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The Emotions of Framing

When I got into the business of framing, it didn’t occur to me that selecting a frame would often be an emotional experience. It stands to reason emotions come into play when you consider that people generally frame photos and objects that are of great importance to them. (Of course, there was the client who shadowboxed a rock only to inform us later it was one she’d found it in her backyard.  We make no judgment – on the contrary, we encourage all of you to look in your backyards for unusual geologic formations and bring them to us to frame.)

Most often, the framing is for happy occasions – a wedding or new baby photo, tickets to a favorite concert, a hole-in-one scorecard, etc.  Clients love to talk about what they are framing and we love to hear the stories.  We’ve heard some unbelievable tales of wild vacations (wish I could tell you, but we keep secrets), celebrity encounters, interesting family histories and many others.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we frame photos of lost loved ones and sometimes, it’s soon after their deaths. Preserving a memory is often the first thing we think of after losing someone important.  Shortly after my father passed away, I went through old family albums, gathered my favorite photos of him and created a special photo album.  I framed a photo I felt captured him the best.

Emotions can be quite intense when someone comes in with such a photo.  We are moved beyond words that a client entrusts this treasure to us and we are always respectful of how much he or she wants to talk. We express our sympathies for their loss and continue with the business of recommending matting and framing.  Sometimes, however, a client wants to talk about the person whose photo we are framing and we are always happy to oblige.  I’m proud to say that each of our framers and designers act with great sensitivity in such occasions.

Recently, I restored a photo for an elderly woman who had just lost her husband. It was one that had been taken shortly before he died, but it was not in very good shape.  She told me what a wonderful man he was and how he had treated her like a queen her entire life.  She said they had no children and now she had no one. I let her talk for a long time, patted her arm and told her I would do the very best I could with the photo.  When she left, I immediately went to work on the photo with tears in my eyes.

I know the medical field and funeral homes deal with these emotions every day. I just never expected I would have the honor to do so.

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