Times are changing and we find ourselves in an increasingly digital world where all our albums are stored digitally. That's all nice and convenient, but what about your 35mm negatives and the old, irreplaceable family albums passed down to you from past generations? Without proper storage they're prone to quick deterioration.
When it comes to preserving photos, plastic is your best friend. Unlike paper products, plastic keeps out moisture, light and dust - your three enemies in the battle for preserving old photos. Also, a lot of paper products contain bleach and chemicals that will, over time, degrade your photos.
Insist on Acid-Free Tape/Glue/Markers
When fixing your photo tears or taping together panoramic shots, make sure to use photo tape. It's acid-free so you won't end up with a stained photo. The same goes for gluing your photos or writing the details on the back. Glues and inks normally contain acids that, over time, will break down your photos unless they're specifically specified to be marker safe.
Only Use PVC-Free Sheets
Clear plastic sheets are now the standard and it doesn't look like they're going anywhere. They protects againts both moisture and dust. Make sure the sheets your using are PVC free. Otherwise you could end up with photos that stick in their sleeve or have dots of discoloration. If you still have photos in the old style adhesive cardboard with a single sheet of plastic covering, you should really be upgrading your albums. The adhesive stops being sticky and the cardboard doesn't do much in the way of protection from moisture.
Get a Dust Repellant Album
Again, plastic is the way to go should you decide that you'd like to keep your pictures for longer than a decade. A plastic binder will keep moisture off your binders. Those cardboard albums may have pretty designs, but they're not well suited for the long term storage of photographs. For the best possible preservation, opt for Storex binders. Their plastic actually repels dust an keeps your photos in optimal conditions and its PVC-free, a must with any plastic used to store photos.
Keep Light in a Light and Moisture Free Storage
Once the photos are in their albums, too many people think the job is done and will throw the albums in a cardboard box. The storage box is what will prevent both light, moisture and shelter seeking rodents from reaching the photographs. Like with the other plastic materials, insist on PVC-free plastic. Storex Filing Drawers are probably your best bet when it comes to this. Not only do they serve all the functions, but they're also the cheapest item that does.
Just like with wine, photographs like to be kept at a consistent temperature. Fluctuations in the climate can have them crack and degrade. Though your attic or cellar may be a convenient, out-of-the-way location, they're not smart picks if you want these photos to be around for future generations.
With the right attention, your photos can stand the test of time and can be enjoyed by many generations to come. It's all a matter of creating the proper conditions and knowing which common pitfalls you should be avoiding. The better you can follow the above guidelines, the longer the lifetime of the photos.
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