Glossy Vs Matte Photo: What’s The Difference?

When you want to print a few pictures, you may be asked to choose from a glossy and matte finish.

A glossy photo gives a slightly shiny finish, and a matte photo gives a somewhat neutral touch.

Nowadays, there are different photographic finishes and prints available. If you need to print anything from a simple business card to wedding invitation cards, you need to choose the type of paper for printing. For this, you need to understand the difference between glossy vs. matte photos.

This article will help you choose the right one- glossy vs. matte photo according to your need and preference.

Key takeaways

  • Glossy prints have an added layer that helps reflect light to give a shiny effect
  • Use glossy finish to highlight bold colors and make them pop out of your photo
  • Matte prints don’t reflect light so look great in any lighting condition
  • Matte prints are easy to clean as they don’t pick up smudges or fingerprints as easily
glossy vs matte photo blog post featured image

Glossy Vs. Matte Photo

Glossy and matte photo prints are the standard photo prints that people choose from. There is a difference in both the pictures.

Glossy Finish

A glossy finish has an extra layer on it that helps reflect light. It gives a shiny finish on the paper. In a glossy finish, you can further choose from satin or semi-gloss finish.

The glossy finish paper gives a smooth finish. It makes the pictures look bright. A high-gloss finish is very reflective and eye-catching. If you want a less reflective finish but on a glossy surface only, you can go for a semi-gloss finish.

When Should You Print Pictures On Glossy Finish?

If you want to make your pictures look bright and shiny, then a glossy finish is the best option for you. Any picture seems attractive on a glossy finish. Be it a landscape picture, any black and white images, or a portrait photo, all look good in a glossy finish.

When printing a photo book online, a glossy finish paper highlights the colors of your pictures and is the best choice.

Advantages Of Glossy Finish

  • A glossy finish gives a bright and shiny appearance. The texture and color of glossy paper are bold, and it enhances the picture.
  • It adds some details to the border of the pictures and has a smooth base that makes it look more bright and clear.
  • A glossy finish highlights and enhances the colors of the picture and reflects a lot of light.
  • There are different types of gloss finishes available to choose from. You can select a high-gloss finish or a semi-gloss finish according to your preference.
  • Different printing papers have different printing types. A glossy paper needs significantly less ink. It is thus less expensive than a matte finish.
Glossy Finish Photo

Disadvantages of Glossy Finish

  • A glossy finish looks great on small frames and prints. A glossy print in a large picture will reflect more light. It won’t be easy to see the picture clearly if you look from different angles.
  • A glossy finish does not look great on glass photo frames. It reflects a lot of light.
  • The glossy finish sticks on the surfaces wherever you place them. Taking out a photo from a frame will damage the photo once it’s put in.
  • Glossy papers quickly get damaged and are prone to get scratches easily. The fingerprints easily get into the shiny surface.

Matte Finish

Matte photo, on the other hand, does not reflect light. It means the matte photo does not have any shine. Matte photos are suitable for monochrome pictures. Matte photo finishes are great for framing large photo frames.

A matte coating has a refractive and light scattering property. A matte finish has an uneven surface, because of which the light gets scattered.

When Should You Print Pictures On Matte Finish?

When you are looking at different photo book printing options, a matte finish is an excellent option to go for. You won’t get any smudges or fingerprints on a matte finish.

When you print on a matte finish paper and suitable printers and inks, the colors and textures in the photo look amazing.

Advantages of Matte Finish

  • You won’t get the reflection of the light on a matte finish. So it makes it easy to view pictures clearly in any photo frame. A picture on a matte finish looks clear under a light as well.
  • The matte paper has an uneven surface. Matte finish does not get any fingerprints or scratches and is easy to handle.
  • You can frame the photos in a matte finish quickly, and it does not stick to the glass surface.
Matte Finish Photo

Disadvantages Of Matte finish

  • Matte Finish prints don’t give a shiny and bright finish as glossy paper. They provide a slightly dull look to the pictures.
  • High-definition pictures don’t look good on matte finish. The photo does not look sharp and crisp.
  • Matte prints need more ink to get good color tones and textures. So they are a bit more expensive than a gloss finish.

Which Is A Better Choice: Glossy Vs. Matte Photo?

The choice of the photo you want to get printed depends totally on your need. First, look at what you want to do with the prints and then make a choice.

  • If you want to get a color printout, then glossy photos are a great option to choose from. If you’re going to get a black and white printout or just need to print a text, then the matte finish is a better option.
  • Suppose the photo is framed in such areas where many people will touch and go for a matte finish. In a matte finish, the fingerprints do not stick. If you go with a glossy finish, you will need to clean it often.
  • If you plan to print large wall photo frames, then a matte finish is a better choice. Printing large photo frames on a glossy finish will reflect a lot of light and will not give a good view of the picture.

You can try printing on both the papers and then have a look at which one looks better. You can choose different sizes and then decide which one gives a better finish.

By doing this, it will be easier for you to choose between glossy vs. matte photos.

Tips for Printing Good Quality Pictures

  • Try printing on different papers. Not all papers are of the same quality. If you have your printer at home, you can try printing pictures on different papers. Then compare and contrast the different prints. Understand how the different types of paper reflect light. Choose the one you find the best.
  • Consider what you want to get printed. Is it a product print? Or a large photo frame to be displayed somewhere?

Both glossy and matte paper gives a different look to the pictures. So think of where you want to display the final product before getting it printed.

Should You Print Wedding Photos In A Glossy Finish Or A Matte Finish?

Wedding photos will look bright and vibrant on a glossy finish. But it will also be hard to get the sharp details of the pictures, especially if it’s a large print.

Wedding photos in a matte finish will give a sharp and crisp finish to the photos but will result in some dull colors.

So the glossy finish looks great on simple wedding pictures as you can manage the reflection of light. At the same time, the matte finish looks great on frames.



Before choosing between glossy vs. matte photos, you should think of how you want the print to be. Your choice depends on the effect you want to create.

So understanding the difference between glossy and matte finish will help you show your work in a better way.

A matte finish is an excellent choice for framing large pictures, while some enhanced and bright colors make a picture stand out in a glossy finish.

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