To fill my need for an easy and economical alternative to standard window mats for showing prints at club competitions I’ve developed a simple system, as implied in the title above. Although certainly not suitable for special competitions or exhibits outside our camera club, in my opinion it is perfectly satisfactory for club use, where the main requirements are a suitable board to hold the print on our light box during viewing and critique, and a means to protect the print during transport and when it is laid flat (w/ other prints) before and after judging.
ADDENDUM 8-8-12 (additional suggestions from Asst Print Chair Charlene Yoshizu)
Thanks to Laurie for providing excellent guidelines on preparing prints for
PACC competitions. I agree with everything he said. Based on my recent
experience as assistant to the print chair, I would like to expand on what
he already proposed.
Keep in mind that we are moving dozens of prints and the suggestions below
are intended to minimize disruptions, “print malfunctions” and damage to
your prints. This especially applies during the judging period when we are
quickly moving prints around.
1) When using clear plastic to protect your prints, be sure it does not
extend beyond any of the four edges of the mounting board. This also applies
to when the plastic is flipped behind the print. Otherwise, the print will
be more difficult to handle and/or not lay flat on the light box and in the
category bins. When using clear bags for the cover, cut the bag open so that
you use only one layer.
2) Be sure the label is visible when the protective cover is flipped behind
the print. This is only a problem if you use an opaque cover, such as
cardboard. It’s not a problem if you use clear plastic, the preferred
3) When reusing a cover or mat board and switching from horizontal to
vertical orientation, or vice versa, be sure to reattach the plastic cover
to the *top* of the matboard, not the *side*. Also, the label should be
moved to the top left corner on the back of the print.
4) If an over-mat board is hinged to an under-mat board, be sure to secure
together the sides opposite the hinge to prevent the mat boards from
swinging open like a book. When the entire print and mounting is secure,
it’s easier to handle and reduces the chance of damaging your print. Note:
Use a removable tape such as the “Artist Tape” from Aaron Brothers. It’s
strong and a little bit goes a long way.
5) If you must hand-print your ID labels, please print neatly. Also use dark
ink (e.g. fine-point Sharpie) so that we can read your writing under low
light. Of course it’s best to print your labels soon after you’ve submitted
your entries online so that you don’t have to remember the title and
category, and the information is legible.