How to Store and Preserve Printed Photos
In my post, Why is it Important to Have Physical Photos And Albums? I shared how physical photos and albums anchor us to happy memories and are essential to our children’s development.
Physical photos are comprised of paper and dye. Yet, both materials can degrade with time or in adverse conditions. For that reason, the conditions in which the images are stored makes a big difference in how well they will age over time. This makes it vital for us to store and preserve our printed photos diligently and intentionally.
Handle your photos with care
This is an essential step. If you don’t handle your photos with care, all the other measures will be of little value.
To ensure you don’t harm your printed photos:
- Avoid touching the printed side of the photo directly with your fingers. Your fingerprints contain oils and other chemicals that can damage the images or negatives.
- If possible, wear clean, non-scratching cotton or microfiber gloves.
- Keep food and drinks away from your photos.
- Don’t use paper clips or other fasteners on printed photos.
- Refrain from writing on photos, since often this leaves indentations on the picture, and the ink can also smear on other images. Use an archival safe pencil instead.
Use archival-safe enclosures and materials
When organizing and storing your photos, it is vital to choose the right enclosures for them. All your photo albums, envelopes, and photo boxes need to be acid, lignin, and PVC free. These chemicals speed the deterioration of your photos. Most popular and readily available photo albums and boxes can actually harm your pictures in the long run. Choose quality archival safe materials and enclosures to ensure the longevity of these precious heirlooms. Are you wondering what archival-safe or lignin-free means? Check out this photo glossary from Archival Methods.
- Do not use tape or glue to fix photos into an album or scrapbook. These will definitely harm your pictures over time.
- Don’t overstuff your photos into an album or photo box. This can result in your pictures getting bent or creased.
Select an ideal space in your house
Not every room in your space qualifies as a functional photo storage area.
- The storage space should be relatively dry (30%-50% relative humidity) and cool (below 75 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Avoid areas with risk of flooding.
- Your physical photos should have minimal exposure to light. Store them in a dark place, if possible. This will keep the ink from fading.
- Avoid areas prone to high humidity and temperature fluctuations. These include attics and basements.
- Choose a well-ventilated area. Good air circulation will ward off mold growth.
- Rodents and insects love paper. So, keep the storage area pest-free.
Convert print photos to digital
It never hurts to make digital copies of your printed photos. A simple option would be to take a picture of your print with your smartphone. If you plan to reproduce photographs from the digital copy in the future, use a scanner instead. Scanning your physical photos also gives you a chance to restore any old damaged photos. All you need is some photo editing skills and sound editing software.
Your digital copies can stay on your computer hard drive, but for added safety, have a backup on an external USB drive or the Cloud.
Get our family yearbook membership
Are your favorite photos on your phone? Are you concerned about the quality? That’s okay! You can send them to me as-is, and I’ll edit them. I appreciate that some of our most treasured moments in life are captured with our smartphones.
You can’t go wrong with a custom, professional photo album. I have some clients come to me after being disappointed by generic mass-manufactured albums.
A lot of care and detail goes into every yearbook I create. My goal is to always deliver a unique and professionally designed custom album with gorgeous pages that you and your family will treasure for years to come. Get started today!