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.