Great thread. I read once that a good ad surprises you when you're fifty feet away and then again when you're five feet away and again at five inches. Do you find that the same thing applies to small contact prints?
My wife, Paula Chamlee, in addition to her 8x10-inch silver chloride contact prints, has been making 4x5 and 5x7 contact prints since 1990. And about ten years ago she began making 6x6 cm. and 6x7 cm. contact prints. Some of them on very old Azo paper that expired in 1921. These prints are exquisite.
Shawn makes beautiful photographs. He took mine and Paula's Vision and Technique Workshop in 2010, where he would have seen many of Paula's small contact prints--all mounted and overmatted on 13x15 mount board. As others have noted, keeping the surrounding environment far from the print by mounting on a decent size board is critical. If mounted on an 8x10 board those small contact prints can appear to be insignificant.
Paula has made several one-of-a kind-hand-made books of original 6x7 cm and 6x6 cm contact prints. Extremely time-consuming endeavors. For just one thing, archival strips must be placed along the spine to bulk up the spine to match the thickness of the print. Otherwise the book will not lay flat. And it is not enough just to put a bunch of prints together. They need to be properly sequenced. She bound the books herself and housed the last one in a box of exotic wood with a frosted plexiglass lid with a stone from Iceland as the handle on the lid. The book covers are made from platinum prints. This book is truly a work of art in all regards. All are invited to come take a look.
Michael A. Smith
SNIP SNIP SNIP SNIP
there are a few books out there on how to make books, it really is a fun practice.
closed spine books ... and open spine books can get kind of tricky :)
open spine bindings are fun and much easier at first .. but the stitching tends to be elaborate depending on how much fun you want to have.
(take a google at coptic or chain stitch :) )
take a look at keith smith's book making books ( http://www.keithsmithbooks.com/ ), they really are like the bibles of making hand made + artist books.
unfortunately nipping presses, and the rest of the tools of the trade can be kind of expensive ( places like http://www.gaylord.com (gaylord brothers library supply )
and http://www.talasonline.com/ (talas bookbinding supply ) ) have them new ... but books like books boxes and portfolios ( http://www.amazon.com/Books-Boxes-Po.../dp/0830634835 )
will give you ideas how you can use bricks and other things instead of the traditional expensive cast iron equipment.
have fun cause like anything ... once you make one or two, it will be hard to stop ( i've made around 25 i think, i lost count :) )
I'm curious -- how easy/practical is it to dodge and burn a contact print? For one thing, seems that you'd often be making micro-movements, harder to be accurate with than a standard enlargement.
I actually have a small photobook of Andre Kertesz titled the early years and it's entirely small contact prints. It's a really nice change of pace to see these smaller more intimate prints.
I don't think you can do much dodging or burning with sizes under 4x5. They pretty much have to be straight contacts. Unless you use something like new cocine right on the negative. That may work.
Josef Sudek and Walker Evans made small contact prints. Josef Sudek as small as 645. People of the generation where black and white photo albums were the norm had no problem with small prints. From silver prints back to tin types a lot of history was preserved.