One of the primary purposes of scrapbooking is to display the treasure trove of photographs you have taken or acquired.

A simple solution, you say! Just paste them on some patterned scrapbook paper, add a few embellishments, and a journal note or two and your done.


Pasting photographs (which tend to be cluttered with individuals, backgrounds, etc.) on patterned paper makes for a very busy page. Placing photos on solid color pages may solve this busy problem, but not always . . . besides, themed or patterned paper may be appropriate for your project.

You can soften that busyness with patterned or themed paper by matting your photos and then adding them to your page.

Your be the judge . . . see “You are your own best judge” article.

Whether you choose to use a single, double, triple, patterned, mitered, mosaic, tiled, broken or embellished mat is up to you. Select the mat that best suits your page’s theme.

There are situations when not using a mat can be effective. Photographs that have one or two dominant subjects (people, pets, etc.) with little or no busy background in the photograph can work without a mat. You may have to crop a photo to rid it of some of the busy background in the photo. Generally, we recommend cropping your photos in addition to matting them.

Matting your photos usually makes the most sense. Matting can help you draw out the focus of your page. The mats color can help brighten darkened, or soften brighter photographs. Mat colors and patterns also can accent and focus on your page’s theme.

A photo mat is little more than a piece of paper, usually card stock, cut larger than your photograph . . . which provides a “frame” around the photo. How much of a frame you want around your photo is up to you. If you plan to add embellishments and/or journaling you may choose to make the frame wide enough to accommodate these elements. There is no hard fast rule of the size of mat frame to expose–but a ΒΌ” may come close to a minimum standard. But, differently don’t use a mat frame of less than an eighth of an inch–you’re better off with no mat at all.

(Remember: “Measure Twice and Cut Once”)
(Also see article on “Cropping Photos“)

Photograph mat board comes in varying thickness, and may be too thick for regular scrapbook mounting purposes, but may be used for special effect where you wan t your photo to stand out. There are other techniques to “lift” a photo up off a scrapbook page.

  • Select your photo(s)
  • Decide on the color of your mat paper or card stock
  • Measure the photo–especially if you have cropped the picture (see article on “Cropping Photos” )
  • Measure (see the rule noted above) the paper or card stock to give you the size border framing you desire
    • The border width does not have to be the same on all sides. You may provide ample space for embellishments and/or journaling

Additional Matting Affects:

  • Layering your mat by using another mat frame slightly larger.
    • Try triple layering your mat
  • Mix and match using solid color and patterned mats – especially when layering.
  • Lift a photo off the page by using thicker photo mat board, or
    • Use foam board to give the photo or entire mat a “3-D” look.

Attaching your photographs to your mat:

We don’t recommend gluing your original photos to your mat. Instead, use a copy of a photo, or use photo mounting corners.

Matting your photos is an easy way to enhance your scrapbook photos. Take the time to mat your photographs, and you will be rewarded with more elegant pages.

See “Cropping Picture Tools” for information on scrapbook tools that will help you in cropping your projects.

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Ron on January 1st, 2009 | File Under Design | 1 Comment -