The Ultimate Guide To Properly Preserving Your Old Photos

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A lot of old memories lie between the photo album you’ve had in your bookshelf for all those years. Family weddings, birthdays, picnics, old cousins whom you don’t get to see for years all come to life as soon as you open those albums. We not only get nostalgic trying to remember those old golden days but also cherish those memories to stay beside us for the rest of our days.

But with time, nature takes its toll with these unforgettable old photos. What once was thought to be passed on to our next generations, becomes fragile and tore apart. We didn’t think enough about preserving those photographs all this time. Every household has its own share of old photographs that have been damaged far beyond repair. And only those who hold these photographs dear can feel the pain this brings.

Today, we’re going to discuss in-depth how you should preserve and care for those old photographs. We’ll be going through a lot of details concerning how these photographs are damaged, what can be done to prevent or minimise such problems and how you should store these precious memories for your future generations.

Why do Your Photos Deteriorate?

Your photos can be damaged in a lot of different ways. But environmental factors can be thought of as the primary culprit behind this deterioration. Temperature, humidity, and light are the most common enemies of your old photos. Dust and dirt along with oils are also credited behind the damaging of these photographs.

Alternated cycles of high temperature with excess humidity and cold temperature with dry weather cause the emulsions (image) to separate from their bases(paper). People who store their family photos in basements or attics face this frequently. As most people tend to keep their old albums in these places, this is the most common way of old photographs being damaged.

Things to Avoid When Preserving Old Photographs

It’s quite often we underestimate the necessity of storing these old valuables in an appropriate manner. Only inserting old photos into photo albums and stacking them on top of one another is not enough. Here we’re discussing the things you need to avoid if you want to ensure a long lasting longevity for your old photographs.

1. Stop Storing them in the Basement or Attic

This is the most common way people bring damage to their precious old memories. The ideal space to store your old photos should be a relatively dry and cool place with a stable temperature. Your basement, on the other hand, is likely too damp, which prompts your photos to stick together. Mold can also be a common problem when you store old photographs in the basement.

Hot attics, on the other hand, can promote the degradation of ink and paper. Another common reason why old photos tend to lose their emulsions.

2. Stop Writing Down Information Behind Old Photos

Writing behind old photographs is another common mistake a lot of people do. When going through old family albums, it’s very likely you’ll find this there. Many people do not seem to understand how much hassle they bring when writing useful information like names, dates, and events for future references behind photos. The ink of most pens contains acidic oily substances, that’ll smear your photos in the long run or bleed right through them. If you need to write really important stuff, use proper enclosures.

3. Avoid Using Common Office Supplies

Most people tend to overlook the simplest of problems until they become a nightmare. Common office supplies such as rubber bands, adhesive, paper clips can contribute a long-term damage to your old photos. Tapes and adhesives contain acidic substances which can smear your photos. Holding a stack of photos together in a rubber band might seem to be a fast solution, but when your photos get bent and marked up for forever, you’ll despise the day you did so. Do not put easy convenience over the proper way when it comes to preserving old photographs.

4. Avoid Exposure to Light

As we’ve mentioned earlier, prolonged exposure to light of any kind,  especially sunlight will ruin your old photos. Your old photos will fade very quickly if exposed to light. Store them always far away from light sources, try to seal them in a container to avoid this problem.