Buying PhotoArt Online: What You Should Know

I've discovered that people purchase art for many reasons. But the most common reason is to decorate their living or work spaces.  A few years back, you would have to go to an art gallery to purchase art, including photographs.  Your choices for photography were mostly limited to paper prints.  And, you could rack up a lot of miles and hours visiting galleries if you could not find something you liked in the size that you needed.  Thankfully, all that has changed with the technology of the internet and web-based art galleries. 

As a photographer, I am very aware of all the positive benefits of the digital world. These benefits have been experienced throughout the creation process, from being able to see an image instantly to ensure I captured what I wanted, being able to process images on a computer instead of sending the film off in the mail to a lab and receiving the prints or slides back a week or two later with all kinds of surprises and disappointments.  But from a buyer's point of view, the digital revolution has brought a different set of benefits.  But sometimes, that can be confusing.  We now have the ability to print on more than just paper.  So the question is, which is best for you?  How big?  How will it look on your wall?  I'm incredibly grateful, these questions all have answers. 

Choosing Art

Imagine no paintings or photographs on your walls at work or in your home.  Without art, the world would be incredibly drab and boring. Imagine a magazine or a web page with line after line of plain text, with no color, no layout designed to to make it more pleasing to look at.  Graphic artwork adds fun and fancy to our world.  It allows you to create a space that reflects who you are

There are many reasons people choose what they choose.  Sometimes, I hear people saying that a particular painting or photography just speaks to them.  Other times, it may be a reminder of a place, time, person or experience that has special meaning.  By all means, you should choose art that makes you happy when you look at it.  Always purchase art from the heart. 


Fitting Art To Your Space

One of the biggest mistakes I notice is that people do not purchase art that properly fits the space they intend to fill.  A general rule of thumb is that you want the print or painting to fill 65% to 75% of the space available on a wall.  Of course, you can do that in multiple ways:  One large print or multiple smaller prints. You want to have a good idea of the size of a particular space you are trying to decorate.  A print or a painting that is too small will look silly in a big empty space, and a print that is too large will look crowded.  Art needs a little room around it to breathe. 

So how can you be sure your art is sized right for your space?  I have a couple of great tools for you on my website.  The first is the Wall Preview tool. This tool is located underneath the different print options, to the right of the photo.  Before clicking on the Wall Preview, go through the print options, select the type of print you want (metal, paper, acrylic, wood) and select the matting and framing options you are considering, if any, and then click on the Wall Preview button,  When the Wall Preview opens, you can see how the print will look in a variety of settings (9 choices).  You can also choose a nearly unlimited selection of paint colors to match the wall you are going to put the photography on.  You can then select different sizes from the drop down menu to see what size of print looks best to fill the space.  It's a very handy tool to get you started on your selection journey.

Want to see what it will actually look like on your wall?  Use the Live Preview AR tool, along with your smartphone or tablet.  For the Live Preview AR tool ("AR" stands for Augmented Reality), you browse to the image you are considering on my website using your smartphone or tablet, and click the Live Preview AR button.  You want to be standing 10 feet from the wall to get the proper sizing of the print in proportion to the actual room size.  You can adjust the size of the print using a selector at the bottom.  This amazing technology will use the camera of your phone or tablet to place your selected photo right on your wall in your office or home. It's a fantastic way to really get an idea of what the print will look like on your walls.  You can compare different photos if you are having a tough time selecting between a couple options you really like.  Again, if you are considering a frame with a paper print, you can see what that will look like as well.  Just select the frame style you're considering. Once you get the hang of how the Augmented Reality feature works, this tool is unsurpassed in its ability to assist you in making the best possible choice.


Presentation Options

As I previously mentioned, since everything is now digital from capture to print, we are in an era where we have more presentation options than we've ever had before.  It used to be we had about three choices on paper only--glossy, luster or matte. Now?  It's that and so much more.  Let me highlight the options below.



Metal prints are my absolute favorite!  Metal prints offer a contemporary presentation.  That's very popular in my area of the world.  The image is printed directly onto the aluminum surface, and holds an incredible amount of detail and vibrance that you just can't quit staring at. Metal prints can be framed but rarely are.  They look outstanding without a frame because they come with a float-mount hanging system which makes the print appear to be floating off the wall by about an inch.  Due to their vibrance, metal prints are ideal for walls that don't have window lighting hitting them directly.  In fact, I do not sell glossy metal prints because the mid-gloss and satin finishes still pop off your wall without glaring and reflecting all of the surroundings.  While the first-glance investment looks higher than traditional paper, I have found they come out about the same because you don't need to mat them or frame them. Metal prints are hands down, my best seller!



Acrylic prints are photographic prints, face mounted to a 1/4" sheet of polished acrylic.  Due to the quarter inch thickness of the acrylic (double the 1/8 inch that is a  common cheaper version that some vendors print), the acrylics almost have a three-dimensional look to them.  It is definitely a contemporary method of presentation that happens to complement my naturescape images very well.  The only downside is, they are a bit pricier than other options. 



The lab I use to fulfill all of my orders has 18 different types of paper to print on.  That many choices are way too many to navigate.  So, I've simplified the ordering process for you.  I've narrowed it down to two choices -- Textured Fine Art Paper (Hahnemuhle Torchon) and Satin Fine Art Paper (Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta).  One obviously has a textured look to it and the other is smooth.  I do not offer glossy because it just delivers too much glare and shine when it is under glass.  Both of the choices are acid free and archival, and considered museum grade.  In other words, either one will be around and looking good for a very long time!  

You have several other options to chose from here as well:  matting and framing.  I offer a variety of mat sizes from 2 to 4 inches.  Availability of each size will depend on the size of the print you are ordering.  A mat provides a nice clean finish to a print and allows it to stand out from the frame.  For frames, you have many options of colors and styles.  The Live View AR tool can help you make your choice as to which type of frame will look the best in your office or home.


Gallery Wrapped Canvas

Many people love the look and feel of a canvas gallery wrap.  I offer the 1.5 inch thick wrap where the canvas itself is stretched over a wood frame just as an old master painter would stretch his or her canvasses.  To make it a bit simpler, you can choose the "mirror image" option on the edge or a colored edge (your choice of color) so you don't actually lose any of the photo on the edges due to the wrapped portion.  Gallery wraps are a great way to present photos almost as reproductions of paintings.  And no frame is needed. Some of my naturescapes can be printed on canvas as large as 50"x75"!  So, it's a great way to fill up a large empty wall with an affordable investment.  



Wood prints are fairly new, with the image printed directly on a 1/2" sheet of maple wood.  I've given you two choices.  Natural wood or White Finish.  The Natural Wood prints are printed directly on the maple wood board for a warmer and natural-looking print that is eco-friendly.  If you select the White Finish, a white ink underlay is painted under the image area to make the true colors of the photo pop off of the wood while still allowing the wood texture to show on the print surface. 


My Recommendation

Personal preference is definitely in play here.  Each person tends toward creating a certain look in a home or an office environment.  Your choice of the photoart style you use will likely compliment that environment.  If you prefer a more classic look, a matted and framed print is hard to beat.  But if you have a more contemporary environment, a metal print is hard to beat.  But a blending of environments is also popular in some settings.  I sold a 60"x40" metal print for a master bedroom that had fairly heavy dark wood furniture on a tile floor and it was an absolutely gorgeous combo. Another 66"x44" metal print of one of my images was used in a high-ceiling (10-12 ft.) living room with a very large wall.  My work looks great in many different venues.  And you will ultimately be the one that needs to make the choice.  But, you can always reach out to me at with any questions you might have and I'll be most happy to serve you and help you.  ~ Dennis G.