First let me say, please feel free to share this post. And trust me, read what I’ve written to go along with it – it will make much more sense. And be more fun(ny).
**This post does assume you have wall space to put photos on. If you are limited in space you are limited! Nothing wrong with that. But don’t put one photo up – do a collage of a bunch of photos and frame them up – really make that visual impact even if it’s in a small space!!**
In December 2009 I sat down late at night to write out a post. It started out with me wanting to talk to clients about how to go bigger when they were ordering prints for their home. Then I got all sorts of ambitious and created an entire gallery of images displaying different wall sizes. But the point remained the same:
Get clients to understand that BIGGER IS BETTER when they are printing for their walls
But even now, fourteen months later, it’s still not really happening. But the reason why was hammered home for me when I did my first in-person ordering session with a client. She had no idea how big and small prints were in real life. You hear one size and the picture in your mind is sooooo different from reality. I had brought along a 5×7, 8×10, 11×14 and 16×20 to her ordering session. She couldn’t believe the 8×10 was so small – she was sure that was a 5×7 size. (By the way once she was showed the sizes she ended up with a 16×20 canvas and has already mentioned she will probably wish she had gone bigger!) It really just sank in for me – unless you handle big prints all day long and see them a lot, you’re not really going to know what is what and how big things *really* are. So I am back this fourteen months later with a new version of the post using a traditional print-hanging scenario. You can check out the old one by clicking HERE
You have a family photo session. You spend hours shopping for and debating over what outfits to put everyone in. You email your photographer to get his/her opinion on clothes. You stress over whether it is worth the meltdown to make your daughter wear her pretty shoes instead of her converse. You email your photographer and worry about where to have the session and about the time of the session and whether or not the kids will give themselves a black eye the week before. You convince your husband to actually appear in the photos with you guys. You do SO much to prepare. So where is the thinking about what comes AFTER the session? You know – the ordering part. If you are going to spend all of the time and money preparing and then hundreds, if not thousands of dollars afterward, don’t you want something that makes you *happy* when you look up at the wall? Don’t you want gorgeous awesome big reminders of that session you sweated over?
There are two versions of prints when you order or when you print for yourselves if you buy digital files: desk prints and wall prints. Those are what they mean – prints that are sized to go on desks, and prints that are sized to go on walls. Nothing smaller than an 11×14 should ever go on your wall. EVER. Sorry, it’s a truth you might not want to hear but it’s really for the best. Unless you’re doing an arrangements of a few 8x10s together, set the hammer and nails down and walk away! Trust me, you will be so, so happy you did. Plus, remember all of those horrid awesome posters we all decorated our college dorm rooms with? Those were all 24×36 and we never hesitated to put those up!! (Okay, *I* didn’t…)
Here is a nice layout of prints I put together for you over my stunning cream and striped couch that came with the house (don’t be jealous! Oh and don’t envy my ability to hang things at a special crooked angle). For size reference, this is a regular full sized sofa, right around 84″ wide. All the same image (Ashley I really, clearly love your family ) and obviously all different sizes. Can you tell which is the 8×10?
SURPRISE!!! Not one single print up there is smaller than an 11×14. Really!!! Here is the same photo with the image sizes labeled for you:
Now that you’ve seen that – want to see what it looks like with the wimpy little 8×10 and 5×7?
And labeled just in case
Now, this doesn’t have the exact same impact when they are all arranged in a group. So let’s take them one at a time. Imagine you have your session. You have a wall over your couch. Or in your dining room, or your bedroom, etc. You have regular 9 ft ceilings and something to hang the prints *over.* So you say to yourself – “Self, I want a BIG print to hang. I know, let’s do an 8×10!!” (By the way, I love Rhode Island, but seriously guys – the concept here that 8×10 is a “big print” just slays me.) Okay. Here is what that scenario looks like:
Considering all of that wall space and all of that furniture underneath there, the overall effect is kinda wimpy, huh?? Well guess what. I tricked ya again. I know, you really should expect it by now. This is an 11×14. Want to see what one measly little 8×10 really looks like? No fooling this time. This is what an 8×10 “big print” looks like on a regular wall over a regular couch:
Yeahhhh. Not so good. It is completely overwhelmed by the wall and the furniture and totally disappears. So let’s step that up. I have already shown you the 11×14. That is the *minimum* size that should go on your wall unless you are doing a whole grouping of images. So let’s go back to that conversation you were having with yourself. “Self, we want BIG. The 8×10 was teeny. The 11×14 wasn’t much better. Dare we try a 16×20?! NO, no, no! A 16×20 is huge!! We can’t put that on our wall!” Let’s see about that:
Again. Taken in context with the whole wall and the whole couch, it’s not really that much. It’s actually quite nice. But in the whole room, it’s still small. SO let’s be super bold and daring and try the ::gasp:: 20×24!!
Now THAT is a nice photo!! It fits well on the wall, it fits well with the scale of the furniture and the room. I’d be really happy if people got that size. Just for fun, though, let’s look at the 24×30. Slightly bigger, yes, but I have to say that this is the size I would go with!
For a slightly different visual where you can see how all of these line up comparatively, I stacked them all together at the same bottom left corner. And then I put them next to my 15″ laptop. This is a normal sized laptop that a majority of people out there have:
You can really see from the 5×7 to the 24×30, how they compare and how there is such a drastic difference. Left to right again – 5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20, 20×24, 24×30
Now let’s pause here for a moment and be 100% honest. No matter what I write here, no matter how much I try and convince people, a majority will still be put off by the last two sizes. I have had a handful of clients go this big and it was awesome. But the rest, they stop at 16×20. (Though I have had several come back to say they wish they had gone bigger… I digress.) Most people will not go bigger than a 16×20. It scares them. So to those people who it scares (and why is that, again??) consider doing something different – one bigGER photo surrounded by smaller ones. Here are some of my family photos from last year, arranged over the couch for a different look. It still makes a visual impact, but because the biggest print is *only* an 18×24 and I have surrounded it by four 10×10 prints, it is less intimidating.
But come on, you know me, right?? (Okay, most of you – some of you are new to me I am sure so, welcome!) That display up there so would not be enough for me. I look at that arrangement and go, yeah, that’s nice. It’s pretty but it’s not enough WOW. I want that WOW factor in there when people walk into my house. And I love my family. I love my family pictures. They make me SO happy to see and I want them big. So this is what has replaced my old collage over the couch. One gorgeous 20×30 gallery wrapped canvas flanked by two 18x24s. (For those curious, the prints are mounted on white foamboard and I used strips of velcro tape to attach all of the prints including the canvas to the wall because it’s an outside / cinderblock wall.)
It doesn’t look that huge does it? Yet just hearing the sizes probably made you shudder a bit. Admit it! Now here is a little secret – I wanted to add the 10x10s onto the ends – two on each. But I thought my husband might faint. You see, he’s kind of like a lot of you. He likes the idea of big prints but when I got the boxes and unwrapped them I did notice a bit of blanching in his face. I tease. Kind of. When you unwrap an 18×24 or a 20×30 or even a 16×20, it is a scary thing.
But then you put it on the wall and all of a sudden, you realize hey, that lady was right! Bigger really IS better!!