The value of old photographs and how to store them
There is nothing more valuable than an old photograph of a deceased family member. To keep that memento in perfect condition it is important to store it properly. For now, it may seem like the photograph lasts forever but all photographic prints are fading over time until they eventually vanish forever. But don’t worry even if the diseases of fading colors, watermarks, and ripped edges have already spread there is a cure. We as a professional photo restoration service can restore the original beauty of your old images. But before we actually have to use our magical powers keep these simple tips in mind and you will slow down the process of erosion dramatically.
The Bad Guys
- Ultraviolet Light: Ever had a photograph hanging in direct sunlight for weeks? Well, then you know what we are talking about. UV is pretty much the worst thing that could happen to the colors of your photographs, or should we rather say anything colorful? Sunlight is highly aggressive that’s why you put on sunscreen. The best way to preserve your photographs is to hide them somewhere the sun rays can’t reach them. If you want to display your pictures in direct sunlight make sure to use special filter glass that blocks the UV rays. What’s even better is to create a copy of that photograph and store the original in your archive. Therefore it’s best to always have your images as digital copies stored on your hard disk.
- High temperatures and relative humidity: The emulsion is the heart of the photograph. Here is where the magic happens. This emulsion is made out of organic materials like gelatin. One major problem in archiving is the fact that these materials are very vulnerable. Room temperature and high humidity easily cause mold and fungus, which then slowly spread all over your photograph. To avoid that keep your images stored at a cool and dry place. Preferably under 70°Fahrenheit (20°C) and 50% relative humidity.
- Paper and Wood Products:
Appearances are deceptive: Yes products made from a tree seem to be pretty natural but when you take a closer look at the way they are being produced you immediately realize that there are lots of chemicals involved, such harmful ones as acids or bleaches. These can slowly destroy your photograph over time. So be careful when shopping for archival products. Make sure you get acid and bleach-free papers and storage material. Unfortunately, there is no standard for archival material so always ask first before buying.
- Metallic and Sharp Objects: Well what is more endurable than metal? Yeah, you’re right on a practical level that’s true but keep in mind that these materials are extremely sharp and hard. This can easily cause scratches and other damages to your photographs or negatives. Don’t use metal clips and for god’s sake just because your grandpas’ tools are as vintage as his photograph doesn’t mean they have to go into the same box.
- Air Pollutants: It might sound ridiculous but even your basic house cleaning products and fresh paint can damage your precious photograph. What makes you dizzy in the head smelling it causes chemical reactions in the photograph. So as much as you shouldn’t sniff on daddy’s nitro solution as much you shouldn’t put it right next to your archive box of photographs.
- Adhesives & Rubber: Last but not least the handy stuff… Yep, we all used it or at least have seen these sticky stripes for photo albums. As easy-to-use they may be the chemicals included in those stripes will eventually destroy our photograph. You won’t see it right away but time will tell my friend, time will tell.
Let’s face it, photographs are not made to stay forever and as much as this sounds like an uphill battle it is worth fighting it. With some simple and smart decisions on storing and displaying your photographs, you can win a tremendous amount of time-saving precious moments for future generations. If you have already recognized some fungus, fading in color or any other damages it’s now the time to create a digital copy of your images. Remember things will only get worse over time.