Photos aren’t forever.
Photographs are a great way to preserve precious memories, but they can crack and fade with age, or be ruined by moisture and sunlight.
However, by putting proper thought into how to store old photos, you can make them last for many years and have copies when they do start to fade.
Read on below, and we’ll discuss what you need to know.
Before you even make a decision about what you’ll do with your old photos, you need to make backups. This should be step one regardless of what you decide about how to store old photos.
Wherever possible, you should create digitized versions of your photos. Having the photos scanned means that if the physical copies degrade over time, you’ll always have access to a pristine original.
Backups also provide an opportunity to restore photos that have already degraded.
Be sure to also backup your digital backups! Online cloud-based services are ideal, as the photos won’t be lost in the event of a hard drive failure.
Also, keep any negatives you have in a safe place. You’ll need to store them in a suitable container to protect them from the ravages of time.
By far the best idea for long-term storage is to get some high-quality storage boxes.
Choosing acid-free options is essential here. Over time, chemical compounds in certain containers can leech out, destroying your photographs.
Even with the right storage containers, it’s advisable to store your photos in an environment with low humidity and a regulated temperature.
Frequent shifts toward hot and cold and high moisture in the air can warp and crack your photos, as well as cause damage from molds and moisture.
Generally, avoid the two most common areas: the attic and the basement. As they’re not designed as living spaces, these areas are poorly regulated and prone to fluctuation.
Albums are the middle-ground solution for how to store old photos, between keeping them safely locked away and having them on constant display.
As with storage boxes, however, you should be careful about the materials used. Albums purchased from a discount store aren’t likely to meet your needs, so visit a specialist store.
Look for PAT-approved albums. This means they’ve passed a rigorous set of tests designed to preserve photos and are safe to use for long-term storage.
Of course, photos are meant to be seen. You may feel that keeping them tucked away in photo albums or hidden in the attic is defeating the purpose.
Displaying your photos can present a conundrum, however. Photos exposed to open air and sunlight will degrade and lose their color over time.
Luckily, you can purchase frames designed to block light’s damaging UV rays. You should always display photos out of direct sunlight even in protected frames, however.
Don’t tape or glue your photos into a frame. Adhesive compounds will break down over time, causing more damage. A well-made frame should comfortably fit your photo without the need for adhesives.
By following these tips and thinking about how to store old photos you want to protect, you can make them last for many decades.
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