Keep Your Pictures Perfect

Maureen A. Taylor

Treasured family photographs will last for generations if they are handled properly. Here are some tips on how to preserve your photographs:

  • Storage areas should have a relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent and a constant temperature no higher than 70°F. (Basements, attics, and garages are not suitable.)
  • To minimize fading, limit exposure to light, including photocopying.
  • Keep photographs where pests such as mice, silverfish, and termites can not have access.
  • The best containers and albums are either acid-free or of archival quality; cardboard, wood, and plastic containers emit gases that are potentially harmful to photos.
  • Use only polypropylene or polyester plastic sleeves; avoid polyethylene.
  • Avoid acid-containing or gummed paper folders or envelopes, such as those made from brown kraft paper, which can stain images.
  • Do not bind photographs with rubber bands or paper clips, which may cause stains or indentations.
  • Handle photographs by the edges and wear white cotton gloves.

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.
–Eudora Welty, American writer (1909–2001)


Adapted from "Preserving Your Family Photographs" (Betterway Book, 2001)

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