View Full Version : paper choice for sales and shows

16-Mar-2017, 18:29
I know most photographers insist on using fibre paper for sales and exhibitions. Are there any who use rc paper for sales and exhibitions? I am wondering if our insistence on fibre paper is snobbery or if it is justified.

Not trying to start a war, just asking a question :)


Jon Shiu
16-Mar-2017, 18:56
There was one guy called Ctein who used RC paper. He had some silvering out problems and wrote about it in his book.

17-Mar-2017, 05:47
Clyde Butcher used RC - and it bit him big time.
A few good pro labs used to print fine work on RC and even guaranteed it - and went out of business as a result.
There may well be some 'snobbery' involved, but reality is that no fine printer uses RC papers for B&W silver based images.

17-Mar-2017, 06:35
I've exhibited RC prints. I even have one I made 20 years ago which has been in bright sun it's whole life and it still looks perfect. I think fiber can do blacks a little deeper, so it's a mix of practical results and snobbery. I suppose it depends on the customer.

Jim Jones
17-Mar-2017, 07:07
For quick low-cost prints, RC is good enough. Almost all of my many hastily printed RC prints stored in the dark with little exposure to air look as good as ever after 40 years. Some others have failed on display. However, fiber prints do have an advantage in appearance, and archival processing is well documented. Most professionals should use fiber or perhaps digital printing.

Ted R
17-Mar-2017, 08:51
RC paper was designed for rapid processing in commercial settings rather than ultimate image quality. The quality of RC papers has improved over the years.

I have exhibited both types.

To some extent it depends on the customer, the description of prints in a catalog might be "silver gelatin" without any tag about the base material, possibly this is a detail that the customer is not concerned about.

The plastic base of RC is possibly more stable than fiber and baryta.
Full gloss is easier to achieve with RC than FB.
Papers differ in the quality of tint of the white base, the brightness of the paper base, the opaqueness, and the surface finish, these are significant factors that differentiate paper types in addition to FB or RC and not all qualities are available in both types so comparisons can be tricky.

Mark Sampson
18-Mar-2017, 15:12
The choice between RC and fiber-base paper is yours. Print some negatives on both kinds of paper and see which prints look better. Use that paper. Don't try to show, or sell, anything but your best work. "Let your prints tell you the answer."

29-Mar-2017, 03:44
If you are looking for the discussion where people are talking about the use of rc paper in photography then you should have a look in this post http://www.ilfordphoto.com/photocommunity/forums/theforum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=5013

Ted R
29-Mar-2017, 07:48
There are two issues: long term stability of the image, the silver; and long term stability of the base, the paper or plastic.

I don't think anyone knows how long the plastic base of RC paper will last, I have prints forty years old that show no signs of "cracking" either of the emulsion or the base. It is quite possible that the inert polyethylene RC paper base will last thousands of years, long after fiber paper has crumbled to dust.

One of the problems with fiber paper is getting the residual fixer out of the paper, which requires careful washing. The image in the emulsion of both RC and fiber papers is made of the same thing, silver, with some small residue of contamination from the chemical processing. When correctly processed (follow the manufacturer's instructions) it is pretty stable, lasting many decades without fading. It can be made even more durable by toning. Just how long do you want your print to last?

4-Apr-2017, 13:24
I know of at least one gallery I have recently put work into that makes inkjet "gallery prints" that are destroyed after the show. This gives the artist the ability to show work without incurring the large costs involved with shipping stuff long distances or even internationally. I personally lived close enough to hand-deliver a framed silver print - whether or not the difference is immediately apparent in a gallery behind glass in certain lighting situations is a different issue.

Sales-wise I have sold work made on fiber, RC, and even inkjet. I prefer working on fiber just because I like the look and feel of that material. None of my RC/ink stuff is old enough to really say if it will fade, but I generally priced that stuff where if it does, it's not a huge loss.

Jim Noel
4-Apr-2017, 13:50
I would never insult a collector by showing a print made on RC plastic (it is not paper).

Eric Woodbury
4-Apr-2017, 16:02
A photog friend of mine insists that he'd rather have an improperly processed RC print than an improperly processed paper print, meaning it is easier to screw-up fiber. Personally, I can't make much of a print on RC. They just seem to miss range, depth, and detail. The one quality not mentioned here is the feel of RC vs paper. I like handling loose prints: the feel, the tooth, the shine. RC is just slippery while the papers have something special for me. YMMV. Happy snaps.

David Lobato
5-Apr-2017, 02:46
Regardless of whether it's better or worse, RC paper has a reputation of being cheap and inferior. That inertia is hard to overcome.

Eric Woodbury
5-Apr-2017, 10:19
I wish we had had RC when I worked for the newspaper. Newspaper reproduction is so bad, who would know? We had a process I think was called a photo stabilizer. It used a special paper and a special processor. It made a pretty nice print that was soggy, but instant.