Quick Tips! How to Preserve Your Family Photos

This summer, VC held a workshop on how to preserve, store, and care for your personal photos.  In case you missed it, here are some tips that you can use when you get around to your photos:

Disclaimer:  Don’t be alarmed, but a lot of elements are quite bad for photos.  The positive side is knowing what these bad elements are– and how to avoid them!

Sunlight, heat, and light will cause your photos to fade.  Even if you keep them in a frame, photos won’t be safe from harm.  The constant sun can cause the image part of the photo to stick to the glass– and come off the paper itself.  Make copies of your photos and display those instead.  Keeping them in a dark place is best!

Humidity and water can cause your photos to warp.  Keep them in a dry place and off the floor in case of any leaks!

Dust and Dirt:  These elements will cake onto your photos after time and be hard, if not impossible, to remove.  Keeping photos and negatives in archival quality mylar sleeves is best!  (and in the dark)

Your own hands:  The oil from your hands aren’t good for photos.  Always wear cotton gloves while handling negatives and photos.

Pens:  Just don’t!  You might accidentally mark your photos.  Even if you mean to write on your photos– don’t. The acid in the ink will deteriorate your photos.

Paperclips:  They get SO rusty.  Rust incites deterioration!

Chemicals: Don’t store photos and cleaning supplies in the same place.  The off-gassing isn’t safe.

Photo Albums: You know those sticky photo albums?  That adhesive will stick to your photos and eat away at them.  However– if you try to take it off and it’s very difficult (and use a microspatula), don’t remove it at all– you risk tearing the photo.

Digitization:  A whole other subject, but if you take away anything, just know to keep your originals.  Digital images are more precarious than the physical prints.  Nothing’s better than the real thing!

That’s all for now!  If you have any questions, you can refer to the National Archives link of how to care for photos, or you can email Helen at Helen@vconline.org.

Happy Archives!


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