Printing on Matte or Glossy Digital Photo Printing Paper

When printing digital photos you have a choice between matte and glossy photo prints. Glossy photo prints have a shiny finish while matte ones have a more subtle neutral one. So which one should you choose? There is no right answer – there are pros and cons to both.

Matte and glossy are two different finishes to the photo paper digital photos are printed on. Using different chemicals and processes photo paper can have a glossy or a matte finish. Glossy finish looks shiny, reflects light very well and looks vibrant and color rich. Matte finish on the other hand does not reflect much light and looks “darker” and duller.

There are pros and cons to choosing either matter or glossy digital photo prints. Here are some of them:

Glossy photo prints: Glossy photo prints are shiny and are more appealing to the eye. They look fancy and convey a high quality feeling. Glossy photo prints have vibrant colors. Colors also look rich and deep on glossy photo prints. On the downside glossy photo prints “shiny” attribute can be a problem when photos are viewed using intense light sources such as daylight sun or strong light bulbs. Light reflected from the photo print can blind the viewer making it hard to see the photo. Glossy paper is also more likely to attract dust and fingerprints and is thus more likely to get dirty over time. Black and white glossy photo prints do not look as good as matte ones.

Matte finish: Matte photo prints do not reflect light and are thus easier to view at almost any light condition. Matte photo prints are also less likely to attract dust and fingerprints and are less likely to get dirty over time. Black and white matte photo prints look better than black and white glossy photo prints. On the downside matte photo prints do not have the fancy high quality look that glossy photo prints have. Colors in matte photo prints are less vibrant and less rich than on glossy photo prints.

So which one to choose – matte or glossy? It really depends on your needs and what you are going to do with the photo prints. As a general rule use glossy photo prints for color prints and matte photo prints for black and white ones. If the photo prints are going to be touched by many people and used a lot matte is a better choice unless you do not mind spending time cleaning your glossy photo prints every now and then. Also if you plan to print large photos (for example to hang on the wall or frame and put on your desk) matte is a better choice since a large glossy print would act as a large glossy and shiny light reflector.

As with many other choices a matter or glossy choice is a matter of personal preference. To make an educated decision you should have experienced both. If you do not have that experience you can choose a few photos some color and some black and white and print them both on matte and on glossy paper and in different sizes. Look at the prints and see what you like and what you do not like about them. In the future you would be able make better choices by applying that experience.