Glossy Photo Paper Guide
When you flip through a magazine, you’re likely to notice the beautiful glossy images. Most editorial adverts and photoshoots are printed on shiny paper because they’re eye-catching.
The difference between a glossy photo paper and a matte one is strikingly obvious. Glossy paper is shiny and much brighter than a matter one. When people print photos, many look for beautiful vivid images; therefore, it’s not surprising that most choose to print on glossy paper. The paper’s coating makes the images appear more vibrant.
In this article, we’ll examine what glossy paper is as well as the pros and cons of using it to print your photos.
What is a glossy photo paper?
It is a photo paper with a shiny coating. It makes your images pop and appear more vibrant. Colorful photographs look best on a glossy paper because this finish brings out the contrast and emphasizes color.
When you print on glossy paper, the colors remain true – there is no decolorization. This means that if you shoot lavender, the glossy print looks exactly like the original photo. So, the shade of purple doesn’t change.
The glossy finish is designed to reflect as much light as possible, but it also makes photos very susceptible to glare.
Check out this black and white photo printed on glossy paper:
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Types of Glossy Finish
There are two main types of glossy photo paper.
High-gloss: This is the most reflective and shiny type of finish. It is very smooth, and it offers the best resolution and contrast.
Semi-gloss (luster): this type of finish is less reflective of light and less shiny. It’s in-between a glossy and matte paper. However, it is still shiny, so it falls under the glossy category.
Characteristics of Glossy Paper
Glossy paper is best known for its aesthetic appeal, but it has some very important characteristics I’ll explain below.
Excellent Color Payoff:
As mentioned above, glossy paper is known for how well it makes the color pop. So, the colors remain true, and there is a visible contrast. Also, the glossy paper brings out all the details. This is an excellent characteristic in most cases, but it can also bring out the imperfections in a photo. Also, the glossy paper brings out the best color resolution, regardless of the printer.
Photography is more than just a visual experience. It is also about handling and interacting with images. People tend to enjoy glossy prints because they are smooth to the touch. Also, they have a uniform shiny surface. The texture you feel is a smooth surface, unlike matte paper, which has an uneven texture.
Glossy photo paper is made with an extra shiny coating on top, making the photo shimmer in the light. For that reason, this type of finish reflects the light, and it produces glare. People really like shiny paper, and if you want clients, customers, and family members to see your photos in the best way, printing on a glossy finish is a great choice.
In general, glossy paper is very printer-friendly and works with most types of inks and printers. However, it’s important to choose a good quality paper that won’t result in fading and smudging.
Most printing shops use glossy paper with laser printers. The one thing to note is that you need to use good ink. Dye-based inks tend to fade sooner, making your photos look washed out after a while.
When to Print on Glossy Paper
A photographer has a few options when it comes to photo paper finishes. Ultimately, it’s up to each photographer to choose what looks best for their set of photos.
You can choose to print on glossy paper when you want your photos to have a shiny and high-gloss aesthetic. This type of shiny finish attracts attention to the colors and subject in your prints.
The best feature of glossy paper is that it makes all types of photos look great. Therefore, you can print any kind of photo, even black and white images.
But, glossy photo paper is best for high-contrast photos, landscape images, and portraits. The reason is that the gloss brings out the contrast in the image; thus, all the elements of your composition stand out.
People love to look at glossy photos because they captivate the eye. They also have an upscale or premium look and feel to them, which naturally makes them more attractive. When you print on glossy paper, the photos look very professional and eye-catching.
Here is a short list of the best type of photos to print on glossy paper:
- Wildlife photography
- Black and White
- Dense Images with lots of detail
- Group photos
- Macro Photos
- High-saturation Images
When Not to Print on Glossy Paper
There are some instances when the glossy finish is not the best option. Since glossy paper is very shiny, it produces a glare. If you are a photographer and you want to display your photos indoors, be careful about using a glossy paper. Indoor lights tend to be very bright, which means there is a glare effect, so your photos will be hard to see.
Also, think about what the photos are handled like. If they are framed and placed at a distance, a glossy finish might work out for you. Especially if people will physically feel and touch the photos, a glossy finish is not the right choice. Fingerprints and smudges instantly show up on glossy photos, which means the images can get damaged rather quickly.
Finally, we recommend that you avoid printing on shiny paper if your images fall under these categories:
- pastel colors
- desaturated colors
The main reason to avoid printing such images on glossy paper is the glare effect. When placed under light, the glare is so powerful, you can barely see the images, and the details get lost. As well, you can hardly see the transitions and contrast.
The Bottom Line
Large glossy prints are the perfect way to turn photos into art:
You can print almost any type of photo on a glossy finish paper. This finish is the best choice when you want to showcase the colors and contrast in your work. This finish is also best suited for framed photos, family shots, and photo wall displays. Since there are two types of glossy finishes, you can experiment and see what looks best. The critical thing to note is that gloss is reflective and prone to glare.