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Ed Burlew
29-Mar-2004, 04:06
I am finding that the "great contempory photographers" who hang in museums and galleries are making large prints on the order of 50x60 inches. I persently shoot in color neg for the most part and have standardized on a 30x40 print. Is this unusual? Aside from the cost of the print, I am concentrating on the image, is there more power or appeal in a large print? Who on this forum prints large? And why?

Edward (Halifax,NS)
29-Mar-2004, 04:34
I don't care for really big prints. The largest I have gone is 16X20 and that was for someone else. In my personal gallery I standardize on 11X14. I have done 11X11 from MF and didn't like the quality. That is why I shoot 4X5 now.

Note: I don't print from 4X5 myself. I have it done at a lab.

adrian tyler
29-Mar-2004, 04:37
i think that galleries and curators are responsible mostly (the same people who decide who the "great contempory photographers" are) as it may be easier to call something "art" if it is about three meters wide, of coures not all photographs look good this big, but it doesn't really seem to matter. in the states many collectable photographers seem to make larger editions and smaller sizes, but here in spain the galleries want BIG prints in an edition of say two or three.

in my experience to make these big prints you need to do it digitally, which changes thing a bit too it terms of the "appeal" that you are asking about, but i think it really depends on the image as to if it stands up to such an enlargement.

another question could be if you take the same image by one of your "great contempory photographers" and look at is in all its three meter by two meter glory, would it be any good at say 30 x 40cm? or what?

adriantyler.net

Brian Ellis
29-Mar-2004, 05:49
I think Adrian is right. It's a fad because it's a relative novelty. Digital has made it more feasible for more people to make huge prints than was the case with a traditional darkroom where you needed two people to handle the wet paper, chemicals in large vats rather than trays, and a darkroom the size of Bill Gates' living room. Hang around long enough and tiny prints will be in fashion. There are some outstanding huge prints that wouldn't be as effective if printed smaller, but in many cases it's just something that art dealers have latched onto to justify high prices and big commissions.

Julian_3496
29-Mar-2004, 06:12
It has economic reasons too. Galleries find it easier to find 12 commercial clients for the big prints than 60 private buyers

Bill_1856
29-Mar-2004, 08:20
Although I occasionally print 16x20, and once in 10 years do a 20x24, in general I print 11x14. I just saw a show of Margaret Bourke-White at the Ringling Museum, and all of her prints at 11x14 were large enough for public viewing on those big walls.

Bruce Watson
29-Mar-2004, 08:53
I'm not too worried about any gallery owner's preconceived notions of print size. I'm much more interested in matching the print size to the subject. I've made some large prints (I've got a nice one, 80cm x 100cm of a large water fall over a huge rock face hanging in my front hall) and some small prints (30cm x 36cm) of flowers. Both sizes fit the subjects.

Personally, I find huge prints of small flowers as frustrating as small prints of large subjects. My advice (and YMMV of course) therfore is to print at a size that satisfies you, the artist. Each image has a range of sizes to which it is best suited. Part of the job of the artist is to determine this range of sizes, and to limit the image to that range of sizes.

One of my rare color works is a photograph of some Carolina Jasime I took this time last year. I won't print it any larger than 50cm tall. That restriction may have cost me a sale, but I sleep just fine at night ;-)

CXC
29-Mar-2004, 09:58
I have standardized on 11"x14". I have printed (via a pro lab) as large as 20"x24", mainly out of curiosity, and it helped me decide on my standard size.

As an aesthetic consideration, IMHO perception changes when an image is larger than life. To me it just seems falsely aggrandizing; looks like a poster, or even a billboard. Others may have different reactions, but I bet they still undergo a qualitative change once the image is larger than life.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
29-Mar-2004, 10:10
Speaking of falsely aggrandizing, I like when a photographer contact prints 4X5 or 5X7 and mats to 16X20.

QT Luong
29-Mar-2004, 11:03
For the work that I do (color landscape), I find that the larger prints just look better. You see more detail and the print surrounds you more if you are close enough to reinforce the feeling of "being there". Often, a large print matches the scale of the subject better in the case of vast landscapes, like mentioned by Hogarth. I used to standardize at 20x30, but over the last year, I've sold quite a few 30x45, and now the 20x30 just look a bit small to me.

CP Goerz
29-Mar-2004, 11:03
An old wedding photographer pal of mine said something that applies to many images that are overly enlarged for galleries...'If you can't make em good, make em big!'

CP Goerz.

domenico Foschi
29-Mar-2004, 12:03
Not too many people understand the concept of 'less is more' . Unfortunately galleries owners bend to the demands of the clients, especially the rich ones , who more likely than not , are real conosseurs in bad taste . This regulates the demand for huge prints to be hang in their big empty walls .

Jay DeFehr
29-Mar-2004, 12:55
The vast majority of my prints to this point have been 8x10, mostly for practical reasons. 6x7 and 4x5 enlarge conveniently to 8x10, and I have only contact printed my 8x10 negatives. I've made prints up to 20x24 from 4x5 negatives when I worked at a pro lab and the materials were free, but never really got comfortable with it, and have nowhere to display prints that size. I've recently fallen in love with 12x16 format after buying J&C's Fomatone MG contact/enlarging paper in that size. When I finish my 12x16 camera, I'll contact print my 12x16 negs and enlarge my 3x4 negs on this beautiful paper. I did recently purchase an 8x10 enlarger, so I can definitley see some large prints in my future, but probably not beyond 24x30 or so.

darter
29-Mar-2004, 14:42
If you go to the New York galleries contemporary photography is synonymous with really big - many feet wide. Whereas the works of the old masters are small and are sold in separate, smaller gallery spaces. While a Kertesz might still look pretty good if blown up to "contemporary" proportions, the works of most of the contemporary photographic artists I've seen would be unnoticeable if forced to shrink down to 8x10. In my view, you have to be really good to make a small photograph stand out. On the other hand, galleries are businesses, they have to sell to individuals who are building truly massive houses, who eventually bequest their works to really big museums. As soon as manufacturers start making digital printers that can make inexpensive wallpaper photomurals, big will start to loose its cache'.

domenico Foschi
29-Mar-2004, 15:12
To paraphrase your old friend , Andrew : If you have nothing to say, say it loud .

tim o'brien
29-Mar-2004, 17:30
Speaking of truley aggrandizing, I like when a photographer contact prints 16X20 and mats to 4X5 or 5X7.

tim in san jose

Donal Taylor
29-Mar-2004, 19:37
I've always wondered why (technical limitations aside) photography has so often seemed satisfied with miniatures.

For a long long time it has been possible to make very large photographs. And moderately large ones were easily done.

Yet photography seems to have allowed itself so often to be stuck at 8x10, 11x14 or 16x20 at most. Note all the negative (nay snide) comments on here about big photographs. Yet other creative art forms never seem to have had a problem with doing something big - big paintings, big murals or frescos, big sculptures or bronzes etc. Without the same hang-ups.

And contrary to what seems to be a common held belief here - "If you can't make it good -- make it BIG." just doesn't hold up. A bad photograph is just more obviously bad when it's big. It won't make up for the lack of content but on the contrary, it will merely emphasise it - as show by the parallel discussion on Burtynsky's biog photographs. Consensus seems to be he's a good photographer, but not great, which is probably spot on. Point being - his really big prints emphasise that weakness rather than hide or mask it - something that seems obvious from the discussion.

And the "less is more" argument actually works better for bad photographs as a whole. Lets face it - there are more than enough bad small photographs to last each of a lifetime. If it's small and cute you might just pas by to the next in line and hopefully not really notice it was crap.

There's a humorous aspect to this as well - much of this list is about obsessing on the sharpest lens, the best resolution, ultimate film flatness, the biggest heaviest most rigid camera etc etc ad nauseam. Then people go and print at 11x14 or 16x20, or, heaven forbid - make 8x10 contacts. No, if you are using 35mm I can see the problems when you get to large prints - but if you are photographing on 4x5 or 8x10 film then you could probably get away with using the bottom of a Guinness bottle for those sized prints. Why all the Super apo HM megagon lenses if you are never going to take advantage of them. It seems that there is more of a fear of large prints because they do indeed highlight both the technical and artistic weaknesses of the photographer in the most obvious way.

A technically excellent and artistically strong photograph is usually only enhanced by being printed large - which takes advantage of the benefits of using large format. Indeed such large prints often bring out things in the image which just can't be seen or recognised in tiny prints. A weak photograph will only look weaker printed large.

Bill_1856
29-Mar-2004, 20:02
Crispin, if you really do wonder why photographs are printed so small then you obviously don't do your own darkroom work.

Tadge Dryja
29-Mar-2004, 20:16
I have to kindof agree with Crispin here. I guess people here shoot large format for very different reasons than I do. I got into LF so that I could make big prints that looked good. After about 11x14, 35mm just doesn't look very good. I've printed 4x5 negs on 8x10 for people, and I almost feel like it was a waste of effort to shoot on 4x5. Sure, it's sharp, but you can get really nice looking 8x10s from 35mm, which is a lot cheaper, easier, and doesn't weigh 30 pounds.

I generally print 20x24 because that's the largest size that's reasonably convenient, and paper larger than this usually comes in rolls, which are difficult to use. I have printed 40x50. It's a pain, sure, but some things look really nice that big. And I don't nessecarily think it's a "If you can't make it good, at least make it big" kindof thing. Sure, you see boring photographs that try to derive their power from their physical size, but if you have a really great image, why not blow it up? To painters, 40x50 is nothing special. In my painting classes people make 8' canvasses all the time, it's neither looked down upon, nor unduly praised.

Some things have a size they need to "live" at. Printing things larger than life-sized can sometimes be weird (but again, that effect can be exploited as well).

So I'm curious: to all of you who enlarge 4x5 to only 11x14, why bother with sheet film & view cameras? Wouldn't a 6x7 or something make more sense? Is it just because of movements? Can you really tell the difference in graininess? All I know is that when I want to make smallish prints, I grab my Canon EOS with all the fancy autofocus and motors and meters and stuff.

-tadge

Donal Taylor
29-Mar-2004, 20:31
"if you really do wonder why photographs are printed so small then you obviously don't do your own darkroom work."

I think you miss my point - that is simply an artificially imposed limtiation in a way - which in the end amounts to little more than an excuse.

There are photographers who do their own darkroom work and very successfully make very large prints.

Also, digital has freed colour up in this sense. Not only does it provide the sort of controls and adjustments that were at one time mainly reserved only for B&W - it also allows a photographer to make superb large colour prints while retaining all that control.

Chong
29-Mar-2004, 20:45
Can I ask a really stupid question please?

When one says I standardise on 8x10, 11x14, etc, does one mean that the image size is 8x10, or 11x14?

Or does 8x10 or 11x14 etc, a reference to the paper size? In which case the image size is obviously smaller than the paper size.

domenico Foschi
29-Mar-2004, 21:46
Hi Crispin, In my opinion the experience ( read viewing ) of a small print , in my opinion is a more intimate one than viewing a big print . When i think big print , i think of impact, when i think of a small one instead i think of more delicate, ( not cute,...i hate cute )and intimate experience. Wait, i have cauliflowers cooking .

Here i am . In addition to that , to enjoy a big print , you need a big space, sometime a huge space to put yourself at a proper distance .

Also , is my opinion again ,( no absolutes here ) , that it is much more difficult to print an excellent small print , than an excellent large one .

Cauliflowers time.....

Donal Taylor
29-Mar-2004, 22:09
"In my opinion the experience ( read viewing ) of a small print , in my opinion is a more intimate one than viewing a big print . When i think big
print , i think of impact, when i think of a small one instead i think of more delicate, ( not cute,...i hate cute )and intimate experience. Wait, i have
cauliflowers cooking ."

I can understand that up to a point. But why does photography - possibly alone among the major representational art forms (painting, sculpture etc) seem so overly biased towards the idea of the small intimate print for such a long period?

I'd come back to my point that we have possibly allowed the technology to cramp our imaginations for too long - even when the technology is no longer a hindrance. Small and intimate can be nice, but there does seem to be an irrational bias against big photographs

I'd agree that bigger isn't ALWAYS better. But why is the opposite apparently considered true, that for much of the time in photography smaller is generally considered better? Much of the gist of this thread seems to be to ooh and ahh about "nicely sized, intimate photographs" but big photographs are somehow vulgar? This isn't so in most other art forms unless there is a very good technical reason. There are small intimate paintings - and huge 8' paintings and giant frescos and tapestries. But one isn't considered more acceptable or suitable or better. Are Monet's water lilies just an artist making it big because it isn't good? No one would ever think to say that as a general statement in the context of painting - so why - in this discussion (and the Burtynsky one and others in the past) does this seem to be a general feeling among this group of photographers. That big photographs are in a way distasteful?

I think it's more about habit and tradition based on outdated technical limitations than anything.

kallitype
29-Mar-2004, 22:14
For a long time, I made color prints on Fuji paper, from 6x7 and 6x9 slides and negs. 11x14 was easy, 16x20 not really more difficult, using a Jobo tube and Beseler "roller". But after a trip to Italy, I found that street or canal scenes with a lot of detail and scale looked great on the wall at 30x40 inches, 'full-bleed' (unmatted), in Nielsen 97 frame. The prints look like an open window, looking out onto the Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, etc. Smaller prints (16x20 matted at 22x26) look nice, but the effect of being there that comes from the big prints is absent. YMMV. (I do make 8x10 photogravures from 8x10 b/w negs, and they are lovely on TwinRocker handmade paper, but that's another ball game entirely). Another poster above made a comment about the scale of the photo, I agree that a flower or face blown up to 40x50 inches would be counter-productive. Equally absurd is a 4x5 inch contact of the Great Wall...

Ole Tjugen
29-Mar-2004, 23:09
I print up to 9x12" - or 24x30cm. That is the size of my trays... On occasion I have printed larger using either "swoshing through the tray" or mopping on the floor. But I find it such a hassle that it really takes something special to make me do it.

Somehow it seems that the smaller the negative, the bigger I need to print it to make it look right: My 6x4.5 negatives often should be anything up to 40x50", while the 5x7" negatives look best contact printed.

Jay DeFehr
30-Mar-2004, 00:05
I think Crispin makes an excellent point about the legacy of technical limitations and its effect on our acceptance of large photographs. I may be overgeneralizing here, but I don't think that non-photographers have the same bias against big photos, but just the opposite. Could it be that, as photographers we are too distracted by the technicalities of big prints, and often violate the appropriate viewing distances to inspect them? I personally have no philosophical or moral objection to large prints, it's just the practical considerations that I've noted in my earlier post that restrict my print sizes.

adrian tyler
30-Mar-2004, 00:15
i agree with crispin, and had to laugh at the super seamen XYZ lens anology too, as an artist friend of mine says "i don't understand why photographers are so mean with the print sizes" but if we are discussing big prints then we are discussing work in a gallery environment, i mean who wants two thousand three meter by two meter proof prints in their archive. and in that context, it really is a fad, albeit one that is here to stay now that photography is at last a serious contender as "real art". spain has a lot to offer as far as visual arts goes, and the majority of the big prints that i see are only big because the market demands it, not because it enhances the image. which is exactly the same "problem" as crispin's "photographers seem so overly biased towards the idea of the small intimate print".

you've just got to be really careful the image sequenses that you present big.

Ed Burlew
30-Mar-2004, 04:39
I am replying to my own post but since I have shown my predeliction to a large print consider taking an 8x10 with a good lense and doing a a three shot semi panorama then doing this up as three 50x60 inch prints then showing these on a wall each individually framed for a total image of 150 x 60 inches. That is a tryptich that you can literally walk into. The sense of being there is uncanny.

Now I want to relate the print size to the projection of slides. It is typical that slides of 35mm or 2 1/4 are projected on to a 60" diagional screen and no one complains.

Popularily the large screen TV is marching into our houses. These behemouths have 45" and large diagionals.

Maybe these presentations of media images are contributing to the image sizes that are becoming popular at galleries.

My expereince is that using 8x10 colour negative film, very pedestrian Porta 160 vc, and a modern rodenstock 0r schneider lense I can have a lab do a wet darkroom enlargement to 50x60 inches with no visible grain and excellent sharpness. This is "old technology" wih no digital at any point. I have used digital but the added cost of the drum scan of the 8x10 transparencey in the process to get a print seemed a waste. This process does need an appropriate image.

I know that to a "cicilian" viewer who has been brought up on 35mm or 2 meg digital cameras he/she is immediately overwhelmed by the detail in the size of the image. This impression is strong and seems to loosen the ligament that hold the money in the wallet.

On anothe observation I went to the Atget exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario a cuple of years ago. I was one of the few who actually looked at the prints.These wonderful contact prints held alot of surprises for the viewer such as cats nad dogs and sometimes people and the details were very interesting. The gallery had set up over 200 of these exquisite prints and peolpe did not take the time to study the print and I was pointing out the details to my children and then other attendees started to realise there was detail to see. My impression was that with so many prints they had to "get through them" on time or they viewed them as we typically view a magazine full of images.

To the general public they do not equate a wonderfully printed small image as being something they value, conniseurs excepted, but the large image that suits enlargement revals a quality and precision they cannot acheive. This distinction has existed throughout as media images have progressed from Daggerotypes to the giant media images of today. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Jumbotron.

Is there a difference between a connisseur siping a great wine or scotch and a connisseur carefully studing an 8x10 contact print? No. But now the industry has grown and tastes have grown so the qunaty and quality of the spirt or the image have to grow with that evolution of culture.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
30-Mar-2004, 06:08
"So I'm curious: to all of you who enlarge 4x5 to only 11x14, why bother with sheet film & view cameras? Wouldn't a 6x7 or something make more sense? Is it just because of movements? Can you really tell the difference in graininess? All I know is that when I want to make smallish prints, I grab my Canon EOS with all the fancy autofocus and motors and meters and stuff."

tadge,

If I could afford a Mamyia 7 with an 80mm lens I would be shooting with that. My LF gear cost $200 and I am going to be spending another $200 on a better lens. Movements are nice but I only use moderate tilt anyway. For B&W I can definately tell the difference between an 11X11 from my Yashicamat and an 11X14 from my 4X5.

Tim, that gave me a very good chuckle. Thanks.

CXC
30-Mar-2004, 09:58
Crispin, thanks for contributing your viewpoint, which has made this an interesting thread. Next time I'm getting ready to do an 11x14 print, I'll make myself consider if it might flourish at a bigger scale.

Jim Galli
30-Mar-2004, 16:00
At the Nevada State Library in Carson City a few years ago I attended a reception for an artist whose name now slips me. He had won a competition to have permanent art hang in the grand foyer. The 6 or 8 B & W prints are composites 40" wide and about 8 feet long as I recall. They seem OK from a normal viewing distance, a little soft up close but sadly over time they have turned a putrid honey brown color. RC roll paper improperly washed and or fixed. The moral is if you're going to make the giant stuff you'd best do it yourself and do it properly. My best print is a jewel like 8X10" contact print.

jantman
30-Mar-2004, 18:47
My "standard" is an 8x10" contact print or an 11x14" enlargement. When enlarging, I use an 11x14 to get the times and manipulations down, then do larger if I want. So far largest is 16x20, but that's because at the moment I don't have the money for a set of 20x24 trays, nor am I sure were I'll put them or how I'll was the print.

Eventually, though it's been pushed back from a spring project to a summer project (when I'm working and have the money), I'm planning on doing a series of portraits printed somewhere on the order of 50x100"

Frank Petronio
30-Mar-2004, 18:53
I've done 14 x 45 foot billboards. But I used my lowly digicam, not my LF gear...

Seriously, I don't care what size people care to make their prints at, but I prefer to make simple, inexpensive 8x10s for binders and groupings, with the occassional large inkjet for display.

One of the things that attracted me to LF phottography was that for relatively low cost, I knew that I could make good prints as well as the masters, provided I worked hard, edited harshly, and practiced a lot. Many of the people on this forum can make prints as good as Strand, Weston, Adams, etc. in their home darkrooms, and now on their home inkjet printers. But if we have to spend $500+ per image sending out to get a fancy drum scan and super-sized print, then I think less people will be photographing, and standards will decline rather than advance. It's the same idea as when I was learning, and I could afford to use 50 sheets of 8x10 paper to get a good print. If it were 20 x 24 paper, I would have settled much earlier!

Mark Sampson
1-Apr-2004, 09:36
coming late to this, but- In photography's early history, it was a contact print medium, so neg size=print size. Thus large prints required large cameras- difficult and expensive. The work of Carleton Watkins and Francis Frith, to name two 19th-century large print-makers, is awesome when seen in the original. Enlarging a small negative did not begin to be popular until the 1920's, with the introduction of 35mm and 120-size cameras. Not surprisingly those photographers printed to sizes everyone was used to looking at. And until the 1970's there was no effective art market for photography- there was little reason to make large prints unless there was a way to sell them at a profit. Since that time many photographers have made mural-size prints- Avedon and Ansel Adams come to mind as pioneers of this- but their work is also seen as smaller prints, so the size is not the defining characteristic of the image. As the art market for photographs has grown, so has print size, leading to Struth, Gursky, Burtynsky et al. Most of us who don't have lucrative contracts with galleries and museums, or loft-size studio space, will continue to make prints that can be made, shown and stored in ordinary sized rooms. I guess my final point would be that photography does not have the long history of painting behind it, and is still finding its way; so the question of "how big should a photograph be?" will continue to evolve.

Paul Metcalf
1-Apr-2004, 15:07
Ole- My exact sentiments. The biggest print I have is from a 35mm slide (20x24). But my favorites are 5x7 contacts...

Stan. Laurenson-Batten
9-Apr-2004, 14:56
Some interesting diverse comments but none seem to have touched the fundermental principles of print size relating to composition. For me the final print size will depend on the use the print will be put to, whether the size suits the desired composition and finally the subject matter. My Jobo processor allows me to print up to about a metre sq. which is adequate for most purposes. This week I had a commission for a photographic copy of art work, the original, which was about 16X20" The client wanted the final print to measure at least 48" To execute this order I had no option but to send the Velvia 5X4 Trans. away to be processed digitally. I was very pleased, as was my client, with the rsult. This particular work suited the overly large print, particularly composition wise. Had I not thought the large size necessary, I would have made efforts to pursuade the client that a smaller size would be more suitable.

Donal Taylor
10-Apr-2004, 09:48
"My Jobo processor allows me to print up to about a metre sq. which is adequate for most purposes"

presumably you mean adequate for most of "your" purposes? Personally I would say 1m sq id often quite inadequate....

"Had I not thought the large size necessary, I would have made efforts to pursuade the client that a smaller size would be more suitable."

why? You seem to assume smaller is, in most case, better? And have fahsioned you workflow to limit yourself to that.

precisely what has been talked about here. I sounds like you are precisely letting the mechanics of the process and the associated outdated traditions of the medium dictate the size of the work, not your imagination. Are you saying smaller is the norm unless you can be given a good enough argument to make it big?

Stan. Laurenson-Batten
10-Apr-2004, 15:32
I have clearly said what I mean. I have not assumed anything and I certainly am not dictated to by the mechanics of the process. Kindly read the first two sentences again, or get someone to read it for you if you have difficulty in grasping the true meaning of my statement. You seem to have lost the thread, I have tried to keep to it without getting it twisted or knotted. :-)

Donal Taylor
10-Apr-2004, 18:46
I did read the first part Stan - what you say there seems to be contradicted in the second part of what you say?

which is it?

"For me the final print size will depend on the use the print will be put to, whether the size suits the desired composition and finally the subject matter."

or

"My Jobo processor allows me to print up to about a metre sq. which is adequate for most purposes."

i.e most of the time small is okay

and

"Had I not thought the large size necessary, I would have made efforts to pursuade the client that a smaller size would be more suitable."

again - on this occassion large was okay by you, but generally would would persuade someone to go with a smaller size (presumably within the 1m sq?)

I'm just confused by the apparent contradictions

Stan. Laurenson-Batten
11-Apr-2004, 07:09
Hello Donal. Sorry if I have contributed to your confusion. I fail to see any cotradiction, but that is not to say none exists, it depends on the mind or interpretation of the reader. The salient point I tried to make is that my choice of size of any picture, photographically or fine art, is primarilly determined by the subject matter,the purpose for which the picture is intended, with consideration to the composition of the subject matter to show it off to it's best possible advantage. All very subjective of course.

Bill_1856
11-Apr-2004, 08:01
As my Mother always used to say: "It depends."

tim atherton
18-Apr-2004, 11:59
Why Photography Has Supersized Itself:

THERE was a time when most photographic prints were small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. If you had visited Alfred Stieglitz's 291 gallery in 1920, for example, you might have been handed one of his pictures of Georgia O'Keeffe. It would have been an intimate experience.

Fast forward to the era of the big picture. In early 1981, an atypically large print of Ansel Adams's "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico" 39 by 55 inches was sold by G. Ray Hawkins Gallery in Los Angeles for $71,500, at the time the highest price ever paid for a photograph. Since then, photographs have been steadily expanding in size, along with their importance in the eyes of critics and their value in the marketplace....

.....Joel Sternfeld first exhibited his series "American Prospects" at the Daniel Wolf Gallery in New York in 1980. The prints were 16 by 20 inches and 20 by 24 inches. This same body of work was shown last fall at the Luhring Augustine Gallery in prints that were 45 by 52 inches. Several years ago, Mr. Sternfeld had the original 8-by-10 negatives electronically scanned as a way to preserve them; the process also enabled him to make the larger prints on finer paper with better control over tone, sharpness and clarity. "We're at a tipping point," he said recently. "The digital print is becoming the look of our time, and it makes the C-print start to look like a tintype."....



more at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/18/arts/design/18GEFT.html

(you need to register - but hey - I'd love to know how many M. Mouse's living at zip 90210 they have listed...)

jantman
18-Apr-2004, 12:19
"THERE was a time when most photographic prints were small enough to hold in the palm of your hand."

Yes, Tim, I guess there was. But it was a short-lived time, as far as I know. In the beginning of photography most prints were larger than this, as they were contact prints (or some type of in-camera printless process) and most plates were larger than what would fit in the hand (presumably a 6cm width, or something thereabouts). The period when rollfilm was popular but enlargements were not was, to say the least, short.

Honestly, I think this thread is pointless. It depends on the artist's vision, abilities, and the final purpose. 99% of my work in 8x10 stays in 8x10. Yeah, a 16x20 looks beautiful (I think it's the ideal print size for an 8x10 neg) but is impractical to store and often too large for display in a home. I'm looking forward to doing a series of prints on the order of 50x100". But by no means would I recommend that as a normal print size.

Donal Taylor
18-Apr-2004, 12:56
"Yeah, a 16x20 looks beautiful (I think it's the ideal print size for an 8x10 neg) but is impractical to store and often too large for display in a home."

Well it's a pointless thread if you chose to keep repeating such mantras dogmatically ad infinitum....

Why, for instance is 16x20 the 'ideal" print size for 8x10 for example? And while you cite aritsits vision, it seems the overiding reason for chosing print size is home decor?

I think a whole part of this thread is that photographers just seem to allow print size to be too readily dictated by such things as the space on the living room wall or the most convenient size their enlarger will print, resulting in what is considered "normal".

tim atherton
18-Apr-2004, 12:57
"THERE was a time when most photographic prints were small enough to hold in the palm of your hand."

Jason - note that it wasn't me that said that - it's from the article (did you read it?)

Nick_3536
18-Apr-2004, 14:22
I'm a little confused by the claims photography has stuffed itself into a tiny little ghetto. Plenty of small paintings. Small carvings. Small everything. I would say the average 8x10 print isn't that small in the grand scheme of things. Some one earlier mentioned that it's easier to sell a big print to a commerical buyer then to sell a few smaller ones to private buyers. I don't know if that's true but if you're buying for a large space you want something big. Right? If you're buying for a smaller space you want something smaller.

You know I've never felt like holding a 48"x48" book in my lap to read it. Does that mean something is wrong with printing? Small tends to equal something more in the human scale.

tim atherton
19-Apr-2004, 14:41
"You know I've never felt like holding a 48"x48" book in my lap to read it. Does that mean something is wrong with printing? Small tends to equal something more in the human scale"

to paraphrase Picasso - you need pretty small humans to fit them into an 8x10 print....

You could qite easily argue Avedons 6' high photographs of the Nixon or Warhol crowds are really more human scale (but I guess you mean something you can hold in your hand?). I'm just glad Michaelangelo, for one, didn't restrict himself to a human scale

Nick_3536
19-Apr-2004, 16:14
What was Michaelangelo's market? Large churches? Other public places. How about the things he did for himself? Are these less valid? How about the various smaller pieces?