What Is a Photographic Print?

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What Is a Photographic Print? (Meaning)

Commonly, digital photographs are printed on plain paper with a printer, but this is not considered a photographic print.

A photographic print is a reproduction (copy) of a photograph or artwork, and it must use photo paper (paper coated with light-sensitive chemicals). This type of paper is smooth and has a gentle polished look or a glossy finish.

Today, most of the high-quality photographic prints sold online are what you call silver halide photographic prints (see images on Redbubble). Silver halide photographic prints are printed by exposing photo paper to light and having the image infused in the paper through a silver-based chemical process.

High-quality photographic prints are known to have colors that look very natural yet vibrant with amazing highlights and shadows.

Another great thing about a photographic print is that the dye is inside the paper, as opposed to laying on top of the paper, so it’ll be resilient to being damaged by things like scratching and liquids.

What Is the Difference Between an Art Print and a Photographic Print?

Although both high-quality photographic prints and art prints are more similar than they are different, the main difference is the type of paper used.

Art prints are typically made with a type of fine art paper, which can be made of archival, acid-free cotton, or a cotton-blend. Photographic prints are made of photo paper. This type of paper is resin-coated and light-sensitive.

Fine art paper is usually matte and thick, while photo paper is glossier and typically thinner than fine art paper.

Photo paper also helps in giving the print a high contrast look (amazing highlights and shadows) compared to the more muted look of fine art paper.

Galleries usually prefer fine art paper prints because they tend to last longer (less fading and yellowing) than photo paper prints.

Are Photographic Prints Worth Anything?

Photographic prints are often seen as mass-produced copies of photographs that aren’t valuable. But I totally disagree!

Photographic prints, especially limited editions like you see on Saatchi Art, can be highly valuable.

Here are some factors that will increase the price (and value) of photographic prints:

  • Limited editions: If the photographic print is a limited edition, this means there are only so many prints of the original artwork that will be made. This increases the value of the photographic print.
  • Well-Known Artist: If you’re buying a photographic print created by a well-known artist, you’ll be paying more than a print made from the work of an emerging artist.
  • Premium Photo Paper: Uses archival photo paper that will make your photographic print look amazing and last for decades.
  • Popularity: If the photographic print is featured in the news, books, museums, catalogs, websites, or other media, the price will go up.
  • The Story: If there’s a really cool story behind the artwork (like a famous person used to own it or was featured in a TV show or play), then a photographic print will probably go up in price.

But keep in mind that photographic prints are more than the monetary value associated with it. With a photographic print, you can express yourself or change the mood of any room.

And photographic prints are much more budget-friendly than original works of art, so ANYONE can enjoy art at a fraction of the price!

Cheapest Place To Buy Top-Quality Photographic Prints?

Here are my favorited places to get the cheapest, high-quality photographic prints.

My ultimate favorite place to get photographic prints is Redbubble. This company is known to be a high-quality producer of photographic prints that do not look cheap at all.

If I’m looking for more super inexpensive photographic prints, I’ll usually browse through Etsy and Amazon Handmade and read the reviews until I find something I like with a 4 or 5-star rating. You might have to do a little digging, but sometimes it’s well worth the money saved.

If I’m looking to buy photographic prints as an investment, Saatchi Art is where I go! These photographic prints are usually limited editions, they’re curated by a team of professionals, and are usually more valuable (but a little more expensive) than the photographic prints from the sites mentioned above.

If you’re not completely sure you want to buy photographic prints, you might want to check out my article: Best Places to Buy Art Online. In that article, you’ll find the top-10 art sites that I keep going to (over and over again) because they have top-quality art and amazing customer service!

So, go ahead and buy art, support independent artists, and HAVE FUN shopping!