A Guide to Print Sizes

I came across this image on Facebook yesterday and thought it was a great topic to share.  Most people don’t know that not all prints are created equal and the image below is a great illustration of the concept.

In the old days of traditional portrait photography, photographers used large format cameras (the kind where they had to put a cloth over their head in order to see the image) and the film was 4 inches x 5 inches.  Thus, the 8×10 was born.  It was a perfect enlargement from a 4×5 piece of film.  While lots of photographers still do use large format cameras today and shoot with 4×5 film, most of your portrait and wedding photographers are shooting with digital cameras.  Our natural image size is 8×12.

If the image that comes out of the camera is 8″ on the short side and 12″ on the long side, the most complimentary prints are 4×6, 8×12, 16×24 or 20×30.  At those sizes (see below), you will get the entire image on the page, with nothing cropped off.  Unfortunately, the most popular print sizes remain 5×7 and 8×10 – both of which require cropping into the picture and losing some of the image.  So when you’re ordering prints from your photographer, keep in mind that not all photos look great at 8×10 – you may lose too much of the photo.

Thanks to Rachael Myers Photography in Peoria, Illinois, for sharing this image and helping address some of the confusion around print sizes!  The first image, on the top left, is what comes out of the camera.  Perfect at 4×6, 8×12 and 16×24.  But when you crop it to 8×10, you lose the tips of her toes and the image doesn’t work as well.  Use this as a guide to get an idea if your photo will work at the size you want.  And when in doubt, as your photographer!  It’s our job to know these kinds of things 🙂

print sizes, wedding clients, portrait clients

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