Photographs are so important. They are a snapshot of time that we cannot ever visit again. Or, for photographs older than we are, a portal to another time and place. As a photographer, I truly believe photographs are some of the most precious things we can have. Sometimes we only understand their value when someone we love passes away. Knowing how to preserve your precious photographs for the future is so incredibly important, not only for you, but for the future generations to come.
How to Preserve Photographic Prints
Before the digital age, prints were how we enjoyed photographs. They're beautiful and can endure many generations if they're properly stored and protected.
1. Store in a safe place
Paper prints should be stored in a clean, dry place in your home. A place with a stable temperature and humidity with good air circulation. Basements and attics should be avoided. A good rule of thumb is to store photographs in a place where you would be comfortable all year round - somewhere not too hot, wet, cold or dry.
2. Protect from light
All types of light damage photographs - both sunlight and artificial light. If you are wanting to display a special photograph on your wall, it's best to use copies and to keep the originals safely stored away from all exposure to light.
3. Store in archival-quality box or album
When you are choosing how to store your prints, always look for archival quality boxes or albums. These should be acid and lignin free. Paper or archival cardboard is preferable over plastics. Mylar sleeves are acid-free and available in standard photo sizes. Keep your photographs away from glue and any other chemicals or substances. Store large amounts of photos by layering them between sheets of acid-free paper and placing them in an acid-free archival box.
4. Label photographs carefully
Labelling photographs should be done carefully on the back of photographs with acid-free permanent marker. Include as much information as you can including the names of people, locations, dates, or significant information. This information will be helpful for the coming generations who may inherit the photographs in future years.
5. Handle photographs properly
Handling old photographs can leave behind oils from your skin. It's best to wear clean cotton gloves to prevent damage to these precious momentos.
I hope these tips help you to keep your precious old photos safe for future generations. Best wishes,