A Guide To Buying Fine Art
Print Production Processes
Printing demands special care and attention. Our Fine Art prints are produced only through premium processes, some old and some new.
Framing & Displaying Fine Art
At Rock Paper Photo we offer a variety of framing options that will guarantee the longest possible life for your prints, so you can enjoy and display them with confidence.
Caring for Fine Art Prints
There are some important points to keep in mind when handling, framing or archiving your fine art print.
Print Production Processes
There are many ways of putting image to paper. From pencil to paint, from ink and dye to plates, metals, silvers, platinum and chemicals – imaging is constantly evolving. The number of processes is almost endless. Today, there are photo labs, commercial printers, photocopiers, offset presses for large quantity runs, wide format presses for billboards, and more. Each method has its individual merits and fulfills its purpose admirably.
Fine Art printing is a different entity, however. It demands special care and the highest respect for the image, the process and the final print, as well as an unrelenting attention to detail. Our Fine Art prints are produced only through premium processes, some old and some new. They are printed by professionals who are masters of their craft. Our collective respect for each image — from the instant it is captured to the moment it is produced — is clearly evident in each print.
Silver Gelatin Process
Silver Gelatin prints are black and white prints in the classic photographic sense. This traditional process has existed since the 1880s and has remained as the standard black and white photographic process to this day. These prints are produced from original negatives and from digital files. They offer consistent and neutral image tone with no cast, as well as strong blacks, detailed highlights and a superb tonal range in between. Our Silver Gelatin prints are produced on fiber-based paper and processed in traditional black and white chemistry. We choose Silver Gelatin production for black and white images that are truly timeless. These are museum-quality archival photographs that will last well beyond a lifetime.
Translation: Silver Gelatin Prints have a glossy, fiber-textured surface. The prints are never flat as they are organic and processed wet, then left to dry naturally.
Archival Chromogenic Prints
Archival Chromogenic prints are produced by exposing an image on photographic paper and then processing it through methods of photographic chemistry. This process was developed by Kodak in the 1940s and became a photographic standard soon after. These prints can be produced from original negatives or from digital files. The resulting prints offer superior color saturation and fidelity. This process optimizes the enlargement capacity, resolution and contrast of the image, and offers an extended color gamut for rich colors and attractive skin tones. Our Archival Chromogenic prints are produced on photo papers with matte, glossy and metallic finishes. Photo exhibitors and galleries worldwide hold Chromogenics in high regard for their lifelong archival qualities and vivid print characteristics. We choose Archival Chromogenic production for color and toned images that have a “photographic” feel to them. Archival Chromogenic prints may also be referred to as C prints, Digital C prints and Lambda prints.
Translation: Archival Chromogenic Prints are photographs that have a similar look and feel to a set of 5×7 photographs that have been freshly developed at your local photo shop.
Silver RC Process
Silver RC prints, or Silver Resin-Coated prints, share production characteristics with Silver Gelatin prints and Archival Chromogenic prints. They are produced from both original negatives and digital files. This process exposes the image on black and white photographic paper. The image is then processed in traditional black and white chemistry. These photos have a pearl finish, no color cast and are truly neutral black and white. Silver RC prints offer rich blacks, bright detailed whites and an unprecedented range of grey tones. We choose Silver RC production for images that have a distinctive black and white photo feel. Silver RC prints share the same archival qualities as Silver Gelatin prints. They are sometimes referred to as Black and White C prints, RC prints or Black and White RCs.
Translation: Silver RC Prints are true black and white photographs that have a similar feel and finish to those of Archival Chromogenic prints. They maintain the full tonal range of a Silver Gelatin print without the wavy fiber finish.
Archival Pigment Prints
Archival Pigment prints are printed with archival pigment inks on archival Fine Art paper. They are produced from digital files and offer continuous tones, smooth transitions and a vibrant, true-to-life color range. The process originated in the late 1980s and is respected by Fine Art experts, world-renowned galleries and passionate collectors. Since the inception of this process, technological advancements have led to higher resolution prints, highly archival pigments and inks, and a more environmentally-friendly print process. Prints are produced on Fine Art paper with matte and baryta finishes. We choose the Archival Pigment process for color and black and white images that warrant a more artistic approach to printmaking. Archival Pigment prints may also be referred to as Inkjets, Iris prints or Giclées.
Translation: An Archival Pigment print has an artist’s feel, as it is created with inks. Its appearance is closer to that of a painting than a photograph while maintaining the energy and life of the image.
Framing & Displaying Fine Art
Fine Art not only stimulates the eye, but the mind as well. It needs to be observed, analyzed, discussed, reflected upon and, of course, preserved. We want your Fine Art prints to last and to bring years of enjoyment.
At Rock Paper Photo we offer two framing options: standard and conservation framing.
Our standard framing option features high quality black wood frame with precision-cut conservation matting. It is finished with clear acrylic plexiglass to ensure protection of the Fine Art print.
This is the ideal framing format for Fine Art photography. Our conservation frames are made of specially milled premium hardwoods. They are hand finished with natural dye, ink and wax, and produced with acid-free white matting and backing. They feature museum-grade UV plexiglass to ensure harmful light has a minimal effect on the artwork and prolong the life of the archival photography. Their clean, black look adds character to the finished product while not drawing attention away from the image.
When framing, there is always the choice of what glass to use. The most common is clear acrylic or glass. As a standard, we use UV Conservation Acrylic in all our frames. This UV-filtering, museum-grade plexiglass ensures harmful light has a minimal effect on the artwork. Choosing plexiglass over glass is beneficial in that it is both lighter and safer. Heavy glass can crack and break, and pose danger as a result. It is important to note that, for caring and cleaning, do not use glass cleaning sprays or dry cloths as they will damage and scratch the surface of the acrylic. Harmful light has a minimal effect on the artwork.
All matting and backings are 100% acid free, fully archival conservation materials. There are less expensive, non-conservation options available that provide a similar look but do not guarantee the print will remain unharmed or meet archival standards. We take pride in offering conservation materials. Our matting is white and specially chosen to work within the tonal family of the paper being used for the print.
Authentication takes several forms: hand-signed by the photographer, estate-stamped or embossed with an official seal.
Each print we sell has been authenticated by the copyright holder – in most cases, directly by the individual photographer who captured the image. The copyright holder can also be a legal representative of the photographer, such as his or her or estate, a music label or a photo agency. Each print we sell is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity.
Caring for Fine Art Prints
When you order an unframed Fine Art print from Rock Paper Photo, we want you to enjoy it in sound conditions for many years to come. Once it leaves our hands and enters yours, there are some important points to keep in mind when handling, framing or archiving your fine art print.
Your Limited Edition print is fine artwork. It should be handled gently and as little as possible. When doing so, be sure that your hands are freshly washed to minimize the transfer of oils from your skin. When picking up your print, always use both hands and make sure the back of the print is supported so it does not bend. Never touch the surface of the image with your fingers. If you are trying to blow something off the surface, make sure you do not accidentally transfer any saliva to the print as this could damage it. Compressed air is a safer alternative to remove dust or other particles. The surface of a Fine Art print can be damaged easily by placing objects on top of it. This type of damage is very difficult, if not impossible, to repair. In general, we advise that you handle your print as little as possible before having it framed or putting it into storage.
If you need to clean your Fine Art print, please follow these tips:
- Using compressed air, spray lightly over the face of the print. Be sure to secure the print when doing this so it does not kink or blow away.
- You can also dust off your print with a non-fluffy, soft, dry towel. An anti-static microfiber rag is ideal.
- Never use cleaning products and avoid putting pressure on the surface when wiping.
When framing your Fine Art print, to achieve maximum archival longevity, be sure to use the same material guidelines we follow at Rock Paper Photo. Use only UV filtering glass or plexiglass. Use only acid-free museum board for matting and backing. Make sure the frame you choose is sturdy, and, if it is made of wood, be sure it does not contain stains or dyes that may emit harmful chemicals that will damage your print. Avoid mounting your print with adhesive to any substrate. Adhesives and other mounting materials can be harmful to the life of the print.
Photographic materials benefit from a cool, dry, ventilated storage environment. The optimal storage conditions for most photographs are a temperature of 68°F and relative humidity in the range of 30 to 40 percent. Avoid storing your Fine Art print in your attic or basement. Keep all photographic materials in enclosures that protect them from dust and light and provide physical support during use. Chemically stable, acid-free plastic or paper enclosures are recommended. Your print should be kept away from any harmful light source by storing it in an acid-free, durable, photo-safe box.