Choosing the right finish for your print

In most photo printing, either the local print vendor near you home or to a professional printing store, they often comes with a variety of finishes to choose from. Having some idea about how these finishes work is always helpful to determine the kind of final outcome that you wishes your photo to looks like. They affect the overall photo surface, texture, vividness of color, contrast and types of photography. Below, I have identified 4 types of finishes (glossy, matte, luster and metallic) that are commonly used in photo printing industry.

Glossy Finish

Coated paper with very smooth, shiny and results in a reflective surface. The end result of the photo often looks vibrant in color, crisp and sharp. Produces brighter color and offer more saturation. It does not produce a textured look when scanned and or converted into digital format. However the photo surface is likely to stick to the glass when framed. It is also highly susceptible to fingerprints and smudges if hand-held without a glove. Yet, though it is possible to remove with photo cloth or liquid solution, it still can leave some scratches. Glossy finish is a good choice for printing everyday snapshots and photo with vibrant colors.

Matte Finish

Photo with matte finish is always smooth and non-glare on the surface. Lower- contrast but enhanced texture print. Fingerprints are not as visible. This style works very well especially for black and white photograph which produces classic look. In most cases, it is often used by professional and are capable of producing a high quality professional look. Matte finish is also a good choice for framing and suitable for portrait, wedding and baby photo. It comes with different grade and harder to be scratched. However, the texture on a matte finish can make the photo looks grainy and may produce a visible texture if scanned or converted to digital format.

Matte finish for black and white photo

Use matte finish for black and white photograph for professional looks

Luster Finish

The outcome of photo that applied with luster finish comes with slight gloss with a subtle and pearl like texture. It offers deeper color saturation than matte finish, higher in contrast and thicker in paper. Fingerprints are not as visible, anti glare, looks professional with high quality paper and best for framing on the wall. It is also capable to capture the best qualities from glossy and matte by combining them into one beautiful finish.

Metallic Finish

Extremely durable and produces an almost chrome-like burnished appearance. Glossy finish with a metallic look. Striking, distinctive metallic eye-catching look, increased color gamut for rich impact and exceptional sharpness. Images printed with metallic tend to ‘pop’ and appears to be printed on a metal.

Choosing the right finish for your print


Paul Chong is a landscape fine art photographer base in Shanghai, China. He is dedicated to capture the beauty of nature scenery in which he also creates colorful fine art photograph for sale in various format and sizes, featuring museum archival quality fine print. Some of his work can be seen published in various magazine, website, event brochure and flyer.

He owned a collection of magnificent artwork which can be seen by visiting his online gallery at

Copyright © 2012, Paul Chong Photography, All rights reserved.


China Contact: +86 1376 4064 081 (GMT +8 hours)

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