What paper should I choose?

Four principles for selection of Fine Art paper or art paper

One of the most important questions you will ask yourself whether you want to print your pictures is "the paper I choose". This issue will never go away, but with practice and a creative mindset becomes easier to answer. In fact, I would say that is the question I look forward to most of my work with prints.

But it was not always so. Over the years, I struggled with the choice of paper, I came to rely on a set of basic principles that gave me consistent results. Lots of studies, practice, and determination have helped to.

The four principles I share below allows you to approach your choice of paper with the creative direction rather than guess or worst of all, simply use the same paper for all your photos.

These principles will leave you open to discovery and personal interpretation, which is not the case with the rules. One rule I'm sure you've heard is "use paper with a high-contrast black and white images." Although this rule works in many cases, it really is not all black and white images, and worst of all, you ignore your own aesthetic thought and style.

Other rules you hear is avoiding matte papers as sharp details when softened, or deep blacks are inferior. Both are false claims, everyone knows who has experience.

Art is about exploring, share your way of seeing and expressing feeling and how you choose to communicate it. Rigid rules eliminates this possibility and does not work well.

a principle, on the other hand, leaving room for more creative ideas you might ask yourself; "what happens if…”

So here are four principles for paper choices with explanations that I hope will inspire you to explore new opportunities.

1. Be clear picture and its message.
You really can not pick a piece of paper before you are clear about what the picture is about. This applies to every stage of an image from the moment you choose a focal length, compositions, in the way you approach the development of the RAW file. This "vision" is to help you determine which paper that best supports the look and feel that will make your message as clear as possible.

Think about what inspired you, what you did, what motivated you to believe that it was a picture worthy to be created and printed. Only those reasons should be the basis for selecting paper, not what others think or what is traditionally used. You might not think it's obvious, it's totally OK. The important thing is that you are considering some final results. Without a sense of what you want others to see and feel it is very difficult to make a good decision about paper.

2. Familiarity with the paper's personality.
Various papers have distinct characteristics or "personalities" that directly affects the viewer's perception of a picture. Knowing these characteristics determine the choice of paper. The paper base material, coating and structure contributes to the overall personality that we can describe in words more expressive and painterly, restrained and nuanced. These attributes are often misunderstood and underestimated, but they have a direct impact on the overall feel of an image, no matter what you do in the editing stage,.

This is why I recommend to limit himself to as few papers as possible. The fewer paper, the more you'll appreciate all their personalities and how they complement or detract from the vision you have for a picture. The more paper you are "experimenting" with, the harder it is to determine what works best for you.

OBS, paper of the same name or type from different manufacturers will not give the same results – that's why I also propose to stick to one manufacturer. Canson has extensive experience, high quality and good profiles for most printers. An obvious choice for me.

3. Allowing print bear its own merits.
The goal to do a job should not be to match what's on your screen, it should be to create an independent interpretation of your work faithfully conveys your vision. Yes monitor is a critical point of reference we use to make technical and aesthetic assessment of a picture. But the paper is a completely different medium that can not compete with the color gamut, brightness or contrast compared to a display of high quality.

The great news is that the paper gives some digital media can not; tactical, physical, textured quality that sends the reflected light to the eyes. That is what makes the printed image is special and unique and it should never be questioned by comparison with a monitor. Take advantage of the screen to create the best version of a RAW file and then utilize the image forces to create a unique experience for those looking at your photography.

4. “Trial and error” is necessary.
All these principles are dependent on this last, that is to appreciate and learn the art of paper selection. To practice and fail just as with everything else, it is really important and give more experience. Narrow variables (fewer paper) and learn more about these, study how the image varies depending on the selected paper. View prints to others who you trust and note in which direction it is leaning.

For example, I always notice that the more relaxed and peaceful image makes me (and by definition that includes how I felt when I made the picture) the more likely I prefer a matte paper. Equally dramatic images with strong shadow depth usually works better with a paper with high density (high Dmax and semigloss). Of course there are many exceptions to these generalizations.

Worried about the cost? Unfortunately, it must be expected when printing. Think of it as a good investment that will pay off in the future as your skill and confidence grows. Your images will also be appreciated in a different way.

Inspiration from Robert Rodriguez Jr.