What is scrapbooking? » Photo Care
Photographs can have a long life. Their life-expectancy depends on:
Colour photos and negatives are made up of coloured dyes which have a poorer resistance to damage from light, moisture heat and chemical contamination than black and white photos. It is worth being aware that long term, given the same environmental conditions, black and white photos will outlive colour photos.
Care and Handling
Oils and salts in you skin will cause permanent damage to your photos. It is important to handle photos as little as possible. By ensuring that your hands are clean and by handling your photos by the edges only, you can cut down on the damage done to your photos. If you notice that you have left fingerprints on your photos, wipe your photos using a soft cloth to remove any marks.
Treat your negatives with care. It is important to label your negatives, as basic information such as the date, subject and location, written on the negative sleeve will save time when you are looking for a particular image at a future date. Labeling also reduces the chance of damage to fragile film by unnecessary handling.
Avoid writing on the back of prints with a pen or marker. If necessary use a soft 2B pencil and write in the border area of the photo.
Ideally photographs should be stored in a clean, cool, dry environment. Locations with unstable or extreme environmental conditions, such as attics, sheds, garages, cellars or laundries should be avoided. Keep collections off the floor.
Loose photos should be stored flat if possible. Remove any paperclips, staples or pins as these are likely to corrode over time and cause damage to photos. For long time storage it is best to have photos stored in acid-free boxes.
Unfortunately, many commercially available photo albums are unsuitable for long-term preservation. When looking for an album, look for the albums that state that they are acid-free, and to 'archival' quality. These albums need to have protector sleeves that are made from an inert plastic such as polyethylene, polyester or polypropylene, and the inserts should be acid-free. Albums to be avoided are the "magnetic" albums as these tend to contain harmful plastics and glues that will damage your photos over time.
Colour photographs are susceptible to fading and should be protected from excess light, so avoid displays near windows or in direct sunlight.
Framing provides protection from dust, dirt, and gases which can damage the image. Be sure when framing photos that you have an acid-free surround between the glass and the photos, as this will help prevent your photo sticking to the glass.
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT DIGITAL PRINTS
Will a digital print fade?
Digital prints in a typical home environment can be expected to last several decades.
Can digital prints be displayed in picture frames?
Digital prints can be mounted in picture frames in the same way as traditional photographs. Make sure that the glass is clean and it is also recommended that there is no direct contact between the print and glass.
Can digital prints be stored in a photo album?
Digital prints can be stored in any album designed for long term storage. For the longest life-expectancy, store prints in a constant cool, dry climate at as low a temperature as possible.
Are any special precautions necessary for the care of digital prints?
The primary difference between the care of digital prints and traditional photographic prints is their sensitivity to heat. Avoid exposing digital prints to high temperatures (greater than 32C) for extended periods of time. For example, avoid leaving prints in cars, above heaters, on windowsills or in the sun.
Can digital prints be laminated?
It is not recommended that prints are laminated as this process is irreversible, laminating uses heat which causes the dyes to change and will cause a loss in image quality.