Do you know how many photographs representing decades of memories have been lost over the years due to old age and natural disasters?
One may consider why so many of us have gone through sometimes extreme lengths to preserve our old photos. Well it’s simple. Photographs are exceptionally important to the people who have taken them, as well as the people in the photos themselves. Because of this, safeguarding these irreplaceable keepsakes is crucial not only to the people involved, but to future generations as well.
Regardless of if you are an amateur photographer or a professional, it is always important that you know how to store and protect your old photo prints. Keep things organized and safe from natural disasters, loss, and natural wear & tear.
Luckily, this article will provide you with the tools and information about the things you need to do (and what to avoid) to keep your old photo prints safe.
Before we get into the best places to store your old photo prints lets take a look at preparing your photos for storage.
How to Prepare Your Old Photo Prints for Storage
Whether you’re considering storing your prints at home or in a storage unit for safekeeping (which we’ll later discuss), you’ll want to first learn how to properly organize your prints.
Ideally, you’ll want to consider a sealed and water-resistant container that hopefully contains a way to divide your prints. If you don’t have access to some sort of plastic container, a lot of people use a shoebox or other small container. While it may not be water-resistant, an old shoe box safely kept out of contact with water is the perfect and most affordable option for keeping your old photo prints flat and well protected.
Organizing Your Old Shoe Box
Preserving and protecting your old photo prints is much more than simply storing your photos in an old shoe box. In fact, if you really want to ensure that your photographs will be around for future generations to enjoy, there are a few things you must consider.
- Use a storage container or old shoe box made from a stiff material to ensure that your prints remain flat.
- Avoid storing your prints in boxes or containers which are too small and likely to damage them. Cramming all of your prints into one box can have the same effect as using a container which is too small. That being said, it’s important to note that using too large of a container can also have a negative effect. Filling an oversized box or container with non-acidic tissue paper is generally recommended to prevent any shift and damage to your prints when moving.
Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of ruining prints which have become stuck together? Although it may seem like a tedious task, separating your prints using sheets of acid-free paper can protect your old photo prints and keep them safe.
Places You Can Store Your Old Photos for Safekeeping
Lets look at some important points to consider when storing your old photos:
- Choose a well ventilated area to prevent build up of mold and mildew, as well as prevent damage from other organic compounds.
- Storing your old photos in areas susceptible to high temperatures (such as an attic or outdoor shed) can negatively react with the chemicals used to process your prints resulting in discoloration.
- Avoid storing your old photos in areas prone to flooding and moisture such as your basement.
- Storing your old photos in direct light can cause your photographs to fade. If you’re unable to completely enclose your prints, most experts generally recommend storing them in a dark area.
How to Store Your Old Prints at Home for Easy Access
Lets look at some do’s and don’ts:
- Avoid storing your old photos in areas easily affected by humidity resulting from extreme fluctuations in temperatures such as an attic, basement, or garage.
- Always store your old photos in climate controlled areas such as cabinets, closets, or even under your bed.
- Avoid storing your photos close to any areas fitted with a heating or cooling vent.
- Whenever possible avoid storing your old photos on the ground.
Using a Self-Storage Unit for Storing your Old Photo Prints
So let’s say that you’ve run out of space, or your living accommodations make it impossible to safely organize and store your old photo photos for safekeeping. If so then you may want to consider a personal storage unit. Sure it’ll probably mean a trip any time you want to look at or show someone your vintage photographs. But at least you’ll be able to reclaim that now empty space under your bed or linen closet.
Lets look at some do’s and don’ts when using a self-storage unit for the protection and preserving of your old photo prints:
- Try to choose a unit with climate control. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll want to avoid storing your prints in any area subject to fluctuating temperatures, especially anything over 75 degrees.
- Regardless of whether they’re packaged in containers or file boxes, never store your photos on the ground of the storage unit. Instead, use a pallet or a wire rack to keep the boxes above ground should the unit become flooded.
- Whether they’re kept in boxes or framed, always enclose your old photo prints.
There’s perfectly nothing wrong with converting your old photos to digital copies. In fact, digital copies of your old photos can actually serve as the perfect backups should your original prints ever become lost or damaged. A professional restorer can easily use high quality digital archives of your old photo prints to restore your photos.
If you’re like me and concerned about preserving and protecting your memories, using a digital camera or even your smartphone is something worth considering. In fact, you’d be surprised just how easy it is to back up you images on your computer or a memory stick and safely store it at home for safekeeping.