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Glossy Photos vs. Matte Photos: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 27, 2023
Glossy photos have a shiny finish, while matte photos have a non-reflective finish.

Key Differences

Glossy photos boast a shiny finish that catches the light, highlighting vibrant colors and sharp details. Conversely, matte photos feature a non-reflective finish that softens colors and reduces glare, making them easier to view under various lighting conditions.
When handling, glossy photos can attract fingerprints and smudges, which can detract from their appearance. Matte photos, on the other hand, are more resistant to these issues, maintaining a cleaner look over time.
In terms of durability, glossy photos are susceptible to scratches and can stick together if not stored properly. Matte photos offer a more durable surface, less prone to scratching and sticking, making them a preferred choice for albums and scrapbooks.
When it comes to framing, glossy photos can create reflections behind glass, which can interfere with viewing. Matte photos eliminate this problem, offering a clear, reflection-free view when framed.
Finally, in professional settings, glossy photos are often used for vibrant, eye-catching displays, while matte photos are favored for their elegant, understated look in galleries and fine art presentations.

Comparison Chart



Color Vibrancy



Reduces glare




Less durable
More durable

Glossy Photos and Matte Photos Definitions

Glossy Photos

Glossy photos are prone to fingerprints and smudges.
After the exhibition, the glossy photos needed cleaning to remove all the fingerprints.

Matte Photos

Matte photos provide softer color representation and less contrast.
The vintage portraits were printed as matte photos to enhance their nostalgic feel.

Glossy Photos

Glossy photos are reflective, which can lead to glare.
The glossy photos on the wall were hard to view from certain angles due to the glare.

Matte Photos

Matte photos resist fingerprints and smudges.
The matte photos in the children's book remained clean despite frequent handling.

Glossy Photos

Glossy photos are popular for their vibrant appearance.
The travel brochure used glossy photos to make the destinations look more enticing.

Matte Photos

Matte photos reduce glare and reflections.
The matte photos in the brightly lit hallway were easy to view from any angle.

Glossy Photos

Glossy photos have a smooth, shiny surface.
The wedding album was filled with glossy photos that shimmered under the light.

Matte Photos

Matte photos are favored for their elegant, subtle look.
The interior designer chose matte photos for the hotel lobby to complement the sophisticated decor.

Glossy Photos

Glossy photos offer high color saturation and sharpness.
The glossy photos of the tropical beach vividly captured the azure waters.

Matte Photos

Matte photos have a non-glossy, textured finish.
The artist preferred matte photos for his gallery display to avoid reflections.


Are matte photos more durable than glossy photos?

Generally, matte photos are more resistant to scratches and are less likely to stick together, making them more durable.

What is the primary difference between glossy photos and matte photos?

Glossy photos have a shiny finish, while matte photos have a non-reflective finish.

Can fingerprints be an issue with glossy photos?

Yes, glossy photos are prone to attracting fingerprints and smudges.

Is it easier to view matte photos under bright lights?

Yes, matte photos reduce glare, making them easier to view under various lighting conditions.

Are matte photos a good choice for photo albums?

Yes, matte photos are often preferred for albums due to their durability and resistance to fingerprints.

Do matte photos reduce glare?

Yes, matte photos have a non-reflective finish that reduces glare.

Can the reflective nature of glossy photos be a problem when framing?

Yes, glossy photos can create reflections behind glass, which can interfere with viewing.

Do professional photographers use both glossy and matte photos?

Yes, professional photographers use both, depending on the desired effect and application.

Is one type of photo finish better for outdoor images?

It depends on personal preference, but glossy photos tend to make outdoor images appear more vibrant.

Are glossy photos more expensive than matte photos?

The price can vary, but generally, the cost difference between glossy and matte photos is minimal.

Do glossy photos offer deeper blacks compared to matte photos?

Yes, glossy photos often display deeper blacks and higher contrast.

Is one finish better for archival purposes?

Both can be suitable for archival purposes, but matte photos might offer better longevity due to their resistance to fingerprints and scratches.

Are glossy photos more likely to stick together in humid conditions?

Yes, glossy photos can stick together if not stored properly, especially in humid conditions.

Do matte photos offer a more natural look?

Yes, matte photos can provide a softer, more natural look compared to the high sheen of glossy photos.

Are glossy photos better for color vibrancy?

Yes, glossy photos typically display more vibrant colors and sharper details.

Do glossy photos require special care when handling?

Yes, glossy photos should be handled carefully to avoid fingerprints and scratches.

Which photo finish is better for black and white photography?

Both can be used, but many prefer matte photos for a classic, timeless look in black and white photography.

Are matte photos better suited for textured papers?

Yes, matte photos complement textured papers well and enhance the overall aesthetic.

Can matte photos be a good choice for artistic displays?

Yes, matte photos are often chosen for their elegant and understated look in art displays.

Can glossy photos be easily scanned or copied?

Yes, but the reflective surface might require careful handling to avoid glare in scans or copies.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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