Preserving Your Photographs

November 28, 2009

Many of you have asked me if I have any ideas as a child photographer for organizing and preserving a large number of photographs. This is part 1 of a 2 part blog on that subject for you. The first part is about printed pictures, and next weekend we will discuss digital photography archival storage.

All Photographs Deteriorate Over Time

As you all know everything involving photography deteriorates over time, and it will do so more rapidly depending upon the storage methods and devices that you use. Therefore, you have to make some individual determination of just what pictures are important enough to preserve for future generations, and then learn how to do that safely.

Leather Photo Albums

Leather Photo Albums

Most Plastic And Paper Destroy Photographs

Many kinds of plastic and paper actually eat and destroy your photographs chemically. In addition, sunlight and moisture will take their toll on your pictures, too. Therefore, you should choose acid free archival storage materials for your photographs whenever you can find them.

Start With Archival Leather Shoeboxes

Leather Shoe Boxes For Photographs

Leather Shoe Boxes For Photographs

You should start with the normal 4 X 6 inch pictures and put them into archival leather shoeboxes. These shoeboxes can also be made of paper provided they are archival safe. Archival safe means the material that these items are made of is the same materials that museums use to preserve important documents and papers.

Make Copies Of Your Best Photos

From the pictures stored in these archival shoeboxes, choose some of your best pictures to have copies made to put into regular sized archival photo albums with archival safe photo pages. Then, for some of the very special ones, have them printed as 8 X 12 inch pictures and put them into archival safe oversize albums (also with archival safe oversize photo pages).

Oversize Photo Albums

Oversize Photo Albums

Put Special Photographs In Archival Safe Picture Frames

If the pictures are so very nice that they could be displayed on the walls in your home, have those enlargements made and put into picture frames of various sizes. You will need to use archival safe materials here as well if there is any matting involved in framing these pictures. Sometimes it is a good idea to have button backs made for your frames so that you can easily change your pictures.

Archival Picture Frames

Archival Picture Frames

Avoid Direct Sunlight Where You Display Your Photographs

Display your precious pictures on the walls which are not directly exposed to sunlight, because over time sunlight will bleach your pictures out. Or, you can have an extra copy made of the picture and keep it in your archival safe photo album. Do remember, that moisture and humidity are also enemies of your photos. You should store your pictures where you live, and not in your basement or attic.

How Can You Protect Against Fire?

What about a fire in your home? Most people feel that other than their loved ones, who are most important, the only other things they would miss in case of a fire are their photographs. However, if you get copies of your favorite pictures into the hands of other people, you will always be able to see them again.

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer


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