Glossy vs. Matte Photo Prints (Key Differences)

by David Em

Portraits Refined may earn a commission on purchases made from links on this page. For more information, read Affiliate Disclosure.

Glossy vs matte photo prints. The finish is a crucial decision because it affects the look and durability. Find out which is best for you.

Hand holding printed photos.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

A photo print gives you a tangible memory and serves as art or decor.

Before you print a picture, there are several decisions to make. The first is to choose the ideal photo size. Then, the next decision is the finish.

The finish affects the look, durability, texture, and accuracy of colors.

Once you have the print, handle it with clean hands or gloves to ensure longevity.

To help you decide, the following compares glossy vs matte photo print finishes.

You’ll learn the benefits and drawbacks of each to make the right decision for you.

Matte photo finish

Printed photos with a matte finish on a table.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

A matte finish is ideal for preventing reflections and glare. Matte paper has a coating to resist smudging and glare, as it absorbs light.

While the colors are accurate, it’s muted. So, the print won’t look as vibrant or luxurious as glossy finishes.

The benefit of a matte finish is the texture and dimension that it gives a photo.

It shows beautiful details and won’t stick to the glass when you frame it.

The matte paper produces stunning images that work well for all types of photography.

Also, matte is ideal for classic and timeless looks, such as black and white prints.

Glossy photo finish

Printed photos with a glossy finish.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

Glossy paper is the best for making the colors pop. It offers a luxurious shine, smooth surface, and excellent contrast.

The glossiness ensures your photo draws the attention it deserves.

A glossy finish has many benefits, but there are several reasons to avoid it.

The main drawback is glare. Due to its reflective nature, avoid placing glossy photos near bright lights.

Also, smudges and dust are more prominent on the surface. It magnifies imperfections.

So, print on glossy paper if you want a luxurious look and can put the image in a location with less light.

Glossy vs matte photo print finish: Which is better?

Choosing between a matte and glossy finish is a personal preference. Neither is better than the other.

The details are sharp, the colors are accurate, and the quality is excellent.

Both options are also fade-resistant. So, take care of the prints to ensure they last a lifetime.

It’s not about which one is better. It’s about which one is right for you.

If you want to display your picture without a frame or cover, use a glossy finish.

Use a matte finish when the print is in a frame, cover, or a lot of light. Matte is also the best choice for black-and-white photos.

Is glossy or matte better for framing?

Wedding photo framed on a wall in a home.
Photo courtesy of Canva.

One of the best ways to enhance and decorate your home is to print and frame photos.

The finish is a crucial decision for framing.

If you’re placing the picture behind glass or plastic, make it a matte finish. It eliminates glare and reflections.

If you’re framing a photo without a cover, you can choose a glossy finish.

The saturation, contrast, and colors in glossy photos are stunning. But avoid placing them near lights, as they’re reflective.

Glossy vs matte photo print FAQs

The following are answers to common questions about matte and glossy finishes.

Why does matte cost more than glossy?

Matte paper is more expensive than glossy finishes. Matte also has more texture, absorbs more light, and uses more ink. While glossy finishes have a brighter pop of color, it uses less ink. That’s why matte photo prints cost more than glossy photo prints.

Should wedding photos be glossy or matte?

Choose a matte finish if you plan to frame your wedding photos behind glass or in an album. If you touch a matte photo, your fingerprints won’t leave marks. Glossy finishes are reflective and prone to marks. So, matte finishes are best for wedding photos.

What finish do professional photographers use?

Most professional photographers prefer a matte finish. It’s not reflective and brings out rich details. Also, the reflection of light on a glossy finish can be distracting.

Do glossy or matte photo prints last longer?

Longevity depends on the care and quality of the surface covering the paper. Since glossy finishes are prone to fingerprints and smudges, they’re more likely to have a shorter lifespan. In most cases, matte photos last longer. Regardless of the finish, take care of your photos to ensure they last a long time.


Glossy photos provide a shiny finish, while matte ones are flat or muted.

The one you choose depends on where you’ll display the picture.

A glossy finish reflects light and offers better colors. A matte finish doesn’t have glare.

So, consider the location and light before choosing a finish.

Related: How to Transfer a Photo Onto Glass

Featured image courtesy of Canva.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and advice to grow your photography business. Learn more about Portraits Refined