I really want to thank all of you for your input! In terms of paper use, I was using the Recollections brand of 65# cardstock from Michaels (yeah...I know). I have since found a paper company here in Dallas that distributes Neenah paper and have since purchased 6 reams of 80# cardstock in various colors in their classic crest and 1 ream of Neenah 110# cardstock.
In terms of the difference in stamping, since posting I have tried using other inks besides the Distress after reading that Distress creates for of a vintage look (duh) and probably isn't the best choice for crisp imaging.
I have been testing out different inks since then. Memento, Color Box, and a couple of others and I have noticed that the ink always beads up on my photo polymer stamps when using dye based ink and creates an un-even look to the stamped image (even on my Neenah good paper). I have looked over some videos on You Tube of people using Memento and photo polymer stamps and they seem to be getting good, crisp coverage with their inks and that has furthered my conundrum. I really don't know what I am doing differently than these other folks.
I gather it is a problem with the photo polymer stamps, but I don't know what these other folks are doing to solve the problem. If you have any thoughts or advice, I'd greatly appreciate it!