There’s an unspoken default method when it comes to storing old photos, slides, negatives, and video reels. Most people pack those items away in boxes, bins, or trunks, and push them to the back of a closet, attic, or basement. These boxes stay there, collecting dust until the time comes when they can be properly organized and managed.
Does this sound familiar? This is the unfortunate reality of how most of Americans store their captured memories, but this is also the best way to expose these items to damage—especially when it comes to your negatives or transparencies.
We’ve covered how to store print photos in the past, but it’s important to safely store negatives and transparencies, as well. Here are the top three tips we have for making sure your memories stay safe.
Use photo safe, archival or acid-free boxes for storage
Packing those old negatives away in the right material can mean life or death for your memories. You’ll want to use high-quality papers and plastic that pass the ANSI IT9.16 Photographic Activity Test (PAT). You can find these materials—whether it’s paper or plastic boxes, envelopes, or folders—easily online.
Store in cold, controlled temperatures
Over time film negatives may start to deteriorate even if they are stored in high quality, archival boxes, folders, and/or envelopes. There’s a possibility for negatives to develop a vinegar odor, or they may wrinkle or warp over time. The only way to prevent this deterioration is by storing the negatives at cold temperatures to delay the process. You’ll also want to make sure the area in which you store the negatives is dry—humidity or any moisture will speed up the decaying process.
Back them up
The above precautions are necessary to ensure your negatives stay in good condition over time, but they cannot protect them against accidents, natural disasters, or even the eventual ravages of time. It’s imperative to create copies or duplicates of your negatives to ensure you are preserving your memories. This way, if anything happens to the original, you can still access the digital copies and create prints from them.
Lost artwork from LA’s history has been discovered in the basement of the oldest television station west of the Mississippi River, KTLA Television Channel 5 in Los Angeles (KTLA-TV-CH5-LA).
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Our negative scanning service is a great way to create digital copies of the originals. You can then create a backup of the digital copies so you’re covered in any situation.
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