What moderator J Brunner said really is sad and even disgusting, but all too true.
I did not wish to digress into politics and I really won't too much (for the board's benefit and integrity) but there is an (I will comfortably call) obsession in our USA culture that states that 'bigger is always better'. We have lost (or never had!) a more refined sense of subtlety like they have in Europe and Japan. We, as a culture are not able to see genuine refinement and understatedness (like the mightly Brits do!) and have to fall back into 'powerful' mechanisms that supplant, for worse. I live in Philadelphia and each and every bus stop has gigantic, airbrushed visages of 'idealism' (at least as crudely defined by consumerism). Go into a store and chances you will be met with 'muzak' that comes from no where and goes absolutely no where. Indeed, large imaging (replete with Photoshop idealism) dominates our culture to ill effect. Even listening to National Public Radio here demands our listening to continual 'sound effects' that are 'necessary' between each broadcasted item. What I am imparting here is that both objectively visual largeness and 'indirect' 'visual' largeness are musts in our sorry culture.
What really gives me a bit or respite is the reaction that my post has obtained. You are all 'aboard' here and not mere clickers of shutters. All of you have actually responded in a way that I wanted to imagine that you would. Yes, there really IS something intimate and comforting about looking at an Atget or Kertesz print (that does seem to impart other than a forced indulgence). Yes moderator Brunner: "they do not view a photograph as an art artifact, but rather just an image". Sadly, but well said. - David Lyga
In musical terms, it is called "drawing the audience in"... a whisper can make the most profound statements. Stevie Ray Vaughan played large... he really commanded a room with his power and dexterity. But if you've ever seen video of his "Texas Flood", you might notice how he had a habit of turning down the pickups on his guitar til eventually the only sound was the string noise picked up by his vocal mic. The audience would literally hold their breath to catch every note he played... and he made it worth their while. A small print can make a really powerful impact... especially in venues usually known for larger work. I've seen 6x6(cm) contact prints in 16" frames that really command attention. You have to step in and really study the photo, but the ones I've seen really reward your attention. I'm not that brave, nor (most likely) that accomplished, but I really like the look of a small print matted large.
Last edited by Toffle; 12-13-2011 at 05:04 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada
Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points
system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...
Indeed, are there any more enchanting pop music selections than Stevie Wonder's 'I just called to say I love you' or the Singing Nun's 'Dominique'?
Well, I don't think this is simply large vs. small. Yes there is a trend of printing large right now; that is to be expected with the introduction of the new wide-carriage inkjets. But I also see a lot of large expensive prints sitting unsold in galleries.
Take heart: this is not small versus large. It is all a matter of how effectively you compose for the size that you print. I have seen marvelous 6x6cm contacts, and i have seen marvelous mural prints... but the subject matter was completely different.
Yes, size grabs attention. But does it hold it?
Bigger is not necessarily better. I am a firm believer that intimacy counts for more. I prefer to draw my viewers in, not make them stand at a distance that is so very impersonal. But then, I'm a self admitted huggy kinda guy. I prefer small group discourse over large halls filled with a noisy mob. I find myself more overwhelmed with massive prints, and can see and feel what the photographer is trying to convey with small prints. A great story teller uses a variety of ranges of the voice, and only occasionally gets loud, most often speaks in low tones. That is how I prefer to get my message across.
Toffle, I love the SRV analogy, saw him live many a night at Antones in Austin, long live the blues, and SRV's legacy.
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It feels in certain ways that the prints since about the late 80's got bigger, while the ideas got smaller in the world of art photography. I don't know... it might look like shit, but it also looks like "art" when it's big!! All that said, I find I prefer 8"x10" or smaller for my work ~or~ 20"X24"!! Sometimes, I like to stand in front of a print on the wall that envelopes my eye a bit... and in point of fact, I think 16"x20" is a lovely print size. Well... I guess I like bigger prints, too. Ultimately, the image dictates the size it wants to be... that Kendrick tintype wants to be 8"x10", not some 5 foot inkjet mural!
Don't assume that Rob Kendrick always shoots "small" - I know, I have his old 14x17. He certainly didn't shoot wet-plate in that camera though, just film.
I love the 14x17 as an object in itself, and for the way it makes me work. But I would still only shoot less than 10% of my work with it because it's just so big. For a whole host of reasons, my favorite size is now 6.5 x 8.5 - it's a big-enough contact print that you can view it comfortably at arms' length, but intimate enough to hold it in your hands, instead of having to relate to it on a wall. The camera, from a user's perspective, is ALMOST as small as a 5x7, which makes it easier to travel with or just haul around town. I agree, intimacy in a photograph has become almost a lost art. I think in part it is up to us as artists to bring it back - go out there and MAKE interesting, compelling images on an intimate scale, and start showing them to people. They will react to them.
We go there every time we visit, and I have noticed that as well. Perhaps, because many people have huge houses with huge empty walls (and because they (the gallery) has to eat too), the gallery concedes. Or agrees to what the artist produces. They're really caught in the middle at times, I would think. I'm glad that I am allowed to move around there and find a viewing distance the print and I can agree on, even though size alone can't save an image I just don't care for no matter how I look at it. I've pretty much settled on full (35mm) frame on 11x14 with 3/4" borders. I've done a few shots that look beautiful as 16x20. As for the rest, I wouldn't be fooling anybody by making them "big".
Originally Posted by Klainmeister
PS - Go to La Chosa for me, I've got that itch...
Ha! I was there last Saturday--Chile Relleno FTW.
It does seem quite silly to me that there are some prints up to 30-40" that are in a hallway. How in God's name are we supposed to view that!?
One of my photographic friends here has an astonishing collection of art, including Weston, Adams, Tice, and Stieglitz originals and not to mention about 25 other masters, and the funniest thing as we're walking about his house one day during a BBQ, he brings me into his study to show me his favorite works--3 5x5" prints each from the Weston brothers. He held them as if they were delicate butterflies, and you could see the prize in his eyes. This, as a 20" print looms over the desk.
Funny how things work.
I'm going to differ (a bit).
There are certain images that need to be large, because of their content, and their intended audience.
As an example from the world of painting, I refer you to the painting "Las Meninas", by Diego Velázquez. This is 318 × 276 cm (125.2 × 108.7 in) and in real life is absolutely stunning. It would not be as powerful if it was smaller.
Here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:La...ogle_Earth.jpg
So I would say that the size of the photograph depends on the photograph, and where and how it is to be displayed.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2