Photo printing issues

I have an Epson stylus photo RX595. I’m attempting to print 8x10 headshots, and keep getting specks of black ink across the image and even in the white borders (although, ironically, the black text turns out fine, no smudges).

I’m using ultra premium lustre paper, recommended by the people at Calumet Photo (i.e. they know what they’re talking about – it’s Brilliant brand, made by the same vendor that produces Epson brand paper). I’ve already run the nozzle cleaning cycle three times, and ran the nozzle check print-out, which looks fine. I then printed a few Word docs, which also came out speck- and smudge-free.

The rest of the image looks fine – no banding, no weird colors, nothing.

I do use the printer more for Word docs than for photos. Is there something else I can do here? Is there a way to manually wipe off the nozzles with a cloth or something? I don’t really want to burn through all of my nice paper trying to figure out how to fix this.

Check for dust and lint (and cat hair) in the printhead’s path. Clean, and then run several prints on plain paper.

Cool, thank you, that worked. (Yay for canned air.)

Does anyone know if photo paper is recyclable? Or does the coating/ink mess it up?