Gallerists don't set the trends, they are set by the people that buy images. If people want big images to fill their walls then they buy big images. Granted gallerists prefer larger images because they can make more money off of them. Probably the biggest reason why this is prevalent in photography today is because of the ease of making large prints digitally. This was evident starting roughly ten years ago when the big printers were starting to get popular. I remember seeing this progression at PhotoLA every year. Since most photography is done digitally, printing the image takes only one click regardless of the size of it. Although photography may be a passionate hobby for most photographers, it is decoration for many of the buyers out there. They want something unique that goes with the sofa. It is also a business and people are in it to make money as hard as that is to believe to an amateur purist.
Collectors are less interested in size in general since much of what they own tends to sit in boxes not displayed on the wall. They are more interested in content. There are not a lot of serious collectors though.
If the trend of big prints continues it is going to create storage problems for museums in the future. I have read some curators lamentation over this. This limitation also means that museums will not be able to buy as many prints and shows will be more expensive due to the increased shipping costs. Also, many large prints are easily scratched because of the mounting methods.
Personally I like small prints. When I started photography I made everything 2x3 inches for the longest time. There is a beauty to holding a print in your hand and looking at it. I still don't like to print big. It is a pain to do in the darkroom unless you have a lot of space.
There are still people out there who generally print small. I don't think I have ever seen a large Kenna print for example. His work does predate digital though.
There is no rule that large prints must be void of content. Is there?
11x14 or 16x20 are optimize size IMHO for wall hanging in a private home, at least mine, I find that costwise the 11x14 is best for my needs. In truth, I do not matte my prints but put them in a plain silver frame...It is probably incorrect but it is my home and I save money and room for more prints.
Like Poster M. Lointain, I love small prints and these days I find myself making exquisite darkroom miniatures from 5 x 7's cut in half. I can't wait for my Rollei to get "Fleenor'd" so I can start making 6 x 6 cm contact prints. Of course, I'm not speaking of museums/galleries but private, personal collections of photographs - some that even are, pretend to be, or imitate, art. That would be me.
It might be just a hangover from looking at family photo albums from the 1940's when most of the prints were 6 x 9 contact prints, the edges carefully trimmed with pinking shearers. I still find myself captivated by these tiny contact prints I find in small museums, etc.
Washington DC is close by...and a few years ago, the Freer gallery had some miniature Persian paintings. Small magnifying glasses were available. The viewers were spell-bound, as I was, by the intricate details that we had to seek out by close inspection. Maybe that's it - those small prints force the viewer to peruse the photos in a way that connects them better to the photo.....I dunno.
As an avid scrap-booker, I find myself making prints that might be 2" x 10", 1.5" x 1.5" or whatever it takes portray the subject matter in an interesting way.
My thought, one day in a prominent photographer's den surrounded by gaudy 16x20 prints, was "large prints are the visual equivalent of screaming". OK, some absolutely luscious prints deserve it. But otherwise, what about drawing the viewer in by using the visual equivalent of whispering??
I'm reminded of a music teacher that taught us that skillful musicians play softly and draw the crowd in whereas unskilled musicians need to play louder because the crowd is talking, so the crowd talks louder and louder, leading to the shrill racket most of us have heard one time or another.
Are the huge prints of unskilled photographers just trying to get people's attention? How about concentrating on content and skill and drawing people in???
I know, probably not a popular opinion.
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This could be what attracts me to 11x14.
Originally Posted by M. Lointain
The look I am familiar with is deckle edge, interestingly a stack of them from the same lab line up perfectly so I am fairly sure the paper came that way. Deckle edge trimmers exist (like paper cutters) but the cheap aluminum craft scissors don't effectively re-create the edge. The single-weight ferrotyped fiber paper is a difficult find these days too.
Originally Posted by JerryWo
I was thinking of 6x9 contact prints too, but since I shoot 4x5 I had to make reductions to fit this size. I was going to cut deckle edges, and picked up a deckle edge trimmer to do that. But unlike Rick, I didn't take great care printing my miniatures. I don't mean to project feelings about my own results on anyone else's miniatures. Just that mine left me disappointed. Of course those photolab pictures from the '40s weren't carefully printed either and they are quite beautiful.
I love my deckle edge trimmer! If you always cut and rotate the same way, for example long edges first, then shorter edges, your edges will line up well, as long as your remember to push the print flush against the guide.
The manufacture of these trimmers is amazing, the cutting surfaces follow a specific pattern and align perfectly. I dont know how in the world these were sharpened, and if they can ever be resharpened again.
One effect that I havent been able to achieve, is the look and feel of the print surface. I have many prints at home with a pitted/cross hatch type of surface. Where can you get paper like this?
Small prints can be captivating, and as others have said, draw the viewer in.
The important thing, however, and a few in this thread seem not to understand this, is that the board the print is mounted on should not be a small board. My wife, Paula Chamlee mounts 6x6, 6x7, 4x5, and 5x7 on the same size mat board as she mounts 8x10s--13 x 15. Small mount board trivialize the work; a larger white space sets the photograph off from the surroundings and makes it feel significant.
Michael A. Smith
These are all gone I suppose. I have a book with samples of all Kodak's paper (maybe from the 1970s) and the variation in surfaces was amazing.
Originally Posted by Newt_on_Swings
Ah thats cool, too bad they dont make them anymore. I guess the next best alternative is liquid light, and then try to find similar specialty scrap booking papers to coat then.
Originally Posted by tomalophicon