I tend to print 11x14 more than anything else but I usually leave quite a bit of border, like 1" all the way around. Partly because I like that size, another reason being it gets me to the aspect ration that tends to work the best of many of my images.
I also print 8x10, 5x7, and 16x20.
I agree small prints encourage viewers to come up close to look at the print. I marvel at the details and tonality. Large prints project. David Vestal who taught at Pratt and wrote for Modern Photography 40 years ago said it this way.
Originally Posted by R.Gould
"What size should your print be? Well how big is the picture. Large pictures can use, but often don't need, big prints. Small pictures need small prints. Many pictures don't care. This has nothing to do with how good a picture is, only with its essential size. Bigness is not goodness; neither is smallness. .....either a photograph looks right in a certain size or it doesn't. With your pictures, that's your decision to make. Some photographers seldom or never change print size. Edward Weston made thousands of 8x10-inch contact prints and a few smaller prints.....I don't know any print by him bigger than 8x10 inches. They are big enough. Now and then a picture tells me "small" or "big" and I follow that impulse to see if it works....When Abraham Lincoln's strait man asked, "How long should a man's legs be?" Abe came back with, "Long enough to reach the ground." Print size is like that. The print should be big enough to fit the picture." -- The Art of B&W Enlarging
Convenient dimensions. 5x7 for desk display. 6x8 on 8x10. Cut 11x14 down to 9x11 and print with one inch borders. 9x12 on 11x14. 8x12 on 11x14. Neg shape contributes to print dimensions. Mount in on 14x17 inch board.
This is a topic I've been interested in for years now. As I don't get to see alot of others work in person, i'm always intrigued by answers to this subject.
I mostly print on 8x10 and 11x14 paper. I shoot 6x4.5 and 6x6, so I print 9x12" on 11x14 and 10x10" on 11x14 for the 6x6 work. I recently did my first solo show and printed 16x20 prints for the first time in my life. WOW!!! I was blown away by the amazing detail in the prints. I did 4 of them for the show, 3 were printed 13 1/2 x 18" (6x4.5 negs) and one was 14x14" (6x6 neg). I haven't printed since I printed these and it's left me wondering if my time should be better spent only printing 11x14 and 16x20 in the darkroom. The amount of time spent in the darkroom whether it's 8x10 or 16x20 paper is the same. The feeling and impression I got from these large prints blew me away and I think opened my eyes to what kind of potential my negatives really have. I will certainly be printing more 16x20 in the near future.
However, there is something to be said for the small print. Every photograph is different and demands its own size. I've printed holga images at 7x7" that sing, but when enlarged to 10x10" lose all impact. Photography is funny like that and alot of times you'll figure out how large an image should be printed simply by printing it one size too big.
I've printed 12x12, 12x16 and 11x14 most of the time. I like 11x14, it is a pleasant size, not too demanding of wall space. Also, it fits 16x20 mat, which is too small, I think, for 12x16. When I get better, I will start 16x20.
I've printed everything from postcard (3.75x5.75) to 20x24. I am currently in the process of beginning to make my first mural-scale prints (30x30") from 6x6 negatives.
I don't find handling the larger papers drastically more difficult than the smaller, especially not up to 16x20. 20x24 can be a little bit of a pain, but provided you have the space is really not that big a deal, especially with gloves on both hands.
I absolutely adore the Ilford ART300 in 5x7" with my 35mm photographs, although from what I've done with it in 20x24 it is beautiful large as well. Primarily I am using Adox Variotone Warmtone or the Adox MCC in 16x20, and 20x24, if not Ilford Galerie or ART300. All other sizes are a variety of papers, depending on what I am printing.
After leaning about mat boards and how they compliment the photo, I actually dropped down in print size. I would put an 8x10 print onto either an 11x14 or 16x20 mat board depending on the image. The mat board isolates the print from the wall it is on, so you can view the print w/less distraction.
If my love for the print were the only consideration, I'd probably join you at 20x24. But my arbitrary self-imposed limit is 11x14. I simply built my darkroom around those dimensions. More power to you, I am sure your prints sing...
I print to (from RVP trannnies) 81x61cm from 6x7 (do the math in inches...). At this moment an 12x18 print is coming off 35mm. I don't shuffle prints into a folder never to be seen again: they are framed and put under spots.
Print size should be accorded consideration as to its final use. Where are you putting them? In an archival folder as part of a "reference library", or framing?
Economies of scale will dictate print size to a point. No doubt whole books have been written on what print sizes should be produced, why and what for. Print to a size you want and need, which fits the bill for the end result. My next target is to print about 900cm tall (hybrid process): wallpaper for a stair landing.
The size is usually determined by the negative and I rarely enlarge more than four times to make sure that there is quality even up close. That gives me a maximum of 32x40" from an 8x10" negative but I usually stop at 16x20" or contact print. My largest print is 6.4m wide, but since I didn't do that myself I guess it doesn't count.