Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Don't Print Small!

I posted a lightly edited version of the previous essay about what it might mean for a photograph to look like a photograph to LuLa forums.

My, what fun! You'd think I'd peed in their coffee.

It turns out that people like big prints and I am a bad person, or at least dumb, for proposing that one should print small.

I was even told that viewing photos at a small viewing angle was rare.

In fact, virtually all photos have been and still are viewed very small.

How many 4x6 or 3x5 prints have you looked at (perhaps in your youth)? How many photos have you seen only on a phone or tablet? How many larger prints, hung on the wall, have you seen mostly from across the room? How many photos have you seen in books and magazines.

This business of standing at some invented 'proper viewing distance' from a print is in fact the rare case, the almost-never case.

We generally do view photos small. That's part of why they look like photos.

1 comment:

  1. I came to your conclusion a few months ago when I started on a TOPocoloy project: I wanted to make a set of family photographs over the year and decided to make, in effect, an album of 4x4 - 4x6 prints. There were both esthetic and pragmatic reasons to chose this; the main esthetic one being that I like this size of print for family photos and the pragmatic ones being that my printer can handle it and its also cheaper.

    I can also keep a few prints of my nearest and dearest of this size in my wallet, letting them get properly aged a la Mira Tichy.

    Please continue to pee in coffee at Lula. I think small prints have an esthetic which is being overwhelmed by the technological potential to print big. I find small prints to be lovely, in and of themselves.