Photos are often our way of remembering our happiest moments and significant life events. Taking the proper care of your photos can help you keep these for many years to come. As you may have read, earlier we released an article about properly caring for original photographs, now we will examine the procedures to properly care for your photographs.
Choosing the Right Paper:
If you haven’t printed your photograph yet, printing on archival quality paper can help extend the life of your work of art. Archival paper, or museum grade paper has 6 characteristics:
It is acid free with a pH value between 7.5 and 10
Has an alkali reserve of at least 2% carbonate
Resistant to tearing
Free of lignin
Made of cotton
High endurance to breakage by folding
These standards are set by ISO standard 11108 and help the consumer ascertain they are getting a product that can withstand significant handling and last longer then other papers. Unfortunately, this paper does cost more than traditional paper, which is an important factor to consider when printing. However, long-term, this is a better option if truly want to if extending the life of your work of art is a priority.
There is a significant difference in the quality of prints made by home printers and high quality commercial grade printers. If you want a professional quality print, then a minimum of 1200 dots per inch (dpi) is the required printing solution. Professional quality inkjet printers, such as those made by Epson and Canon, have the capability of creating color compositions and resolutions unmatched by home printers. These printing services are fairly inexpensive and do color work on the digital file as well as prior to printing.
It is recommended that photographs are not displayed permanently or in direct sunlight. However, if this will be the case it is recommended to have copies made and displayed while storing the original. High quality copies are almost impossible to differentiate from the original and if they degrade, the original is still undamaged. If the original is to be displayed, it is recommended that exposure times be minimized and only indirect sunlight be present. Framing them with archival sound materials is the best way to prevent damage.
Originals should be kept in locations that are free of debris, food, drinks, acids and other environmental factors, which could degrade the substrate or inks. Using paper enclosures that have passed the Photographic Activity Test, which determines if the paper is safe to use with silver photographic material, or plastic enclosures will isolate the photographs from the environment and keep them from degrading. Photos should be kept with a temperature of 68 degrees (F) and around 30-40% humidity.
A digital copy of the original should be made in case something happens that would render it unusable to create further reproductions. Digital scans should be color matched and done by someone with industry experience. The file that you originally have should not be changed, if another format is required you should save an additional file with the secondary format. Having a high-resolution digital file lets you easily and cheaply make copies of the photograph as well.