How to Preserve Printed Photos

These days, if you have a beautiful photo of your family or a snapshot of the sunrise on your vacation, it probably lives on your Facebook page or Flickr account. But what about images from the pre-digital era, before memories could be vividly re-created by simply pressing “print” or sending files to the local drug store? If you have cherished family photos — pictures from your parents’ wedding day, baby photos of your now-grown children, or collectors pieces or art photography that can’t simply be reprinted–it takes special, proper care in order to preserve them for a lifetime. Here are a few tips that’ll help you preserve printed photos from fading and warping over the years.

Image via Getty

Hang in archival frames.
The best way to preserve your photos is to encase them in a frame. Housing images loose in a box or even laid out in a photo album opens them up to the risk of being forgotten about or improperly stored in an area that’s too hot or moist, factors which can cause photos to warp. Hanging your images in frames keeps them protected, as well as front and center for your everyday enjoyment. For extra protection, choose UV treated archival quality frames for any photos that are old or especially cherished. Even photography that’s not exposed to direct sunlight can fade, so it’s worthwhile to take this extra step to ensure your images are protected.

Use acid-free tape.
If you’re taping your image to a mat or backing to hold it in place, do so with acid-free tape. Standard masking and double-sided tape contains acids which can transfer onto your images causing the dreaded “acid burn,” a browning or yellowing discoloration at the site of the tape that occurs over time.

Use a dust barrier. 
If you’re framing your photos at home you’ll want to finish off the job by adding a dust barrier to the back of the frame. A dust barrier is exactly what is sounds like: an extra layer of protection that helps prevent dust and dirt from getting in. Most art supply stores sell dust barriers in the form of brown backing paper, paper backing tape, or flat backing tape.