Before & After: Reframing Chris Burkard's Award Winning Photograph

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In a journal post on Monday, I went into detail about how a photograph by award winning photographer, Chris Burkard changed my life.  As a follow-up post, I’d like to show the before and after images from the original frame for this print with what we are making today.  

To start, here are a couple side by side images without any commentary.  Which do you prefer?  

Framing and displaying artwork is an art form in and of itself.  Lots of aesthetic choices have to be made and just as with art, it will vary based on the artist. (For example, when I showed my wife this image to get her thoughts she said the “before” frame.)  However, I do think that there are choices that can be made based on the particular work of art that help amplify the artist's original vision.   Just as a musician has lots of options to choose from when selecting instruments to accompany a piece of music.

There were several changes that I wanted to make with the new frame.  I wanted the image to feature more predominantly and to hold a greater aesthetic weight than the rest of the frame.  One of the most interesting parts of this image is at the surfer on the wave at the bottom right of the photograph (see below).  I felt that in the previous frame this key aspect of the image gets lost.

In order to do this I made the following design choices.  First, I used a narrower frame profile and reduced the matting width on the top and right and left sides of the frame.  This helps to bring the photograph to the forefront of the viewers gaze.  Second, the original frame had a 4-ply mat.  With the new frame I chose a 8-ply matting which is double the thickness.  What this does is help draw the viewers eye to the photograph when its on the wall.  It’s a subtle difference, but to me it makes a big difference.  The 8-ply matting can be seen in the image above.  

Here is a visual of some of the key differences.

Now to the back of the frame.  Below is a before and after of the back view.  To me, this is where the craftsmanship of what we are building today really stands out.  It's easy for framers to cut corners (and cost) on the back of the frame because its not going to be seen 99% of the time.  But to me that doesn't cut it.  The back of the frame has just as much importance, aesthetically and functionally, as the front.   Take a look…  

The most functional part of the back of the frame is how the artwork is secured into the frame.  As you can see below, we use what is called a strainer that is made of 100% real basswood.  What is commonly used in store bought frames, and in the "after" frame below are brad nails.  These are those little pieces of metal you see sticking over the matting of the back.

At the risk of overkill, here are a few more detailed images of the frames.  The difference in quality is pretty clear in the before and after images.  I'm really proud of what were making today.  

Finally, I thought I would try out framing the print in a couple of wood types and finishes that we offer.  I think all three of these options really compliment Chris' photograph in different ways.  When choosing your frame and the type of wood and finish it's important the the image has some of the same tones as the frame.  Black can pretty much work for everything, but our brown and honey colored frames also look really good as those tones can be picked out from within the image itself. 

You can purchase a print of this photograph (and many others) through Chris' website.  If your interested in framing it like we've shown above drop me an email at  

To end, here are some bigger images of the print in its current frame.  Now I've got to get it back on my wall!  







Hi Ernot! Thanks for the comment. Apologies for the delay in responding.

Yes, we actually use a clear acrylic instead of glass. There are a couple key benefits. The main advantage is the durability of acrylic is much better than glass without any performance loss. Shipping large plates of glass can be dicey and using acrylic removes that risk. Its also a bit lighter than glass which reduces the strain on the frame over its lifetime.

Our frames come with clear Acrylite acrylic. This is museum grade and is manufactured in the United States.


Ernot Sanes

I really like that aricle, it clearly shows the benefits of the new framing with lighter border-width and added depth to the frame.

The presented images just brings off more of it’s details, while fading the frame’s features a bit more to the background, still supporting and holding the image, though.

One question I’ve got and didn’t find on your site is, if you your frames are used with or without glass in the front? And if using glass, will it be museum-quality glass?

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