Carefully preserving your print photos is much more involved than tossing them into a shoebox. How you store and handle your photos matters, as well as where you store them. At Michael Broyles Photography, our goal is to help you preserve special moments so they can be passed down to future generations. With that in mind, we offer three key considerations to keep in mind to help you preserve and protect your photos.
Choose the Right Container
There is an endless variety of photo albums and boxes on the market these days; however, many of them may actually cause more harm than good to your photos. Your typical, run-of-the-mill commercial photo album is often made from materials that can leave adhesive residues on photos, turn yellow and brittle with age, or cause photos to stick to the album’s pages. That is why it is often recommended to choose storage boxes or albums that are archival quality: photo safe and acid, lignin, and PVC free. How do you know if you have the right container? Keep an eye out for products that are made of polypropylene (look for a recycling symbol on the bottom with the number 5 and the letters “PP”) and are labeled “archival” or “archival safe.” If you choose to use photo storage boxes, be sure to pick ones with tight-fitting lids.
Some additional tips for storing your photos include:
- Refrain from using tape or glue to mount photos in an album or scrapbook.
- Do not use rubber bands or paper clips to keep groups of photos together.
- Do not store your photos in envelopes.
- If you want to write information on the back of your photos, use an archival safe pen and do not press down too hard.
- Do not overfill an album or storage box. Doing so can cause photos to get bent, creased, and in the case of an album, fall out. At the same time, make sure your photo boxes are not underfilled, as this can cause photos to shift around and become frayed.
Store Photos under the Proper Conditions
How you store your photos is just one part of the equation. The conditions under which you store them matter too. As a general rule, you should avoid storing photos in the attic, garage, and basement of your home. When choosing a spot to store your photos, keep the following three factors in mind:
- When it comes to temperature, lower is better for photos. This not only helps slow degradation of ink and paper, but discourages insects from making their homes in your photo boxes. The National Archives and Records Administration recommends storing photos in a space where the temperature stays below 75°F at all times. It is also wise to avoid locations that experience large temperature fluctuations, from cold to hot.
- High humidity can encourage mold growth and insect infestations, and moist conditions can cause photos to stick together and ink to run or fade. That said, very dry environments are not safe either and can lead to photos becoming brittle. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, the ideal environment to store photos should be an area with greater than 15% relative humidity and less than 65% relative humidity.
- Displaying photos in direct sunlight or under unfiltered fluorescent lights can cause images to fade over time. If you have a favorite photo that you like to display, have a copy made of the original photo and display the copy while you keep the original safely tucked away in a darker environment.
Handle Photos with Care
Above all, take care when handling your photo collection. Believe it or not, your fingerprints contain oils that can leave a permanent mark on photos and negatives. Best practices for handling your photos include using clean, dry, non-lotioned hands or a pair of gloves and holding your photos by their edges.
At Michael Broyles Photography, our albums are always archival safe so you can be sure your photos will last for generations. Start a new photo album this with our Sweetheart of a Deal. Throughout February, we are offering our clients a leather wrap photo album with eight prints for $150. Schedule a consultation with Michael Broyles Photography today.