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Matching The Right Picture Frame Style To Your Photo

picture frame styles  displayed on wall

Add The Finishing Touch To Your Photos With The Perfect Frame

Taking photographs & then viewing them on your device or computer can be satisfying, but actually seeing them as a printed image is far more rewarding.

Even more gratifying is enjoying your images displayed on your walls.

Many times a frame is needed to hang pictures & there’s certainly a wonderful choice of frame styles available.

So how do you match the right frame style to a photo? There’s no hard & fast rules, but there’s a number of things to consider that will help you choose the appropriate frame to enhance the photograph & not detract from it.

Like many things in life, if it looks pleasing to you & it gives you enjoyment .. well it must be the right choice!

There’s as many photographic genres as there are frame styles, but for practical purposes I'll cover the common types of photographs we use for wall art & displaying in our homes.

But whatever type of photo, there’s some useful tips & advice for choosing a frame style that will enhance not only the photograph, but the space it’s hanging in.

Frame & Photographic Style

With so many different styles of frames on the market, it’s easy to choose the best one to compliment & enhance your image as well as room décor.

The photograph itself can have a certain style & subject matter too.

Portraiture Photography

Portraits can suit a number of different frame styles.

For a more formal image, an ornate or decorative style frame will give that regal, stately & traditional look.

For a casual picture of the family having fun, then a modern floater frame will work really well, as these style frames also fit with most décor.


Standard picture frames are usually plain & of one solid colour. Being neutral in design, they will accommodate any portrait style or décor.

Not to forget digital photo frames, as these are great for family & holiday snapshots as you can set them up to display a slideshow of images.

Wedding Photography

In a sense, it’s similar to portrait photography.

Beautifully decorative frames can definitely work to amplify the grandeur & importance of this special occasion.

But a plain or neutral frame may be more appropriate, it will depend on the photograph itself & the wedding photographer’s style.


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Landscape Photography

This type of photography by it’s very nature includes a wide spectrum of scenes, colour & even moods.

A decorative frame may not be a good choice for most landscape images, it can be too distracting.

Although this type of frame works with landscape paintings, photographs have a different feel & sensibility.

A landscape photographer tries to capture the mood & atmosphere of the scene & an ornate frame will compete for attention & detract, or confuse the emotional response to the image.

The best frames for landscapes are floater & standard frames.

This doesn’t mean the frames can’t be interesting though, & I’ll cover that in the chapter on Frame Material a bit later in this article.

Abstract Photography

Abstract photographs are very creative & rely on texture, colour, lines & composition to produce an almost imaginary image.

This is another style of photography where a decorative frame may be too busy.

Ornate frames may confuse the viewer & diminish the effects the photograph is trying to achieve.

Again, these are all guidelines & not rules that are set in stone, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

But a more neutral frame design or floating frame will work well with more conceptual styles of photography.

Architectural & Cityscapes

This is another style of photography that will often incorporate sharp lines & relies on perspective & composition.

As with abstract images, ornate & decorative frames will be too hectic & diminish the more modern look of these images.

Standard & floater frames are an ideal choice for this photographic genre.

Black & White Photography

One of my favourite genres to shoot in as it reduces a scene to it’s composition & tones.

In saying that, black & white photographs can still convey emotion & feeling.

They can be moody landscapes, minimalistic, abstract as well as portraiture.

It really depends on the subject matter & the photographer's vision.

So a decorative frame could work with a certain image & not another.

But standard frames are the go to for most black & white photographs.

As you may have already noticed, B&W images are usually framed with a plain black or white frame.


Related Article:


Fine Art Photography

This is a difficult genre to explain & completely define to be honest.

But photography is an art form & a photographer can have a vision, concept or emotion that he/she represents or captures in an image.

Sometimes it can be abstract, black & white, colour or all of these.

Fine art photographs can be a preconceived idea or captured naturally as in landscapes & street photography.

Either way, this style of photography is considered more “serious” or “arty” (which is often represented by the price!).

So a gaudy ornate frame isn’t going to do justice to the artists vision.

A more contemporary or modern frame won’t cause any offence & will be the better choice.

Frame Size

The size of a picture frame is related to style.

A thick, chunky frame may not work with a more delicate, or minimalist image.

Fine art photographs tend to suit sleeker frames as do modern cityscapes.

I have seen architectural images in more substantial frames, but there’s no rules or magic ratios for choosing the best size frame.

If the photograph looks good in the frame & it suits the visual appeal you’re after, then it must be the right frame!

Frame Material

Picture frames can be made from a variety of different materials.

When describing a picture frame, this can often include the glass or acrylic sheet the photograph sits behind.


Glass or acrylic is mainly used for pictures printed on photographic paper, which I’ll go into in the next chapter.


Wood is a very popular material used for frames.

Different woods can be used from lightweight bamboo or pine to heavier timbers.

Wood is also a versatile material & can be used for crafting decorative, modern, rustic & many other styles.

Wood can also be stained or painted as well as having decorative inlays.

It’s a great material to work with if you’re the creative type & wish to make a frame yourself.

Because there's such a variety of wooden frames, it’s a suitable material for all styles of photography.

Beach images can look great with a wooden rustic or shabby chic style frame.

A stained wood frame works well with certain landscapes & even portraiture.

Cityscapes, abstracts & contemporary images suit wooden floater frames & other sleek frame designs.


Mainly aluminium is used as it’s sturdy yet lightweight.

A wonderful choice for that ultra modern & sleek look.

But metal frames can also be decorative & come in vintage designs too.

So even with this particular material, you’ll have a wide variety of styles to choose from.

The advantage over wood is that metal is robust & moisture resistant, so a good choice for photos being displayed in wet areas & higher humidity.


Check Out These Articles If You're Displaying Photos In High Humidity & Moisture Environments:



Another material that offers a wide variety of picture frame styles.

Ceramic frames are robust & water resistant, but can break more easily if dropped.

They’re generally more decorative, so not the best choice for a contemporary look, but great for those family snapshots.

ceramic picture frames


Crystal frames can bring a touch of elegance as they shimmer & shine.

A fabulous choice for wedding photos & other pictures of special occasions.

Certain portraits will look wonderful in a crystal frame, but they’re not well suited to landscapes, abstract or other genres of photography.

crystal picture frame on wall

Frame & Print Medium

Print technology has come a long way & there aren't many things that a photograph can’t be printed on or transferred to.

The look & style of the print material, as well as the subject matter of the photo, is something to consider when choosing a frame.

Photographic Paper

Framing a photographic print is straightforward.

Standard size photographic prints will simply slip into any shop bought picture frame.

Larger prints are often mounted first to offer more rigidity.

Even when mounted, photo prints are relatively thin, so will fit into any type of picture frame.

Photo prints can also be matted, this is where a matte, or window, is placed in front of the print.

Sometimes a matted photo can look good as is & doesn’t require a picture frame.

To learn more you can explore this article:

To learn more about the various photographic paper types & their different qualities, here is a guide to photographic print materials.

white picture frame

Canvas Prints

Canvas prints are extremely popular.

They are usually purchased as wraps, this is where the print is stretched over a wooden frame.

Sometimes referred to as gallery wraps, they don’t require framing as they look wonderfully modern & contemporary & are designed to be displayed this way.

But a wrap can also be mounted in a floating frame & this too is a terrific choice & suits this print medium really well.

Otherwise a canvas print can be mounted to a backing board & a standard picture frame can be used.

Canvas does look better when framed without a glass or an acrylic sheet in front.

It’s the texture of canvas that gives it that unique look.


Metal Prints

Metal, sometimes referred to as aluminium prints, is another print medium that looks fantastic without a frame.

But they can be framed, & because aluminium is thin, any frame style or material can be used.


Related Article:


They are a very sleek & modern print style though, so decorative frames may look odd with a metal photo print.

They're more suited to plain, contemporary frame styles.

Frame Colour

Frame colour plays quite an important role & needs to suit the image as well as the wall & room décor.

Black & white photography is usually framed with black, grey or white frames.

Being colour neutral they don’t distract from the image.

But coloured frames can be used & when chosen correctly look fantastic.

Landscape images are a good example.

black & white photo in green picture frame

A monochrome photograph of a forest for instance can suit a subtle green frame, just as a desert scene may look good framed with a brown or earthy tone.

Basically, you’re finding a colour or tone that would be present were it a colour image & matching to that.

The article below covers this in more detail if you’d like to explore further.


This idea translates to colour photographs too of course.

There’s no hard & fast rules, but if an image was predominantly green as in a forest scene, using a green frame may be overwhelming.

So look for subtle shades in the image, such as the brown of the tree bark & match to that.

landscape photograph in yellow picture frame

Just like the style, frame colour shouldn’t become a distraction & draw the eye away from the image, but rather enhance & compliment the photograph whilst still keeping the viewer interested in the scene.

Final Thoughts

Framing a photograph is the final step before you proudly display it on your wall.

So even if you didn’t take the photo, choosing a frame can be a creative endeavour.

With such a wide availability of styles & colours, there’s no reason to settle for any old boring picture frame.

I hope you found value in this article & please feel free to share it around .. I’m always grateful.


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