Difference Between Glossy Photos and Matte Photos


Main Difference

The main difference between glossy photos and matte photos are that the glossy photos have a shiny finish and matte photos have a more subtle and a neutral finish

Glossy Photos vs. Matte Photos

Photos are printed on different textures of photo paper in various sizes. Two common kinds of photo paper are glossy and matte. Glossy photo prints have a shiny finish. Matte photos have a more subtle and neutral finish. Glossy photos have a shiny quality that allows the existing colors on it to come alive. They have a more impressive look than a matte photo. Matte photos lack the polished quality, so they do not have the same vibrant and elegant look as glossy photos. The glossy finish on glossy photos reflects light very well, and it looks shiny, vibrant, and color-rich. The matte finish on the matte photos does not reflect much light and looks darker and duller. Due to its glossy and shiny surface, glossy photo collects fingerprints and dust. If not handled carefully, that result in a dirty appearance. A matte photo, although it does not have a striking and shiny appearance it does not catch the dust and fingerprints are not visible on it. Hence, the glossy photos are easy to get untidy. The matte photos look tidier. Matte is the preferred texture for black and white prints. Glossy photos are a little expensive. Matte photos are more affordable. Glossy photos reflect light so it can be a problem when these are viewed using intense light sources like daylight sun or strong light bulbs. Matte photos do not reflect any light, so they are easier to view at almost any light condition.


Comparison Chart

Glossy PhotosMatte Photos
Photo prints that have a glossy/shiny finishPhoto prints that have a subtle and a neutral finish
Catch Dirt
EasilyDo not catch dirt
Vibrant and shinyDull and neutral
Reflect lightDo not reflect light
ExpensiveLess expensive

What are Glossy Photos?

Glossy photos are on a paper of photo that is glossy and shiny in its texture. This kind of photo has degrees of shine that range from low to high. The shiny coating on these glossy photos makes the colors appear more vibrant. It allows the smallest details on it to be visible. The shine of glossy photos makes them appealing to the eyes. Glossy photos bring your prints to life by giving them an ultra-smooth and shiny finish. It is highly reflective with bright and bold hues. These kinds of photos are appealing in many ways, but they too have some drawbacks. Glossy photos are good for colorful shots. The glossiness of glossy photos causes a glare in a brightly lit room, making it a bit difficult to view. Moreover, the glossy texture is easy to catch fingerprint marks when held. This type of photo paper is not good for black and white prints. Due to this nature of catching the dirt, glossy photos may look dirty if they are not handled with great care. The coating and paper behind that glossy photograph are the same as a matte image, except the final coating. That extra layer of shine is added that makes the photos glossy. It tends to give the image an apparent boost in color, making it appealing to the sight. Glossy photos also look classy when they are placed in an album. Glossy photos are expensive kinds of photos.



  • Glossy surface
  • Reflects light
  • Easy to catch dirt/fingerprints
  • Expensive

What is Matte Photos?

Matte photos are the opposite of glossy photos in that they lack that polished quality. Matte photos are printed on a type of paper that does not have a vibrant and elegant look. They have a rather neutral and subtle texture. Matte photo prints do not attract dust and fingerprints. Also, they are less likely to get dirty over time. Matte photo paper is the best for Black and white prints. These types of photos are cheaper. They are largely used for brochure and flyer printing. Matte photos have a classic, smooth, and non-glare finish. This paper will not show fingerprints as easily as the gloss and looks phenomenal in any size. Matte photos are preferred for frames with glass due to their anti-reflective qualities. Matte photos may look bit grainer because of their enhanced texture. Matte photo paper is crisp and smooth. Moreover, it has a very professional look. The skin tones in them are true, and the colors are consistent. However, matte photo prints do not have a fancy high quality. Matte photos are often used by professionals because they are free of shine and results in more muted colors. It helps to make the paper ideal for highly detailed photos, i.e., shots of the building. Also, this makes the texture of the image more pronounced. Matte photos do not show smudges when handled. These kinds of photos are a great choice for scrapbooking.


  • Less vibrant colors
  • Used for black and white photos
  • Do not get dirty/untidy
  • Less expensive
  • Do not reflect light

Key Differences

  1. Glossy photos are a kind of photos that have a shiny finish, whereas matte photos are a kind of photos that have a more subtle and a neutral finish.
  2. Glossy photos have a more impressive, vibrant, and appealing look on the on other hand matte photos have a dull and boring look.
  3. The glossy finish on glossy photos reflects light very well, and it looks shiny, vibrant, and color-rich conversely matte finish on the matte photos does not reflect much light and looks darker and duller.
  4. Glossy photos collect fingerprints and dust on the flip side matte photos do not catch the dust and fingerprints are not visible on it.
  5. Glossy photos are more expensive, while matte photos are more affordable.
  6. Glossy photos reflect light contrarily Matte photos do not reflect any light.


Glossy photos and matte photos are two different kind of photos due to the difference in the texture of their photographic paper.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson