Why we use old school paper sizes


Why we use old school paper sizes

If you've got a printer at home, chances are you'll have a ream of A4 paper laying about, maybe even A3 if your printer can handle it. 

One question that gets asked about photographic prints is, why aren't they just A4 prints, or A3 prints, or even A2 prints?

Well, there's a simple answer really, it's to do with the paper vs the print and something called aspect ratio.

Back in the days before widescreen TV's were common, people watched TV on a screen with a 4 x 3 aspect ratio. That is why old films had a big black bar along the top and bottom, as cinematic movies were shot in 16:9 aspect, and it would be unwatchable otherwise. Now our TV's at home tend to be 16:9 aspect as well. Old 4 x 3 programmes look odd!

Something similar happens in photography. We shoot all our images with an aspect ratio of 3 x 2. That means it's easy to produce the same image as an 8 x 12 inch image or a 30 x 20, it's bigger, but the image aspect ratio is still the same.

When you move to more normal "A" paper sizes, those aspect ratios are not held consistently.

So, an A4 piece of paper is pretty close to 3 x 2 aspect. But an A3 print is closer to 4 x 3, meaning the print will look different, meaning we have different looking prints based on paper size.

Here's an example - this is our friend Andrew in a studio shoot we did for his album artwork in 2019. This is an A4 aspect.

And now, here's the same image cropped in A3 aspect -  he's lost the top of his head....

So, when we offer our wall art, it's in traditional photo friendly sizes. It's for a reason - to let you have the best possible looking wall art shown as we intended without compromise to the paper size.