Photographic paper is a paper that is coated with a light-sensitive chemical formula. This paper was designed to produce a high-quality image that best reproduces the intended image. Of course, this quality depends on the ink and printer being used, but most importantly, the type of photo paper used. Photo paper can have many finishes qualities that changes the chemical formula and quality of the paper. There are many finishes, but the most common are satin, glossy, matt, and pearl and luster.
Glossy is the most commonly used finish that helps distinguish the details of the photograph being printed. Although a better-quality photo, angles of said photo could be challenging to see at times, potentially causing a glare.
Another finish commonly used on photo paper is a matte finish. This finish is a relatively cheap one to produce, being that there is zero glossiness.
Satin is a cross between glossy and matte, almost like a toned-down glossy finish. Another finish is almost like a satin finish, but with a textured feel to it. This finish is known as pearl and luster.
Normal photo paper meets the needs of individuals who view photos on an occasional basis, not necessarily to be displayed for periods of time.
Fine Art Paper
Fine art paper stands out in regard to the composition of the paper. Fine art paper has to meet certain requirements in order to identify as fine art paper. One of those standards is that natural fibers must be included within the composition. It absolutely cannot be artificially bleached, ensuring that the quality of the photography will be held up in time. Another requirement is that fine art paper must be acid Free. It must be acid free in order for fine art paper to allow you to emphasize the composition of the image while also supporting the intense color and contrasts that this high quality of photography needs. Fine art paper will ensure that images are shown off in their best light and provides good performance when exhibited.
Although potentially similar in areas, the main difference between the usage of the two would be that fine art paper was designed and composed to last much longer than normal photo paper. Fine art paper is most commonly used in professional settings where the artwork/photography is intended to be exhibited for longer periods of time. Normal photo paper was designed for those photos that are viewed on occasion. The chemicals that are added into the composition cause the images to fade over time, ultimately losing its pigmentation and beauty.