Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Blogger Robin Allen: 8x10s are Postage Stamps!

 Robin Allen, a Lexington photographer has a great eye for how family photos can fit into the decor of a home.  Read on to discover her tips for selecting photos.

What would you guess is the most popular “big wall portrait” size among consumers.  Since the answer is in the title, I’ll assume you guessed right…. One of those big 8x10s!  I always have a little internal chuckle when a client of mine will say to me they’re planning on “getting a big one.”   In my experience, that word varies from person to person, so I ask them to define “big.”   She replies with the word ‘duh’ woven in to her tone, “8x10.”  The next popular response is 11x14, which isn’t much larger.

I in no way mean to take a jab at these clients, and all professional photographers have them.  It’s my job to help them see how different sizes can really make a great impact on the decor of their rooms.  I know exactly why we have a whole generation of people who gravitate to this tiny wall size.  But first – more jabs at the 8x10…

Think of a beautifully decorated house or hotel.  Picture in your mind what ‘beautiful’ looks like.  What do the window coverings look like? The furniture? The floors?  …Now what’s on the wall?  Every grand home and high-brow hotel has had a grand statement in wall art (no matter the particular style).  This could mean a large wall portrait or painting that fills the space in which it was displayed.  This could also mean eight small prints which resemble soldiers marching in line.  These eight, I must say, since they are dressed all alike (mats and frames and content) are together ONE piece of art.  They are in series.  The grand 60 inch art piece which stands alone is also one piece of art.  Never have I seen a lonely 8x10 on the wall. Matted (needing a larger frame) or not, the designers never have elected to employ the use of this postage stamp.

So then where do these tiny photographs belong?  The answer is
1)      on book shelves.  (The prints are delightful little ways to break up the repetition of the books.)
2)      on desks and table tops
3)      if their home MUST be the wall, then they should live only in series.  (A series is marked by its similar display characteristics:  A frame style is repeated and a print style is repeated. ( i.e. all photographs are black and white, or maybe the photographs are all very colorful and all have a fun subject matter.   ..but they are alike.)

Then WHY oh WHY are these small sizes so popular on the wall among the common consumer!?
I am a professional photographer and my concentration is the young, growing family.  I photograph maternity clients, then the newborns, then the baby as she grows in to her childhood.  One thing I can COUNT ON during an ordering appointment… mom wants every single shot I have taken.  For this reason I only let her see the best 40-ish, otherwise we’d be there all night!   The knee-jerk reaction to her feeling of being overwhelmed is to get a bunch of 8x10s and the rest in 5x7.  Maybe her favorite is promoted to a “big” 11x14. 

There are problems with this order and I don’t even have to know what her house looks like.  11x14s are RARELY large enough for any prominent wall, though usually that is where the ‘big one’ is placed.  Go ahead and measure the space over your mantle.  What would a professional designer assign for that location? Probably something in the 30-40 inch range.  Whatever size that will fill the space.  Then, what on earth happens to the 8x10s?!  Surely she doesn’t have room on her tables and shelves for ten 8x10s then 9 more 5x7s!  Sadly, after a handful would be framed and displayed in miscellaneous locations around the house, the rest would meet an early and unfortunate demise in a drawer, the photo drawer that is the graveyard of too many portraits.

Here’s what I help her with…
We find out BEFORE the session what she really wants.  Does she need a great piece for over the mantle?   Does she have a couple of large voids on the wall that she needs me to fill?  OR does she want a great book or wall series that showcases her children’s wild personalities?  What would she really enjoy every day?  What would she be so proud to show all of her friends?  That’s what we photograph for and that is what she ends up ordering!  I do NOT want buyer’s remorse ANYWHERE near my clients, so I really discourage the collection of drawer photos.  That’s a waste, and I know we can do better than that.  I know she will be happy with, and will be so proud to own works of art that are the right size for their space, and then when there are still too many photos left, she can rediscover her kids’ sweet pictures as she thumbs through a beautiful book or album.

At the end of the day, Say NO to the drawer full of postage stamps!!

You can reach Robin the following ways:
Robin Allen Photography
Located at 711 Millpond Road Lexington, KY 40514  (all sessions, appointments, and drop-ins are by appointment only)
 (859)685-8516   or

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