From what you describe it could be the paper'setting
on the printer or some close to it.
If you visualize it for one moent youet set up the printer to print either on plain paper or photo paper- you do dont you?
If you dont investigate the printer set up protocols.
Assuming you do- then as far as the printer is concerned, and assuming all colours are working
as you infer they are[good picture on plain paper]
then it would not matter too much if you fed the print a shredded wheat packet- it would not affect ink delivery.
By the by the best mode for colour photos, not with standing the paper type or brand - Ink Jet Transparancy - it is also very economical with the ink.