I loved the many great ideas and example from the article here from StyleBluePrint.com where they talk about how to display your family photographs. To anyone that knows me, they know that I have a deep love and passion for the preservation of documents, cemeteries, and most of all pictures. I won’t elaborate too much on this, because the article really is well written. However, I give a word of caution that should be exercised. When you have original family photographs that are going to be openly displayed, they should be copies and not originals. Scan them at a high resolution, print them, then frame them for this project. The reason why you wanted to do this is because of sun bleaching from any exposure to light, especially natural sun light. The effects from the sun’s light spectrum can do a few things. It will bleach the color right out of the pictures over time. It can also cause the picture to ‘melt’ onto the glass, leaving a film. If you were ever to remove the picture from the frame, it would tear pieces of it off.
I did successfully remove a picture of a girl who was 16–and she was 82 sitting beside me–and there a film imprint of the picture on the glass and the physical deterioration was sad to see, all from being exposed to sun light. I scanned and restored the picture for her.
Think, have you ever been a video rental store and seen the movie shelves that were by the windows? It doesn’t take more than a year or two of direct sunlight to make a modern picture faded to almost non-visible. If your pictures are already faded, how long will it be until they are completely gone if exposed to the same light?
When you want to display your photographs, which I am firm supporter of, your original pictures displayed should be copied, scanned, printed, and stored away properly.
How To Store Your Photographs
Original photos need to be stored away from light and from humidity. A cool, dry place is best. However, I have seen this many times myself: do not leave them in their original photo album sleeve. Yes, this is going to require some further work but this is the crucial point of why you are doing this: to preserve them! Here are some very important points to keep in mind.
- Extreme heat in the attic can warp the picture, causing to to breakdown at the fiber level.
- Extreme cold can also make them brittle in the same way that extreme heat causes them to break down.
- Thermal shock (temperature extremes) destroy pictures — period.
- Damp, moist, potentially moist, basement areas, storage units, and other places can encourage mold to grow on your pictures. It’s a fungus that destroys!
- Direct sunlight and even passive sunlight can fade pictures over time. The more direct exposure to, the quicker they will fade away.
- Original photo books should be replaced with modern one. If you need help with a project like this, consider our digital archiving services as a way to preserve your priceless family treasures. Any mold, mildew, or potential damage that has already happened can come back on the picture again. It’s heart breaking to see old photos that were improperly stored pulled out and they were stuck to the pages or mold grew over the whole thing eating the picture layer off.
So here is your quick recap: proudly display your family treasures, but only the copies. Store the originals away safely somewhere because if they are ever ruined, destroyed, or lost then they are gone forever.