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These days, any corner shop has a photo printer and a promise of a short wait. Convenience always sounds like our best friend, but we all know food taste different from a microwave.
Professional photographers and galleries like ourselves have access to a dozen photo labs across the world and the materials to do it in house, all with the same promise: unparalleled quality. And they a lot of them really live up to it! When you feel the quality of a real archival paper, versus whatever they carry at one hour shops, you will notice right away that there is a very noticeable difference. Not only the texture of the paper, but the texture of the ink as well!
Global Images uses Heavyweight Exhibition Fiber for all of our standard prints. The finish is a soft gloss, which isn't too distracting and adds more dimension than a matte finish. For photographers or those who spent some time in a darkroom, this paper will offer a similar look to the classic darkroom paper we all love, with an even better quality.
Asides from the texture, one thing you'll notice right away with this paper is the color and tonality. Have you ever printed a photo at Target and it sort of printed with a greenish tinge, or something wasn't quite right with the color in general? This is unfortunately pretty common in quick print shops. Most archival papers prioritize color as a featured benefit, which is why you'll find these papers are brighter and more even than cheap photo paper. The result is richer, even colors, and a large range of tonality, especially in black and white images.
Although most printing manufacturers won't make an official promise of longevity, photographs printed on archival paper and ink are meant to outlast all of us. The intention is to preserve these photographs as long as possible, with the option of making your images heirloom items passed between the family. That said, you can only achieve this kind of lifespan with your photographs with specific conditions. For best results, always keep the photos out of excessive sunshine and preferably entirely protected like in a frame or box to avoid fingerprints, dirt, and dust, which can erode the ink over time.
All in all, the benefits of splurging on high quality materials far outweighs the benefit of quick printing at home. What's the point of having art and photos in your home if they're only going to last you a few years? Quality is always an investment, in any industry, with anything you buy, but it's also always worth it.