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11x14 prints in 16x20 frames. Big enough for gallery exhibit?

Bob Williams , Nov 10, 2008; 05:40 p.m.

I'm running this exhibit on a tight budget and it crept up on me rather quickly. I'm thinking of doing 11x14 color prints in 16x20 frames. Do you feel the size sufficient for a small gallery exhibit? My work is the only work to be displayed and I'll have roughly 20 prints on non framed 24x36 portrait at one end.

I'd love to hear feed back.



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Mark Chartrand , Nov 10, 2008; 05:54 p.m.

I think 11x14 is quite small for an exhibit. You might be able to get by with it if the gallery your exhibit is in is small and the people will be quite close to your photographs. If the people will be standing close to the pictures you will be OK. If they are more that about 4 or 5 feet away you are in trouble. Personal Opinion: I cannot cite a source for this advice.


Jeff Spirer , Nov 10, 2008; 05:58 p.m.

11x14 is fine. Look at some of the classic work, it's much smaller. The only reason that it would be a problem is if people aren't allowed to get closer than 6 feet.

Steve Henry , Nov 10, 2008; 06:13 p.m.

I agree with Jeff. Your plan for a small gallery is exactly what I use for most of my images. 8x10 in a 16x20 frame is good as well, since it gives the photograph "its own space." Check out the print sizes from some of the world's greatest photographers: Edward Weston had an 8x10 view camera and no enlarger.

Lex Jenkins , Nov 10, 2008; 06:34 p.m.

For sheer viewing enjoyment, there are no specific rules regarding print size. If viewers are able to get close enough even a wallet sized print is large enough. Match the size according to viewing distance and your personal aesthetics.

However, for sales in a gallery you should consult with the owner, agent or other representative. In this case market demands are more important than personal aesthetics.

The Amon Carter Museum here in Fort Worth has an excellent photography section and hosts traveling exhibits. I've seen many prints ranging from 4x5 contact size up to Avedon's virtually life-sized prints. They all look great and I can recall size ever being a factor in my viewing enjoyment.

Careful framing and matting is probably a more important factor. Michael Kenna's prints, displayed at a Dallas gallery, were only around 8"x8", but displayed in frames that some photographers would use for 16x20 prints. The frames were all vertically oriented, with the prints mounted above vertical center. When described it seems odd, but when viewed it's very effective.

Brad - , Nov 10, 2008; 06:52 p.m.

An 11x14 inch print in a 16x20 inch mat is great. Gives you 2 1/2 inch borders in one dimension, and 3 inch borders in the other.

Norman Valentine , Nov 10, 2008; 07:36 p.m.

It all depends on your pictures. Big open landscapes don't seem to work with small prints, but you are the one to decide. I have exhibited with A4 prints from 35mm and 8x8 prints from 21/4sq (I love to mix the measurements!) The viewers will find their own distance. There will always be those who want to place their noses on your print but there are others who will realise where to stand.

Maris Rusis , Nov 10, 2008; 08:54 p.m.

In the conventional sense an 11x14 picture is 11 inches high and 14 inches wide; the vertical dimension is traditionally stated first. Another convention in gallery exhibitions, at least those offering (or pretending to) a high class presentation is to orient all frames in the vertical, alias portrait, direction irrespective of whether the enclosed picture is "landscape" or "portrait".

So: A 14x11 will go in a 20x16 frame. An 11x14 needs at least a 24x20 frame. A mix of 11x14 and 14x11 needs at least 24x20 frames. Sometimes a mixture of frame sizes and orientations is tolerable in an exhibition if each gallery wall is limited to matching sizes and orientations.

John O'Keefe-Odom , Nov 11, 2008; 11:26 a.m.

Congratulations on your upcoming exhibit! The sizes and overall plan sound fine to me.

The last Ansel Adams print I saw, made by his hand, was only 16X20. I know I've seen him photographed next to some prints he displayed at a famous art show in the gallery of Alfred Stieglitz in the 30s, I think. Those prints were much smaller than 11X14. If the great Ansel Adams can do it, you can, too!

I use 11X14s matted to 16X20 all the time. As someone wrote above, the appropriate size often depends on the composition of the print. Not including format ranges, for accutance purposes, though; for example, small format negs in sizes 8X10 or smaller do well; medium format negs do well with 11X14 and larger; you follow, probably. Format ranges aside, I have had some compositions that looked like duds on the contact sheet that did great at 24X30. These are the ones that have just the right composition for the size of display.

The best size and display are the ones you as the photographer know are best for your prints. If you look at your products, and you feel they're not right; then, you know what you're in for. You can always test it out with a small group of people you trust to tell you if your plan is a dud.

RL Potts , Nov 11, 2008; 04:30 p.m.

Since I got a mat cutter and a printer, I virtually never use precisely 11x14 any more. Try cropping your image in the best way you can, then have someone cut a custom mat for it to go into a 16x20 frame. You might end up using some prints closer to 10x15 for example.

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