The Best Ways to Store Printed Photos

Art WallAll of you ScanMyPhotos fans know that the best way to preserve photos is via photo scanning. Scan printed photos once, and you have digital copies that can be easily reproduced and shared at any time. But what about all of those printed photos you still have? You might as well store and display them in a way that will preserve them – after all, they are the originals and you can still enjoy them while they are in good shape.

 

I did a little research to find the best ways to store and display printed photos, and here’s what I found (thank you National Archives!):

 

Use a mat when framing photos

 

Ever have a framed photo stick to the glass? This a very common occurrence, and it happens when humidity gets into the frame. Unfortunately, it’s not always fixable (though a photo conservationist might be able to help). When you frame photos, use an archival quality photo-safe mat, which will add space between the glass and the photo.

 

Choose a cool, dry place for storage

 

Store your photos in the coolest and driest spot in your home, as dampness causes photos to stick together (and promotes mold growth on them – yuck!). It goes without saying that your finished basement is out unless it is dehumidified. Instead, choose a closet on an upper level temperatures stay pretty constant throughout the year.

 

Look for storage materials that pass the ANSI IT9.16 Photographic Activity Test (PAT)

 

PAT was developed by the American National Standards Institute; it is a test that determines whether or not a storage material will cause fading or staining in photos. Companies whose envelopes, folders, sleeves, and boxes pass the test advertise them as such, so be sure to look for this information when choosing storage materials.

 

Pick archival quality photo albums

 

Archival quality photo albums use plastic and paper materials that will not damage or deteriorate photos over the long-term. Paper should be high quality, non-acidic, and lignin-free and made from cotton or highly purified wood pulps. Plastic should be made from uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester (also called Mylar D or Mellinex 516). Note that PVC is extremely damaging to photos – avoid it like the plague!

 

Protect photos that are frequently handled

 

Photos that are handled frequently or fragile need to be stored carefully to prevent damage. The best option is a plastic folder or sleeve so it can be viewed easily. If the photo is especially fragile, back it with a piece of cardboard that is fairly rigid.

 

Have any other questions about preserving printed photos? Shoot us a note, and we’ll do our best to answer your question!

Image courtesy of becauseimaddicted.net via fromtherightbank.com