ON1 Photo 10 - Resize Module

Print Viewing Distances and Print Resolution (Podcast 532)

This week I'm going to answer a question from listener Doug Shoemaker, about photographic print viewing distances, and I'll explain about minimum print resolution theory and my own standards that I use when printing. Thanks for your questions Doug! I can give you some pointers, based on my own experience,...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • Charlie
    Posted at 23:24h, 18 July Reply

    I really enjoyed this podcast Martin. It forced me consider technical details I usually don’t think about. I tend to enjoy small prints that give a more personal feel. But I always get the urge to try and print one to a larger size once in a while.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 23:26h, 18 July Reply

      That’s great Charlie. Thanks!

      For sure, small prints have their place. I love holding small prints, and even on the wall they can look great, as long as you can get close enough to them to appreciate the beauty. But when the viewing distance has to be greater, the print really needs to match that distance.


  • Cheryl Day
    Posted at 02:11h, 19 July Reply

    Thank you Martin for sharing this information. Print has always been a gray area for me that is a little scary to venture into because I didn’t understand. This has helped me a great deal

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:01h, 19 July Reply

      Thanks for the comment Cheryl! I’m pleased this has helped.

      Printing can be a little bit daunting at first, but with a number of links in the chain solidly in place, it’s easy and can be a lot of fun. I hope this and my other print related content help you to print your work and enjoy the process!


  • Albin Foro
    Posted at 00:07h, 25 July Reply

    Being a regular at the massive Scotia Contact photo show staged all over town in Toronto every May, in venues from large public and small private galleries to little restaurant and retail store walls, the exhibition issues you raise are very interesting. One finds oneself calibrating behavior at different venues and voting for distance with one’s feet, depending on how many other viewers might or might not be in the way.. In many cases this one-month show is not the final destination for the prints and that can be a challenge in itself.

    I never miss a chance to say, overwhelmingly, the very worst thing for displaying a print has to be a reflective glass sheet over it – nothing is worse than finding that perfect vantage point and then seeing myself alone or in a sea of faces, or even worse, seeing the image contaminated with two or three competing images on the opposite wall of the gallery. It’s a combination of the glass itself and the arrangement of illumination around it. Unfortunately, even when it’s not reasonably necessary to protect the print, a lot of them are shown behind a glaring and distracting glass surface.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:18h, 25 July Reply

      Hi Albin,

      Although I was thinking more about hanging prints for viewing at home, the math is still valid for exhibition. If the photos move between a number of venues that you have no control over, I personally generally just go with a size that I would like to see the print displayed at. I generally go as large as possible, unless there are restrictions, but if there are venues where people are guided to view the prints quite close, maybe around 13 x 19″ is a good size. Of course, depending on how many prints you will display, cost is also an issue.

      There are some great glassless frames available, although that does of course leave the prints more vulnerable. The main advice that I often give people buying my prints, is to avoid a gloss finish, if the print is going to be displayed under glass or acrylic board. The gloss of the media along with the reflectivity added by the glass is usually too much. Good quality museum acrylic is often not as reflective as regular glass, but still, a matte print works better in this situation.


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