In the captivating world of photography, the final product’s allure is intricately tied to its finish. A tapestry of options unfolds before us, but two distinctive finishes, lustre and glossy, have emerged as the darlings of the industry.

These finishes hold the power to bestow a unique texture upon the prints, dictating the very essence of smoothness and unleashing a symphony of colors and intricate details. Today, we embark on a journey of comparison, where we unravel the secrets behind lustre and glossy, ultimately guiding you towards the perfect choice for your artistic vision.

So, come along as we delve into the enchanting tale of finishes, a tale that will captivate your senses and empower your creative endeavours.

Key Takeaways

  • Lustre finish on photos is a balance between glossy and matte, offering a smooth yet not overly shiny surface.
  • Lustre paper minimizes glare compared to glossy finishes, displaying colors, saturation, and image details effectively.
  • Professional photographers often prefer lustre paper for various applications due to its versatile qualities.
  • Glossy finishes are highly reflective and saturated, giving photos a shiny appearance suitable for family albums.
  • Scanning glossy photos can be challenging due to excessive light reflection, but they are easily scanned using a computer.
  • Glossy prints are prone to showing fingerprints and require careful handling.
  • Lustre prints combine the best aspects of matte and glossy, offering robustness and vibrance in colors.
  • Lustre is a preferred choice for framing photographs due to reduced glare and the option of lamination for protection.
  • Storing digital photos and building portfolios can be efficiently done using services like SmugMug, offering unlimited storage and accessibility from anywhere.
  • SmugMug also provides the convenience of ordering prints directly from their platform.

What is a lustre finish on photos?

Lustre finish is actually halfway between glossy and matte. Glossy finishes are very shiny and smooth, whereas matte finishes can be a little dull.

The texture you can expect to see from lustre photo paper is very fine particles, as if you were running your fingers across very small pebbles clumped closely together.

One of the main advantages of using lustre paper is the glare is less than that of glossy finishes. That’s not to say lustre is free of glare, though.

Lustre paper also displays colors and their saturation better, as well as displaying more details of the image.

Professional photographers prefer lustre paper for a wide variety of applications.

What is a glossy finish?

A glossy finish is exactly as it sounds. The paper is shiny and will reflect a lot of light. Colors will also be very saturated and glossy prints are the kinds of prints that you’ll typically find in family albums.

The smooth finish makes it easy to scan glossy finished photos in a computer, but it is a huge pain to try to scan it with your phone’s camera as it will reflect a lot of light, almost like glass.

Additionally, the shiny surface will also show fingerprints very easily, so be careful and mindful if you have oily skin!

lustre vs glossy

This image from SmugMug really demonstrates the difference between lustre and glossy. The photo of the lady is lustre finish, which even with glare looks normal. The photo of Darth Maul on the right is glossy and reflects the glare.


What is the difference between matte and lustre finish?

Next up in our comparisons is lustre vs matte finish. Matte finish has a lot of texture on the surface, so it won’t pick up fingerprints as easily as glossy paper.

However, the matte finish on photos does come with a hidden cost: the images won’t be quite as vibrant or colorful. Matte finish photos are useful for very small prints like the ones you keep in your wallet, or passport photographs.

Matte photos are also good for black and white pictures.

Lustre prints on the other hand will have the best of matte and glossy pictures, with the robustness of the print seen in matte photos and the vibrance and colors of glossy prints.

Is lustre or glossy better for framing?

Finally, let’s address the question of framing. Is lustre or glossy better for framing photographs?

I feel like it is a matter of personal preference, but lustre is actually better for framing. Nowadays, a better alternative to using glass in frames is treating the photos with a special lamination film that covers the entire surface of the print.

Upon lamination, the photo ends up looking like lustre print anyway. I am not a huge fan of glass anymore because moisture can sometimes sneak in between the glass and the photo and cause it to warp or worse, cause some water damage.

More: Acrylic vs Metal prints

Not having any glass on the frame also means there will be less glare, and the lamination is easy to clean, too.

Where to store your digital photos

There are quite a few services out there that offer photo hosting and portfolio building, but by far, our favorite is SmugMug.

SmugMug is great for storing memories as well as for amateurs and professionals to show off their shots.

Once you sign up, you have unlimited storage so you can upload any resolution of your photographs that you need.

You can also build a portfolio site to show off, as well as access your photos from anywhere.

And if you need prints, you can order them from within SmugMug itself. It’s a one-stop solution.

You can sign up here for a 14 day trial, and get 15% off if you decide to subscribe.


As we reach the culmination of our exploration into the enchanting world of finishes, we have witnessed how lustre and glossy transform mere prints into mesmerizing works of art. The interplay of texture, smoothness, and vibrant hues has unfolded before our eyes, leaving us in awe of the power they possess.

Yet, our journey does not end here. It is now your turn to embark on your own artistic expedition, armed with the knowledge and understanding of lustre and glossy. What story will you tell through your prints? What emotions will you evoke in the beholder? The choice of finish rests in your hands, and it is a decision that will shape the very essence of your artistic vision.

So, dear reader, go forth with confidence and purpose. Select the finish that resonates with your creative spirit, for it is through this choice that your photographs will whisper tales of wonder and passion. Let the world bear witness to the beauty you create, and may your prints become windows to your soul.

Unleash the magic of finishes, ignite conversations, and inspire others to explore the vast possibilities that lie within every click of the shutter. For in the realm of photography, finishes are not merely surface treatments, but gateways to a world where imagination knows no bounds.

Now, my friend, it is time to pick up your camera and etch your mark upon the canvas of photography. Your journey awaits, and the world eagerly anticipates the masterpieces you shall create.