Top 5 Tips for Preserving Your Precious Photos

Party Time

In my last blog post, I wrote about planning my parents' 50th Anniversary party. In planning their party, I uncovered 50 years worth of photographs stuffed in albums that were literally falling apart. Many of the photos were adhered to magnetic album pages and were deteriorating. So in this post I want to share my top five tips for preserving those precious photos.

1. Get those albums out of the attic. I found most of my parents' albums in the attic where they were exposed to heat. According to the National Archives, you should ideally store your photographs in an environment with "low temperature and low humidity," ideally below 75 degrees Fahrenheit and between 15% and 65% relative humidity.

2. Remove and remount your photos from sticky albums. Most of the photos I found were either glued into albums or stuck onto magnetic album pages. Removing your photos from sticky albums (if possible) and remounting them will go a long way to preserving those old photos. The Smithsonian recommends using dental floss to remove stubborn photos from those sticky pages. For tips on how to remove your old photos from sticky albums, check out The Smithsonian's You Tube Video on how to preserve your treasures. If your plan is to remount your photos into new album pages, use a stable, plastic photo sleeve or plastic photo corners made from  polyester, polypropylene or polyethylene. B&H Photo has a variety of archival storage pages to hold almost any size photo.

3. Store your photos in an acid free, lignin-free document box or folder with spacer boards. The key words to look for when shopping for a safe way to store your old photos and documents are archival, acid free, and lignin-free. The clear photo/craft storage boxes found out the big box craft stores are good for portability, but not good for long term preservation. To store your documents, photos, books, and artifacts safely, check out Gaylord has a full line of archival products to protect your items. 

4. Scan your photos. Making a high-resolution scan of your old photos is not only a great way to store your photos, but gives you the ability to touch up those photos as well. For my parents' 50th Anniversary, I scanned is their most precious photos and printed out copies to use in the party decorations. I also created a slide show and photo book from Blurb to give to my parents using the digital scans. If you don't want to scan in your own photos, there are many companies that will do it for you. Check with your local photo shop to see if they sell a Gather Box or purchase a Legacy Box online. The idea behind these boxes are that you fill the box with your photos, movies, slides, VHS tapes... and they will scan and digitize them for you. 

5. Share your photos. Sharing your scanned photos on a cloud drive is a great way to relive those precious memories and share your family albums. I stored all of my parents' photos on my Google drive and shared the drive with my family after the 50th Anniversary party. Amazon offers free photo storage for Prime members. Many cloud drives have an app that will even sync photos from your phone to the cloud. 

For more information on preserving your old family photos, documents, papers, check out the National Archives.They have great tips on how to handly, store, and preserve your family's treasures. 

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