Monday, July 14, 2008

Print Sizes

I've been agonizing over print sizes this past weekend. What brought this on is a call for entries for a juried show at a local gallery. While I have never heard of the gallery before and their web presence is not very professional, I thought I would try out for it anyway. It didn't hurt that one of the local art museums advertised the show in their weekly mailings.

As part of the entry, you had to state image sizes. Two of my images were hand coated platinum prints, that are effectively postcard size. The other is an inkjet print that I told them was 8x10. They asked for jpeg images to do the judging on, and after I sent everything in, I started obsessing about the sizes I reported.

It seems that you need to print big these days to get noticed. I've been noticing discussions lately where people dismiss small prints. The latest was a discussion about a show at a museum in Minneapolis. While there were other problems reported, mostly the number of prints, a lot of people didn't like the print sizes. Anecdotally, I attended an opening of photography by Gordon Parks at a local museum and heard a couple comments about the print size. I've also noticed when I go to local art fairs that people seem to like the bigger prints, even when they aren't printed very well or aren't a very good image. Personally, I tend to like smaller prints, they seem to have an immediacy that a bigger print doesn't have. A big print on the other had has a "presence" that is missing from the smaller work.

I guess that all my prints would be considered small these days. I only have to ability to print at most 13 inches wide. I suppose I could send my work out to get printed bigger and I may have to try that option. That is only an option for my digital stuff and brings up other issues, like upsizing my image files while maintaining the image quality. I've also started trying out more alternative processes which require handcoating the paper and using a negative of some sort to contact print the image. That will remain small, even if I want to go bigger, I don't see those prints getting bigger than 8x10 for now.

I guess I will continue thinking about this. Comments would be appreciated from the peanut gallery.


Michael Mitchell said...

I think that the large print size may just be an American phenomenon.
It is the same reason we like big cars and trucks and want to live in large houses.

I think another reason may be that smaller prints require a more intmate interaction when viewed. You must be fully engaged in order to get the maximum experience. A lot of Americans don't have the attention span or motivation to do that.When you can look at a large print from across the gallery and say that you have seen it, but you can't with a smaller print.

People are lazy.

Katie Weller said...

I also think that the space is a big issue. In a gallery or museum this isn't such an issue because you can more or less walk right up to a small print and give it a once-over.

In a place like Four Friends (R.I.P.) you may have to view it from the other side of a table full of people, ergo bigger is definitely better... at least to the point where you can fully experience the photo from, say, 6 ft. away.