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Convert Photos To Digital-Images-Preserve Your Old Photographs & Negatives Now

Updated on June 30, 2015

How should I store my photographic prints?

The preservation of photographs, and all documents and artworks, depends on the storage environment and the storage enclosures. Many institutions have climate controlled storage rooms with purified air, kept at constant moderate or cool temperatures (e.g., 65-70F) and moderate relative humidities (e.g., 35-50%).

Some institutions even have cold vaults for certain types of photographs that are very prone to deterioration, such as color photographs and older films. Unfortunately, these conditions are not easily found or maintained in homes! However, there are things you can do to improve the storage climate for your valuable photographs in your home: store your photographs in the coolest and driest spot in your home that stays that way year round.

Finished basements frequently are cool, but they are usually too damp for photo storage unless they are dehumidified. Dampness should be avoided as it causes photos to stick together, and promotes mold growth. Above ground interior closets maintain fairly constant temperatures throughout the year, and should be considered for storage.

PRESERVE YOUR PRECIOUS MEMORIES NOW. Please watch the video to find out how you can convert your old negatives and photos to digital files.

CONVERT PHOTOS TO DIGITAL - MEDIA AND PRESERVE YOUR MEMORIES

With the advancement in technology it is now possible to convert your old negative & photos to digital media & burn a CD or DVD to watch on DVD player or a CD player on your PC or print the photos.

All plastic and paper materials used to house and store valuable and heirloom photographs should pass the ANSI IT9.16 Photographic Activity Test (PAT). (The PAT was developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a test that determines whether or not a storage material will cause fading or staining in photographs.) In addition, other storage materials such as envelopes, folders, sleeves, and boxes should meet the standards described in ANSI IT9.2 Photographic Processed Films, Plates, and Papers--Filing Enclosures and Storage Containers. Many manufacturers make storage materials which meet these two standards and advertise them in their catalogs.

Look for paper enclosures that are made from a high quality, non-acidic, lignin-free paper (buffered or unbuffered are OK) made from cotton or highly purified wood pulps. Paper envelopes with center seams should be avoided--if the seam adhesive causes fading or staining it will happen in the middle of your photograph. If you do use an envelope with a center seam, place the back side of the photo against the seam--any deterioration would have to work its way through the back before attacking the image on the front.

Look for plastic enclosures made from uncoated pure polyethylene, polypropylene or polyester (also called Mylar D or Mellinex 516). These are considered stable and non-damaging to photographs. Polyester is crystal clear and is more rigid than polyethylene and polypropylene. None of these recommended plastics have any odor to them, while polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic does have a strong odor (the new car smell). Avoid the use of PVC plastics--they generate acids which can fade the photograph in time. In addition, the plastic can stick to items inside and, in some types of photographs (and printed items such as baseball cards), actually cause the image to transfer to the plastic. For these reasons, PVC enclosures should not be used for valuable photographs or those you want to preserve for a long time.

Albums are an ideal storage method for photographic prints, especially snapshots and heirloom photographs--the photographs can be safely stored and organized, and safely viewed, without inflicting damage from frequent handling. Albums should be used to store selected groups of photographs, as they are expensive and somewhat bulky storage options. Not all photographs are really worth keeping; snapshot collections should be weeded of poor prints (blurred images, bad exposures) or less desirable photos (multiples, poorly cropped images) before housing the best ones in an album or other storage method (described below).

Besides albums, there are many different types of storage enclosures designed for the different photographic formats and sizes. These include folders, sleeves, and envelopes. The choice of enclosure depends not only on resources but also the frequency that the photos will be handled for viewing and their current fragility. In general, if a photograph is handled frequently or is fragile, it should be stored in its own enclosure such as a folder, envelope or plastic sleeve, then grouped in a box. Photos which are handled very frequently should be stored in their own plastic folders or sleeves so that they can be viewed without removing from the enclosure. Plastic enclosures also protect the photo surface from fingerprinting while it is being viewed. Remember, it is best to always hold a photograph by its edges, supporting it from underneath with your hand. Individual enclosures also protect from wear and tear and provide physical support to fragile or damaged photos. Very fragile photos such as those with large tears and breaks, brittle photos, photos with broken mounts or those with a damaged surface can be put in one of the enclosures listed above with a rigid piece of paperboard behind the photo for extra support. A less expensive option for storage is to group photos in folders. This approach is fine for photos that are in good condition and are rarely handled. Remember that damaged photos can be copied or photocopied, and the copy used instead to protect valuable originals.

Photographs can also be stored in plastic pocket pages and standard size plastic sleeves, grouped in folders for organization, then stacked in a box. Photographs 8 x10 inches or smaller can be stored vertically on their long edges in standard size boxes which are available for many photographic formats, including modern and nineteenth-century photographs. Photos larger than 8 x 10 inches, or those with damaged edges (brittle, torn) should be stored flat in small stacks inside standard size boxes. Groups of similar sized photos which are all the same type, such as modern 4 x 6 inch color snapshots, or older 2-1/4 inch black-and white snapshots, can be stored vertically or horizontally together without extra housings--photos which are the same type are usually safe to store in contact with each other. Boxes should be neither over stuffed or under filled. Over stuffing causes damage when photos are pulled out or filed away; under filling causes the photos to slump and curl.

Lastly, the safest, and most expensive, way to store photographs is to mat them in high quality ragboard or matboard. This method is excellent for photos that are to be framed and displayed.

Source(s):

The National Archives - ARCHIVES.GOV

http://www.archives.gov/preservation/family-archives/storing.html


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  • Mr Nice profile image
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    Mr Nice 7 years ago from North America

    Hi Robert Elias Ballard,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my hub.

  • profile image

    Robert Elias Ballard 7 years ago

    Great useful hub. thumbs up and thanks for the tips.

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    Hi Peggy W! thanks for joining my fan club. I think you should convert your slides.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Good information you are sharing with others. We still have some old slides that need to be converted. Maybe some day..........

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    Hi Anjalichugh, Thanks for visiting my hub. Well it's never too late. You can start saving the rest of your memories.

  • anjalichugh profile image

    anjalichugh 8 years ago from New York

    I wish I knew this before. I could have saved hundreds of my old photos. Thx for the info.

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    You are very welcome Compu-smart. Do you see the photo beside Mr Nice actually he was Mr Nice at that age. I love this photo. Guess whose photo is this. :)

  • compu-smart profile image

    compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

    Thanks! Mr Nice by name and Mr Nice by nature;)

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    For extra help you can hire me. I don't think you need help all you need is time. Good luck :)

  • compu-smart profile image

    compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

    Thnaks! Now all i need is time! :)

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    Hi Lgali, Copy Compu-smart ideas too because she is an expert I am just a little Compu-Wiz. It's time consuming because you will be scanning one photo at a time but you will save old memories. If you have negatives 35mm there is a converter you can buy at ebay for $100 search for " Negative Film Slide Digital Photo Converter Scanner ". It will make it faster plus you can get the negative images converted to digital images.

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    Hi Compu-smart, After all you are a Compu-smart I did the same thing. Made few copies of cds & saved on several other medias,Usb drive, SD cards & online photo storage services. There are some freewares Gimp, Rendera & PhotoFiltre you can down it from download.com. I hope these freewares will solve your problem.

  • Lgali profile image

    Lgali 8 years ago

    convert them to digital images is best idea

  • compu-smart profile image

    compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

    Mr Nice, i have now done this to most of them!

    I would also say, never have all your photos on just one disk or one medium..Who knows the life span of a disk for one, and two, discs are prone to posssible damage! I have on my memory stick and other photos in my email account and various other online storage places..

    Do you know any software that will make an image that's tatty better!?

  • Mr Nice profile image
    Author

    Mr Nice 8 years ago from North America

    Hi compu-smart, Well you can convert them to digital images and burn a cd.

  • compu-smart profile image

    compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

    I wish I knew this years ago! my photos are now worn and tattered and were never properly looked after!!

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