If you want archive quality photos, have them printed on professional quality paper. Professional paper is heavier, lasts longer and is surprisingly cheap. For example, a 4 by 6 print on Kodak Endura Supra is 21 cents at Smugmug.
There are five photographic paper types you’re likely to find at high-end online print shops.
Kodak Supra Endura – This is an all-purpose professional Kodak paper. It comes is a range of finishes, including glossy, matte, lustre and silk.
Kodak Metallic – Also called Endura Metallic, this paper is something you have to see in person to appreciate. The images aren’t just glossy; they seem to actually glow. I haven’t tried framing a metallic print, so I’m not sure how the “glowiness” looks under glass. If you’re curious to see how metallic paper looks, consider getting a paper sampler from Mpix.
Fuji Crystal Archive – This is Fuji’s all-purpose professional line. Like Kodak Supra Endura, it comes in a range of finishes.
Fuji Crystal Archive Pearl – This is Fuji’s version of a metallic paper. According to their website, the paper contains “pearly mica crystals,” which is intriguing to say the least. I’m planning a post comparing the two side by side.
Ilford True Black and White – Remember yesterday’s post about how a digital file becomes a print? When color paper is exposed to light and developed, it can have a slight colorcast. True black and white paper can only turn black and shades of gray, so your photo lacks that colorcast. It’s really amazing.