Hanging your photography isn’t as straightforward as you’d think.
I’m confident most of you have never hung your prints on a wall, let alone printed your photos! It can be a real joy to see your images in-person instead of on a screen. Hanging your photography is a powerful experience that grips onto you. There’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with that–and many longtime shooters only think a photo is finished when it’s printed. We recommend that every photographer buys a printer. Specifically, we recommend a proper photo printer. (For the best deals, wait until after Black Friday when they drop in price. And load up on ink.) Before you add that printer to your cart, though, check out these tips and our cheat sheet.
Various Paper Types
We can’t even begin to list all the different paper types, so we’re instead going to list a few universal truths.
- Canvas is fantastic for hanging a photo in your home, no matter what. Ensure that the frame you’re stretching it around is sturdy.
- When hanging your photography on a wall, figure out the best lighting. We’ll talk about that more later.
- Most paper falls into one of two categories: matte or glossy. Every manufacturer calls their papers different things for marketing reasons, but all photographic printing paper is something between glossy and matte. You’ve also got soft gloss, luster, polished matte, etc.
- One paper doesn’t do it all, unfortunately. Some paper can do most things very well. But there’s bound to be another paper that can do it best.
Maybe this is why so many people don’t print anymore–hanging your photography is pretty complicated and can be seen as elitist.
The light is everything when hanging your photography. Think about all the different rooms in your home. Then, think about the wall colors, how the light comes into the windows, the colors of the curtains, etc. Direct light looks better with matte prints. Indirect light looks better with glossier prints. You have to also figure out if you want a light that’s warmer or cooler on the paper. And consider whether or not the paper has a varnish.
Again, Canvas is typically king here. Printing your photos on canvas gives you the best of many worlds. It’s durable, it’s able to be in any lighting situation, and they arguably look more stately. If you’re printing for a gallery, then you should know that I’ve seldom seen photos printed on canvas. And I’m not sure why. But use canvas if you’re printing at home.
Black and White or Color?
The most basic rule is that when printing your photos, black and white looks better on matte. But that’s not always true. The recent trend of images that have low contrast and high clarity look wonderful on glossy paper. And photos with soft colors are awe-inspiring when printed on matte paper. This makes the decision even more complicated because one type of paper might look good for some images while another makes another set of your pictures sing to the high heavens. If you can purchase a sample pack, then do so. But prints are best seen and experienced in-person. The worst thing is getting excited to hang your photography up on your wall and then get disappointed by the way the print came out.
The Phoblographer’s Cheat Sheets are made with VisMe.