I have the opportunity to exhibit some of my photos at a local gallery. Having always printed on photo paper I'm now unsure about which media to choose: acrylic, aluminum or canvas?

The photos should be 30 x 20 cm and must be on a rigid support. There will be about a dozen, with landscapes, portraits and macro in both color and b/w with some HDR. Unfortunately I've never seen the formats listed above except on specialized sites.

Can you tell me which of these is the best for color rendering and brightness? The room assigned to me was the only lights on the ceiling except a wall with spotlights.

Any links to photo printing on acrylic or aluminum would also help.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ are you selling and planning on selling in the future? If so, frame management is a real issue. Printing on acrylic/metal looks nice but you'll go broke doing it. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 10, 2013 at 20:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @paulcezanne the exposed copy will not be sell, in case of sell I'll re print for the customer in the way he likes. It will be a good surprise sell my photo ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Christian
    Jun 10, 2013 at 21:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm... I didn't read this as "how to physically hang" to be honest, I read it as being about what medium is a better option for a gallery presentation with ceiling mounted lighting. However, the title question might be better worded to that effect. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Jun 11, 2013 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ JoanneC: Sorry for my bad english, fell free to edit my question and title. \$\endgroup\$
    – Christian
    Jun 11, 2013 at 4:26

3 Answers 3


You forgot to list printing on paper with inkjet or printing with photographic process, and then, what photo paper to use!

My work doesn't work well on canvas. To me, canvas gives a soft feel and that's not what I want for much of my work. This is also true for a lot of inkjets on matte paper.

Printing on photo paper (especially the Kodak metallic Endura paper) gives a vibrant sharp feel. The same is true for printing on aluminum and based on the few acrylics I've seen, true there also.

So, how do you decide? You TEST. Print out some small samples from your lab, use the same shot for each, and see what fits your work best.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Really thanks for the answer! You are right, I have to test! Usually I print my photo by lab on Kodak Pro. Can aluminum comparable? \$\endgroup\$
    – Christian
    Jun 10, 2013 at 21:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ All substrates are different. I get the same pop on aluminum except for saturated blues, which are heavenly on the Endura Metallic paper. I often print 4x6s before making the gallery print just to be sure. I'm very happy with my smugmug account and I print through them using bayphoto.com \$\endgroup\$ Jun 10, 2013 at 22:28

Have you considered using photo plotters to print your photos on standard photo paper? A good pigment based photo plotter will do a nice job and can print to papers you are more familiar with. They can then be wet or dry mounted to foam core for gallery display.

Unless you are planning to sell pieces, it probably isn't worth the cost of doing acrylic or metal and may very well not be worth the cost of canvas. Additionally, you may actually get a better overall result with photo papers and foam core mounting.

I would recommend a luster or photo matte finish over a glossy finish as you don't want reflections to be an issue in the gallery (which is more likely if you use something like a glossy photo paper.)

Personally, I think Canon Pro Luster works great, though there are also some very nice art papers available that you can get for a little bit more that may get slightly better results. Any photo paper will likely have better color reproduction than canvas. Canvas is more about the texture and feel than actual print quality.


For pro-looking results, do not use foam board. Use a good exhibition mount board. I use this for both club and personal displays.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ This seems to be mostly a comment on another answer, rather than an attempt to answer the question itself. Could you edit this to make it purely an answer to the question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Jan 7, 2015 at 17:52

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