Classy packaging

99,9% of the images I present online have the negative border around them. I kind of like it but I’m a graphic designer. I think it frames the images well and I do like to see parts of the frame number and the film brand…

None of that has anything to do with photography, just about presentation. Including the negative border with the image is just packaging.

Do anyone really “sees” it?
If so… is it distracting and interferes visually?
Or does it help the visual presentation?

I know that these kind of questions are more of a graphic nature than a photographic one, but… aren’t we all a bit concerned about the graphic aspects of the presentation of our images at some point?

If we are going to frame photographs for a gallery, don’t we all want to decide about the frame? Wood or steel, plastic or whatever… the color of the pass-par-tout… the sequence of the presentation, etc…

If it’s a book, again the order of the images, will some print to the page edge or should we leave a white margin… or black, or any other color. What kind of paper? What size?…

If it’s online… do we want a vertical or horizontal scroll? White or colored background? Should the background darken when presenting images? Will they have navigation arrows once in presentation mode? Will go they fullscreen by default, etc…

May it be a book or a website, or even an exhibit, we can always get a professional designer to do it but they will always follow instructions and ultimately the final word is the client’s word.

The first image has the negative borders and some tape which I’ve used to tape the negative to the scanner glass.



  1. iamamro said:

    I agree with you – the border is good and certainly adds to the image rather than take away from it.

  2. Rufus Girard said:

    I made platinum contact prints from 120 negatives once. I included the negative border complete with film details. People were fascinated that the text placed the image in time.

    • I understand what you mean Rufus and let me tell you, a contact print is itself a beautiful object. 🙂

    • Thank you Emil, it’s a pinhole image taken with a Zero Image camera.

  3. Mark said:

    I think the border is an integral part of the image but of course it does depend on the image. In the example you have shown I actually prefer this image without the frame. I think the film border constricts the image whereas without you get a better sense of scale and a longing to see what else is on either side.

    I use borders a lot especially on images taken with my phone as I think it helps the overall look but I’m also a graphic designer! Perhaps we just think about stuff like this too much!! 😉

    Excellent image by the way.

    • Thank you so much Mark. I appreciate your opinion.

      PS: It’s our fault, we’re designers, we must come up with a “designer mode” on/off switch! 🙂

  4. Também costumo ter este dilema! Gosto de “emoldurar as fotos, para aí 2 ou 3% do total da imagem.. claro que depende bastante da máquina com que fotografo, a GA645 faz uma moldura bonita com a data e o nome do filme, mas de resto prefiro limitar-me a criar a moldura (preta ou branca consoante a imagem) no Photoshop – os tais 3% do canvas 🙂

    Molduras muito grandes acho que distraem.. e volta e meia tiro a moldura e a foto perde metade do impacto – o que não é bom sinal, é sinal que a foto ficou fraquinha

    Acho que também vou para o meu blog reflectir sobre isto 😛

    • Ora aí é que bate o ponto da questão… tira-se a “embalagem” e chega-se à conclusão de que o “conteúdo” é realmente fraco… Acontece-me 36 frames por dia.

  5. The border definitely adds to, and not takes away from, the image. Furthermore, having the border (or even the sprocket holes) visible makes the image more tangible for me, by directly reminding me of the material or medium the image comes from (the negative).

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