Photographs are memories. You want to be completely assured that they are protected during storage. There are numerous factors to consider when storing your precious reminders of the past. As you read further, you’ll understand the suitability of climate-controlled storage to prevent mold, mildew, and fading. Keep in mind that we are discussing developed, not digital, photos.
Properly Handle Your Photographs & Negatives
Always handle photos and negatives with clean, dry hands. Always hold photos by the edge. Never put fingers directly on photos because your hands contain oils and other chemicals that can leave a permanent mark on photos or negatives.
Choose the Proper Containers for Your Photos
Don’t make the mistake of purchasing the cute or cheap albums and boxes for your photos. They could potentially contain acids or adhesives that can harm, age, and degrade your photos. Look for items that are archival quality: photo safe, acid, lignin, and PVC free.
Properly Load Your Photo Containers
Even archival quality storage containers will not protect your photos if not filled properly.
Overfilling an album can cause your pictures to bend or crease. If photos are not affixed properly, they can fall out of your album resulting in loss or damage.
Overfilling a photo box causes the same problems as an overfilled album. Underfilling allows pictures to move around, causing curled or frayed edges. If your box isn’t full, use archival quality dividers to prevent shifting. It’s okay to stack photos loosely if you’re not storing in a humid or high temperature environment. This may cause photos to stick.
Some additional recommendations:
- Do not use tape or glue to affix photos in albums.
- Mount photos only on archival paper.
- Never hold photos together using paper clips or rubber bands.
- It’s not a good idea to store photos in envelopes because they may stick together.
- If you must write on a photo, use an archival safe writing pen and don’t press very hard. You don’t want indentations in your photo.
Store Photos in Safe Places Under Proper Conditions
Climate-controlled storage will probably offer the best conditions for storing photos. The area in which photos are stored makes a significant difference as to how well they will age. When choosing a location, you need to think about humidity, temperature, and light. You will also want to consider the possibility of flooding and the prevalence of insects and rodents.
Neither the attic, the basement, nor the garage are the ideal places to store your treasured photographs. Insects and rodents frequent these spaces and love to chew on paper. These areas also tend to be subject to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Remember to keep photos off the floor, especially if you are in a flood prone area.
When storing your photos, look for a reputable, secure storage facility that offers climate-controlled units. Check that the temperature and humidity levels are suitable for your photos. Light shouldn’t be a problem because these units generally do not have windows.
Your photographs are your link to the past. With the proper care and preparation, you and your family will be able to enjoy your memories for generations to come.
Stay tuned for our next blog for more tips on what to store in a climate-controlled storage unit.