Metallic Photo Paper Guide
When you want your photo prints to look gorgeous, metallic photo paper is the go-to paper. A metallic print is absolutely stunning because it has deep colors and a richness that no other paper can give.
The main reason why metallic photo paper is unique is that it absorbs light instead of reflecting it. Therefore, if you place your metallic prints under direct light (preferably sunlight), the images will captivate and enchant any onlooker.
This post will discuss metallic photo paper and why you should print your best work on it.
What does ‘metallic finish’ mean?
It’s important to differentiate between metallic photo paper and a metallic print. The print is a modern art piece made from an aluminum panel and has a layer with a type of image on it.
But, metallic photo paper is an entirely different thing. It is a type of paper your print images on, but it contains a Mylar sheet between the paper part and the emulsion. Thus, it’s a glossy type of photo paper with more of a pearly finish. Instead of reflecting light, this paper absorbs it, and it makes the whole image pop.
Here is a metallic photo of New York as it’s being printed:
Take a look at that sizeable metallic photo print. Iridescence brings the city to life!
What does metallic photo paper look like?
It’s hard to imagine printing on metallic paper. But, it’s actually very similar to other types of textured paper. It is thicker and very durable. The word ‘metallic’ is used because the paper has a metallic coating, which looks like a silvery sheen. When you look at the paper, it has a 3D effect, and the images seem to rise out of the photo. Keep in mind that this is a glossy finish, so the pictures appear shiny.
This type of finish brings out all the colors in your photo and gives them a shimmer effect. Think of it as an iridescent paper.
It’s a great paper because the colors are saturated, and the blacks are very rich, which creates a better contrast. The details are sharp and easily visible to the naked eye. The surface has a pearly texture, but it’s not quite like the high-gloss finish.
It’s best to frame a metallic print without glass because it only cancels out the image’s shimmer and reflectiveness.
Check out this example of a beautiful landscape metallic photo print:
The Advantages of Metallic Photo Paper
You can print any photo on this type of paper. But, if you have shots of reflective objects or landscapes, the metallic finish is ideal.
This paper brings out all the subtle color variations, just like glossy paper. Since this type of finish is reflective, it is excellent for any compositions containing reflections or water. The paper absorbs light and makes the image more vibrant.
We recommend using metallic paper if you are printing landscape scenes that include water.
The main reason why photographers choose to print on a metallic finish is the beautiful pearly silver shimmer effect. Once the ink hits the paper, it truly makes all the colors pop, and the image looks sharper and shinier.
Black and White:
Since the metallic paper has a silver base undertone, it’s an excellent choice for black and white prints. It makes the black and white tones stand out, and photos have an added vibrancy.
This is especially useful if your photos capture lots of detail because this finish makes them more visible.
Handling and Framing
Metallic photo paper is known for its sensitivity. If you touch the print with your fingers, the fingerprints and smudges are instantly visible. This is a major disadvantage of metallic prints. However, if you don’t plan on handling your photos, there is no need to worry about that.
When you frame a metallic photo print, don’t use glass. The glass causes glare, and it takes away from the unique appearance of the metallic sheen. It’s perfectly fine to hang up the prints with the bare surface exposed; there is no need to place anything to cover up the photo.
If you want to protect the metallic print from fingerprint damage and smudging, you can coat each photo with a special luster coat add on. This is a protective top layer that’s invisible to the naked eye, but it acts as a barrier and prevents any marks on the photo.
When it comes to displaying your metallic photos, it’s best to place them in a well-lit spot. These images look best when direct light hits them and bring out the colors. In a dimly lit room, the photos lack that ‘wow’ factor. That’s why you should place the photos in the corner of the room where you get a lot of natural light, or near a lamp or spotlight.
When to use metallic photo paper
There is no set rule about when to use metallic photo paper. Some of the top-rated metallic papers are the Kodak Endura Metallic Paper and Red River’s Polar Luster Metallic 255. According to the manufacturers, the metallic photo paper is ideal for printing photos of metals, reflections, bright and vibrant colors, black and white images, and landscapes. Ideally, it’s best to choose the pictures with lots of tones and details, as these look best with a metallic finish.
However, in some cases, this type of finish is less than ideal. Don’t print dark images on metallic paper because the details are easily lost. Keep in mind that detailed images look best, so anything dark-toned looks a bit washed out.
Finally, if you plan printing images to last a lifetime, then metallic paper is a great choice. It is more expensive, but a high-quality paper can last a lifetime. Therefore, it’s ideal for printing family photos and travel photos you plan on keeping forever.
The metallic finish is a step up from other photo papers, so consider investing in this finish if you want to showcase your best photographs. It is more vibrant and makes your images pop. It’s no wonder that many professional photographers and studios love this type of photo paper. It makes even an average picture look more polished and colorful. So, get ready to wow your audience and make all your photos crowd worthy.