You can go for ordinary printer photo paper, advanced or above ordinary quality paper, premium grade paper or above premium grade, for the quality and thickness that you get. Similarly, whether you want vibrant and bright colours or a black and white image, you can choose between glossy finish and matte finish. However, glossy finish has a problem in case it is handled too much. It could get dusty or smudged. Matte finish on the other hand lacks the shine. You can also go for satin finish which isn't smudged so easily like matte and yet, has some shininess about it. So how you will use your photo will determine the finish that you want. Gloss paper is classified by stars, 3 star, 4 star and 5 star. The higher the quality, the higher is the gloss and paper weight. Also fade and water resistance increases as the star rating increases.
There are several different sizes such as 4 X 6, 5 X 7, 8.5 X 11, all in inches. Once again you pick the printer photo paper based on the utility of the print. For an album or a document, 4 X 6 will do but for a wall poster you might need a bigger print. Similarly, the quality of the paper is also determined by the contents in the photo. A photo rich in colours and with lot of detailing might need a better paper in order to live up to its standards. Also, you might want to take special care in case of enlargements where you want the detailing and the crispness to stay intact. The urgency of the printing will also be important as quick dry papers will be needed when you want photos to be printed immediately.
So, when you pick printer photo paper, you have to choose the right size, the right finish and also the right quality in terms of thickness. You might want to pay attention to other criteria as well like the resistance of the paper to fading, tearing, curling up and smudging. For photos that will need to last a long time and will pass many hands, this is extremely important as opposed to photos which will be photo framed. Similarly, the choice is affected by whether the photo is for scrap books, albums, individual photo frames or for giant posters. Lastly, budget too is important as the size and quality of the paper can affect its cost.