Photo Mounting Basics: Overview of Techniques and Materials

Photo mounting is the placement of a photograph on a display medium that provides stability, durability and protection. Professional photographers have many mounting techniques and products to choose from, depending on their particular cost, creativity and preservation needs.

The highest quality photo mounting techniques and products are museum archive quality, which emphasize maximized preservation. These are pH neutral, acid-free, non-warping substances that allow for clean removal of photographs from their mounts. Museums don’t use caustic adhesives, like rubber cement, which can cause damage.

Museum quality archival products are the best option for professional photographers who demand quality. A more eco-friendly option is the natural Japanese rice- or wheat-based glues that are less likely to cause harm.

Novice private displayers will use Scotch tape or glue sticks for mounting their photos in traditional scrapbooks. While these products are cheap, they tend to discolor as they age. These will eventually degrade into flaky bits when they dry and might damage photographs during removal.

A better temporary option – in terms of not having any dangerous or corrosive chemicals touching the photograph – is the usage of safe, inert, acid-free photo insert sleeve corners. Allow for a little space for movement and expansion; different materials expand at different temperature rates. Photo insert sleeve corners offer flexibility in photo mounting; removal and replacement – depending on the tastes of the owner – can be done without damaging the pictures.

There are also new spray adhesives available, which are clear, strong and dry quickly. These tend to be more permanent methods and are unhealthy due to hazardous vapors.

Permanent photo mounting offers many options that include dry and wet versions. The dry photo mounting technique uses special adhesives that are set with pressure that removes all air. Unfortunately, this technique prevents re-framing if professional photographers change their minds later. The wet photo mounting method requires a sheet of glue to be laid between the photograph and its backing.

Professional photographers should carefully consider how permanent they want the photo mounting to be. If uncertain, choose a more temporary option. Whether the photo is for private or public viewing also determines the type of material that should be selected. Look for pH neutral adhesives to provide a durable, sturdy photo mount that won’t deteriorate rapidly over time.

Additional Photo Related Resources: Photo Printing : Photo Processing