Doug Stockdale's Singular Images

April 1, 2008

Right size for Photograph?

Filed under: Art, Photography — Doug Stockdale @ 3:32 pm

New Manufacturing Operations

While I sort my stuff out after a day at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, I will leave you with a question that was posed to me from Tim Wride, (Independent curator, Director of No Strings Foundation, recently the Curator of photography at the Los Angeles Musuem of Art),  one of my portfolio reviewers, Does the same photograph in a different size mean the same the same thing?

Tim’s preable were questions as to what size that I had visuallized or anticipated to print my photographs. After the question he posed above, he did say that he was questioning if all the photographs going really printed big now, indeed were being shown at their best size, or if you really printed a big print (thing feet, not inches), does it change the context and meaning of the photographic image?

So while you ponder, let me get some other things done that need tending to,

Best regards, Doug

By the way (BTW), this image was selected by Tim as the most interesting of those from the portfolio that I was having reviewed, and where he thought I should use to continue the work on my series.


  1. Very cool image. Like the lines and colors.
    For me, a photograph in a different size means a different thing.
    Just as something has particular ‘meaning’ one day, but finding something new or different in the same image the next day.
    Size doesn’t mean Everything, but it does mean part of Something…context.

    Comment by kitchentent — April 1, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  2. At the time of the question from Tim, my immediate reaction was that the size of the print does not make a difference. But after taking a moment, I began to realize that I was not sure. I like youre point about ‘context’.

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — April 1, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

  3. It depends, I suppose.

    Getting off the fence, slightly – some images have a “natural” print size where the effect is best shown. I’m finding much of my recent stuff has been too small in my normal print sizes to have any impact. I also see many public display photographs changing their point when printed huge, especially when they start to get past the point of reasonable sharpness. I saw a few this week at Schipol that were enlarged so much they’d reached a point where they were merely wallpaper (much the intended effect, I think).

    What about a different poser on the same lines: does a photo mean the same thing from any viewing distance?

    Comment by Martin Doonan — April 1, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

  4. Just to bring up a past viewpoint, but it was Minor White who stated that the ‘right size’ for a photograph was an 8 x 10″ because it may it very nice to hold in your hands and look at and try to understand.

    As to your question to discuss, that’s an excellent related query!

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — April 1, 2008 @ 7:55 pm

  5. I think that an earlier post that I made about the photographic ‘form’ may also be relevent to this discussion:

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — April 1, 2008 @ 11:53 pm

  6. i think size does play a role in making a photograph.

    large things allow the viewer to be far away. somewhat distant from what’s being shown.

    small photographs FORCE the viewer to get close up to the work.

    Comment by brokenbike — April 2, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

  7. Like so many thing, it all depends. Some photos that I shoot with the intention of being small and intimate, turn around and nearly scream to be printed large. Others work both small or large, revealing different aspects of their character in the different sizes.

    Comment by Daniel Sroka — April 4, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

  8. I guess there are several aspects to the size of the print. One is if the image actually looks good at different sizes. Does it fall apart large from either technical OR aesthetic issues? The next is if the image has greater impact large or small. There’s a reason for monumental art and another for intimate art. Is your photo one or the other?

    There’s also, as always, the space. If you’re showing in a large room, or worse, alongside large art in a group show, does your work get lost? One hopes the exhibit designer takes those things into account. One hopes. :)

    I think typically if you are working on a theme, all of the images will fit one or the other. But display prints are different from review prints.

    Comment by Mike — April 7, 2008 @ 5:23 pm

  9. Size, and the space around the print, make an enormous difference to the way the image is perceived. I also think that there is a ‘perfect size’ for each particular image. Unfortunately, that perfect size varies for each person viewing it!

    Comment by Dave — April 11, 2008 @ 11:35 am

  10. I totally agree with you about the ‘space’ around the print, as I believe you are writing about the framing aspect of the print. I do not like small mattes, they do not allow enough ‘breathing’ room and make the image appear cramped.

    And it does appear that size is very related to a large viewing area or if you want to hold and study the image.

    Comment by Doug Stockdale — April 11, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

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