How to Store Old Photos and Preserve Precious Memories

In 2017, people took 1.2 trillion digital photos in 2017. This figure doesn’t account for non-digital photographs. Behind every photo that an individual takes, there’s a story.

A picture will help you relive that moment when you made the most critical decision of your life. It also could be the moment your child took their first step. A photo could also capture members of your family representing four generations. 

Whatever memory your photos bring, it’s only essential that you know how to store old photos. You can frame some pictures or put them in albums. However, there’ll always be large piles stacked away in drawers and boxes. 

Here’s a guide on how to store such photos.

historic camera pictures

1. Always Lay Photographs Flat on Their Backs

Rolling photos should never cross your mind as doing so can cause the back and front to stick together. This will damage the photo’s primary purpose and cause further damage as you unfurl the photograph. Make it easier for yourself and other people to relive those memories by laying the photos flat on their back. 

2. Resist the Urge to Make Adjustments

Photos stored away in boxes or drawers may develop creases. Trying to flatten out such creases may cause damage that you may not notice immediately. Photo experts warn against the use of chemicals in trying to restore a photo. 

You don’t want to destroy the only proof of how amazing you looked in your beautiful wedding dress. Only go for professional services if you’ve got photos in poor condition that you’d like to preserve.

3. Label Your Photos

It’s essential to capture vital details about your photo before storing them away. Things like the date, venue, event, and persons in the picture will help enhance the memory. Label the back of the photo using an archival marker or a soft pencil. 

Avoid using a ballpoint pen to write on the photographs. The pressure from the pen will damage the photo. Besides, the ink might fade with time, watering down your labeling efforts. 

4. Use Acid-Free and Chemically-Neutral Materials to Store Photos

In the past, photo albums were made from magnetic or peel-and-stick materials. These materials were usually ordinary plastic, cardboard, and glue. If this is what you’ve used to store your old photos, consider using modern-type albums. 

When buying a photo album, look for one with an “acid-free” label. The safest place to find such is in a camera store or an art supplies shop. Chemically-free albums will prevent your photographs from acquiring a yellow discolouration. 

Before storing the photos, remove any staples, glue, tape, or rubber bands that may dent, scratch, or stain them. You may stack pictures on top of each other, but separate them using sheets of acid-free paper. 

5. Conditions for Storage

Your photos will only be safe and will last longer if you choose the right storage conditions. Photographs are printed onto paper using ink and various pigments. Their quality can become degraded or compromised over time, depending on the storage conditions. 

Ideally, when choosing a storage spot, think about three primary conditions as follows. 

leather case camera sepia pictures

I). Humidity

The National Archives and Records Administration recommend storing photos between 15% and 65% relative humidity. Storing photos in extremely dry conditions will make the paper brittle. A lot of moisture will create an environment for the growth of mold and mildew on the pictures. 

It will also cause the ink to fade and the pictures to stick to each other. Higher humidity also creates an environment for insect infestations. 

II). Temperature

The temperature of your storage space is essential to consider. This is because photos do well in low temperatures. The process of degradation is slow, and the paper ink doesn’t fade. The area should always stay below 24°C. 

Temperature fluctuations aren’t good, so garages are out of the question for photo storage. 

III). Light

Whether you frame your photos or store them in boxes, keep them away from direct sunlight. Dark locations are an excellent preservation measure as they prevent the ink and pigments from fading. Long exposure of photos to UV and fluorescent light breaks down images and cause them to fade. 

These storage conditions should also apply to your negatives if using film photography. Always clean your hands before handling photos and hold them by their edges. 

Take Away

Photographs tell a story that the owner may not live to tell. Their storage and preservation are of the essence if the memories are to be passed down to future generations. Photos during family gatherings, baby’s milestones, life events like weddings and birthdays are important to families. 

For proper preservation of photos, ensure you use acid and chemical-free materials. When stacking pictures, ensure you put sheets of paper between them to prevent them from sticking together. Other important considerations are humidity, temperature, and light intensity. 

By preserving your precious memories, you’ll have sweet memories to pass to future generations. 

Hope this helps!
Margherita :)

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