Learning to preserve your photos is simple if you know what to look for.
But first lets take about the ENEMIES OF PHYSICAL PHOTOGRAPHS!
I know you are thinking I’m a bit on the crazy side, but I’m a artist, so I get a “Hall Pass” once in awhile. (At least that is what my Art installer says, aka my husband). When you think of enemies of images, what would come to your mind? Once we understand the natural material these are made from, the villains seem more obvious.
We’ve got our favorite; direct sunlight
Then the hungry ones; insects
And then the kind of cute, kind of not so cute; rodents
There is a set of other enemies that hide themselves and do their own damage over time:
adhesives They work their damage over time, like any cancer.
sulfur compounds Found in wood, or even rubber contain elements that trigger a chemical response we call: FADING!
And we cannot forgot Direct Sunlight’s friend:
high humidity: The biggest cheerleader for mold growth.
So all those childhood fears you had of the dark gross basement, were real! Never store precious images or documents in the dark scary basement. It may provide the temperature control desired but does not create the proper environment to maintain the integrity of your photographs I would say that basements are the number one offended but the second and third would be attics and garages.
Unless you have storage material designed specifically for archival products.
Sadly, and very Surprisingly, my clients will find many of the products sold by frame shops and retailers contain materials like high-acid wood pulp and Polyvinyl Chloride. Both of these elements are damaging will trigger deterioration over that culprit killer: time.
Not to knock on your local craft store, but do you think they are trained in archival knowledge? And why would this?
It’s not like we will be around in 120 years, but our posterity will and so will our images…
(The process of ligning is skipped when these products are manufactured and that is the difference between archival and acid based).
But how would you know this when you are dropping in to use your 40% coupon? You wouldn’t. and that’s okay, because now you know.
Dirt, dust and oil are also big culprits of photographic deterioration.
What to Avoid When Storing & Handling Photos
Dirt, dust, and oils from you hands can cause permanent damage. You should handle prints and negatives along the edges, preferably while wearing white cotton gloves.
The best conditions for storing photographs are in a location with a consistent temperature from 65°F–70°F with a relative humidity of about 50%.
Keep your negative and prints separately, example
JFK personal photographer Jacque Lowe lost all his negatives during 9/11.
They were stored in a bank vault box in the basement of one of the Twin Towers.
Devastating! You can learn more about the photographer here:
He is one of my all time favorite iconic photographers. He passed away four short months
before September 11,2001.