Buying a photograph is a personal experience. When you buy a fine art photograph, it is an investment. It is an investment in the feeling it evokes, the scene it depicts, and the photographer who made the image. You need the connection of all of those things. I believe it is essential to learn about the photographer. Do you like that photographer's style? Are the images from places you want to see or even visit? Is the photographer accessible and will the photographer interact with you? For those reasons I find buying a fine art photograph difficult from the internet or a website. You should feel the photograph, not only in the emotion it evokes, but in the quality it brings. The weight of the paper used is often a surprise to people who view original prints. The texture of the paper makes a difference in the image. The sheen of the image can make the viewing of the image more difficult. Glossy papers are difficult to mat and frame behind glass.
Take time to learn about the photograph and his or her process. Ask about materials and print permanence. The emotion and feeling you get from the photograph should stand the of time, as should the print. Permanence matters, both in the physical print and the matting and framing choices. You need to see the original print, the paper texture and even the thickness of the paper or canvas. A fine art print is made with an archival paper, and archival inks. Papers are made with wood (alpha cellulose base) and cotton rag fibers. Cotton rag papers have the greatest longevity, but often are only available in matte finishes. Almost all papers are coated; some with a resin (glossy papers) and some with traditional photographic materials such as Baryta (often thought of as a traditional black and white fiber paper). Print permanence depends on the material used, and inks are a very important part of it. In general pigment inks last longer and have less fading than dye inks. Inkjet technology has improved greatly, both with the number of channels or nozzles in the head, and the droplet size. The more inks, the more colors and shades are possible.
I have always used an Epson printer for my prints. Its ink technology and colors in my opinion provide the best looking prints. Epson printers give you challenges, as they can clog, and are very expensive to repair (no user repairs). Professional printers need to be exercised. The best maintenance for your printer is steady printing.
I am available for recommendations on printers, papers and framing. Contact me at Bill@Boglephoto.com to discuss the same.