This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these links it means we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More

Matte vs Glossy Photos: What’s The Difference & Which One Is The Best?

So you’re about to print some images but aren’t sure whether to go with matte or glossy prints.

You keep asking your photographer, but he, too, is unsure.

I don’t blame him at all since it is mostly about personal preference.

We’ll talk about matte and glossy images in this article and which one you should choose, in a way you will also avoid disturbing my fellow photographers.

Matte Print Finish

Matte photo paper is aimed at reducing light reflection through a combination of the matte coating’s refractive and light-scattering qualities.

If the scientific reason doesn’t appeal to you, consider the difference between matte and glossy paint finishes in your home: matte paint does not reflect light back, whereas glossy paint finishes do.

The term “refractive” basically refers to a surface layer scattering light rather than reflecting it; due to the uneven surface, the light most of the time scatters instead of being directly reflected.

A matte photo finish is the best option if you want to reduce the amount of shine in a photo. Because, as I mentioned, images with a matte texture reduce light reflection, so they can be displayed in areas with a lot of light, such as living room walls or near floor lamps, without a problem.

When to Print in Matte Finish

Matte is best used on frames or for hanging a picture on the wall since it reduces light glare. Other people won’t have a problem viewing the picture either.

If it had been glossy, the light and additional shine would have interfered with the image, making it difficult to see.

Matte finishes fit monochromatic and black-and-white toned prints more than color prints, however, color landscape views printed in matte can seem quite dramatic.

Just note that it costs slightly more than its counterpart.

The Drawbacks of Matte Finish

Printed products on matte paper may be more prone to creasing and bending due to the lack of a thick coating and protective covering.

In addition, the colors are less vibrant, and contrast is less visible, not to mention the reduced image sharpness, and all of this comes at a high cost.

Glossy Print Finish

When it comes to making colors shown, glossy photos are the best. If you want that, as well as a shiny appearance, a glossy finish is a way to go. The photographic paper’s shininess and light reflection are thanks to the surface layer of coatings that are added to it.

Simply put the glossy paper coating improves the appearance of images, particularly when there are a lot of colors.

You can easily tell a glossy photo, not only due to glare but also the smooth surface that it has.

The glossy finish is preferred by the majority of photo studios since it is the most used and basic choice. These days, however, they are changing their methods and giving customers the option of choosing a matte finish too.

When to Print in Glossy Finish

A glossy poster print is a way to go if you want the look of a shiny, high-gloss finish.

Your photo’s colors will stand out and get the attention they deserve. It promises to benefit almost any form of photography, including black and white images, landscape photos, high-contrast shots, portraits, and so on.

What I like the most about the glossy finish is the luxurious and high-end feel it has behind it.

But yeah, it isn’t perfect, it has its downsides.

The Drawbacks of Glossy Finish

The major downside of the glossy finish must be the glare.

If you intend to display your photograph in a location with a lot of strong light. The glossy finish won’t be a smart choice. The colors will remain true, but the shifts, in contrast, will be tougher to detect due to the glare a glossy print causes.

Another disadvantage of glossy pictures is their great vulnerability to scratching.

The smooth surface provides little to no protection from accidental scratches. You also might have noticed that glossy images have a “sticky” feel to them, meaning that they attract fingerprints.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best one for framing?

A matte finish is great for framing a photograph behind glass because it does not reflect light from the sun or lights in your home.

However, You can go either way if you’re framing an image without glass.

Which One is More Costly?

Printing images with a matte finish are more expensive than printing photos with a glossy finish.

Matte has a better-textured surface to absorb more light and the materials used are way more expensive.

To reduce costs, i would recommend you take a look at beginner sublimation printers, so you can do most of the work yourself.

What would be the best choice for wedding photos?

While both types would suit this kind of photography, I would advise going for glossy ones in this aspect more.

Despite being the cheaper option, the glossy finish has an aesthetic and smooth feeling behind it making the picture “luxurious” in a way.

What paper finish do professionals photographers use?

We photographers, really hate glaring not only with print photos but mostly with everything. We mostly tend to go anti-glaring even on this aspect, so that makes the matte finish the most used one among professional photographers.

Final Words:

It’s difficult to say which is better in the argument between glossy and matte finishes. Most of the time, the decision between matte and glossy images is based on various factors, with the foremost one being personal preferences.

I’d also recommend you get a pen for writing on photos, so you can write things on them!

The Primary Difference

The primary difference between the two is the contrasting finish that printed products on both have. A glossy finish has an ultra-smooth, gleaming look while being really bright and vibrant.

Matte paper, on the other hand, has a duller, more subtle look. As a result, the images with a glossy finish will have a stronger impact on the audience.

That being said, don’t be too hard on yourself on this one. Both kinds of finishes are great.

Just remember to use the matte one when framing photos.

Hopefully, this article clarified some points for you. Enjoy yourselves until the next time!