Firstly, I want to start by saying these are my personal picks and there are no rules when it comes to paper choices. My favourite paper constantly changes. A lot of artists and photographers stick to one paper, but I’m not one of those people. Especially when there’s a whole host of papers at my fingertips to experiment with.
For my latest exhibition, I have used Fotospeed Baryta, after moving away from the Natural Soft Textured Bright White paper. As my latest work is primarily monochrome, I wanted a paper with a silkier black look, which the Baryta is perfect for.
But for black and white photography, there’s a range of papers to experiment with depending on your style. So, let's take a look at my top choices for monochrome art and photography papers.
If you’re looking for a fine art paper for black and white prints, I always recommend Platinum Baryta. It’s easy to use and brings beautiful deep blacks and a smooth texture with it, creating a silk-like feel to the print. This paper always reminds me of the fibre-based papers that were used in darkroom photography.
The Natural Soft Textured Bright White or NST Bright White is my go-to matt paper for black and white photography. It has a high white point which gives your pictures a great contrast that can often be missing when printing on other matt papers.
Hahnemühle offers a range of amazing Baryta papers which work perfectly with black and white images. Out of these fantastic papers, I have a special place for the Fine Art Baryta. For me, this paper feels magical in the hand thanks to its soft felt construction. It also has the closest feel to the darkroom papers I used to use. The paper is 100% Alpha Celluose (Wood based) and offers a deep black through its large D-Max. For me, it’s a truly special paper.
The staple of many Fine Art print studios,Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 paper is probably the most popular paper for photographers and artists. Normally, I associate this paper with landscape and abstract art prints. However, it’s also fantastic for black and white photography, particularly monochrome, as it has more grey tones than it does a hard black and white contrast.
I have to say that I can never choose between the Baryta Prestige and the Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta. The decision normally comes down to the finish. The Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta has a slightly glossy coat when compared to the Canson Baryta Prestige paper. Comparatively, the Canson Baryta is a cotton based Baryta paper, offering a high D-Max and sharpness.
It's worth noting that Canson are upgrading their Baryta Prestige 340 to a new improved version called Baryta Prestige II. This will be hitting the market sometime in early May 2022
For all of you who are not a fan of glossy and semi-gloss papers, Canson offer a Baryta MATT paper with a high D-Max – but in a matt version. An impressive little paper, the high D-max and white point make it perfect for black and white images. It's similar to our own Platinum Matt paper, but with the added Baryta element that gives it an impressive black density.
For black and white or monochrome photography, there are a wealth of options that have the power to change an image. The choice is often dependent on the image in question, as well as your own personal taste.
For me, my favourite paper remains the Hahnemühle Fine Art Baryta 325. It delivers everything I want in a black and white Baryta paper. Beautiful silky blacks accompanied with a sharp finish, and it’s reminiscent of a fibre-based darkroom paper.
Of course, all of these papers will make for incredible black and white prints – and experimenting with them all is half of the fun.
For more tips and tricks, take a look at our other blogs.