The Photographers Code

Photography Education From Grinke Creative

5 Things To Help You Get Better Scores On Print Night

In this article, we are going to look at 5 things to help improve your print submissions. Specifically, they will be

  1. Review the last article. Here is a link
  2. Cropping
  3. Mounting
  4. Matting
  5. Print title

Review the article on improving your projection score.

In my last article, 5 Things To Help You Get Better Projection Night Scores, we looked at technical issues that could either help or hinder your results on projection night. Specifically, they were

  1. Image sharpness
  2. Spotting
  3. Fringing
  4. Over sharpening
  5. File sizing

The things are also critically important to your print. If you have not read that article, I urge you to do so. If you have read it, you may want to review it. Here is a link


Cropping, when done correctly, can go a long ways to improve the presentation of a printed image. When done incorrectly, it can go a long way to take away from the impact of an otherwise great image.

Use cropping to support the compositional elements of your image. One of the more common elements would be the rule of thirds. The basic idea being that you place your subject on one of the third nodal points. If you are unfamiliar with the rule of thirds, here is a short blog I wrote on the subject. Click here.

So how does cropping images for print differ from cropping for projection. When your images are projected, or you are viewing them on your screen, you see the image from edge to edge. When you are displaying a print, you will generally have a matt around it. The matt overlaps the edge of the print, typically by a 1/4 of an inch or about 5mm. Although this does not sound like much, it can completely change the impact of an image.

The solution is to make sure you add that extra space on to the edges of your image so that when you place the matt on it, you get what you expected.


Choices around how your print is mounted make a difference to how your print will present. Different mounting will produce different results.

When a print is mounted, it is attached to some sort of firm substrate. This can be foam core, matt board, plastic board, wood. You can mount a print to almost anything, but, for a typical presentation at a club, mounting a print to a very smooth, white, matt board is often the best.

Many club photographers do not mount their prints and this is fine, especially for a fine art presentation. However, having an image that remains flat, is not damaged from handling, and does not shift in the presentation matt will usually improve your presentation.


Why do we put matts around the prints? I n the context of this article, I will offer a couple of reasons.

The first one is to standardize size. This article assumes that prints are being made and readied for club displays, critiques, and competitions. As such, there needs to be some form of size standardization so that each print is viewed with the same parameters such as lighting, viewing distance, etc. At my club, the North Shore Photographic Society, we use 16 inches x 20 inches as the standard outside dimension of the matt. For displays we use 16×20 frames so the matted prints can easily be installed into the frames.

The second reason that I would offer is that it adds a finished look to a print. It surrounds the print with a clean, non-distracting “frame” so that the viewer will not be distracted at the edges of the print and consequently drawn out of the image.

The prints inside the matt can be as small as 8×10 (at the NSPS anyways, it may vary at other clubs) up to 11×14. What is also great about these sizes is that a pre-cut 16×20 white matt with an 11×14 hole are readily available from your favourite art supply store or camera store.

So here are some tips around matting

  • Make sure that the matt is fresh and clean. A matt with dirt, smudges and worn edges will take away from your print.
  • Make sure your print is properly centred in the matt hole. You do not want to have the edges of the print showing.
  • The print and backing must be firmly attache to the matt.
  • If your matts are being custom cut, try having the holes placed off centre,

Print Title

What you call your image can go a long way to make or break your print. The goal of the title is to help draw the viewer into the image. It can support the story that you are trying to convey, it can spark interest from the viewer before they have even looked at the image, and it can easily disappoint the viewer if it is mis-titled

I hope these tips and tidbits have been helpful. If you have any tips of your own, please email them to me and I will add them to the comments sections.

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