Photography is an art that above all draws on the gaze: that of the photographer and the viewer. But touch can also play a part. Handling a fine art photo is unique and can provide additional sensations. But how do you choose between a smooth and textured paper?
Fine art print: smooth or textured paper?
Smooth paper such as baryta will give the best finish to the photo. It is the quality of paper that most resembles a silver gelatin print. The colours are very saturated and the contrasts are striking.
The one small disadvantage of smooth paper for a fine art print? Artists have difficulty in signing their work once it has been printed since the paper surface does not suit pen nibs.
Textured photo papers feel pleasant when handled. The surface grain becomes an integral part of the photograph. The texture of the paper will be visible in the light coloured areas of the image, such as clouds, whereas they will be less obvious in black areas. This is a more nuanced printing, which results in a different feel, with a more "physical" approach to the image.
Whether we handle it or just look at it, we approach it more like a painting.
The sensation or the image?
To sum up the differences between these two paper types: smooth paper allows focus on the image, its colours and visual impact, whereas textured paper is more interesting on an emotional level and can release the image.
But if you want only one piece of advice to help you make your choice when it comes to printing your fine art photos: follow your instincts and wishes. Your photographs are the expression of your feelings.