JUST BLACK & WHITE'S
TIPS FOR PRESERVING
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS AND DOCUMENTS
Since the beginning of time, mankind has been recording history. However, only within the past 150 years have we been able to document history photographically. What we learn about our past provides a transition from our ancestors to our offspring. Photographs provide a graphic portrayal of yesterday, but if we neglect and do not preserve our photographs, some of our history will fade away along with those images.
ENVIRONMENTAL - Temperature and humidity affect photographs and documents more than any other element. Best conditions are under 70 degree F with the relative humidity under 50%. High humidity is most harmful and high temperatures accelerate the deterioration. Cyclic conditions (High heat and humidity followed by cold and dry weather, followed by high heat, etc.) are very bad for the emulsion and may cause cracking and seperation of the emulsion from the support.
AVOID THE FOLLOWING:
Attics and Basements - The worst places to store your photographs or documents is in an uninsulated attic or basement. In the summer, temperatures in an attic could reach 125 degrees F. while in the winter they can get down to less than 0 degrees. With the constant high temperatures and humidity in the summer and low temperatures and humidity in the winter, the photographs or documents will become brittle. In severe cases, the emulsion (image) on the photograph can separate from the base (paper). These cyclic conditions will have a devastating effect on any paper product.
Uninsulated basements are usually moist which can cause photographs to stick to each other. Another problem encountered in basements is that they are great breeding grounds for insects and rodents which are strongly attracted to gelatin and cellulose in the photographic emulsion.
The best places to store important photographs or documents are in a safe deposit box at your bank. They are usually climate controlled and kept dark to provide almost ideal storage conditions. The ideal storage conditions are 68 degrees +/- 2 degrees and 50% relative humidity +/- 5% relative humidity.
Wood, Paper and Paper Products - Wood and papers contain harmful additives such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Use only paper products that are acid free. Proper storage containers are available from archival suppliers (see below).
Miscellaneous Materials - Rubber bands or rubber cement contain sulphur which degrades photographic emulsions. Paper clips can abrade or scratch the surfaces of prints or negatives. Pressure sensitive tapes usually contains acids which can accelerate the deterioration process. Any kind of ink also contains acids. Fingerprints on prints or negatives create physical damage from the oils and acids in human skin .
Fumes and Vapors - From oil-based paints, varnishes, shellac, carbon monoxide (automobiles stored in garages) and photocopiers including laser copiers (most produce ozone as a by-product which is a bleach and the fumes may accelerate the deterioration). Also, the intense light and heat from copiers are detrimental to photographs.
Paper - Use only lignin free (from paper pulp), acid free, unbuffered paper. Use this paper to store photographs or as interleaving paper in albums.
Plastics - Any of the following plastics are safe to use in storing photographs, negatives or documents: Polyester, Mylar, Polypropylene, Polyethelene, and Tyvek.
REMEMBER ! Photographic copies are like insurance policies, they protect you in case of disaster.
Photographic Copies Make Memorable Gifts!
Tell us through e-mail that you're sending in an order and we'll give you a special 10% DISCOUNT on all Photographic Copies or Enhancements