After a bit of research I came up with three brands that I wanted to try, Ilford, Hahnemühle and Harman by Hahnemühle and from those I chose a selection of papers that I thought would suit my work. I have no idea how I convinced myself that it would be a simple process. Downloading the ICC profiles for my printer and printing (I chose a bright colour photo, a more muted colour one and a black & white one for each paper) was simple enough but then refining the list down to a paper I wanted to use in the future was extremely difficult and took days of me studying each one, comparing them with the others, leaving them for a day and then coming back to study again, leaving them again and then coming back. You get the picture.
In the end I narrowed it down to 6 that I liked. It made sense to me that different papers would be my top choice for a black & white photo or a colour photo but even further I found that I wanted to then use different papers for different types of black and white or colour, ie Harman by Hahnemühle for a true black & white print (true in my mind) and Ilford Galerie Gold Silk for something that required a more warm look. So it seems I shall invest in a few papers and now have the option of choosing a paper to fit the outcome of the print I had in mind. My final paper choices are Ilford Galerie Gold Silk, Harman by Hahnemühle Gloss Baryta and Gloss Art Fibre, Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl and Fine Art Photo Rag Pearl and Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl.
I know Epson have a range of Fine Art papers that I would love to try, particularly as I have an Epson printer, but Epson UK have just told me they don’t have sample packs. To try 6 of their papers that I like the look of I would have to buy their 25 sheet packs which would cost about £510, why when all the other companies have test packs, do Epson not. How very frustrating and, surely, a little short sighted.