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The value of old photographs and how to store them
We all know photographs preserve invaluable memories, whether that be of loved ones, significant life moments, or simply reminders of our childhood neighborhood. For the moment it may seem like these photographs will preserve these memories forever but unfortunately, like any physical object, these mementos slowly fade over time until these recollections themselves eventually vanish too. But by taking steps to store your photographs properly you can greatly lengthen the life of your photos and memories. Even if you can already detect damages such as fading colors, watermarks, and ripped edges on your photos there is a solution. Instarestoration.com as a professional photo restoration service can restore the original beauty of your old images. Luckily we can use our magical powers to reverse even significant damages but so that you may slow down the process of deterioration of your old as well as new photographs we’d like to tell you of some simple tips to keep in mind.
The Bad Guys
Ultraviolet Light: Ever had a photograph hanging in direct sunlight for weeks, months, even years on end? Well, then you likely know what we are talking about. UV light is pretty much the most harmful thing to the colors of your photographs. Just as we put on sunscreen to protect ourselves from aggressive sunlight, the best way to preserve your photographs is to keep them somewhere the sun won’t reach them. If you want to display your pictures in direct sunlight make sure to use special filter glass that blocks these UV rays. What’s even better is to create a copy of that photograph and store the original in your archive. This is why it’s always best to have carefully stored physical as well as digital physical copies of your priceless images.
High temperatures and relative humidity: The emulsion of film is like the heart of a photograph. From this little strip magic happens and gives life to an image. The problem is that these emulsions are made out of organic materials such as gelatin making them vulnerable to extreme conditions. High room temperatures and humidity easily cause mold and fungus to propagate and slowly spread all over your photograph. To prevent this from happening keep your images stored in a cool and dry place. Preferably under 70°Fahrenheit (20°C) and 50% relative humidity.
Quality archival papers and materials: Appearances are deceptive: we like to think that products like paper made from trees are natural and harmless but in fact the production of these materials often involves many chemicals including acids and bleaches. These chemicals can slowly be released from paper or other storage materials over time and destroy your photographs. This is why it is important to be careful when shopping for archival products. Make sure to get acid and bleach-free papers and storage materials like folders. Unfortunately, there is no regulated universal standard for archival materials so always ask first before buying.
Metallic and Sharp Objects: This is commonsensical but also a common cause for damaged photographs. As above, proper and safe storage of your negatives and photographs is very important in preserving their beauty for as long as possible. Keep your photos separate from metallic and sharp objects including metal clips. These sharp and hard surfaces can easily crease, bend, scratch, puncture your photographs. It probably isn’t the best idea to store grandpas’ photo collection in his toolbox.
Air Pollutants: Now this might sound like overkill but even your basic house cleaning products and fresh paint can have harmful effects on your photographs. A simple rule of thumb: if you think it would hurt you, it will probably hurt your photographs. No need to go overboard, just don’t leave your photos exposed to potent air pollutants that you think would make you dizzy if you sniffed them a bit too long.
Adhesives: Most of us are guilty for this one. As easy as they are to use those sticky strips and other tapes and adhesives often include chemicals that will slowly deteriorate the quality of your images. As above, if you are going to display your photographs keep copies and display them smartly, free from uv light and chemicals.
The sad truth is that no photograph will last forever. However, the good news is that by taking some simple and sound steps in storing and displaying your photographs you can greatly extend the lifespan of each of these moments for future generations. If you have already recognized some fungus, fading in color or any other damage it’s best to take action now and create digital copies of your images. Remember, once these damages appear they only get worse with time.