Last updated: July 1, 2020

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Our photos are where we are able to capture and save our most precious memories. Over the years, cameras have advanced so much that they are able to reproduce each moment with almost no difference to reality. With such high technology cameras and editing programs, the importance of proper photo paper is often overlooked. To populate your home, business or living spaces with photos that represent who you are and color your life.

Finding the right paper to reproduce high-quality images is the key to making the most out of your past memories. Depending on the sizes, color, and space, you can choose different photo papers that will suit small home family photos all the way up to professional, large scale photo prints. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the bits of knowledge you need to know to perfectly immortalize your best pictures.

Key Facts

  • Different photo paper is needed for different printers.
  • After printing the images, be sure to store them in a cool and dry place so that they can set and hold properly to last for long periods of time.
  • Aspects such as quality, image size or caliber are important aspects to consider when choosing the appropriate photo paper.

Our Selection: The Best of Photo Papers on the U.S. Market

As you may have already guessed, not all photo paper on the market is the same, nor are they all suitable for any type of image. While there are varying levels of higher and lower quality paper, generally speaking, there is no better or worse kind.

It all depends on the type of photo we want to preserve, the look we want it to have and the size we need it to be. Below we have compiled a list of varying photo papers that have all received high reviews and ratings on the market to help guide you in your selection process.

Best Premium Photo Paper for HP Printers

This is Amazon’s Top Choice for standard premium photo paper, specially made for HP inkjet systems. It has increased thickness and a premium glossy finish that delivers the look and feel of traditionally processed photos.

The HP Premium Plus photo paper delivers instant-dry photos that are water and smudge resistant so you can share them right off the printer. Each purchase comes with 100 4×6” sheets of sustainable forest practice paper.

The Best Photo Paper for the Best Price

This Canon product provides 400 sheets of 4×6” photo paper all for under $20. It is a super glossy photo paper that provides exceptionally rich colors. For optimum results, it’s best to use canon ink.

These photo papers are non-smearing, don’t stick and although stated that drying time takes a full 24 hours, reviews have shown that photos will dry within just a few minutes. For best results, keep in a cool, dry place.

Best Photo Paper for a Luster Finish

The Canon Luster Photo Paper comes in a set of 50, 8.5 x 11” package that has a total weight of 69 lbs. The beautiful luster finish provides an elegant surface that resists fingerprints and virtually eliminates glare.

These photo papers are great for portraits, wedding photos, and fine art photography prints. They come at a very affordable price of $17.50 and is another one of Amazon’s Top Choice products.

The Best Presentation Photo Paper

The Epson, Premium Presentation Paper Matte delivers long-lasting photographs with a matte finish. This photo paper comes in an 8.5 x 11” size in packages of 100 or 50 sheets.

With it’s heavyweight, bright white, ultra-smooth finish, this paper is perfect for any type of non-glare photograph. This paper is exceptional when it comes to printing off photos for projects, presentations, marketing and other types of signage.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Photo Paper

While it may be obvious that there are different styles and finishes when it comes to different types of photo paper, the reality is that there are a large number of varying characteristics and details that can differ from one photo paper to another. In the next sections, we’ll walk you through all the distinct characteristics that are available when it comes to photo paper, and how to know which one is best for you and your precious photos.

Photo Paper

Paper brightness gives images sharpness and clarity.
(Source: Lightfieldstudios: 89214305/

Why choose photo paper over normal paper?

This kind of paper, while often seem similar to normal computer paper, incorporates a number of different elements in its production to achieve a high-quality print. Photo paper is a specially made paper used to optimize the ink and image reproduction as each photo is being printed out, producing a more realistic and accurate image.

Specifically speaking, the creation of colors reproduced on the paper from the captured image is much more true to the real-life depiction of each moment. On photo paper, the ink is absorbed much more efficiently and precisely. It almost always dries faster than print on traditional paper allowing the image to be preserved at his highest potential. With this paper, smears are avoided and the photograph is able to create more contrast.

What is the best way to preserve photographs so that they remain intact with the passage of time?

Institutions, libraries and academic organizations that store photos for long periods of time used highly systematic protection protocols to avoid the deterioration of their photos. Although we may not have to implement such strict regimens, we should still learn the different steps to take to preserve our photos for as long as we will have them under our care.

Placing the photos in a cool, dry place is the only simple measure you can do to ensure they stay intact. Further, keeping them inside quality, seamless paper envelopes or albums that cover the entire image will keep them viable and in mint condition for years. Above all, make sure your hands are clean and dry when handling them and avoid excessive touching on the surface of the photo, as the grease from our hands can ruin the photo surface.

Karl LagerfeldGerman Artist and Photographer

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”

How important is the absorbing capacity of photo paper?

When going to buy one photo paper over another, you’ll notice a number of qualities or varying characteristics of each paper type detailed on the packaging. Despite this, the level of absorption power is rarely mentioned, in spite of its importance. There are some types of paper that require more ink than others to produce high-quality images.

It’s important to know how well your photo paper of choice absorbs ink or it’s ink requirements so you’re able to select the appropriate design. Normally, each printer as the ability to adjust the levels of ink dispersion in property settings, which can play an important role in photo creation. Thick, glossy paper, for example, absorbs little ink, while plain paper requires much more.

Is it better to choose matte or glossy photo paper?

There is no simple yes or no answer to this question, although we can offer some guidelines to help you choose the option that suits what you are looking for. Most of the paper on the market is glossy, which offers overall high-quality products for non-professionals and those who want a quick and easy printing process.

However, if you desire more, there are a number of other finishes that can enhance the intensity and overall vibrancy of your photo. In the following table, we’ve laid out the varying types of paper with their individual characteristics and differences between them. Each of these will give a slightly but often profound different result.

Criteria Glossy paper Matte paper
Recommended use Used for mostly standard prints Used for more concrete or specialty prints.
External reflexes Increases external reflexes. Sharper images provides them with more light Diminishes external reflections and disguises the marks of paints or stains.
Advantages Ideal paper for family photos, photos for framing and business cards Ideal for printing old photos, (it is denser and opaque).

What is barium photo paper?

Baryta paper has some interestingly distinct characteristics that, formerly were used only in past eras, have resurfaced today with the artistically inspired desire to maintain the image production it would have had in the very old and traditional ways of printing photos. It’s soft and satin touch have led to many authors opting for this type of paper.

Its smooth, non-reflective texture highlights a different sets of shades within the image, reinforcing and deepening black tones. That is why, following the process from the olden days of photography, baryta paper is used especially for black and white photos; either in the professional fields or amateur projects.

Purchase Criteria

Although at first glance one may have the impression that there is no big difference between one photo paper and another, the unnoticeable differences in manufacturing can provide an enormous range of variation when printing out a photo. There are a few specific aspects that can be looked at on different levels to individualize how you reproduce and print your images.


Before purchasing, make sure to double check the overall opacity the photo paper has. A good quick test is to hold it up and see how well you’re able to see through the paper. The less see through it is, the better the paper will hold and absorb the ink, creating a sharper and clearer image. The thinner and more see-through it is, even slightly, always poses a higher probability of the ink soaking through the paper and eventually falling out or unwanted color mixing.

This is especially important when looking for a paper that allows printing on both sides. This is the case in many marketing signs and photobooks. Most standard photo paper has opacity ratings of 94-97%. If it’s not possible to look at the paper yourself, it’s always a good idea to look at consumer reviews or talk to a store representative to help.


The paper sizes for standard picture frames are 10 x 13 cm and 15 x 20 cm.
(Source: rawpixel: 76171246/


Compatibility is easily the most important purchase criteria to take into consideration. This will dictate whether your print can be made, regardless of quality or image characteristics. Before purchasing any brand or type of photo paper, make sure your printer is compatible with the chosen product.

HP photo paper, one of the choices from our Ranking, is made to work with HP printers. Each printing system is designed and distributes its ink in a slightly different way. Photo papers made specifically to work with the design of the corresponding printer are the most guaranteed way to ensure a good quality photo.


One may not consider the importance of weight in the printing of a photograph, however, it can make a significant difference. Besides the fact that most images printed for professional purposes present and look better on thicker paper, they are much sturdier as well. The weight gives notoriety to the images and keeps it from wrinkling or curling.

The weight is normally given in g/m2 (grams per square meter). If the weight of a piece of photo paper is 80g/m2, it means that a square meter of paper of this quality would weigh 80 grams. Generally speaking, it’s best (especially for formal purposes) to print images on as heavy as paper as possible. Always checking beforehand the maximum ranges accepted by your printer.


Remember that not all photo paper on the market is the same, we recommend you choose the one that best suits your tastes.
(Source: Marina Pissarova: 42213967/


When talking about caliber, we’re referring to the density, or width, of the paper. Caliber is measured in millimeters or thousands of an inch, and even though it is related to weight, it is possible to find papers with a similar caliber but a very different weight.

In general, the caliber is important when considering the long-term preservation of the photograph to prevent it from spoiling with the passage of time. As with the other criteria, before purchasing the product make sure that the printer you will be using the photo paper that accepts caliber it has.

Paper Size

Each paper size will correspond mostly to the type of image you have and want to create. For example, the 10 x 13 cm and 15 x 20 cm photo papers are ideal for portraits, travel photos or family souvenirs. These are the most traditional styles of photo paper that are used throughout almost all demographics. This choice of paper is good for holding memories in and outside the home, usually for non-professional purposes.

For more prominent images, the 20 x 27 cm, also known as A4 format, is ideal for prints in special photo albums, posters and art exhibitions, laboratory images. For even higher level artistry, advertising and professional photography, larger sizes such as A3 (29 x 42 cm) are available in a range of different formats.

Andy WarholAmerican Artist, Director, and Producer

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.”


Although it’s not necessary to be a professional in the field or know extensive knowledge on printing, this article presents a variety of photo paper that is meant to be used with printers of basic or medium-level quality. This allows an average person to print good quality images right in their home or workplace without the need to invest large sums of money on the photographs, whether they are for personal or professional purposes.

To choose the absolute perfect paper, it takes only a small bit of research to figure out the best qualities that will give you the best image. Looking at aspects like size, caliber, weight, opacity, and finish will all have an effect on your photo or image. Luckily today, with all the advanced technology and individualized options, you won’t have to worry about the preservation of all your favorite memories.

If you found this article interesting, we encourage you to leave a comment or share it on social media with your friends, family, and those who may find it useful!

(Featured Image Source: Vadim Georgiev: 40880593/

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.