What's the big idea


What’s the Big Idea?

 Photographer Paul Strand once said that he liked the concept of putting a big idea into a small picture.  That has resonated with me, and for many reasons, I, too, have come to embrace the beauty of the small print.  I feel that the intimacy of a small print draws the viewer in.  It invites them to come near and gaze closely at the picture, noticing the details and nuances in a more deliberate way.  It presents the artist’s “big idea” in an elegant, concise way that is manageable for the viewer.

Of course, the popular thing in galleries right now is super large prints. Digital photography lends itself to large prints, making the manipulation and printing of these much easier.  Most galleries are showing oversized prints both in color and black & white.  These can have a powerful presence, and fill the room with their “big idea” in a very overt way.  Though I sometimes feel alone in my love for small prints, I feel that this big, showy photography often tends to put off the viewer, making them feel overwhelmed by and separate from the image presented. 

Another, more practical reason to make small prints is that it uses a whole lot fewer materials, and in this era of conservation, we need to consider this, for both ecological and financial reasons.  Materials have become scarcer and can sometimes be toxic to the environment, and I feel that making small prints is my contribution to ‘going green’ in my work.

Mostly, though, I love the way a small print looks and feels.  Small prints get my big ideas across very nicely.

Here are some small prints from my collection


10 comments


  • Greg Britton

    I totally agree as well, I have always thought that photographs were perfect in a book format, so small rules the day. I recently read that Michael Kenna only prints as large as 8×8 inches and says no one can make him print any larger. Now reading how you feel too, I’m justified in my belief in the same. Darkroom or Digital, smaller definitely has that tactile feel that I enjoy so much!


  • Ray

    I agree with your thoughts on the small print. I definitely feel some subjects work well the small size. Big isn’t for everything! I enjoy your work!


  • Thornton William

    I find that the intimacy offered by the small print to be one of the most important things.
    The viewing distance is pretty important ❗️


  • Carol Isaak

    I think that size often addresses the subject matter… I, too, make small prints, but it is because I have narrowed my vision to concentrate on specifics, rather than on a general view.


  • Jürg Bünzli Wurzer

    Ray,
    I totally agree with you and your love for small prints. I love them too, because viewing them is a very intimate moment, touching in every way. For me it builds a closer relationship to the subjects as well as to the artist, because usually you can hold the print in your hands, which also builds a virtual connection to the hands of the artist, which created the image. I love the tactile experience of the paper, which enhances the experience of the image itself. Best regards, and thank you very much for your prints, which arrived yesterday. Jürg


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