by P.R.Banks

It is amazing the difference a frame makes. No, not the HTML variety - I am in no big rush to use them till I finally have an application that needs them on this website. Which I might just have in the nearish future depending on how keen I get and actually unbury the scanner.

But anyways, frames. The wooden variety to be precise. Ones that you put photographs in. You see for one reason or another I have been rummaging around in a local Warehouse store. [1] Well I made a little discovery - cheap photograph frames that are actually fairly good looking.

This is no small thing for me. [2]

Those who have looked around this site will have seen that I have a bit of a passion for photography. All of the images on this site were taken or made by me. I am proud of that both for the obvious copyright simplification reason (what, that wasn't why you would be proud of em?) but also for the joy of being able to do that. There is something about catching a place, person, animal or moment well that is just satisfying.

It is hard to explain in words, especially given the highly visual nature of the medium. But to be able to freeze that view and the show the world exactly what interested you in it is to me the essence of photography. It is an almost sublime art of reducing the visual splendour around you down to an essential almost elemental simplicity and then letting everyone else have the chance to see the beauty around us.

But I have discovered an interesting truth. Unless they are interested in photography virtually no one respects a raw photograph. Show them a sublime image that captures something virtually perfectly both in technical and aesthetic terms but show them it without a frame and it just gets no respect at all. Friends grunt, say 'How pretty' and move on quickly. Strangers blink, sniff the air and beat a hasty retreat with a worried look. (Hang on, that might have had something to do with the speed with which I whipped the photograph out and the glazed crazy look in my eye as I closed on them.)

Okay I am exaggerating a little but not all that much. Unless it has a frame around it it just doesn't get respect.

So these cheap frames I found at the Warehouse allowed me to put some of my images into a frame. And yeesh the difference! A friend who I normally have to just about force into looking at the images suddenly actually asked to look through the other enlargements I had. People at work who have seen the original photograph react quite differently to the image when shown it in a frame.

But what is it about the frame that does this? Is it just the professional touch, that someone has gone to the effort of framing it therefore it must be important? I sometimes wonder if it is all just psychological cues because fundamentally the image hasn't changed - just how it is presented.

To a certain extent I must admit this is just a tinge of bitterness talking. I'd prefer to not have to go to the hassle of finding a frame, mounting the photograph and the affording the frames. Photography is an expensive enough hobby as it is without this cost on top of it. I'd prefer to just be able to show people the photograph and have them be wowed by it from that alone. But that is just me being parsimonious and I do have to admit I get a kick out of seeing my photographs in a frame.

[1] For those outside New Zealand Warehouse is a chain of stores that bulk buy, well to be fair, junk - most of the time anyways and then sell that on at fairly cheap prices. Usually the quality of the stuff leaves a lot to be desired but bargains can be found from time to time so a good rummage is worth doing from time to time.

[2] I've had a small promise to myself - I'll know that somewhere is my home when I can put my photographs up on the walls. It is that finishing touch that tells me that this space is mine. Kinda like how animals mark their territory only using something a little more solid than the usual choice for this task.

Philip R. Banks
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