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I've heard of photo paper, and I assume it's better suited for printing photos, but in what way? And what is photo paper in the first place?

If I buy high GSM (like 250) paper of matte, semi-glossy or glossy type, as appropriate, is that any worse than "photo paper", for printing photos?

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As a term, 'photo' paper is fairly useless as an indicator of quality but it usually means that the paper is coated and the coating is engineered to fit certain needs, such as:-

  • controlling or limiting the spread of droplets applied to it
  • holding a higher density of ink than paper (allowing for more dynamic range especially better blacks)
  • protecting the ink from fading
  • not letting the ink touch the paper (as it would spread)
  • protecting the ink from chemicals present in the paper

It's likely that the other paper stocks you've been looking at are photo papers and just haven't had that marketing term applied to them, but there are different construction types - which one is best for you depends on if your printer outputs dye or pigment for example.

I recommend reading the Tom's Hardware article which is a pretty good primer on the subject: Picking The Best Ink And Paper For Your Inkjet Printer.

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