Print Methods, Mediums, & Care
Print Methods: Archival Prints vs. Poster Prints
Archival prints will maintain color fastness and resist fading for up to 50+ years if they are mounted behind glass or Plexiglas and kept out of direct sunlight. They use archival papers, mounting techniques, and most importantly, pigment based inks which are inherently resistant to the Sun's UV rays. Metal prints are also UV resistant and considered archival. Archival prints hung in direct sunlight will not get their maximum possible longevity.
Poster prints are normally printed with dye based inks which can quickly fade and discolor if hung in direct sunlight. A mass printed and inexpensive poster print will look fine for a couple of years if kept completely out of direct sunlight. In direct sunlight an inexpensive dye based poster print will fade and discolor badly in a couple of months. But the same archival print techniques can be used to print posters resulting in a poster which is archival although at a higher price.
An archival poster print uses the same printers, papers, or metal, and pigment based inks as archival photographic prints to achieve the same archival longevity. Unfortunately this makes an archival poster print much more expensive than a mass produced commercially offset printed poster. All of the posters that I sell via SmugMug are archival prints.
SmugMug - BayPhoto Photo Printing Labs
All of their photographic printing labs use archival printers, methods, and pigment based inks for prints of all types. The exception would be merchandise such as coffee mugs, gift boxes, etc. which may not use archival print methods - don't put them in direct sunlight long term.
Print Mediums: Glossy, Matte, Lustre, Metal Finish, Giclee Prints, Metal Prints, & Canvas
SmugMug photographic labs offer a very wide range of mediums to print on - your choice.
Glossy - traditional photographic print, very glossy and sharp, higher glare reflectivity, finger prints are more obvious
Matte - not glossy, a little less sharp than glossy, less glare reflectivity, finger prints less obvious
Lustre - blend of glossy sharpness + less glare reflectivity of matte, some consider this the best of both
Metal Finish - a metal finish on photographic paper
Giclee Print - Giclee is French for "sprayed ink", typically done on watercolor paper for a less sharp but more artistic look, think photo meets watercolor, can also be done on canvas
Metal Print - printed on specially treated aluminum, sharp, can yield very vibrant colors
Canvas Giclee - a less sharp but more artistic look by printing on canvas, think photo meets painting
Care & Handling of Unmounted Prints
Try to avoid touching the print surface with your fingers - wear thin cotton gloves
Handle large prints at the corners to avoid creasing the paper