Most of the time, when you receive a digital negative from your photographer, you will use it to print a "photo" at a local store. That "photo" is usually a photographic photo using a process that creates a very nice print to display in your home.
This type of print, a photographic print, is one that most people know. But did you know there are others? Other printing processes that will give your portrait more life and longevity? That will produce richer blacks, deeper colors and sharper imagery?
Silver Halide & 100% Fine art Cotton Rag Prints
What is a Silver Halide print? Silver Halide is a chemical compound that forms between the element silver and one of the halogens. It is a light sensitive chemical used in photographic film and print. When printing with the silver halide process, a system that has been used since the film days and has been around for many years, light sensitive paper is used. When this paper is exposed to light, the image is infused into the paper through a chemical process. Basically, silver halide crystals in gelatin form part of an emulsion which coats the paper or film. When it is exposed to light, the crystals react and turn into silver which forms the image.
Images created with this process are sharper, have more vibrant colors, depth, and richer blacks. They are much more archival than a photographic print, and less likely to change tone with time and age.
Traditional black and white silver halide prints have been used in museums, galleries and exhibitions. It is a vital ingredient found in all high quality products.
100% Cotton Rag is just what it sounds like. The paper is made using cotton linters ( the relatively short fuzz left on cottonseed after the cotton ginning) or cotton from used cloth as the primary material. Hence, the name, cotton rag. Cotton paper is superior in strength, depth, and durability to wood pulp based paper (photographic prints).
Cotton is an artist's paper. Your image will look three dimensional with impressive pictorial depth. Expect to see brilliant colors, deep blacks, and striking contrasts. It is acid and lignin free which means your image will stand the test of time. It is the most archival option for printing.
You can expect to choose between at least 15 different types of cotton rag fine art papers. I personally love the Torchon option with it's heavy texture and thickness. You can also expect different gsm's or grams per square meter. The higher the number, the heavier the paper. Most fine art cotton papers are between 210-300 gsm.
Cotton fine art prints are the highest quality prints available. The inks absorb into the paper, not just on top, and is the highest quality option out there.
Photographic prints, on the other hand, are inexpensive, cheaper to create and use a wood based paper. The process to produce the image involves up to 6 inks that are basically laid on top the paper rather than into or infused into the paper. Photographic prints are a less expensive option than fine art or silver halide, but they are also less archival and more prone to fade over time.
All three options have a place in the world. If you are on a budget and wish to have some printed memories that will last several years, the photographic print is the way to go. Just be sure you are printing from a reputable lab that offers good paper options and a good color process. If you are looking for a better high quality, more archival options, go with the silver halide or fine art prints. You can be sure they will be around for many, many years to pass down to your family.
Since we believe strongly in the power of print and having beautiful heirlooms that you can pass down for generations, we recommend Silver Halide and Fine Art paper prints, framed or unframed.
If you wish to have a photographic print, know that our lab will produce a much better quality print than a local store and it will still be archival. Just not as high of quality as the other two options, or as archival. We do guarantee all our art prints so if you do see any fading or wear, it will be replaced as long as we are in business.
Displaying your portraits in your home is extremely valuable and important for many reasons, and whichever option you choose will only create joyful emotions and call to mind the reasons why life is worth living in the first place.
Visit us and see the difference a Fine Art print makes.
And, when you are ready to update your family's portraits, give us a call. We would be honored to be your portrait artists!