Presenting Polaroids Part 6: Framing the Image

Note: The companion YouTube video can be found at the bottom of this post.

Most publications displaying Polaroid SX-70 images will include its iconic white frame. After all it is an intrinsic part of the presentation, a self-contained frame that needs nothing more than to be held in the hand to be a complete presentation. 

However, as a photographer, my focus is on the image I want to make, not the white frame that makes an appearance after the film is ejected from the camera. When I look through the viewfinder of my folding SX-70 camera, I see only the image area, not the frame. Edwin Land was very specific in wanting nothing to interfere with the image seen through the viewfinder; the image was everything to Land. 

I can also look to the publications of iconic photographers. 

André Kertész’s photobook From My Window was based on his SX-70 project. He was well into his eighties at the time but the book was published while he was still alive. I imagine he was highly involved in the book design and had a say in presenting his photos without the frames. 

Ansel Adams’ Polaroid Land Photography presents Polaroids created by many famous photographers on all types of film. Adam’s was fanatical in presenting photographs to their best and it is notable that all the SX-70 photos in his book are shown frameless.  

Like Kertész, Walker Evans completed his own Polaroid SX-70 project near the end of his life. In the posthumously-published Walker Evans: Polaroids, the book designer saw fit to reproduce Evan’s work without the white frame. 

In short, a case can be made for matting SX-70s to hide their frames and show only the image area. There is something rare and beautiful laying beneath the clear polyester surface of a well made SX-70 photo. There is a depth to the image, as if looking through crystal clear lake water and seeing the pebbles beneath the surface. Set in a white mat, these shiny little jewels seem to glow and invite the viewer to move in and explore.

Matting and framing photographs is hardly a novel presentation technique. There’s lots of matting tutorials on the subject, not to mention professional framers that are well-versed in making photographs look their best. 

What I want to demonstrate is how anyone can easily mat and frame Polaroid SX-70s without much equipment and show examples of what the various matting and framing options look like. So let’s get to it.

Products mentioned:

9 ¾” x 9 ¾” (25 x 25cm) Sannahed frame from Ikea https://www.ikea.com/ca/en/

12” x 12” Studio Décor Fundamentals Display Case from Michaels https://canada.michaels.com/en/Home-Show

Winnipeg Architecture Foundation: https://www.winnipegarchitecture.ca

More From Me:

Check out my SX-70 YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/WalkClickMake

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dfirman/

Firmangallery portfolio and store: https://www.firmangallery.com

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