Photographs are one of the most valuable ways we can preserve our memories. They capture moments in time that we can look back on and remember for years to come. However, as much as we cherish them, photographs are also incredibly delicate and can easily deteriorate over time. That’s why it’s crucial to take proper measures to protect them.
Find a Stable Place for Storage
The first step in protecting your photographs is finding a stable place for storage. Paper items should be stored in a clean storage area where you can control the temperature and relative humidity. Ideally, the temperature should be 68 degrees Fahrenheit or less, and the relative humidity should be between 30-40%. Lower temperatures are best for color photos, and high humidity and temperature can speed up decay. Low humidity can cause photos to crack, peel, or curl. Make sure to provide good air circulation in the storage area, and check regularly for signs of pests. Avoid storing photos in attics and basements, and opt for an air-conditioned room or closet instead.
Gather the Necessary Supplies: high-quality packing materials, such as acid-free archival boxes, acid-free tissue paper, bubble wrap, packing tape, and a permanent marker for labeling.
Sort and Organize: start by grouping the photos and frames by size, shape, and fragility. This will make the packing and unpacking process much easier and more efficient.
Protect from Light
Light is one of the most significant contributors to photo damage. All light, natural and artificial, causes fading and other types of damage. When storing and displaying your photos, keep them away from direct sunlight and indoor lighting exposure to a minimum. If you choose to display your photos, place them on interior walls away from sunlight and use UV filtered glazing for frames. Alternatively, you can make copies of your photographs for display and keep the originals stored away from all exposure to light.
Use Archival Boxes
If you can, it is important to use acid-free archival boxes for packing photos and photo frames. These boxes are specifically designed to protect delicate items like photos from deterioration caused by acids and other harmful substances. Place the wrapped photos and framed photos upright in the boxes, and fill any empty spaces with crumpled acid-free tissue paper to prevent shifting during transit.
Handling and Cleaning
Handle with Care. When packing photos and photo frames, it’s crucial to handle them with care to prevent any damage. When handling your photographs, wear clean gloves to avoid getting fingerprints on the photos and frames. Handling them with clean hands to avoid transferring oils and dirt. It’s also crucial to avoid using cleaning supplies, fumes, plywood, or cardboard when storing your photographs, as they can cause damage. We also recommend using acid-free tissue paper to wrap each photo individually, and bubble wrap or foam padding for the frames to protect them from scratches or cracks.
For optimal preservation of photos and photo frames, consider an air-cooled storage unit at A Family Storage. These units use air conditioning to regulate the temperature, which helps prevent damage caused by extreme heat or cold. While air-cooled storage does not maintain a constant humidity level like climate-controlled storage, it still provides a controlled environment that can help protect delicate items from environmental factors that can cause harm.
In addition to physical storage, consider creating digital copies of your photographs. This can serve as a backup in case the physical copies are damaged, lost, or destroyed. There are many online and offline services that can help you digitize your photographs, or you can do it yourself with a scanner or camera. Take the steps you need to preserve your digital photos.
In conclusion, protecting your photographs requires a little extra effort, but it’s well worth it to preserve these precious memories. By finding a stable place for storage, protecting them from light, handling and cleaning them carefully, and creating digital copies, you can ensure that your photographs will last for generations to come.
University of Chicago – lib.uchicago.edu
Library of Congress – www.loc.gov
Northeast Document Conservation Center – www.nedcc.org
The Henry Ford PDF – www.thehenryford.org
American Library Association – www.ala.org