Tag Archives: Photo Preservation

We’re happy to announce that we just completed digitizing one book of negatives!  Most of these photos are of VC activities and community life in the 1980s, and we’re excited to have them digitally accessible!  Digitizing negatives isn’t simple work… digitizing two strips of 35 mm negatives takes about 20-30 minutes, not to mention, each strip needs to be cleaned and dusted lightly before its placed inside the scanner.

It took us about 4 months to scan over 4,700 negatives– and again, that’s just one binder.  We have so many more of these binders left to finish.  We couldn’t do it without help, of course.  Thank you to our summer interns for contributing to this ongoing project!


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

Happy Archives!

We’ve got some beautiful protest photos to share today, but first, we need to voice a plea.

Like so many other institutions, we depend on funding from external sources.  To keep our goal of strengthening the archives and preservation program at Visual Communications, we are participating in the Chase Community Bank Giving Campaign, a grant giving campaign to hundreds of charities.  However– the catch is that the funding is dependent on votes– so we need your help to win!

Please visit, like the page, and vote for Visual Communications (search for Southern California Asian American Studies Central). Voting is from September 6-19, 2012!

Thank you for your time and investment as we continue to create a space for creative content by and about Asian Americans to foster a more diverse and engaged society.
You have 2 opportunities to vote:
  • Through the Chase Community Giving app on Facebook
  • Via your Chase online account if you bank with Chase

Indeed, the more votes we get, the greater the funds we may receive. But Chase Community Giving makes it possible for people all around the world to know who we are and the exciting programs we are producing, such as the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Armed with a Camera Fellowship, and one of the largest photographic and moving image repository of 20th century Asian American experience.

Now, here are those protest photos that we’ve dug up:

Please vote for us.  Your help keeps us on the path to making our archival materials accessible!

With the proliferation of digital photography comes a deluge of digital images. Do you find that you have so many digital photos that it’s difficult to locate the photo that you’re searching for? At this workshop, you’ll learn how to turn your unwieldy collection into something manageable through file names, tagging, photo management software, and other techniques. You’ll also learn about digital preservation issues. A short Q&A will follow. Please RSVP by emailing quickly — seating is limited and first-come, first-served.

SUNDAY AUGUST 19   |   10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
@ Visual Communications
ENROLLMENT FEE: $5 Suggested donation (RSVP required)

Hey Y’all,

If you have a stash of photographs at home that you’d like to keep for a long time, this one-hour workshop is for you!  We’ll talk about general types of photographs, agents of deterioration, and how to store and handle photographs to slow degradation.  A short Q&A will follow. Please RSVP by emailing quickly — seating is limited and first-come, first-served.

SUNDAY JULY 29   |   10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
@ Visual Communications

ENROLLMENT FEE: $5 Suggested donation (RSVP required)

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