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This is Peter Rosenkranz from InstaRestoration.com. We are a professional online photo restoration service with instant quotes. Our company repairs all kinds of different damages such as watermarks, scratches, cracks or even torn pieces. Simply upload your old family photo and we’ll do the rest.
In this tutorial, I will explain to you how to properly archive your images to prevent such damage in the first place.
Around 80% of all the restoration work we are performing is related to family photos. What’s interesting about it is that around about 60% of these images have only suffered severe damage because of improper storage or display. This shows how important it is to archive your old family photos properly.
One of the first things you have to understand is that the process of decay is extremely slow. Improperly storing them won’t affect them today or tomorrow but eventually will have an impact. Just take a look at photographs from the early 20th century. It is almost impossible to find prints without any damage. Most of them have minor or even major damage. Compared to the length of your family’s history a 100 years is a blink of an eye. For saving these images for future generations to come it is crucial to apply some simple guidelines.
1. Temperature and HumidityThis one is the most important one. Your photographs have to be stored in a dry and cool place. Don’t store them like most people do, either on the attic or in the basement.
In the attic, high temperatures during summer cause your photograph to fade whereas the high humidity in the basement can lead to fungus and mould. These alterations are irreversible and can only be restored by a professional.
2. Use proper archiving materialWhen buying archive boxes and sleeves always check whether they are acid and bleach free. Even paper boxes can include these harmful chemicals. Over time these substances slowly alter your photographs through chemical reactions. You might not see it straight away but think about the days and years your photographs stay in those boxes.
3. Photos only!This sounds reasonable but you won’t believe how many times I have seen those kinds of damage. Photos have to be stored with photos only. Don’t put Grandma’s necklace or Grandpa’s ring into the same box as their photographs. Every time someone is moving that box these objects scratch the sensitive surface of your photographs. For the best protection put each photograph in an acid-free archive sleeve.
4. Ultraviolet lightUltraviolet light is the number one reason for faded photographs. Always try to keep your original photographs out of direct sunlight. Think about how dangerous it can be to human skin, the same goes for photographs. If you like to display your old family photos in the living room or office use UV block glass or even better create a copy of that photo and store the original somewhere else.
5. AdhesivesWe have done it all at some point… I’m talking about those handy and easy to use sticky strips and other adhesives. As useful they might be as dangerous are the chemicals inside of them. Only use those sticky strips on reproductions of your photos, not the original ones.
6. Air PollutantsYeah, I know this one sounds silly but still it happens quite often. Don’t put your photo box in the same room as daddy stores his paint thinner or mommy her aggressive cleaning agent. What makes you dizzy makes your photographs dizzy as well.
7. FramingThis one comes in handy when you want to frame your photographs. First of all, think about whether you want to display an original print or not. If it’s an original photograph make sure to use UV blocking glass. Also, think about the possibility of the image becoming stuck to the frame’s glass. This sometimes happens because of fluctuating humidity during the seasons. And seriously this happening is pretty much the worst case scenario.
To prevent that either use frames with a distance between glass and print or put a special translucent plastic sheet between glass and image.
8. LabellingSome of you like to label their old photographs. This actually makes sense for future generations to understand who that person is. But never use a ballpoint-pen, marker or one of these printable sticker labels. Again these all include chemicals that will slowly alter your photograph. The best and most gentle way to label your images is by using a very soft pencil.
9. Create digital copiesLast but not least create digital copies of your images, especially the ones which have already suffered damage. If worst comes to worst you still have a back up on your hard disk.
Guest blog by Peter Rosenkranz