“Hey Posterjack! I have a photo I want you to print for me but I don’t know whether to go with a matte or glossy finish. Which is better?”
Ultimately, one isn’t better than the other and choosing between matte or glossy prints comes down to personal preference, but there are a few things you can consider before making a decision.
The glossy photo finish offers a shiny surface that brings out vibrant colors, while the matte photo finish reduces light reflection with its uneven surface, ensuring less light interference.
The choice might also depend on how you plan to use the photos. For example, the glossy photo finish could work well for a photo album or photo books due to its high-quality shine, but the light reflection might make it less ideal for framing photos in a glass frame.
The type of paper you choose can drastically impact how the details in your photos stand out. A shiny finish like glossy or semi-gloss can add an extra layer of vibrancy, perfect for colorful wedding photos or fine art prints.
On the other hand, the matte surface, with its matte coating, can provide a sophisticated, subtle look that works great for black and white photos or sepia-toned images.
- The colours in your photo remain true
- The photo paper has a smooth/uniform surface
- Details are crisp and vivid
- Photos are printed using the giclee (inkjet) method for a gorgeous continuous tone look
- Photo prints are fade-resistant for 200+ years
- They’re printed using proprietary PJ-PRINT™ software, creating sharp prints at a large scale
- They’re made using eco-friendly, water-based, and non-toxic inks
In addition to these similarities, both products are available in over 50 different sizes, are priced the same, and are shipped in a protective tube, so your photos will arrive in perfect condition.
That being said, there are times when you may want to choose a matte finish over a glossy finish, or vice versa.
What is a Glossy Photo Finish?
A glossy photo finish involves printing your images on glossy photo paper with a shiny surface. This shiny finish is achieved by applying a coating that reflects more light than typical paper finishes.
One of the biggest advantages of a glossy photo finish is the vibrancy it brings to the colors in your images. The colors tend to pop and appear more saturated, making your photos eye-catching and lively.
This is especially true for images with bold and vibrant colors, making it a popular choice for everything from family portraits to nature photography.
However, this extra layer of shine does have its downsides. The shiny surface can produce glare or reflections, especially under bright lights or direct sunlight. This can sometimes make it difficult to see the photo clearly from all angles.
Additionally, glossy photo finishes are more likely to show fingerprints and smudges, especially if the photos are handled often.
Given these characteristics, glossy photo finishes are ideal for photos that you want to have extra sparkles, such as wedding photos, fine art prints, or images that will be placed in a photo album or photo books.
However, if you're planning on framing photos behind glass or displaying them in well-lit areas, consider a matte finish to avoid issues with light reflection.
When to Print Your Photo on Glossy Paper
If you love the look of a shiny, high-gloss finish, a Glossy Poster Print is the way to go. The colours in your photo will pop and get the attention it deserves.
Nearly all types of photography look great printed on a glossy surface too; black & white images, landscape photos, high-contrast shots, portraitures, and so on.
Glossy prints are eye-catching and have an upscale feel to them.
When NOT to Print Your Photo on Glossy Paper
The disadvantage to a high-gloss finish is that it produces a glare, so it’s not the best choice if you plan to display your photo in areas where there’s a lot of bright light.
If your print is going to be handled a lot, glossy probably isn’t for you either, as fingerprints and smudges can show up on the surface.
And lastly, Glossy Poster Prints are not recommended for low contrast/subtle gradient images or desaturated/pastel photos.
The colours will still be true, but due to the glare a glossy print produces, it’s harder to see the transitions in contrast compared to a matte finish.
What is a Matte Photo Finish?
Unlike a glossy finish, which has a shiny surface, matte photo prints have a dull, flat finish. This is achieved by applying a matte coating to the photo paper, which creates an uneven surface that scatters light, resulting in less light reflection.
One of the benefits of a matte photo finish is that it significantly reduces glare, making it an excellent choice for photos for display in bright spaces or framed behind glass.
It also masks fingerprints and smudges better than glossy finishes, making it ideal for photos that may be handled often, like photo albums or photo books.
However, a matte finish does have its downsides. While a matte surface can give an image a soft and elegant look, it may not have the same vibrancy and saturation as a glossy finish.
That said, this isn't necessarily a disadvantage. The subtle saturation and less shiny finish of matte photo prints can work exceptionally well for certain types of photos, such as fine art photography, black and white photos, and images with a wide range of tones.
In terms of texture, a matte photo finish tends to have a slightly rougher feel compared to the smooth texture of glossy prints. This can add a unique tactile quality to your printed photos.
When to Print Your Photo on Matte Paper
You really can’t go wrong printing your photo on our Satin Matte Poster Prints.
Whether you’re printing low contrast or high contrast images, black and white portraits or HDR landscapes, group photos or macros, when printed on the 250 GSM satin matte photo paper with our world-class printers and premium inks, the colours, textures, and details in your photo will look incredible.
Choosing a matte finish for your images also means no glare and no fingerprints, so if you want to display your photos in rooms with bright overhead lighting or you think your images will be handled a lot, you will definitely want to choose this over a print with a glossy finish.
When NOT to Print Your Photo on Matte Paper
The main reason you wouldn’t want to print your photo on matte paper is if you’re set on having photo prints that have a shiny, high-gloss finish.
Our Satin Matte Poster Prints are very popular and super versatile. The other time you might choose to not print on matte paper is if you want an entirely different photo art product!
Matte & Glossy Photo Art Products (Beyond Poster Prints)
Once you decide whether you want a glossy or matte finish for your photo, you might want to consider printing on something besides classic photo paper.
You can check out all of our photo art products to find that perfect piece, but here are a few of our popular options that cater to both Team Glossy and Team Matte.
Acrylic Prints are a modern and fresh way to display your photos. Of all our photo art products, this is the one that will really make your photo pop. Super-vivid printing and unmatched depth create a stunning effect you just have to see for yourself. There’s a reason this is our top product!
HD Metal Prints are glossy, vibrant, and ready to make a bold statement on your wall. They’re also lightweight, fade-resistant, and extremely durable.
Our Framed Prints are available is a variety of styles, sizes, and colours. They’re made from solid wood, low-glare framers acrylic, and acid-free mat board. And, of course, they're made in Canada.
An Acrylic Block is made from a perfectly clear, one-inch thick piece of premium cast acrylic that beautifully captures and refracts light; it’s s clear, you can look right through it from end to end! If you want a photo art product for your desk, mantel, or shelf that will have people talking, this one’s for you.
For our Metal Minis, we took our ultra-premium HD Metal Prints and shrunk them down to the perfect desk decor size. Loved by professional photographers, these prints will make your best photos look even better!
Our Canvas Prints are hand-stretched, made in Canada, and printed using our proprietary photo enlargement technology and world-class printers. With their style versatility and satin-matte finish, they’re a wonderful way to display your photo in any room, with any type of lighting.
The Gallery Box is the new black of interior design. Gallery Boxes are extremely versatile, designer-approved, and will look great no matter where you display them.
Like our HD Metal Prints, Classic White Metal Prints are lightweight, fade-resistant, and extremely durable. They’re also glare-free, vibrant, and suitable for indoor and outdoor display! If you’re curious about the different types of Metal Prints we offer, this video will explain everything!
Photoboards are a great alternative to mounting a photo and are the perfect way to display your photos in a clean, modern style. Already wildly popular in Europe, Posterjack was the first photo printing company to bring them to Canada!
Woodstand Prints are uniquely crafted and made from select Canadian Douglas fir and renewably sourced in British Columbia. We print your photo on a durable ¼-inch thick board and combine it with a sturdy wood stand. A Woodstand Print will take your desk décor to a whole new level.
With all the goodness of our award-winning Canvas Prints, our Canvas Minis are perfect for displaying your favourite photos on your desk, shelf, mantle, tabletop, or wall. They look fantastic displayed as a group too! Stack them, layer them, mix sizes, and let your creativity shine.
You will get quality prints that are crisp, vibrant, and fade-resistant. It’s simply a matter of preference: do you want a no-glare, matte finish or would you prefer your photos printed on something that’s super sleek and glossy?
If you’re still unsure, why not try both and see first-hand which one your photos look best on?
Once you’ve decided, leave a comment letting us know which side you’re on in the longstanding debate of glossy vs. matte. We’d love to know!