Matte vs Glossy Photos – Which Is Better For Printing?

The type of paper finish you use when printing your photos can make or destroy their quality.

Your choice of finish determines the color and sharpness of the photos. Does that pause a question, matte vs glossy photos, which ones are the best? 

The main difference between matte vs glossy photos is that matte photos give a lesser light reflection than glossy photos when a mirror is used in their display.

While glossy photos stick to the display mirror, matte photos do not.

Professional photographers choose matte photos instead of glossy photos.

Matte photos last the same time as glossy photos. Contrary to matte photos, matte photos get scratched if mishandled.  

We’ll discuss the factors to consider when deciding what photo paper finish to use, which one will last longer, and what’s the best option for professional use. 

Matte vs Glossy Photos

Matte vs Glossy Photos - Which Is Better For Printing?

Various factors come into play when choosing between matte vs glossy photos, for example, the amount of reflection needed, image sharpness, and photo colors.

Let’s take a deeper look at their differences. 


Matte photos absorb light and hence have no reflection when placed under lighting, while glossy photos have high reflections; thus unsuitable in highly lighted rooms.

The additional shiny layer on top of glossy photos gives a reflection when light shines on them.

Consequently, they give an irritating glare to the eyes when people look at them from some angles.

So, for use in rooms where there’s a focus light, matte photos are better when compared to glossy photos. 

Exposure to Fingerprints 

Unlike the resilience, non-reflective matte photos, glossy photos attract fingerprints when touched due to the reflective photo finish. 

If you plan to give your photos to your kids, family members, and friends to view, you better use a matte photo finish as it withstands fingerprints better than the glossy one. 

Otherwise, use a glossy paper finish but place the photos away from people, maybe on a wall, where they can see them without touching them. 


While matte photos are a bit faded, glossy photos are vibrant and suitable where you want all the photos’ colors to pop up.

So, if your attention is mainly on the colors, go for glossy photos. 

Otherwise, use a matte finish as it gives a slightly dull but natural photo finish with a better appearance.

For black and white photos, you are better off using a matte photo finish as it is naturally vibrant. 


Matte photos are better for commercial photo services since they do not have irritating glares, features a better quality, work well behind glasses, and their texture is generally superb!

Remember, most people asking for photo printing services wants to have their photos in frames. 

Whether using them in their homes or offices, they want to use the glass to protect the picture quality from dirt and dust.

So, they prefer to have them behind glass in a frame and hang them on the walls. Therefore, avoid glossy photos as they aren’t ideal for glass flames. 

If the photos are intended for commercial purposes, for example, display in national museums or exhibition centers, then use a matte finish as it offers a professional appearance. 

For posters, though, you need something that will attract people’s attention, and a shiny finish would do an excellent job – hence, use glossy photos. 


Unlike glossy photos, the material used on matte photos is expensive, needs more ink to print, absorbs lights excellently, and features a better texture.

If, therefore, you are debating between matte vs glossy photos due to the cost of production, matte photos are more expensive than glossy photos. 

So, if you have bulk print work to do but budget is a limitation, use a glossy finish but be willing to have compromised quality. 


With good care, the matte photos will last almost the same time as glossy ones, but glossy finish quality may get shortened when mishandled. 

So, if you keep touching your photos and exposing them to rough surfaces, the lifespan of your glossy photos will get compromised and shortened.

While the matte finish may endure constant fingerprint touches, it would be best to offer it good care, too. 

The Pros of Matte Photos

Which Paper Is Best For Photo Prints - Glossy vs Matte finish
  • Best for black and white photos
  • Suitable texture for commercial and professional photo services
  • Resistant to scratch and fingerprints touches, thus more durable 
  • No reflections, thereby suitable for frames with glasses and highly lighted rooms

The Cons of Matte Photos

  • Minimized photo contrast 
  • Low image sharpness and vibrant 
  • Highly priced due to their top quality 

The Pros of Glossy Photos

glossy vs matte photo which is better
  • They show good color contrast 
  • Cheaper due to their low quality 
  • Suitable for photos with no glass framing
  • Great for attracting people’s attention due to their reflections

The Cons of Glossy Photos

  • They are highly prone to scratches
  • Fingerprints are seen on them when touched
  • Non-ideal for commercial and professional photos
  • Their glare makes them unsuitable for well-lighted rooms 


Is It Better to Get Glossy Or Matte Photos?

It is better to get glossy photos if you need a bulk print with a low budget.

It is, however, better to get matte photos if your focus is quality and durability but not the cost of printing.

Do also go for matte photos if your photos have a black and white color or both.

Be warned; you might not get good quality if you print professional photos.

Also, avoid glossy photos if you are printing photos for sale unless you are printing posters. 

Do Professional Photographers Use Matte Or Glossy?

Professional photographers do not use a glossy, but a matte photo finish.

Despite being more expensive than glossy, matte doesn’t have reflections, which makes it difficult to see a photo if it is behind a frame with a mirror. 

Besides, matte photos give a deep texture which makes photos look more professional.

It is different, though, when printing posters, as the glare plays a great part in capturing the attention of passers-by. 

Do Glossy Or Matte Pictures Last Longer?

While the durability of the glossy and matte pictures is at the same time, glossy photos’ durability may be at stake if exposed to fingerprints and scratches. 

This means matte pictures can last longer than glossy ones because fingerprints do not affect their quality.

Besides, their resistance to scratches is top-notch. 

So, it all depends on how well you take care of your pictures. But would you mishandle a picture because its quality is high? Not at all.

So, give both glossy and matte pictures great care; they speak a thousand words when hung on your walls!

Final Thoughts

Matte vs glossy photos, which ones are better?

If you need professional photos or want to offer commercial photo services, consider using matte photo finishing, as it gives a better and more professional texture.

Since matte photos can withstand scratches and fingerprints, they are better off than glossy photos when used for photos that won’t be hung on a frame that has glass. 

If you want to print many photos, but your budget is small, it would be best to use a glossy photo finish as it is cheaper, but of lower quality.

Sadly, glossy photo finishes may not last long enough if you do not take good care of them. 

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