Print Size?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Robert Brummitt, May 6, 2005.

  1. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    I was visiting a local gallery and the sales a person said that bigger is better but I disagree. I like small prints. Prints between 4x5 to 8x10. 11x14, I consider standard size. I like the intimate feel of the smaller print. The isolation of the image. Large prints can overwhelm. I have both Large and small on my walls and I enjoy them both. I brought up this thought of print size on the chat line. It was 50/50 results/
    What do you think?
     
  2. david b

    david b Member

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    Michael Kenna only prints 7.5" x 7.5" .
     
  3. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    Yea the whole post-modernist "bigger is better," line. It usually comes with the never dry mount or sign the front of your prints advice.

    I recently went to see an exhibit of Latin American and Caribbean Art. This included 6 8x10's by Bravo and three Orozca's. While the 8x10's are dramatically smaller than either the Chuck Close 6' digital self-portrait or the 5' Sally Mann battlefield wetplate print in the next room, the prints were perfect (one had been scratched in storage or when in private hands) but they were perfect. Close and Mann's prints weren't. They were BIG, though.

    The Close self portrait was pieced from two sheets in an obvious manner. Sally Mann's print was coated in beeswax. So while drymount may be a no..no for the gallery and museum world, I guess that large beeswax and digital prints are somehow more "Archival."
     
  4. rst

    rst Member

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    If it is not the image itself which impresses: Make it big. The biggest prints I can do in my small darkroom are 8.5x8.5 on 9.5x12 paper, but usually I do smaller ones and I am used to the smaller ones. I just like them more.

    As for exhibitions, I think for big prints, you look at them from a greater distance. Smaller prints invite you to give up that distance and so maybe also a bit of the distance to the subject shown.

    I think a good image can stand every print size.

    ciao
    -- Ruediger
     
  5. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Robert and Jim -I'm fortunate enough to own 2 Bravos. they are great works of art in 8x10 format. Yes it is an unfortunate state of affairs about large pieces; the galleries have to be justified somehow for the prices they charge!
    seriously I do a lot prints on 8x10 and 11x14 paper.I have quite a few 4x5 contact prints which I consider to be little jewels. Making an image larger does not neccessarily render it BETTER. If I'm going to print large then I better have something good to say.
    Best, Peter
     
  6. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    Thye say that because larger prints will appreciate in value, on a dollar basis, faster than their smaller sized counterparts. When you go to re-sell a print, usually the bigger it is the easier it is to sell and the more you'll get for it. People that appreciate the higher quality of smaller prints are much fewer than those 'wowed' by the huge print.

    -Mike
     
  7. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    This is very much a "horses for courses" question.

    Some images MUST be printed large - they simply don't work as tiny prints.

    Some images can't be printed large due to film limitations.

    To my market demographic, a salable print is something that most people can't do themselves. One limitation on most people is a large print size (try making a 30" print from a 4MP digicam).

    My market is also mainly composed of people wanting to decorate a room, so one big, impressive print works well in their living room. They are not collectors, but decorators.

    And Mike's premise is also right - the "WOW!" factor of a big print is greater for most people.

    So if you are making prints for yourself, print them to the size the image demands. If you are trying to sell to the general public, make them BIG. As for collectors? Don't ask me ....

    Cheers,
     
  8. omalley

    omalley Member

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    I personally like an 8x10 or an 11x14, no bigger. I have some little Cibachromes in gold leaf frames with suede mat, I think they are 5x8 or so, and I like the small size of them because they require closeness. I print 11x14 because the technique I use involves some texture/detail that would not be adequately visible in a smaller print. I wouldn't print any bigger than that, though. To me big prints seem like a crowd-pleaser.
     
  9. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Some images should be big, some small. I have one which is on the small side at 50x70cm (about 20x28"), others which are best as 9x12cm contact prints. I have also made very nice 6x4.5 contacts...
     
  10. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I prefer smaller sizes, more like a whisper. The negative often dictates the image size for me.

    That said, have you noticed sometimes, especially in the art world, the prints are bigger, but the ideas are smaller?
     
  11. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    Very true, very true...

    I let the subject matter (or the client) determine the final print size, but I don't make huge prints from tiny negatives. I really like 8X8 inch prints from medium format (6X6) film, but wedding and portrait customers want 8X10 (or 10X10), so that's what I make.

    Not quite on topic, but funny:

    I was showing a digital shooter some B&W prints recently. The images were shot on 35mm Tri-X, processed in Rodinal - you can see what's coming...

    He commented to me "There's a lot of noise in the sky here, you need to get a higher megapixel camera if you want to make 8X10 prints"

    He had NO idea of the concept of "grain".

    -sigh-
     
  12. Shmoo

    Shmoo Subscriber

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    I agree with Bob. The final size of the print depends upon the subject. It also depends upon what the artist is trying to achieve. There are some shots that demand huge prints. I doubt that Adams' "Clearing Storm" shot would look as good on 8x10 or 4x5. On the other hand, I saw Kertesz's "Chez Mondrian" shot and it's approcimately 8x10, possibly smaller, and it would look out of place in 20x24.

    S
     
  13. Wally H

    Wally H Member

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    For my own work I generally prefer print in a 10"h[horizonal] x 10" - 13"v[vertical], but there are times a composition seems better at a different size, (larger or smaller). A few of my slot canyon images I prefer at 19"h x 22"v. Generally, I feel the smaller an image is printed, the less complicated and busy the composition should be... again, in general, as I reserve the right to change my mind at any given moment for no apparent reason...
     
  14. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    I don't think that there is anything inherently wrong with "LARGE." But I do think that a perfect print is more important than a LARGE print.

    Personally, I have no suitable space to display LARGE prints. I live in a small house filled with books. Art has to fit the space or remain unhung. 20x24 is the abolutely largest space that I have.

    Recently I bought one of Alex Hawley's prints. I was skeptical at first about the 13x15 matte, but now I really love the size.

    Mike
     
  15. david b

    david b Member

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    I just got off the phone with a friend who just sold a 15x15 and then sold another one to a banker who wants it 20x20 to put behind his desk.
     
  16. nze

    nze Member

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    I agree with Ceratto the smaller the image lighter should be the composition.
    I mostly contact print and I got some negative I keep for enlargement as they're is to much information for the size and this information can be revealed tby the enlargement.
     
  17. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    I shoot with slower speed films, typically and print usually 8x8 or 10x10's, using 2 1/4 negs... My girlfriend has been known to shoot Delta 3200, 135 and enlarge to 11x14... The grain enlarged that much gives off a sketched look that I think is facsinating with the subject matter...

    I like the consensus that it depends on the image and the finished product.. Its unfortunate that some spaces are designed solely for the display of large work...
     
  18. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Large is impressive on initial inspection. But, with time, LARGE IS LIKE SOMEONE TALKING TOO LOUD TOO OFTEN. Kinda gets on your nerves.

    I like the intimacy of photographs. Smaller pictures are inviting, big ones make you stand back too far.
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't really see this as an issue of postmodernism, though there are photographers like Gursky and Struth who have other reasons to be thought of as postmodern printing big. I think for them size is more about competing with painting on museum and gallery walls than it is about, say, skepticism about the validity of all metanarratives. And even Ansel printed bigger and bigger as he became more famous.

    Personally, I don't print large. I like the look of a contact print, and printing artifacts become a distraction to me at around 4x. I tend to print 35mm to about 6x8" and most other formats no larger than 11x14". Occasionally I'll do a 16x20" or 20x24", but not that often.
     
  20. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    So funny! Thanks Bob!
     
  21. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Well yeah, from the gallery point of view larger sells better than smaller....to many people filling more wall space is a bigger consideration than the print itself. I see this a lot here in Mexico, people buy huge paintings (some of the horrid) for many thousands of dollars so that they can fill one huge wall with it. With exception of the few serious collectors as well as museums etc, lets keep in mind that photography for most people is nothing more than interior decorating, and as such, the bigger the better.. :surprised:
     
  22. Robert Brummitt

    Robert Brummitt Member

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    OK. So I'm reading that for some of you print large because your buyers want them large. For others, you print small because you like the intimate feel it offers and finally some say that if the neg can handle it go big.
    This is very interesting. Thank you for your input.
    This helps me in many ways. I feel that I can make some logical choices for my work and maybe some advice to my group.
     
  23. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    Fair enough David, I guess that I just associate with post-modernism (which I can enjoy). But maybe it is just the paint envy thing.