Paper Curiosity


I recently ordered two large proof prints just to test the waters of different printing formats. I can't divulge those details yet, but when I saw how my work looked when printed on a different paper, I couldn't help but become curious about how my matted prints would look on different types of paper.

When I began printing my work, I wanted the best quality paper without the "flash". Perhaps my tastes are changing? I ordered a sample pack from Breathing Color to see if there were any that stood out to me.

Trying different types of paper for my fine art photography

The first thing I notice is that the matte paper, which is a version of what I use now, has a softer, low contrast quality to it. If I were to describe it in one word, it would be elegant, but it doesn't have the shadow depth or color saturation that the glossy prints have, or even my satin canvas prints. Not even close.

Mat paper vs glossy paper
Mat Paper (left) vs Glossy Paper (right): Much darker blacks for glossy, but the reflections can be distracting.

It's a difficult decision really. I've been printing with fine art matte paper since I began in 2012. It was one of my first decisions! And switching papers involves more than the look.

Can I sign it?

Will it stay flat without bowing in large sizes?

Is it archival? Does it look good in a mat?

Does it look good in a frame?

Does it distract from the photograph itself, or does it add to the artwork as a whole without taking the spotlight?

Are the glossy reflections distracting?

Does it look good in both monochrome and color?

Does it reflect how I feel about my work?

Is the image quality better than my current print?

I've spent a few days with the above prints, looking at them in mats and different light. I think I've considered all the angles and I've settled on a favorite paper that stood out to me. I've ordered a few rolls to test out and confirm what I think the answer to the above questions are. While I'm not ready to state that I'm making a change to my paper yet, I have taken big steps forward and am entering into a trial period with my favorite.