Why Printing Bigger is Better – an aha moment

A couple of years ago I thought it would be fun to walk through a bunch of art galleries with other photographers and talk about art. We gave the idea a try at a regional PPOC conference in BC. A good 20 or so people signed up and we broke up into small groups and wandered around Vancouver.

I expected to have some interesting conversations throughout the morning. What I wasn’t expecting was the major realization I had that day.

Why printing bigger is better. 

I had always heard that “bigger was better”…but I never really understood why.

Each gallery we walked through inspired different conversations: Art, technique, presentation etc.

But the big realization came after the last two galleries we visited. There was a major contrast between the two . The first one was a coffee shop style gallery. The pieces were small and the room was cluttered. We didn’t spend much time in there.

The second place, the Kostuik Gallery had two artists exhibiting: Sasha Rogers and Philip Jarmain . It wasn’t until we had left that I realized how different the experience was.

The artwork invited us to stay longer.

Each piece was large in format…and I realized they made me stop. and look.

This is when I first understood the impact of a large photograph. I guess it’s the first time I understood the value of it too. I went home and looked at all the art I had hanging on the wall…and I realized the same thing. Anything smaller than 16”, I really didn’t look at that often. I knew they were there – but they sort of just blended in with the room, they didn’t grab my attention.  Then I looked at all the larger pieces and thought about how much more time I spent with them.

Up until that point in my career, I hadn’t sold a lot of large prints – because I didn’t really understand the why. I had thought it was just about making more money…and money has never been a big motivator for me.

The biggest takeaway I got from that day was realizing I had been cheating my clients out of a superior experience. If I am going to go to all the trouble of creating and providing an original professional photograph – I want to make sure those photographs have a sense of place in my clients home. I want my work to have an impact.

What’s the point of creating artwork for people if they rarely ever see it?

My aha moment…

Bigger is better.

This is one of my favorite photographs of Little Slocan Lake. I recently printed it at 48″ in my living room and I spend waaay more time with this photograph then I did when it was a 5×7 hung in the hallway! Print bigger!


Have you had an “aha” moment you could share? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

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