Photographic Print Media – Professional Grade, Silver Halide Luster Photo Paper

Here at Snelson PhotoColor Lab we offer several types of media on which you can have your cherished photos printed. Yes, several types of media. Your choice of printed media depends on your final application and we are here to help you decide what to use for your best result.

Professional Grade, Silver Halide Luster Photo Paper.

Today we will discuss the first print media we offered from the beginning, 46 years ago, and which we still offer today. Some of this will be a bit technical but please hang in there to the end. You’ll be rewarded with knowledge and understanding.

Professional grade, silver halide photo paper is REAL photo paper in the sense of the word photo, which means light. Yes, the word photography means the graphics of light. Silver halide photo paper is manufactured with silver halides or silver salts. Without getting into the boring explanation of the chemical compounds used, this basically means the chemicals used in the creation of the silver halides are light sensitive.

When these chemicals are exposed to light they create a latent image on the paper. The paper is designed as part of a complete system, that includes water-based RA-4 process chemicals to convert the latent image to long lasting prints.

Silver salt chemistry remains the preferred method of recording high quality images, despite advances in electronic technologies and digital imaging.

The printing of your digital image is accomplished using equipment designed to convert the digital information the camera creates into information the printer can use to create the exposure. The paper is exposed using a light source, usually lasers or an array of LEDs to create the latent image. The paper is then immediately processed through the RA-4 chemicals, dried and ejected from the printer/processor.


Silver Halide is a 200 year old technology that keeps getting better. Continuous tone images produced by this method are still the standard against which all other imaging technologies are measured. Productivity in the printing, processing and finishing of this paper also make it simply the best way to produce your printed photos. The proven performance of silver halide in print life, image quality and protection from obsolescence of digital files continue to keep it in the forefront of the photo imaging market.

This printing technology is not new to digital imaging. If you are around 30 years old or older you might remember your experience in the darkroom at school. Your photo used to be created on negative film, which is also silver halide technology. The negative was then placed in an enlarger incorporating a light source which was used to expose the paper through the negative. You couldn’t see the image on the paper at the time of exposure but when you placed the paper in the tray of developer you could watch the latent image begin to magically appear.


Although obviously much more advanced, the luster paper, silver halide process we use today to print your valuable images is foundationally the same as what we used when we opened Snelson PhotoColor Lab in 1973. In fact it is the same fundamental process used by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in 1837.

 An example of a daguerreotype photograph.
(From the collections of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan.)
Advancements in silver halide technology and the dyes used in the paper to produce color images means your prints will have a much better chance of lasting well into the future than when color imaging was in in its infancy in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Although no one can definitively predict the longevity of any type of color printing technology the Fuji Crystal Archive professional grade silver halide paper we use here at Snelson PhotoColor Lab has been independently tested by Wilhelm Research to be among  the longest lasting silver halide papers made today. Print longevity depends on many factors including the intensity and quality of light they are displayed in, atmospheric conditions like temperature and humidity and storage containers like albums and boxes. When stored properly in archival boxes and albums with low humidity and temperatures in the low 70s the color prints we produce today will last long into the future.