Thought I’d republish this post from about three years ago. I’m not as undecided about things as I was then, but what I say here still guides much of what I do.
On a sadder note, I recently found out that the friend I mentioned in the post died a few months back. Way too young, but we just never know. RIP Bob.
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I’m still undecided about how I want to go about selling prints of the photographs I make. I do it to a limited degree now, but there’s much I’m considering as to the best way to proceed. To me, the way a photograph is presented, the way it feels, is as important as the photo itself. My concerns, strangely enough, aren’t as much about what to offer as prints or how much to charge for them, but rather about how big to print them. The size of the print should fit the picture.
I spend considerable time looking at the offerings of other photographers on their sites, and I see quite a variety of prints sizes being offered. Some offer several sizes, others stick with a large print for the most part. It’s tough to judge a photograph on a monitor, but many of these works are magnificent, are no doubt stunning to see displayed, and fetch a pretty hefty price. It’s impressive work.
I’ve never been partial to large prints. Back in the days when I printed my own black and whites in the darkroom, I never printed on anything bigger than an 11×14 paper, and I did very few of those. Most of my prints were a 6×9 image on 8×10 paper. That’s the size that my negatives liked the best. If you live with a photograph for awhile, it will tell you how big it should be. A big picture, like say a grand landscape, will often demand a large print. It’s a big scene, and works well seen big. Others, like most of mine, are smaller pictures. They are a smaller slice of the scene in front of me, a more intimate look, and beg for a smaller print. I need to recognize what they are telling me, and print accordingly.
I have a friend who has a good setup for making prints — a drum scanner and high-end printers, and he is very good with them. We’ve experimented with a few of my photos in various sizes, from 6×9 up to 2 feet by 3 feet. At first glance the big prints are impressive as hell, but after I look at them for awhile, I shake my head. No, I decide. They’re too big. They just don’t work for me. The 6×9′s work well, and a few work with a 12×18 image. Beyond that they just don’t feel right. I may just stick with that small size, 6×9 on 8.5×11 paper, and make them available as individual prints or as sets. As far as my own photography goes, a set of 6 or 8 related prints in a folio folder, or a boxed set, would convey that sense of intimacy more than large prints individually displayed would.
There is no right or wrong size for a finished photograph. Small isn’t better, and big isn’t better. They’re simply different. I happen to shoot small photographs for the most part, and smaller prints work for me. You may be just the opposite. I feel closer to my photos when I can sit down and look through them, much like looking through a book. You may feel the same way seeing them displayed large on a wall. My photographs tell me not to print them big. What do yours tell you?
pj johnson — photographer
how you can help
An important part of this journey will be raising funds through this blog. Whether we like it or not, the fact is we need money to do things. I have three ways below in this sidebar that you can help if you're willing and able.
First, I have a selection of notecards and a calendar available through Redbubble, and the selection will be growing as I add new work.
I also have some affiliate links, and again I will be adding a few more. If you regularly buy from these places, it would be a wonderful thing if you went there through these links. It won't cost you any more and I make a small commission from every sale made through this site. It all helps.
Then I have a crowdfunding page at GoFundMe where you can simply donate. Any amount, and 10% of all money raised will in turn be donated to NPCA on behalf of our national parks.
You will find links to all of that below, and thanks in advance for your support.
you can follow my desert adventures at twitter too…
Simply put, buying through the links below will help fund my travels. Please do so... and don't worry. It's safe and secure.
for your bookshelf
portable solar chargers