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Ben Calwell
22-Nov-2015, 09:17
Are nicely matted 4x5 contact prints ever appropriate for, say, a small exhibit in a coffee shop, book store or other, informal venue? I'm thinking a selection of 15 to 20 4x5s matted on framed 8x10 or 11x14 boards. Some folks might think they're too small to appreciate, but I think it would be appealing. Should they be dry-mounted or would photo corners be best? Opinions?

Randy Moe
22-Nov-2015, 09:24
Do it!

Don't use photo corners. Too easy to snatch.

bob carnie
22-Nov-2015, 10:23
Ben- absolutely small prints are IMO on a comeback- I am doing a section of small prints specifically to tell a story in spaces where lately large prints hung.

Over the last 15 years we have been swamped with really large prints that are in most cases too big for the capture device whether film or digital. Also its
so easy to make larger prints these days and our eyes are being abused by looking at them.

I am thinking that as we Urbanize into smaller and smaller spaces the day of the monster print is doomed , and small jewels will come back.
Problem will be obviously that there will now be more and more shows of smaller prints that offend the eye.





Are nicely matted 4x5 contact prints ever appropriate for, say, a small exhibit in a coffee shop, book store or other, informal venue? I'm thinking a selection of 15 to 20 4x5s matted on framed 8x10 or 11x14 boards. Some folks might think they're too small to appreciate, but I think it would be appealing. Should they be dry-mounted or would photo corners be best? Opinions?

Bruce Watson
22-Nov-2015, 10:40
Are nicely matted 4x5 contact prints ever appropriate...

You are the artist. They are appropriate if you say they are.

That said, as an occasional buyer of art, I have to say that I seldom take really small contact prints seriously. The reason being, they are difficult to see. And I find this true not just of me, but the majority of my older friends -- those retirees with the time and money to pursue art. You can't stop your eyes from aging. Just sayin'.

Ben Calwell
22-Nov-2015, 10:56
Bruce -- you're right. The smallness factor would be something to consider. I'm in my mid-60s and wear glasses, but I still love the look of a smaller contact print. If I ever have a showing of my 4x5 contacts, perhaps a basket of complimentary magnifying glasses by the door would be in order.

Doremus Scudder
22-Nov-2015, 10:59
Print size needs to be matched to subject matter. 4x5 contacts work fine for many subjects, especially in a smaller space where you can get close to the prints (and where bigger prints would be inappropriate!). That said, I wouldn't present a 4x5 print of a detailed landscape; I'd use the smaller size for details, "bagatelles," things with form as the main element, etc.

An exhibit of 4x5 contacts in a small space with inviting subject matter should be very successful IM-HO.

Doremus

Bruce Barlow
22-Nov-2015, 11:55
I think you do what you want. I hung a show of 4x5 PT/PD prints a couple years ago, which was well-received. I will hang a show in December of all 5x7 prints, matted in 11x14 mats. Personally, I like the more intimate experience of a small print. And since I have known that for a long time, I make pictures that look best as small prints. For example, I tried making some of the 5x7s as 8x10s. It would seem that that size change isn't that great, but the 8x10s pretty much fell apart - the spaces lost all their emotional tension. It was really interesting to see larger and smaller prints side-by-side.

I agree with Doremus - smaller prints will look better in a smaller space. I think. Maybe. Hmm? Never tried small prints in a big space, so I clearly don't know what I'm talking about. Well, you have the space you have, and I'll betcha they'll look great.

One man's opinion, to be sure.

Kirk Gittings
22-Nov-2015, 12:07
Ben- absolutely small prints are IMO on a comeback.


This is absolutely true. I am not a contact printer so I am not trying to justify my own MO. I agree with Bob because of the experience of my friend Jan Pietrzak in the current Santa Fe gallery scene and he contact prints images from 4x10" down to 6x7.

ic-racer
22-Nov-2015, 12:29
Some folks might think they're too small to appreciate
They are easy to make. I'd make one and see for yourself. You are the artist you should determine how the art is presented.

Sal Santamaura
22-Nov-2015, 13:27
They are easy to make...At a gross level, perhaps, but not if any dodging/burning is required. Then they're even more challenging than larger contact prints.

Jmarmck
22-Nov-2015, 14:47
Much as I would love to see small contact prints on a comeback, I think the appropriateness of a print would depend upon the subject matter. Simple shape and forms would do well while intricate detail may not work so well.

Peter Lewin
22-Nov-2015, 16:17
As several have said, it is a function of both the image subject and the viewing distance. I have a 4x5 pt/pd contact print on my wall (purchased from another forum member) which while it is beautiful, requires the viewer to almost stick his nose into the print to really appreciate the image. This particular image would have benefitted from a larger print.

Kirk Gittings
22-Nov-2015, 17:26
Many of our favorite photographers from history never made a print larger than 8x10 because they were contact printers and never shot larger than 8x10. I have never felt my appreciation for their work diminished because I had to stick my nose on their prints. To the contrary I find theirs and modern smaller format (non ULF) contract prints to be jewel like and their size generates an intimacy.

John Olsen
22-Nov-2015, 17:39
Yes, I've seen some interesting work presented that way, even in Santa Fe. An advantage is that the pieces can fit into almost anybody's home or office and at an affordable price. Go for it.

blueribbontea
22-Nov-2015, 18:22
My wife and I hung a show of contact prints a couple years ago, matted on boards without frames. The presentation as a whole looked good in the gallery and people seemed especially interested because they required such an intimate viewing. There were 4X5, 5X7 and 8X10 including some alternative process prints. It was a fun show to produce and present.

Daniel Stone
22-Nov-2015, 21:28
I say do it. As many of us in the younger generations(I'm 27) settle into smaller living quarters, smaller prints, IMO will accommodate those spaces better than larger prints will. There are some prints that work well in large sizes, since they contain such tiny details that require such a large print in order to be properly shown. But a contact print will translate a lot as well, and as others here have stated, I too feel that contact prints have an "intimacy factor" to them than enlargements simply do not(or to a lesser extent).

Luis-F-S
22-Nov-2015, 21:59
Photography print size is not commensurate with real estate. I've never had a print larger than 8x10 at any of my one man shows, and often smaller; enlarged usually from 4x5 or 5x7 negs. That being said, they may be a hard sell at an informal venue. L

Chuck Pere
23-Nov-2015, 06:59
I think they would work best in a location that allows you to get close to the prints. In a restaurant with a booth or table of diners separating you from the print I don't think they would work as well.

Michael E
23-Nov-2015, 07:31
I've seen a show of Dorothy Norman's photos at the Detroit Institute of Arts around 1994, and they were to a large extent 6x9cm contact prints. Absolutely beautiful.

One other thing to consider is the selling price. Usually large prints sell for a lot more, while the cost of materials is not substancially higher. From a business point of view, tiny prints might not be a smart choice. I still prefer to show small prints, and that's not one of my dumbest choices in life.

LabRat
23-Nov-2015, 08:19
Once when talking to an artist about her plan to produce VERY large photocollage works (something like 12' X 25') for home collections, I said "who has that much wallspace at home"!?!! She said "some lofts"... I gasped...

I struggled to say something, but finally managed to say "work smaller than 11 X 14 is intimate, larger work is decorative"... (I don't know if what I said was right...) And I said your NYC buying customers might like something that will find someplace comfortable to live, AND be carried home under their arm and fit into the taxicab...

Small contacts??? I agree it depends on the subject (something with a very clearly defined form), and a hint at detail or qualities that give the viewer the sensation of that going smaller and smaller, down to a seemingly microscopic level... (Like something jewel-like...)

Steve K

DrTang
23-Nov-2015, 08:44
I had a show of individual 120 size contact prints once

I attached a crack o' jack style magnifying glass to each print on a string

bob carnie
23-Nov-2015, 09:43
I was going to comment on selling price, I believe that small prints should sell for the same as larger prints.

The defining price difference would be IMO the type of process used to get to the final print.


I've seen a show of Dorothy Norman's photos at the Detroit Institute of Arts around 1994, and they were to a large extent 6x9cm contact prints. Absolutely beautiful.

One other thing to consider is the selling price. Usually large prints sell for a lot more, while the cost of materials is not substancially higher. From a business point of view, tiny prints might not be a smart choice. I still prefer to show small prints, and that's not one of my dumbest choices in life.

Michael E
23-Nov-2015, 14:26
I was going to comment on selling price, I believe that small prints should sell for the same as larger prints.

The defining price difference would be IMO the type of process used to get to the final print.

Well, there are other factors. Like the artist's existing body of work, the artist's relevance, the number and quality of past shows, the effort of his/her representation, the deliberate limitation of prints, the affiliation with a group or epoche of art/artists (making the work interesting for collections with the corresponding emphasis). Just to name a few factors. Size definitely comes into consideration, for example, when the piece of art is bought for a specific location, like the walls of a corporate lobby or conference hall. I think the process has very little effect on prices on the art market, apart from serial versus unique prints.

None of these aspects should influence the OP in the choice of print size :-) My final exam at the academy consisted of 90 framed 5x7" contact prints.

Paul Cunningham
24-Nov-2015, 01:39
Although I rarely contact print, I print most of my 4x5's at 4x5 on 8.5x11 for viewing and storage. It seems very appropriate for prints which can be handled.

Ben Calwell
24-Nov-2015, 05:53
Thanks for all the replies. I usually contact print onto 8x10 paper sandwiched with the negative under a piece of glass, which turns the surrounding paper black. Should I somehow mask the paper to keep it white? That way, I could have windows cut that would leave a little space around the contact print without having black around it. Or, I could just have windows cut that would frame the images, covering the film borders.

Jim Noel
24-Nov-2015, 12:24
At a gross level, perhaps, but not if any dodging/burning is required. Then they're even more challenging than larger contact prints.

I agree with Sal.
Also a small image must have a stronger dynamic composition to grab the eye of the viewer.

Jan Pietrzak
25-Nov-2015, 08:42
Thank you Kirk for throwing my small prints in the ring. As some of you know I have been making small prints for a long, long time. The prints need to be strong and well printed. I sold small prints 30 years ago and with any amount of buyers out there I hope to sell work at a gallery that I just sign with. I will be part of a show in February. The gallery introduction went from we are booked till mid 2017, to I like your work, to can you leave your print case so I can show it to the owners, to an e-mail the next day offering me a spot in the show in February. So there must be a new life for the small print. Oh, Ben the prints are from 6x6 to 6x17cm Pt/Pds mounted in a debossment on 11x14in 300lb water color paper. The framed prints are a floated 11x14 wcp on a gray/brown paper and framed 14x17 vertical.....jp

agregov
25-Nov-2015, 15:17
I was in NYC last Spring and caught a show at Laurence Miller Gallery of Toshio Shibata. While most of his images were 20x24 and 40x50, he had a series of 4x5 contact prints which I thought were just great. A few picks attached.

142692142691

On a side note, talked with Shibata at AIPAD and he prints 20x24 images and smaller in Japan himself, still in an analog color darkroom (not many left he said). He also said 4x5 film is really expensive in Japan. Cool guy. http://www.laurencemillergallery.com/artists/toshio-shibata

johnmsanderson
28-Nov-2015, 14:08
big fan of Shibata having seen his work at Laurence Miller

Taija71A
29-Nov-2015, 12:29
On another note...

There is always the 'possibility' of displaying Diptychs and Triptychs.
Diptychs and Triptychs are a brilliant tool for Photographic Storytelling!

-Tim.
__________

j.e.simmons
29-Nov-2015, 17:23
A few years ago I saw an Andre Kertesz exhibit at the Southeast Museum of Photography. A large number of his prints were very small - I suppose 6x9 cm. They were wonderful.

Jan Pietrzak
29-Nov-2015, 17:49
John,

A number of years ago a wonderful book was done on Kertesz....it was 4x5 to 5x6 in size the way in which most of his work was shown.....the small print lives.....jp

jbenedict
29-Nov-2015, 20:38
The "ideal viewing distance" needs to be kept in mind. If a viewer cannot get 1'-2' from the print, the print might not be very effective.

Drew Wiley
30-Nov-2015, 14:36
Why not? We should be the ones determining the size of our own prints, not any convention or rote formulation, over even current custom. I knew a fellow who displayed 35mm contact prints in big mats and frames, each with a magnifier attached. I personally like to mix large and small prints on a display wall. But my
routine joke about all this, is that now that the current museum fad is taking small format images and blowing them up to room size, the next fad will be 35mm contact prints. Seen it all before. The fashion pendulum swings.

ShannonG
30-Nov-2015, 16:57
Dry mount ,,yes,, not only the small venues but art gallery's ,foundations and collectors are liking small prints more and more,,,go for it...

Greg
30-Nov-2015, 17:18
10 years ago I earned my MFA in Photography. At that time I took an old folding Kodak camera and removed the front lens and bellows and replaced them with a pinhole. In the back of the camera, I fabricated a curved film holder in which the film ran along a 1/3 of a circular arc. Result was a 90 degree wide angle pinhole camera. Image size was 2 1/4 x 4 1/2 inches. Contact printed the negatives. Final prints same 2 1/4 x 4 1/2 inch dimension. Dry mounted on 8x10 mat board. Exhibited them and only received very positive comments on the print size. Photo paper expenses were never so low per print. Go for it....

Greg

mike rosenlof
23-Dec-2015, 16:01
Thanks for all the replies. I usually contact print onto 8x10 paper sandwiched with the negative under a piece of glass, which turns the surrounding paper black. Should I somehow mask the paper to keep it white? That way, I could have windows cut that would leave a little space around the contact print without having black around it. Or, I could just have windows cut that would frame the images, covering the film borders.

When I contact print 5x7 negs onto 8x10 paper, I have the glass masked to a 5x7 opening with rubylith tape. This gives me the black of the film edges and then a white border around everything. There's enough thickness to the rubylith that positioning the neg is much easier than without it.

John Olsen
23-Dec-2015, 17:51
When I contact print 5x7 negs onto 8x10 paper, I have the glass masked to a 5x7 opening with rubylith tape. This gives me the black of the film edges and then a white border around everything. There's enough thickness to the rubylith that positioning the neg is much easier than without it.

Dang clever! I'm printing this one out for my files.