The photo mat is an area between the photo and the frame, which serves to highlight the picture and allow them to focus on the art piece in question. These mats come in different shapes and sizes. While they are not often discussed, the thing is that they have a key role in the overall perception of the photo. After all, they grab attention, set the tone and even produce some optical illusions of their own.
One of the things that people tend to forget is the fact that digital photos need mats, as well. So, how do you pick the right mat for your digital photo? Well, here are several factors you might want to consider.
1. Choose the right color
The rule of thumb is that mat color is supposed to be light or neutral. The key thing you need to understand here is that light seems like something quite subjective. It depends on the color of the photo and your main objective is to ensure that it’s darker than the actual image.
There’s a huge difference between using a mat for paintings and using it for photography. In art, the mat is supposed to be of the dominant color. This is often achieved through contrast. In this scenario, the role of the mat is to draw people in closer. A dominant color grabs their attention from afar and makes them take a couple of steps towards the photo to closer examine it. This is especially nice if you have a photo with many different details that you want people to examine.
On the other hand, if the photo itself has bright colors and dominant features (so much that it captures attention from afar), you needn’t resort to this type of mat. Instead, you should go with something neutral as a setting.
In general, matching colors is one of the key aspects of making a lasting visual impression.
2. A chance for branding
While it is customary for a mat to be in a single color, the truth is that this doesn’t have to be the case. A mat that is of a particular pattern can help brand an entire area of your photography. Having a logo imprinted can make a world of difference, especially when it comes to corporate photography.
You can also use a photography mat in order to appeal to the tactile senses of the observer. In order to explain this, we’ll have to make a stretch and draw a parallel between a photo mat and a traditional floor mat. According to experts behind Mat Shop, one of the roles of a quality mat is to provide a tactile sensation to a person walking into your office space. A photography mat with a unique pattern can cause a similar sensation “a perception of texture,” thus making a more lasting impression.
Just because photography is a visual medium, this doesn’t mean that you can’t send a more powerful branded message by attacking all senses at once.
3. Mat on a collage
When making a digital collage, you can use a mat in order to make a distinction between different photos. Whether or not the art in question is captivating or hard to look at will be determined by more than just a color. The space between photos is also a massive factor.
While you want there to be space between photos, you don’t want to put too much space between the photos, seeing as how you will risk separating them thematically, as well. The purpose behind making a collage is to unify numerous photos or images in the same theme. By physically separating them with a mat in an inefficient way, you risk defeating the purpose.
Remember that sometimes, the background of the photo and the mat will blend. This way, you can combine different photos and create an illusion of one giant photograph. At other times, this will be the exact opposite of what you’re striving towards.
4. Play around
The single biggest advantage of digital photography over its traditional counterpart is definitely the ease at which you can make this change. In the majority of tools, all that it takes is for you to select a tool, hover over the mat area and click on it. Alternatively, you might even be able to change the color of the mat with a single click (on your hue of choice).
This means that you don’t have to speculate. You can just go through several (or several dozens) of colors and see what they would look like around your photo. Now, remember that the impression is subjective so if you’re unsure, try to ask someone else for an opinion. They too can sit through several changes.
Before you even start, you might want to look at some ideas online. Sure, you may be able to tell if something looks good or not but the fact is that you will probably have to choose between around 600 different hues. This means that some options (potentially best you have) might not even cross your mind.
Also, if you are faced with multiple viable choices what you can do is format several images and use them in a side-by-side comparison. You can even organize a tournament with brackets and pick the winner as your final version. This gives you the most objective decision-making process.
5. Perception of depth and elegance
The perception of depth and shadow is a key thing for the impression that a photo will make. For instance, using a lighter color for a mat visually gives the photo a greater depth. This ensures that the photo seems to get that extra bit of distance from the viewer. If you aim to keep the image flat-looking, you can always go with something neutral.
Another important function of a digital photo is adding the element of luxury and extravagance to the photography. This is especially easy to achieve by using bright accents. This means that the surrounding color needs to match the brightest hue used on the image. Then, you mute the tones the further it gets from the rim.
6. Break the monotony
One of the biggest misconceptions about choosing the right color for your photo mat is the idea that white is, for some reason, your safest bet. While this may appear to be the case, you will notice that some of the most aesthetic options are not white but bright solid colors which, from afar, resemble white.
Two such examples are Ivory and mouse gray. They help set a pleasant background without straining the eye. Also, keep in mind that if the frame itself is white or light grey, your choice of the mat will have to change, as well.
The next trick you could use is to add a double mat. This will make your photography look like artwork. Keep in mind, nonetheless, that you should always pick tones for your frame based on the artwork. Choosing colors that are already in the picture will add more substance to the piece as a whole. It will also make this fit seem more organic. As a result, your photography will get quite a bit of character.
By making a clever choice, you can use the mat to add personality to your photography. The end result will be quite impressive and with minimal effort. People looking at the screen already put a strain on their eyes, this is why it’s so important that you pick the right photography mat. In the digital environment, making a frame is such an easy task. All you need to do is get a couple of ideas, make a few frames in a suitable color and texture, as well as test them out. This will only take a couple of minutes of your time but the end result will be more than impressive.
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