Storing Old Photos
In today’s world, many people take digital photos only and keep them on a phone, iPad, or computer. Those of us in our “seasoned” years, however, used a real camera and real film for most of our lives. We have decades of traditional photographs we enjoy and want to keep around for years to come.
Unfortunately, our old photos won’t last forever. Photographs require the right kind of care to remain in the best possible condition for the longest period of time. In fact, improper storage, too much handling, and exposure to the elements may have already taken a toll on our treasured photos.
Here are a few things you can do to take care of your old photos.
Some helpful tips…
- Get your snapshots out of “magnetic” or “peel and stick” photo albums. We all have them, but the once very popular albums actually damage photos and shorten their lifespan. Replace your old photo albums with ones labeled “acid-free.” Even better, store photos of your treasured memories in acid-free storage boxes made specifically for archiving photographs.
- Do not keep old photos in piles. Stacking your photographs on top of each other is not a good idea. It offers no protection at all. Piled photos bend, scratch, and rip. Every time people flip through a stack of photos, their hands transfer dirt and body oils onto the snapshots. If you’re going to stack your photos, separate them with sheets of acid-free paper. Don’t use rubber bands or other fasteners to keep photos together, because to do so can also be very damaging.
- Store photos in the right environment. Extreme temperatures and excessively damp or dry conditions can cause photos to degrade, stick together, curl, warp, crack, and become moldy, etc. Many people store photos in basements or attics, but most basements are damp and humid and most attics are hot and dry. Try to store your photos in a spot where you would also be comfortable.
- Be careful when displaying photos. Overexposure to light will eventually cause photos to fade. Never display photos in direct sunlight, and only use photo frames with special glass with filtering properties.
- Keep your photos away from heating and air conditioning vents. When hanging photos on a wall, keep in mind that the outer walls of your home may be exposed to external temperatures and environmental changes. In addition, photos kept in the kitchen might be subjected to cooking aromas, steam, and smoke.
- Do not try to repair damaged photos yourself. It is tempting to try to fix a ripped photo with a piece of tape or to clean one that’s soiled with a damp cloth. Don’t do it. The adhesive on tape and anything damp can cause further damage. It’s best to bring damaged photos to a professional who is trained in refurbishing old photos.