tPP64: Considerations for paper selections for printing your photographs

Hosted by Daniel j Gregory

May 30, 2016

Episode Number:

In this Episode

One of the questions I have been getting a lot lately is how you go about picking a paper to print your photographs on that will work best for the image. I think there are a few key elements to keep in mind as you think about paper and paper options for printing your images.

First off, if you haven’t started printing your photographs you should. There are some things that can happen when you print your photos. First, you will see a commitment to your final image. You will have to place a stake in the ground that says I am doing playing with the tools, and this is my vision of the print. Printing also allows you to hold and see your print at a better viewing distance. This allows you to see and experience the work in a new way by creating different tonal, color and structure relationships.

Once you have decided to print there are hundreds of options available for printing. To help make things easier, I recommend that you consider a few key areas when selecting a paper type.

  • Paper Surface: The type of paper surface will shift how you see and experience the image. Matte papers will often offer more color gamut, but luster and glossy will have more saturation and contrast. You will need to decide what is the right look for your image.
  • Paper Weight: How heavy is the paper. Do you like a heavier or lighter weight paper?
  • Paper Texture: Is it smooth or does it have a lot of tooth? How does that change your experience of looking at the image?
  • Paper Color: The white of your image is only as white as the paper base so selecting an image with a creamy base versus a bright white base will change how you see highlights and contrast.
  • Paper Longevity. How long is the paper designed to last and be archival?

You will likely settle on a couple of types of paper for your images. You will likely have a matte and a luster/glossy paper. You might also have different papers for black and white versus color. You have to look at the papers that are out there and figure out what paper has the best feeling when you look at, touch and print. In the end, selecting a paper is as much about what looks and feels right as it is any measurable quality like brightness, weight, and texture. Get a bunch of sample and print on a variety of papers and you will quickly start to narrow down your printing paper options.

Photoshop World 2016

I an also so excited to be an instructor at Photoshop World 2016 this summer in Las Vegas. I am teaching four classes and I would love to see you down there this July. You can find more information over at

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