As a photo student, you’ll likely need to print your photographs—either for critique, discussion, exhibition, or displaying elsewhere (such as in your portfolio). To ensure your photos look their absolute best, here are some of our favorite inkjet papers for photography students.
Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster
Epson’s Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster is a popular, no-frills paper with a pleasing texture, good weight, and nice color rendition. It’s readily available in a variety of sizes, meaning photography students will have a lot of options for making prints.
Epson’s top-selling paper is also the perfect photo paper for making work prints, due to its value, but it’s also a paper suitable for making final prints for critique. In addition, the surface texture is a nice balance between glossy and matte, so it pleases both sides of the glossy versus matte debate.
Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique II
One of the biggest trends in the inkjet paper market is to make papers that closely resemble the look and feel of traditional black-and-white fiber-based photo papers. The key to achieving this look is through the use of a baryta coating, which also happens to be what Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique II is named after. This is a popular paper among students due to its weight, subtly glossy finish, and lack of optical brightening agents, which all add up to a solid all-around paper for making final prints for a thesis show or for printing your portfolio.
Moab Juniper Baryta Rag 305
The trend doesn’t stop with Canson Infinity, though, because Moab’s Juniper Baryta Rag 305 is another popular baryta paper that’s notable for its heavier feel and total lack of optical brightening agents, which contribute to an easy-to-handle paper with long-lasting archival qualities. Distinguishing itself, Juniper Baryta also has a 100% cotton-fiber base, which should make the paper slightly more archivally stable when compared to non-buffered alpha cellulose papers. Even if, as a student, archivability isn’t your biggest concern, Juniper Baryta still stands as a solid option for making those final prints for your upcoming critique.
Epson Exhibition Fiber
The last in our trio of baryta papers, Epson Exhibition Fiber, arguably began or at least popularized this trend of replicating the look and feel of darkroom paper. However, compared to the Canson Infinity and Moab papers above, Epson achieves its distinct look and feel with a pretty dramatically different process—it champions the use of optical brightening agents to produce a paper with bright whites and smooth tonal transitions. This is a paper I’ve been using for more than a decade now, which, in inkjet terms, feels like forever. Its soft glossy finish is among the closest to resembling that of a traditional silver paper. The paper is also a hefty weight, making it a perfect choice for mounting or framing for an exhibition, or for use in a portfolio.
Moab Lasal Photo Matte 235
Up until this point, you might have noticed that I’ve only brought up glossy or luster papers… and yes, I know that many people like matte papers. So, I’ve saved a special matte paper for last: Moab Lasal Photo Matte 235, a double-sided matte paper with a bright white base and medium thickness. The reason I tend to recommend glossy papers over matte papers is due to the wider range of tones they can accommodate, along with the visible reflectance that produces the feeling of deeper blacks and brighter whites. These traits lend themselves to prints that are meant to be displayed. On the other hand, matte papers are a good solution for prints that are sometimes handled or looked at close up (think a handmade book project). This is why I feel as though a double-sided matte paper makes the most effective use of the benefits of a matte surface type—it suits a variety of creative project applications, ranging from books to posters to cards.
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What are some of your favorite inkjet papers? Is there one you’d recommend to students? Let us know what you think, in the Comments section, below.