Alternatives to Online Art Malls Like Fine Art America | Buyers Guide to High-End Print Media

It seems there is an almost unlimited assortment of art print media options available for Interior Decorators and connoisseurs of Fine Art Nature photography wall art to select from BEFORE they invest in a motif. Each media style has a unique finish, a level of archival quality & expected lifespan. The downside to this is there are a wide assortment of low-end, print on demand "art mall" websites that simply don't deliver the quality or customer service collectors demand.

In the realm of fine art photography, the latest advancements in print technologies continually redefine the boundaries of resolution and realism, resulting in unprecedented clarity and vibrancy. For those navigating the landscape of procuring their initial print or seeking a new motif for their home or office, the process can be somewhat daunting, especially for the uninitiated. Drawing from my extensive experience in fine art nature photography, I have crafted an article that serves as a guide, shedding light on various media styles and the recent strides in print technology that elevate nature photography to a coveted art form.

Interwoven Sensual Flowing Lines and Patterns of Vibrant Emerald Corn Lilies Form Abstract Patterns | Luxury Edition Fine Art Prints

Interwoven Corn Lily leaves form sensual gentle flowing lines and abstract patterns, interrupted only by water droplets collected from airborne mist. Soft diffused lighting allows the vibrant emerald green leaves to appear as though they are glowing from within. This virtual perennial herb is a Garden of Eden that has an intoxicating beauty, much like that of the forbidden fruit, as they produce steroidal alkaloids.

Finding a tightly clustered patch of Corn Lilies, also known as Veratrum, is like finding a little piece of heaven!

Moreover, I emphasize the paramount importance for art buyers to directly engage with independent artists when acquiring photographic prints. This not only provides a personalized and enriching experience but also ensures the highest quality and authenticity. Opting for alternatives beyond the vast online marketplaces, such as Fine Art America, is crucial, as these mega-stores only provide basic consumer-grade quality that may not fully capture the essence and precision achieved by independent photographic artists utilizing cutting-edge print technologies. Choosing to procure directly from the photographer guarantees a unique and superior buying experience, as well as addition, to your wall art collection.

A 30x45" Acrylic Glass face-Mount gallery float

Fine Art Nature photography is a wonderful genre of art to invest in. Photography as a genre has evolved so much since its inception and it's become a prominent and acceptable artform especially with younger and new collectors. It has fully transitioned into a highly respected medium, escaping the shadows of it's past as being inferior of other "fine arts" or merely capturing a moment of time.

As a genre of art, we still cope with what I call Elitism, even though it expands beyond photography to other contemporary art forms. Some commercial art galleries focused strictly on vintage rare & early photographs by predominantly deceased photographers, infatuated over low editions prints that will set you back over $6500.00. While I am NOT critiquing the early works of the photographers in any way, I question the self-appointed authority of those responsible for the condescending tone towards modern fine art nature photography.

The elitist would love to tell you contemporary art - particularly photographic art - is not art. The truth is, those early photographs are valued by a small group of private investors, much the same as very old high priced antiques. There is virtually no artistic value, as jaw-dropping wall art, in the prints they seem to relish. Those that collect and invest in them are free to do so at their own discretion. I understand the allure of doing so as an investment. However, that niche of art collector that is wholly interested for the investment purpose, as compared to art for the appreciation and beauty of it is not my targeted clientele.


For those enthusiasts who hold a deep appreciation for art, particularly those embarking on their journey as emerging collectors or established art connoisseurs seeking exquisite pieces at reasonable prices, I recommend a departure from online art malls like Fine Art America. Instead, consider exploring alternatives like independent fine art photographer websites for your first foray into large format photographic motifs. Nature photography, in particular, provides an ideal starting point for lovers of exciting, jaw-dropping, and visually stunning art. Opt for motifs that seamlessly complement your interior design, crafted with meticulous attention to detail, on museum-grade luxurious print media. Investing in the works of superbly talented fine art nature photographers, including myself, ensures a unique addition to your collection that goes beyond mere investment, capturing the attention of anyone who beholds these captivating pieces.

Luxury Art Edition Fine Art Photography Prints | La Push Washington - First Beach Olympic Peninsula

LUXURY ART EDITION - Remnant piers extend out into the Pacific towards the sea stacks from First Beach at sunset.

Online Websites To Avoid Purchasing Photography

Before I get into the intimate details of the finest archival quality print media styles, I'll explain what type of places found online you should probably avoid investing in "Fine Art Photography" whenever possible. I'll also point you in the right direction, where you are able to acquire high-end gallery style photographic artworks you'll cherish for a lifetime. First, let's begin with the online art sites to be wary of.

If your in the market for true value and luxury artwork, Avoid online POD megastores (print on demand websites) which are nothing more than "" online art malls. These sites use a variety of third party off site vendors and consumer grade labs to cheaply manufacture kitschy products (mugs, pillow cases & shower curtains) as well as low-end consumer grade prints for the masses.

The "art-for-the-masses" POD online art stores try to appeal to those dreaming of making a few bucks on the side as an artist, regardless of skill level or experience. They'll tell hopeful artist "come join our site and sell your art". Unfortunately, they tend to attract either uninitiated naïve artists or upstart photographers. The initial investment to "join" an art mall site is virtually nil - and they provide the artist with a pseudo experience of having genuine web presence. In other words, a website that is not really their own to create pages, choose their own payment options, and build their own brand.

It's usually a completely unvetted process, it's not like a juried Art Show or an official event. Anything goes - including phone pics. Some of the most well known POD's and online art malls are Fine Art America, Zazzle, Etsy, RedBubble and list goes on, and on, and on. Certainly, they offer a convenience to someone that doesn't plan to exert much effort for their own behalf, but little else.


A closeup side view of an Acrylic Glass museum-float print.


I actually have personal experience with Fine Art America dating back over 15 years. At that time, I was seeking to partner with frame shops in my area to handle the "framing & matting" for my print sales. Oh, how I loathed cutting custom mats and mounting the prints! What I found was local frame shops were unwilling to provide me with a fair artists discount, despite the fact my photography business was a significant boost to their own. Their markups were over 600% and the greed just oozed off of them. My online searches for frames & mats led me to FAA. For the time being, I was happy to have someplace that could provide that service for my growing business.

The more my photography business continued to grow, I increasingly became unsettled with the entire process of FAA, having no control, and not being part of the customer service with my buyers. I had numerous opportunities to inspect the FAA version of Acrylic & Metal prints created by consumer grade labs up close and in person. They did NOT meet my expectations. For example, the acrylic pieces they produce are not even face-mounted high-end fine art prints. Instead, they print directly on the back side of the acrylic - which is the lowest quality acrylic available.

Montana winter scene titled Home On The range by Thomas Schoeller Photography | Framed with Tabbacchino Tobacco Leaf moulding

The artwork titled "Home On The Range" which is a wide panoramic 3:1 aspect ratio print framed in an Italian Roma Tabacchino "Tobacco Leaf" moulding with a black linen liner.


As a member of FAA, the artist has no ability to "turn off" the availability of those low-end print media styles if they are concerned by being associated with poor quality pieces. The reality is, this opens the artist up to damaging their own reputation. I also found that access to the artist past buyers clientele list - the folks that already purchased my imagery through FAA, is declined. This completely isolates myself from communicating with buyers that loved my work, unless they reached me directly through a very discreet contact button. If they were lucky to find that contact link, the emails would not be direct. Instead, they are done within the website and the buyers contact information as well as my own email information is withheld. In addition, FAA places shipped artworks in their own packaging - with their own company logo - without any mention or information of the artist that created the artwork.

I lost interest in using the Fine Art America POD site within a few short years, and began a concerted effort to reduce my footprint there. I decided to keep a lower volume of my older Open Editions - images I uploaded years ago that seemed to resonate with the FAA buyers demographics. In addition, changes in my appreciation of modern high-end print technologies found me navigating away from the currently outdated traditional framed & matted artworks. My current focus has been aimed more towards high-end museum grade acrylic glass gallery floats, Chromaluxe Dye-Infused metal prints, and DuraPlaq Wood Float Plaques.

A pairing of wall mounted DuraPlaq Wood Floater's adorned by captivating Zion National Park fine art prints. Online mega-store art malls will never offer such handcrafted exquisite media styles.


Make no mistake, the huge online art malls are all about quantity over quality. The allure of selling a high quantity of artworks cheaply is a huge turnoff for me. Compromising gallery quality for mass produced artworks is something I would NOT be proud of. I enjoy the complete experience of communicating directly with a prospective client before they make a purchase. Then when following up during the process of creating the piece, and finally to delivering the Certificate of Authenticity. When I receive an email arrive saying "Its so beautiful", that is an adrenaline rush you'll never experience with any POD, and makes the entire hands-on process worth while.

Awe-inspiring sunrise framed by Mesa Arch which overlooks the stunning Utah landscape of Buck Canyon in Canyonlands National Park

Limited Edition of 100

A brilliant desert panoramic sunrise as viewed from behind the iconic Mesa Arch overlooking Buck Canyon. This awe-inspiring natural feature is located in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

So Where SHOULD You Be Looking To Procure High-End Fine Art Photography?

You'll always be best served by dealing directly with an independent artist - most of whom have their own established online art galleries where you can procure Limited Editions from the comfort of home. One thing in common with all photographers that are successful artist is they worked hard to become accomplished on their own, without ever being "represented" by commercial art galleries. Commercial galleries frown upon artists that market themselves beyond the local scope of the gallery, thus a photographer without a web presence relies fully on the gallery investing & marketing on their behalf. Thus, this leaves the photographer in a situation of feeling trapped, and at the mercy of the gallery.

You can easily find high-end photographers online through their customized website galleries, such as my own here at You'll enjoy instant savings without paying any hidden overhead gallery fees like 40% or higher commissions, or the monthly cost of operating your own brick & mortar gallery. You also can contact artist like myself directly through their websites to ask questions at any time, and even develop a relationship with them by following on their Social Media. I provide personalized customer service without a middle-man and provide a VIP Loyalty Rewards Program for repeat clients. In addition, most independent photographers will usually offer Free domestic delivery.

You'll also have the ability to "keep in touch" with independent fine art photographers through personalized Newsletters. Independent artists don't have time to bombard you with "spammy" newsletter emails like the online art malls do. Speaking for myself, I'll construct occasional newsletters keep you up to date for any upcoming "art shows" where I'll exhibit and sell my works at, or announce brand new artworks recently added to my online galleries. If you seek value, high-end gallery quality, sensational imagery, and world-class customer service you have no reason to look any further than Thomas Schoeller Photography.

Blue Lupine and Scarlet Indian Paintbrush bloom in the high meadows of Mt Rainier National Park | Luxury Edition fine art prints by Thomas Schoeller

LUXURY EDITION - Rainier is clearly one of my all-time favorite locations I've ever had the opportunity to photograph. The area on the volcano's south slope is called Paradise, and that really sums it up in one word! The wildflower blooms that begin to peak throughout the National Park during August (based on elevation) are one of our planet's most impressive displays.

Casting a warm glow over the ridgeline and on the summit of Rainier, I shot this image just moments before the sun would set.

Contemporary Fine Art Photography

Photography has been unfairly stigmatized as an accepted form of art historically, and to some extent it still is today. Fortunately, the forefathers of modern nature & landscape photography like Ansel Adams (grand landscapes) and Eliot Porter (intimate landscapes) brought the environmental movement to life. Through their imagery, they have touched countless people and signified the importance of preserving the last remaining wilderness and pristine ecosystems on Earth. They opened the doors for modern contemporary nature photographers that passionately care about mother nature and our planets fragile ecosystem, and express our reverence for nature through our works.

Inspiring Deep Red Sunset from Port Clyde Maine at the Marshall Point Lighthouse | Luxury Edition Luxury Art prints

LUXURY EDITION - A magical deep red June sunset at Maine's scenic Port Clyde. This is a wide 2:1 aspect ratio version I've titled The Evening Watch - II. Offering a unique take on the standard 3:2 titled Evening Watch. This is available in widths up to 72" depending on the print media style offered below.

Not All Print Media Is Created Equal

As a modern contemporary artist, I am blessed to have access to the most amazing high-end gallery quality print media styles in which to offer and display my imagery. One thing to keep in mind at all times is "not all print media is created equal". In fact, the internet is flooded with quickie pop-up print labs that market towards anyone that has a camera or smart phone to gain their business. Experienced professional Fine Art photographers stay clear of the "discount labs" out there because they use substandard material, and they do NOT provide professional quality prints. I have invested an enormous amount of time and capitol to locate the finest high-end professional print masters over the past 20 plus years. I am proud to have created a short list of innovative and world-class print masters that I can depend on, while providing the finest crafted gallery quality media styles for my clients.

As you continue to scroll, I'll explain the benefits of the print media styles I have found to be the crème-de-la crème of modern photographic print technology in great detail. Although there is no "Perfect Print Medium" that works the same for everyone, what's most important is identifying and selecting what is the right print medium for YOUR interior wall décor needs and targeted price point.

Fuji Crystal Archive Maxima Photopaper - Mounted on 2mm styrene backing

Photo Prints

Photo prints on professional print papers are the most affordable print media choice for acquiring fine art photography, and are a long-standing tradition. Considered the entry-level format to collecting, high-end photo print quality has gained tremendously from ultra-modern laser technology and photochemical development. The vast majority of my imagery benefits from reproducing the fine details, and a wider range of color space and dynamic range. This is a most important factor for me, and therefore, I use select premium photo print papers that deliver extreme sharpness and resolution.

One of my favorite photo papers for nature photography prints is Fuji Crystal Archive Maxima. Those who strive for realism in photography will truly appreciate these UltraHD Photo Prints. Modern high-end digital cameras deliver better resolution and significantly less digital noise, so this is the perfect professional photo paper that I use for the imagery in my featured Limited Edition and Curated Open Edition galleries.

Photo prints also benefit from the fastest turn-around times, from the moment you place your order with us to the time your new print arrives at your door. The photo print option allows you to bring your new prints to a local frame shop to have them matted and framed exactly as you like. Picking out a frame and mat style is always best done in person.

The smallest photo prints I offer for my Limited Editions & Curated Collections start with 24". I limit maximum sizes on photo prints to 36" at the longest edge. The reason for this is larger sized photo prints, when not properly mounted, tend to warp or buckle shortly after the framing installation.

* If you order prints from my Open Edition - Photo Archives Collections, I have a wider selection of affordable print options and sizes to select from. Please contact me for details, sizes and pricing *

Minimalist Winter Fine Art Photography | New England Barn and Skeletal Tree On A Berkshire Hillside Prints

Winter is the opportunistic season for creating appealing "minimalist" landscapes, as the snow acts like a filter to reduce a variation of details and neutralizing the background, while applying a naturally artist touch. I photographed this simple country scene in the central Berkshires. A beautifully shaped skeletal tree provided a dramatic contrast of lights and dark, while a rare blue New England traditional style barn served as a handsome subject.

This is an Open Edition print.

Chromaluxe Metal Prints

Not all metal prints are created equally! There are huge differences in quality and aesthetics when comparing this popular media style side by side from different labs. I only employ high-end labs that are pioneers in the industry that use specially coated ChromaLuxe panels which are the industry leader for professional photographers. There is no other alternative! One of the best benefits you get to enjoy is this high quality print media is very cost-effective and has excellent archival qualities.

These Metal prints are created using a special dye-infused heat transfer method and specially coated aluminum sheets that are CNC cut for precision. The end result is a lightweight piece that is waterproof, and has a durable scratch-resistant surface. They can be installed in an en suite bathroom, a linea, any room that may have high humidity or splashes of water. There is no mistaking a high-quality metal print due to the magical luminescence and exceptionally vivid colors.

My Chromaluxe prints are frameless, and ship to you ready to hang with an aluminum rail hanging system on the reverse side. If you prefer to frame them, you can by simply bringing your new print to your local framing gallery.

Wood Float Plaqs

Are one of my most popular selling "mounted print" display options, and they come at a very attractive price point for most collectors. This print media style, by comparison to traditional Gallery Canvas Wraps, are FAR superior to the Canvas prints in every conceivable way. The print papers utilized for Wood Floats is either a satin finish or metallic/pearl.

When a client places their order, I decide which paper is best suited for the artwork since I know my artworks intimately and how each artwork responds to paper finishes and lighting. The print (artwork) is then top-mounted on a sturdy eco-friendly HDF smooth wood surface substrate. A special crystal clear protective laminate is placed over the photo print surface - protecting the artwork from UV light, dust, smudges and fingerprints.

A close side profile inspection of a Wood Plaq's beveled edge in a Walnut finish

The plaq's are finished off with a gorgeous visible beveled edge treatment! This saves you from needing to invest money for custom external frames and mats. I am able to provide this media in (4) stunning edge treatments. Standard Black, Walnut, Rocky Mountain Pine, and a Rustic Barnwood (weathered light gray).

I ship these beauties to you ready to HANG and enjoy the moment you unpack them! Each Wood Float Plaq comes with a recessed 3/4" thickness French cleat style floater frame on the reverse side that allows the piece to appear as though it's floating off the wall after it's been installed.

Angled close inspection under bright light to show the protective satin UV resistant laminate and Black edge treatment

A special crystal clear protective laminate is placed over the photo print surface - protecting the artwork from UV light, dust, smudges and fingerprints. The close-up image above I took at a sharp angle to a bright light source to purposely try to show you how the reduced glare satin finish appears. When viewed normally under good quality lighting, the laminate goes completely unnoticed. This is a unique print media style that is easily cared for and cleanable with a soft, slightly dampened cloth. The feedback I've received from my clients that have ordered my Wood Float Plaq's has been outstanding. I make this print media available to purchase any artworks from my Limited Editions & Curated Collections and also my Open Edition - Photo Archives Collections.

Wood Float Plaq's provide great value and are priced quite economically over the unmounted Photo Print option. Cost comparison, if you decided to purchase a 36" photo print from my site, and brought it to be professionally mounted, matted & framed (+ the glass covering) at your local framing gallery, it would far exceed the investment you would make of a 36" wood floater!

Nostalgic Rustic Barn artwork Adorned with Large American Flag in Litchfield Connecticut  | Old Barns Fine Art Prints by Thom Schoeller

Pure Americana, and one of my BEST selling artworks! The moment I laid my eyes on this old barn, I was inspired by it's character and early American appearance. For an artistic final touch processing technique, I added a custom-made acid burn texture layer. I did this in a way that enhanced the nostalgic feel, as well as my own unique personal vision.

All of that resulted in a painterly rustic old barn artwork that now hangs in nearly 300 homes across the country and abroad. I licensed this artwork to be used on the filming set of the hit CBS TV Drama NCIS New Orleans for the 2014 season.


The Acrylic Glass Gallery Floats are the crème-de-la-crème of Fine Art photographic image quality and modern print technology, and they represent the highest standard of excellence for the entire industry. When displayed with proper lighting, they are truly a sight to behold resulting in a motif with an almost backlit appearance. The acrylic glass used in this style of media showcase print clarity, vibrancy, extreme detail, and a dimension of depth that no other print media can achieve. Glass sheets used for traditional "framed prints" as a protective top layer do not compare to the unique light refraction properties that are native to acrylic glass. The light refracts within the acrylic creating tremendous vibrancy particularly when paired with metallic paper and appropriate overhead lighting.

Artwork titled "Infinity" one of my best selling Limited Editions displayed as an acrylic gallery float. You'll enjoy my artworks for a lifetime when you chose the correct fixtures for illumination

Acrylic Glass Gallery Floats are by far my most popular selling print media. In fact, since @ 2016, Acrylic prints make up nearly 45% of all artworks procured directly from my website. These are not a do-it-yourself at home project. The acrylic face mounting is a difficult, exacting, and very deliberate process. Each print is created by a master printer, applying modern state-of-the-art technology and development to ensure flawless results.

This museum-grade process first involves printing my artwork to high-end professional grade photo paper, reverse mounting the print to the acrylic (so that you're looking through the acrylic at my artwork). The artwork is fully and permanently encapsulated from environmental and airborne elements. Then it is backed with Dibond aluminum composite to keep it rigid, and is finished by installing french-cleat hanging hardware on the reverse side. Depending on the size of the artwork, the recessed floater frame will either be aluminum rails or a sturdy composite material.

Luxury Fine Art Nature Limited Edition titled Flaming Aspens | with Dark Ash Italian Roma Frame

Luxury Fine Art Nature Photography in a gallery setting - "Flaming Aspens" created as an Acrylic Face-Mount, framed in a beautiful Ash Italian Roma Frame

Not only is acrylic glass shatter proof, it is temperature resistant, and it provides an additional layer of UV protection for the art prints. These contemporary frameless style artworks are a virtual window to the great outdoors.


I offer (2) levels of Acrylic Glass floats. The Museum Standard, and a Premier Edition - Gallery Ultra | Lumachrome + Tru Life® Acrylic print. Both the Museum Standard and Premier Edition Gallery Ultra are paired with shatterproof 2mm thickness glass and a sturdy aluminum Dibond backing substrate. For more information, I provide all of the intimate details that differentiate both of my acrylic print styles on the Overview print media page on my site.

The appearance of a framed Acrylic face-mount or Chromaluxe metal print when framed is magnificent

The Acrylic glass museum float is also the only media style that I make available to purchase for ALL of my artwork and in ANY size (plus custom sizes) that I offer. For example, the Limited Edition of 150 image above is an 84 x 28" 3:1 aspect ratio wide format panorama and it's not available larger than 60" in any other media.

Acrylic provide the most value, the highest quality and most impressive visual impact available of any print media available. This is clearly a print media for the collectors and connoisseur that require the most luxurious, exquisite fine art experience available.