Why I fell in love with the humble little 6×9 image size.
It took me more time than I’d like to admit to settle on what size I wanted to make my collectors editions prints. I do remember the two books that influenced me the most. One of my favorite photographers, Sam Abel, published a book called The Photographic Life, while another favorite photographer of mine, Jim Brandenburg, published what he called a photographic essay titled Minnesota: Images of Home. Both books are truly exceptional in their quality as well as their content, and they allow the reader an intimate look into the mind of a photographer and the medium of photography.
I had Sam Abel’s book out on loan from my local library one day and upon first opening the book was met with an image of a small white church surrounded by a white picket fence with a dirt walkway leading up to it. A small portion of that fence was bright yellow. It’s a beautifully quiet image, made during what appears to be just before dusk, or possibly dawn, it’s difficult to know. It sat on the page so well. It’s size made it somewhat unassuming, by which I mean it didn’t attempt to be more important than it was. What was more important to me was how well it rested in the hands. I had to bring the book a bit closer to really inspect the details of the image. There was an intimacy created, or maybe fostered is a better word, by the image being so small I needed to hold it closer. I found myself paying more attention to the image because of this. I took out a ruler and measured the image finding it to be roughly 5×8 inches.
Meanwhile, I had come to own Jim Brandenburg’s book several months earlier. I’m not sure any other book on photography has impacted me more. The cover image is a black and white image of a dirt road illuminated by the headlights of a car. Again, the sky seems to suggest the image was made either shortly before sunrise or after sunset. This image, and every other image in the large book (the book itself measures roughly 12.5×13.33 inches) is printed at roughly 7×10 inches. It’s not only the quality of the images but their size that delivers their impact (which is considerable). These, while still on the smaller side, are more appropriately sized for displaying on a wall. I would love to offer my Collectors Editions prints at this size one day.
Working Within Limits
Now we come to the limiting factors. Those being the available paper sizes in the market, and the cost of purchasing the paper and therefore producing the work. These ultimately made me settle on the 6×9 inch print size. Keeping my prints affordable is very important to me. Brooks Jensen, photographer and publisher of Lenswork Magazine, mentioned pricing his prints at roughly the cost of a meal from a nice (but not too fancy) restaurant, because he hoped that the joy his customer felt from looking at his image was comparable to the joy found from such a meal. This idea simply made sense to me. Does it sometimes cost me a lot of money to make my images? Of Course it does. Sometimes I have to travel to other countries to make my images. I’d still rather keep the cost down and have my images find homes in more people’s houses than price them unreasonably, and therefore out of the reach of most people.
The paper I print most of my Collectors Editions images on is a heavy 300gsm matte paper made by a company called Moab, which is owned by Legion Paper. This paper is sold as sheets in a variety of sizes. The most appropriate for me is their 8.5×11 inch size. It allows me to produce prints of an extremely high quality (what is often referred to as “museum, exhibition, or gallery quality”) which are archivally rated to last 200+ years. Over the years I have printed on hundreds of paper stocks produced by dozens of companies. This paper meets my standards and I am confident it will meet yours as well. Best of all, it is priced such that I can make a profit from my images and continue to provide my customers with images for years to come.
So for now, my collector’s Editions images will be printed on 8.5×11 inch paper, with the images sized at approximately 6×9 inches depending on the aspect ratio of the photograph. Any deviation from the print size, weight or finish will be indicated on the sale page. However, if there is an image that you really enjoy and would like a larger print, please do not hesitate to contact me. I’ll work with you to make sure you get a print of the image you like at the size you want.