Photography Paper & Printing Styles

Professional photographic paper intro***


Small droplets of ink pigments are sprayed onto a sheet of paper using inkjet printers. This is a deliberate activity. The volume of ink sprayed from each colour cartridge is varied for a dynamic colour effect.

Many factors influence print quality, including the printer's capacity, resolution, and compatibility. However, the paper is the most important aspect that impacts the final result. Your images will look bad if you don't use the correct paper.

The proper amount of ink is absorbed by high-quality paper. It makes the print look glossy and polished. Glossy, lustre, and baryta paper are the most prevalent varieties of picture paper.

An inkjet printer utilises a printer cartridge that produces a 300 x 300 dpi picture. The majority of printer cartridge brands do not produce true "photo quality" resolution.


A thermal transfer printer is a dye-sublimation printer. The process is powered by heat. Heat is produced by the print head. It uses a specially produced ribbon with particular pigments to apply it.

When heat is applied to the ribbon, the ink vaporises and adheres to the paper. Print density may be adjusted to a tiny level since it employs regulated heat. Smooth gradations develop as a result. Sublimation is the term for this procedure. The solid existing here was transformed to gas immediately. It never gets to the point of being liquid.

Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and overcoat are the inks used here. Different colouring is utilised than inkjet printers. These colours sublimate into the substance they're on.

These printers have a resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi and 16.77 million colour options. It can also print 256 shades of one colour in a square resolution on a single dot.

That indicates both sides are the same colour. This is not possible with an inkjet printer. Sublimation printers are better for printing technical photos. These are the finest options for ID cards, a large number of wedding images, or anything else that requires cost efficiency.

These printers are quick and can print in large quantities. However, the machines are more expensive, and you'll need to utilise specialist ink. Sublimation printers do not use the same high-quality picture sheets as inkjet printers, but they can print a variety of items. Fine photo printing is best done using inkjet printers.

Gloss & Semigloss

Glossy paper is popular among new photographers. This creates the impression of extremely vibrant colours. If you're merely printing photos to show your family, it's ideal. High gloss, soft gloss, and satin finishes are the most popular forms of glossy paper. They are attractive, yet they have flaws.

Reflections and a sheen from the glossy coating might obscure your vision. Always consider the lighting circumstances in your final photograph while choosing glossy paper. You should also consider the sort of photograph you're publishing. If the image has dark colours and deep shadows, avoid using a glossy paper.

Glossy sheets could be worth a chance if it's a colourful photograph done in a studio with excellent makeup, a vibrant backdrop, and a lot of details. Glossy paper should not be your first option if the ultimate result is an exhibition. Both the print and the glass will cause glare.


Hot-pressed fibre is used to make matte paper. It doesn't have a gleaming finish, so there are no distracting reflections. It produces deeper blacks than glossy paper, making it perfect for black-and-white photographs.

It is available in a variety of textures, including thick and dimpled variants that make your print appear like a painting. Better contrast and greater detail are the results. Matte paper is the best choice for photographs with a lot of detail and texture.


Giclée is a French word that literally means "to spurt." It's linked to the highest-quality inkjet printing technology, which can turn your images into works of art.

Giclée prints are made with a lot of detail (1200dpi to 2400 dpi). Archival inks and acid-free paper are required for giclée printing. Giclée inks are pigment-based rather than dye-based. Giclée printing should also be done on archival or museum-quality inkjet paper. Cotton-rag, matte, and canvas are all terms used to describe these types of papers.

What does "archival" mean in terms of paper? It means it is extremely durable and resistant to deterioration. This indicates that the paper is free of acid and lignin. It can preserve the stuff for a long period this manner.

Aside from a high-resolution image, ink, and paper, giclée printing has one additional important consideration. A bigger format printer with up to 12 different colour ink cartridges should be used. Canon and Epson are fantastic places to start, but there are additional printers available from other manufacturers.

The end products appear like fine art but the production costs are lower, giclée printing is becoming the industry standard among artists and galleries. You can achieve the greatest quality printouts by combining the correct resolution, paper, ink, and printer.

Durability & Longevity

If you intend to display an image in direct sunlight, keep in mind that the colours will fade with time. An ink-based printer's print will fade considerably more slowly than a dye printer's print.

In the art market, specifically when selling images as artwork, this is a major issue. Even the most advanced printing processes cannot match the lifetime of paintings.

Prints created with good ink-based printers can endure a hundred years or more. A dye-based print can endure for up to 20 years, depending on the humidity, heat, and amount of light it receives.

The printer and paper mix will determine how long a print lasts. Examine the handbook that came with your printer to ensure optimal lifespan. They will also suggest the photo printing material you should use.


The amount of whitening chemical in the paper determines how white it is. White paper may be an excellent printing surface, but be cautious. Those whitening chemicals have the ability to change colour extremely quickly.

It may only take a few weeks for the colour to transition to yellow, resulting in a slight alteration. Choose a paper without artificial brighteners if you want to be sure your image will appear the same over time.


There are a few names you should consider for reputable brands. Hahnemühle, Red River, Moab, Ilford, Inkpress, Museo, and Innova are among them.

Some of them include sample packs, allowing you to try out a variety of distinct styles. It might be enjoyable to use handmade or specialty papers. Papers that drop a lot of dust should be avoided since they might cause your printer to malfunction.

It is considerably more beneficial to utilise tested paper. You'll be able to tell how long it'll last.