It turns out that every different kind of paper out there isn't going to be the right choice for every shot that you have. Sometimes, you'll make the wrong choice and the content won't make sense on the type of paper.
Welcome back to part three in my exploratory series on fine art paper options and thought exercises on the importance of printing our work. You'll find previous entries here and here, where I explored a couple different matte paper choices and delved into what I enjoy about the matte finish and why I think that I generally gravitate more towards that style over a glossy option. In this piece, I'll be looking at something totally different, something with a genuine unique feel and look to it that if you match the content of the work with the style of paper, you'll have something pretty special on your hands.
Today, I'm looking at the Slickrock Metallic Pearl 260 from Moab Papers. This is a high-gloss, high-sheen, metal-like paper that instantly reminds me of printing on metal with its near;y pearl-like surface. Right out of the gate, I can picture any images with neon lights, metal (cars, bikes, or planes), nighttime cityscapes, or high-contrast monochrome images looking absolutely amazing on this paper. The unique depth created by the metallic sheen has the potential to be very captivating, as it's a look that we don't see all that often compared to a more common matte or glossy option.
With that said, and this in no way being a criticism of the paper (as I can picture it being an excellent choice for certain content), I think that the lesson here and broader point for today is that no paper is a one-size-fits-all option. With my fairy tale or fantasy-styled imagery being a bit softer to begin with, often with somewhat muted color palettes and shallow depth of field, nature-centric backgrounds, I don't feel that this paper would be the correct choice for many of my portraits. The blending of a soft fantasy look with the metallic sheen (especially in the skin tones) is a dichotomy that I would most likely not choose for my own method of presentation regarding my own portrait work.
Learning when and why to select certain papers is an invaluable lesson for anyone looking to be printing on a more frequent basis. Take the time to identify key elements about your work and look to match the strengths of your photography with the strengths of any given paper. If you have an epic highway overpass shot complete with red car trails snaking their way down the road with towering city skyscrapers in the background, a metallic paper like the Slickrock Metallic Pearl would be a powerful pairing. Or if you have a monchrome bodyscape image for an athlete with highlights and shadows in stark contrast, hell yeah, that could look amazing on a metallic paper.
As this series continues to grow and evolve and as I explore more paper and print concepts and ideas, I would really like to continue improving the quality of the photography that accompanies each entry. I've found that photographing a print presents its own unique challenges; for this piece specifically, I found capturing the pearl-like surface of the print to be very difficult. If you have any suggestions or expertise to share regarding the photographing of printed work, I would love to hear from you. Until next time, happy printing.