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A photo too far

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October 23rd, 2015
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To best appreciate a photograph, or any image, view it at the proper distance. What’s the proper distance? Well, an 8” x 10” photo viewed at arm’s length is about right. But if a photo is smaller, hold it closer. If it’s larger, step back or push back in your chair.

This concept applies to electronic images, too. Think about computers, tablets, and smartphones and the distance at which you use them. Manufacturers of these devices know a thing or two about viewing distances. A laptop keyboard is within reach of your fingers and the screen is as near as 15 inches. A desktop display is wider and slightly farther from your eyes, 24 to 30 inches. A TV screen is even larger and viewed at a distance of 8 to 12 feet. Projected images are larger yet because they play to larger audiences. Feature films in theaters provide the ultimate immersive experience. 

The larger the image, the farther from it should you be, as Yoda would say.

Eye level

It’s also best to view images at eye level and head-on. That’s why desktop displays elevate and tilt and why laptops have hinges (and you have elbows). In galleries, designers hang photos and paintings at or near eye level. 

You should hang photos at eye level in your home, too. Hallway walls are a common location for photographs, but the farthest you will likely stand from them is two and a half feet. Photos hung there should be no larger than 11” x 14”.

Here’s a rule of thumb: For every eight inches of width, view the photo at three times that distance. For example, view an 8” x 10” photo at about arm’s length. You’ll appreciate it better.

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