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What even is a photo print? There are 3 parts to know.

Apr 8, 2023

Photo Tips

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It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t order prints or albums anywhere other than from your photographer. That’s crazy to think about with the internet giving us the convenience and ease of ordering! But when you’re ordering on your own, it can get super, super overwhelming because there are so. many. options.

This post aims to break it down and simplify everything for you so you can feel more confident when ordering.

Three elements make up your final print:
the paper, the finishing, and mounting.
The paper is the middle, finishing is the top, and mounting is the bottom/back.

Let’s go through these one by one.

1. Paper: Typically your photos will be printed on photo paper. This is most common and what the majority of people are familiar with. There are other options available though, some of which include: cotton paper, linen paper, canvas, and even crazier things like wood or metal. (A lot of places are starting to offer specialty prints on materials like these.) Getting something besides the standard photo paper will add texture to your print.

2. You’ll come across 3 main finishes: Glossy, Matte (Mat/Matt), and Satin. Glossy will add a high shine to your photo. Matte is typically no finish and leaves your print with zero shine. Satin is somewhere in the middle: a little shine, but not quite like full glossy. You may also see satin described as: semi-gloss, pearl, or lustre. (Lustre and pearl may add a small texture to your print, depending on the lab doing the printing.)

3. Mounting is an additional option that doesn’t usually come standard with photo prints. This will make your print sturdy (not flimsy and bendable) by adding a backing to the print. I always choose to mount when I order very large prints. The three most common types are: matboard, foamcore, and gatorboard. The thickness of each option will vary depending on the lab, but matboard is usually the nicer option. (It’s my favorite!)

I hope this helps give you a better understanding of what a print is and the options you have when ordering! Not sure if you sure order matte or glossy for your finish? Check out this post.

My passion is in documenting the lives of our families well (mine and yours), and teaching you how to do it too. Follow along as I share photography tips, inspiration, and beautiful portraits.

hey! I'm Karly

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