Matte Vs. Glossy Photo

By Heather Vale

When printing photographs, you have the choice between using matte or glossy photo paper. Either choice is often the same price, or very close, so the question of which is better comes down to your preferences, which may be affected by the type of photo you're printing.

Glossy Photos

Glossy photos show off the colors in your work, making them seem more vibrant, deep and rich than when you print your photo on matte paper. The contrast is sharp, the resolution is high, the paper is very durable and the final picture gives the impression of being a high quality piece.

However, glossy photos that aren't protected tend to get fingerprints and attract dust. Even if you put them in a frame, the problem with hanging large glossy photos is that the sun or interior lights can create hot spots that make the photo difficult to see.

Tip

Glossy is often the best choice for smaller photos like wallet-sized portraits, as well as pictures of gardens, birds, landscapes and other situations where color is important and you don't mind glare.

Matte Photos

Matte photos look more muted than glossy -- they tend to have less contrast and more subdued colors. Black-and-white photos look great printed on matte paper, but colored matte photos don't always look quite as impressive or high-quality as glossy ones.

On the other hand, matte paper shows off the clarity and details of the photo's subject. This is a good choice for shots of architecture, statues, real estate, and any other subject where you want to see detail and a gloss finish would be distracting.

Tip

Matte is often the best choice for black-and-white art photos. It also works well for large portraits and other pictures you wish to display, either in a stand-up frame or on the wall.

About the Author

Heather Vale is a writer, interviewer and seasoned journalist. She has authored news, entertainment and informational programming in TV, radio, print and online media. She is also a certified childhood fitness and nutrition specialist with a background in mind-body-spirit health, self-help, business, technology and pet breeding. Vale holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in visual arts from York University.