspect ratio. I decided to start cutting mats because I was tired of cropping pictures to fit standard 8x10-inch store-bought frames (I am NOT going to start making frames in this or any other lifetime) so I figured I could get larger frames and learn how to cut mats to fit my pictures.
These are some valuable tips for holding down the costs and I appreciate them.
I have one wall that might look good with a panorama collage without frames, so good tip there, too, but for everything else, I like frames.
Prices for matboard have increased dramatically in the past few years. Unless you do just frame a few prints a year, the costs can be substantial. My wife is also a photographer and we both frame for home display, art gallery exhibitions and club events. Between the two of us we print and frame roughly 25-75 prints a year, mostly 12x18 or 16x24 sizes.
All of the local stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby have stopped carrying matboard. The only option is to order online for Blick or a similar supplier. That means ordering in bulk and paying for shipping. I have no recommendations for the best sources but can make some recommendations for keeping the costs down.
First consider the quality of the matboard you need. Museum archival board is extremely expensive. I have settled on Crescent Decorative. It is not archival but lasts for decades anyway.
Next consider the sizes you need. I have settled on using half sheets (20x32). This saves a lot of money. Full sized sheets are hard for the vendors to pack and ship and shipping costs go up because the packages are "oversized" at high shipping rates.
You can save huge amounts of time and money if you can reuse mats. I typically compose in camera with final aspects ratios of 3:2. This allows me to reuse my mats cut for 12x18 or 16x24 prints. Even if some cropping is needed, I find I can often resize the final edit to match the same aspect ratio. Files off size by 10 or even 20% can often be resized and still look great.
Of course the final cost savings is to stop using mats and frames. Prints can be glued to gatorboard or canvas prints can be displayed without any external mats/frames. Personal I prefer the classic look of a framed print.