Sunday, 19 February 2012

Matte versus Glossy Photographs

Photograph by Anna Cervova

What is the difference between Matte and Glossy Photographs?

I went to Black's Photography yesterday to take advantage of their fantastic Family Day Weekend deal of fifty 5x7 prints for only $5.  Here's the link for those of you that are interested, Black's Photography.

To be honest, this is the first time I have printed my digital prints which I have been storing on various media over the years.  I had previously purchased a prepaid card when there was a deal but I haven't used it yet since I wanted to take advantage of the $5 deal.

After sitting down at the kiosk in the camera store and  making minor tweeks to my carefully chosen fifty prints, I proceeded to the button that asked which finish I wanted, matte or glossy.  I thought "Great, now I have to make a decision that can make or break these carefully chosen 50 prints".  This sent my mind into great analysis--"which did I use in the past for my film cameras?"; "what did they look like?"; "were my experiences good or bad?"  To further put a wrench into the situation, their system has matte as the default but they do say you can have glossy for the same price.

I automatically thought, well if matte is the default they must be saving money by processing a matte finish.  After I considered this, and remembered that in the past I tried matte once and was not happy with the flat, dull colours, I cautiously pressed  the button labelled glossy finish.

Like it was a timed joke, just after I pressed the button, the store clerk told the woman beside me she should print her boudoir type photo in matte because "matte is better" (she was lying in a bed of roses in her underwear).  Well, he gave no reason as to why matte is better making me wonder, "Is this guy being honest or trying to save the company money some how".

So, off I went to wait an hour, constantly thinking I hope my photographs turn out the best they can.  When I opened the pack of prints a hour later I didn't regret getting the glossy prints.  The pictures were vibrant; but, I still wonder what some of them would have looked like in a Matte finish.  I wonder why they don't offer a semi-gloss finish?

After some research, this is my take on the differences between matte and glossy finishes:


Matte photographs are flat and muted.  A lot of people prefer a matte or semi-gloss finish for large portraits as they don't have the glare that shiny glossy photographs have because they don't reflect light.  Matte paper is rough and uneven which diffuses light and gives a softer image but throws light everywhere making blacks lighter.  They are therefore easier to view in any lighting conditions.  The colours are less rich in matte photographs.  Most older black and white and sepia photographs were printed on matte paper and are best restored on this type of finish to keep the original look. 


Glossy photographs are more pleasing to look at because they are shiny.  The colours are more vibrant, rich and deep and images scan a lot better. They reflect light well and are pleasing to the eye. They do collect fingerprints and dust easier than matte finish though. 

What have your experiences been like with matte and glossy photo finishes?   Comment below.

No comments:

Post a Comment