To mat or not to mat is quite a decision. But how to choose a mat is the bigger question.
First let's discover the purpose of matting. Mats can be of visual importance to the photo. A mat can highlight a color in the artwork. It can be used to increase the overall size when the artwork is small. Mats provide support for the photo. They can also help protect an unframed photograph if it will be handled a lot.
Mat Border Sizes
How do you know how wide the mat borders should be? The whole idea behind matting and framing a photo should be to draw the eye to the photo and enhance it.
There is no set rule. Some professionals will say 15 -20% of the smallest dimension of the image should be the mat border. Others just know from experience that certain border sizes work well with certain image sizes. Look at different sizes. What looks good to you? Experiment a little. Always keeping in mind that you want people to see and focus on the image.
Should you use a mat at all? Aside from the purpose of mats mentioned above, this is purely a personal decision. When you look at paintings done by the masters there are not mats. And you don't really notice the lack of a mat.
The choice is yours. But now you have a little more knowledge to help guide you in that choice. Remember you can do this yourself or you can use a professional picture framer.
How do you choose a good frame shop to work with? We will cover that next time.