All too often we receive photos to repair when our customers are desperate to salvage a memory. This means the images we get for photo restoration are usually badly damaged. We have seen it all - rips, stains, mold, water damage, burn marks, even drawn-on mustaches. Our job is to work our magic with what we get to produce the best quality photo prints possible, but here are some preventative measures you can take to avoid the sadness of discovering an old photo in pieces. Using these good habits you can preserve high quality photo prints in new condition!
Old photo care
-Have clean hands and a clean working area.
-Wear gloves that will not scratch or leave residue on the photos. This will also prevent you from leaving fingerprints on the photographs.
-Keep food and drink away. Do not work in an area near food or drink as you might not see residue on the surfaces you are working on.
-Don't mark photos with writing utensils. Pencil or an archival felt tip pen has less of a risk, but if you are really concerned about preservation, it is best not to risk it at all.
-Do not bind your photos with paperclips, rubber bands, tape, or glue.
-Dry, clean, and stable environments are preferred. Avoid places of temperature extremes or where they may be at risk for leaks or spills.
-Keep photos in a container to reduce exposure to direct light. This container should be made of a material that will not scratch the images like a smooth cardboard. If you are using plastic, be aware of humidity, as photos may stick to the surface.
-For extra protection, you can matte each photo or keep them in separate plastic sleeves. Some enclosures will have the extra advantage of having a space where you can label the images without having to write directly on the image.
-Keep negatives separate from print materials in acid-free containers.
-Think about displaying copies of photos instead of the originals. This way you may protect and store the original photo properly.
New photos, or caring for images after a photo restoration
Modern day printing technologies:
-When printing at home, make sure to get a photographic quality printer with a set of 6-8 inks to get as close to professional quality photo prints as possible.
-Use pigment-based ink instead of dye-based. These inks are water and smudge resistant. Archival ink is also resistant to weathering and fading.
-Use archival paper instead of gloss printer paper -- also called "rag paper" or "museum paper". This will be acid free and therefore longer lasting for the image. (Archival prints, done with archival ink and paper, can last 200 years without any color change!)
-If you are not printing at home, look for information about what type of ink and paper the printer is using.
-For extra protection on some of your pieces, you may be able to have a UV coating or lamination on top of the print. Keep in mind that these finishes can alter the color or texture of your print.
Physical Storage practices:
For your prints or photo books, take into consideration all of the same tips above for caring for old photos. Remember, the best way to store photos is to have the photos themselves in the best condition possible first!
Digital Storage practices:
When digitizing photos, you have to think about where you are going to store them, the file format, and file names for organization. We go into much more depth about digital storage in our blog post here: (link to our other blog about best digital storage)
For professional assistance with any photo restoration, retouching, or recreation, please visit us at www.PhotoRepairPro.com