The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Friday, May 9, 2008

Print Sizes and Framing

How do you decide how large to print a photo?  Recently I was listening to a podcast by Brooks Jensen on print size.  It really made me think.  Are people getting carried away with large prints?   His point was that just because you can print it large, should you.  He also equated the large print photo to typing in all caps in an email.  I had never thought about it that way.  But I can see his point.


For a long time, to me, the photograph meant a 3.5x5 or 4x6 with the occasional 5x7 and 8x10 tossed in.  Since I went digital I have started printing 8x10 as my standard size for photos. But keep in mind, I do not print every photo I take.  I keep 8x10s in books to show and use during classes, to enter in contests, and to frame.  The size is a good one for me – I like it large enough to see the details of the print. 


Lately I have also gotten into printing square photos.  I like these at 5x5 or 8x8.  One of my favorite ways to frame these is with the bottom weighted.  I print the photo near the end of a sheet of photo paper.  The sheet is 11x17 and I place the 5x5 image a couple inches away from one end.  I then trim the photo sheet to fit into an 11x14 frame.  The same thing can be done with an 8x8 photo – but I would use a 13x19 photo sheet and a 12x16 frame.  It is handy having a printer that can handle larger than an 8.5x11 sheet of paper. 


If you can keep your frames needed to standard sizes, you will really save a lot in framing costs.  Keeping frames the same or similar in color and mixing them up on a wall is also a fun way to use pre-made, standard-size frames.  On a wall in my living room I have a series of black and white photos.  These are all framed in black frames with white mats – but none of the frames are the same moldings. 


Another great way to keep framing costs down is to look for art at local discount stores.  Especially check the clearance areas.  Don't pay any attention to the art in the frame – look at the frame!  Most are a real bargain for the clearance price.  Many times you will like the mat too.  So for a bargain price – you are the getting frame, mat, glass, and hanger.  All you need to do is go home – take out the mass market piece of art that is in there and replace it with your priceless, photo-genius print (you may even want to change its orientation from landscape to portrait or vice versa).  And, of course, when Michael's or Hobby L obby is having a 50% off frame sale; stock up!


A long time ago, when I was just getting into selling prints, the guy who gave me the shove told me that selling any print over an 11x14 or 12x16 would be difficult.  His logic was that most people did not have large spaces of wall to fill.  When someone did have large wall space to fill – they are more likely going to go for painted art, not a photo.  The photos that people buy will be more accents to their art.  So imagine an 11x14 photo, by the time you mat and frame it – it is getting on up there in size.  At the least the mat would be two inches on all sides, maybe more – some people like a larger mat.  Some frames are bigger than others.  So just think that in the least we would add 4 or 5 inches to each side of that 11x14 photo.  Now think about this, size wise, how many 5x7s or 8x10s you could sell to people and the places they would have to fit the smaller size photos.    I have sold quite a few larger size prints – but they were for commercial properties.  Even in my own home, where I have space, instead of one or two large prints I prefer a grouping of smaller ones. 


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