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Preserving Your Photo Collection

Preserving Your Photo Collection

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Tags: Photo Collection | Preserve | Protect | Store

Tips and Tricks - Tips
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 20 February 2009 04:04

Tips on how you can properly preserve your photography collection

So you were lucky enough to have acquired a great ambrotype, daguerreotype, cabinet card, tintype, snap shot, photo album, or cdv image, and it's in perfect condition too! Now the question is how do you protect them from damage and preserve the photos for another 100 plus years?

Although your new antique photo has survived for 100 plus years in great shape, it is a delicate item and in order to preserve it for the next 100 plus years there are some practices you should put in place now before you discover your precious photo collection has degraded to the point of becoming unsalvageable.



First let's talk about what the enemies of antique photos are.

Too hot or too cold storage: Hot and cold temperatures can cause the chemical structure of the photograph to break down over time, causing fading, brittleness, discoloration, wrinkling, cracking, and staining, among other undesirable effects.

Too damp or too dry storage: Humidity can wreck havoc on vintage photography, as can storage in a place that is too dry. Either extreme can begin to break down the composition of an old photo causing the image to deteriorate, images can separate from the mountings, spotting and staining is guaranteed to happen, and tintypes will crack and peel. Photographs can start to grow mold that will not only destroy the image, but in the case of ambrotypes and daguerreotypes the case can be destroyed as well.

Light: Sunlight and fluorescent lights will fade your photos to the point where they are no longer visible.

Handling: Oil from fingers can leave fingerprint stains on photos and dirty hands can soil your photos to the point where they are no longer viewable.

Other environmental conditions: Cigarette or fire smoke, smog, dust, and household fumes such as paints and cleaners can also have negative effects on your photo collection causing staining, fading, and other undesirable results.



Now let's talk about how to properly store your photo collection.

Never store your photos in an attic or basement. Avoid storage near heating or air conditioning systems, fire places, or near windows, and Never keep your collection in an excessively sunny room. Storage near kitchens or bathrooms is a poor choice as well, and if you store your collection in a storage facility, make sure it is both temperature and humidity controlled.

Try to keep your photo collection in a neutral heat and humidity range. 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit is a good range to store your photos, and between 45 and 55 percent humidity is a good range.

Keep your photo collection in a room that you can control the light that enters through windows and light sources and try to use low watt light bulbs. If you use florescent bulbs, use UV blocking filters on the bulbs.

If you are having your image framed you can have the framer use uv blocking glass which will help reduce fading from light sources. You can also have the framer use archival matt board for the matting and backing which will help reduce the chance that your photo will be damaged from the acids in regular matting materials.

Keep your photo collection in a clean room or inner closet and handle it as little as possible. It is a good idea to scan your collection before putting it into storage so you can enjoy it without having to constantly handle the images. Scanning your collection will also help you to keep a record of what is in your collection and in the case of a disaster you will still have a digital copy of your collection.

Store your photos in pH neutral archival boxes and use acid-free plastic sleeves when possible, and keep your collection up off of the floor in case of flooding.

Ambrotypes and daguerreotypes can be wrapped in ph neutral tissue paper and stored standing upright (not stacked) in pH neutral archival boxes.

Use clean cotton gloves when handling your images, or handle by the edges only, and never touch the surface of a daguerreotype. daguerreotypes are extremely susceptible to damage from scratches and smudges and all it takes to ruin a daguerreotype permanently is to lightly brush away some dust. It is better for you to just leave the daguerreotype in it's case untouched or have a it professionally cleaned by a conservator if it is heavily tarnished.

If you follow these rules you will be able to let generations of family members enjoy your collection far into the future.

Tags: photos, photo, collection, it's, condition, image, album, tips, preserve, perfect, damage, years, shot

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