Taking photos has been a means of recording historic, precious and memorable moments for a long time now. As technology advanced, so did the means of storing or archiving photos, to the extent that, today, you can store your photographs on media such as discs and you need not even print them! But what about the photos from over 15 or 20 years ago, when you had to make do with getting prints processed from a photo shop and then paste them onto albums? It is a known fact that paper of any kind deteriorates and fades over a period of time and your precious memories may be on the verge of disintegration. In order, to keep those memories alive for longer periods, proper archival and storage methods are very important. Think about the trouble and effort museums, libraries or public archives take to store old paintings, books, documents, etc? While we're not suggesting that you take up these stringent and expensive measures, here are some simple ways in which you can properly store your old photographs and enjoy their memories for a long time.
Use the right type of albums. Do not store old photographs, or any photographs for that matter, in albums which are magnetic or of the ‘stick and peel' variety. Over time, the plastic, cardboard, paper and glue found in such albums, will only damage your photos. Instead, invest in albums which are guaranteed and labeled as free of acids.
Remove ‘extras'. Often you may have pins, staples or clips attached to your photographs, for a variety of reasons. Those are not important now, but it is very important that you remove all these ‘extras' from them immediately. These can damage the photos when you are ready to store them in albums or frames or boxes.
Labeling photos. Use a permanent black marker on the back of the photographs to identify the time, occasion and the people or subjects in the photo. Make sure to write with a soft grip, so as to not leave any marks or indentations on the pictures. The other alternative is to use a soft lead pencil.
Storing individual photos. If you don't want to put your photographs in albums or frames, then you can use plastic sleeves or bags which are PVC-free. Another option in place of plastic sleeves or bags is layering each photograph with sheets of acid-free paper or cardboard.
Proper framing. Use acid-free mats and backboards if you plan on framing the pictures. The mats will prevent the photo from touching the glass and the backboard will provide protection against the back of the frame.
Keep extra copies. For really important and favorite photographs, it is preferable to get a copy made, should the original become damaged for whatever reason.
Important tips. When using wood or products such as paper or cardboard, make sure they are acid-free, also for any plastic material which you use should be without PVC as a component as it degrades over time. Store your albums or photo boxes in areas free of damp and humidity, extreme temperatures or lights. Also avoid placing them in areas such as basements, attics or garages, unless these have proper heat and moisture controls.
With a little extra investment, you can now make sure that your old photographs continue to survive and be around for a long time to come. Your precious and memorable moments can be preserved and be passed on from generation to generation, should you take the necessary measures for proper storage today.