If it helps at all:
Right now, I have about 130 different images in my show stock. When first picking images about 18 months ago, I used this as my criteria for what was printed, in some vague order of priority:
- Anything that anyone had ever previously asked to buy (maybe 15 prints)
- Anything that had ever placed competitively
- Prints that multiple non-photographers had commented favorably on
- Personal favorites
- 4 more for attention, rather than thinking they would actually sell
The first, third and much to my surprise, last have been where most of the sales have been.
This method seems o have worked fairly well, as I have been able to sell about 70 different images.
(Some correct me if I am wrong on this) As I understand it, the archival matte/enhanced matte papers from Epson are not acid free. The Wilhelm
Institute testing only tests the longevity of the paper/ink combination, rather than the longevity of the paper itself.
I have picked the Premium Ultrasmooth Paper from Epson as this is supposed to be an acid free paper. I give up a wee little bit on shadow detail with the canned profiles on the 4000 printer, when compared to the Enhanced Matte, but I need to have prints from both papers on hand to actually notice the difference. At an art show, and under glass, the difference is absolutely minimal.
Yes, I did try many papers from other companies. In many cases, the differences were minimal. In the end, the choice came down to personal preference and local availability. A few combinations were just horrible, but those were far and few between and I quite honestly can't completely rule out user error 8-)
You will be best served to use only acid free materials for your show stock. Realistically, very few people will asked, but it does make a good selling point. As several people above had stated, the incremental cost is minimal.
Price is unfortunately an issue. Right now, at least until my next website update, I am seriously underpriced for the art show/festival market. For reasons that are a bit unclear, if you are too low, buyers won't take you as seriously. The prices will be going up real soon. Spend some time on various photographers websites, especially if they are local to your area, to see what they are charging.