How to Store Old Photos

Old photographs are great momentos to pass down between generations and preserve history. When you have old photos that you want to save, there are easy ways to ensure they dont fade or get damaged. If you want to keep prints, keep them in individual sleeves in a dark place so they dont get damaged. If you want to back up your photos, scanning them digitally will allow you to access them on a computer and reprint them. With proper storage, youll be able to keep your photos looking great!

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Preserving Physical Prints

  1. Organize your prints into chronological order to make them easier to find. Lay out your photos and sort them into groups based on how old they are. You dont need to get the order perfect as long as youre able to remember where you put your photos. If you want to, remove any photos that are poor-quality or that you dont want to save.[1]
    Store Old Photos Step 1.jpg
    • If you dont know the chronological order, you can also sort by the location in the photo or whos in each picture.
    • If you have a large photo collection, break the job into smaller chunks so you dont get overwhelmed.
    • Be sure to wash your hands before handling old photographs so you dont leave any damaging oil on them.
  2. Use a photo album if you still want to look through your photos regularly. Get a photo album that uses sleeved pages rather than adhesives or picture corners. Slide 1 picture into each slot on the album pages so theyre displayed in the order you organized them. If there are lines on the sides of the page, you can use them to write a description of the picture.[2]
    Store Old Photos Step 2.jpg
    • You can buy photo albums with various cover designs from big box stores or photography shops.
    • You can also write descriptions on the backs of the photos using a felt-tip pen or marker.
    • Some photo albums have a set amount of bound pages while others allow you to add more pages later on. Choose a style that works best for you.
    • Photo albums work best for photos that are or smaller.
  3. Place individual prints in acid-free sleeves to keep them safe. Acid-free sleeves keep your photos flat and prevent them from fading. Get sleeves that match the sizes of your prints so your photos dont slide around or get damaged. Only use 1 photo per sleeve, and use a felt-tip marker to label the sleeve or the back of the photo with a description.[3]
    Store Old Photos Step 3.jpg
    • You can buy acid-free sleeves online or from photography stores.
    • Avoid using a ballpoint pen to write descriptions on the sleeves or photos since you could leave dents.
    • If you have larger prints, such as an , and arent able to find acid-free sleeves, you can also use manilla envelopes.
  4. Store the photos in acid-free boxes for more condensed storage. Get a photo storage box thats tall enough for your pictures to stand up straight and is labeled acid-free. Put your sleeved photos into the box in the order you laid them out. Fill the box so the photos dont move around or shift out of place before sealing it closed.[4]
    Store Old Photos Step 4.jpg
    • You can buy acid-free photo storage boxes online or from photography shops.
    • If you arent able to stand the photos up straight, lay them flat on the bottom of the box and carefully stack them so they dont get damaged.
    • If you arent able to get an acid-free storage box, you can also use a shoebox.
  5. Keep photos in an area thats below and has low humidity. Choose a place that doesnt receive a lot of light and is away from moisture, such as under your bed, in a closet, or inside of a cabinet drawer. Make sure the temperature doesnt regularly go over since it could damage your photos. Check the humidity using a hygrometer to see if its between 1565%, or else your photos will age more quickly.[5]
    Store Old Photos Step 5.jpg
    • Avoid storing photos in a garage, attic, or basement since moisture can build up and cause the photos to warp.
    • If youre putting photos in a storage unit, make sure you can control the climate so your photos dont age.
  6. Display old photos with archival frames in areas that dont get constant light. If you want to show off older photos, choose frames that have archival glass to help slow down their aging process. Put the photos on walls that are out of direct sunlight so they dont fade as quickly. When you arent in the room with the photos, turn off the lights and close any curtains to preserve them for longer.[6]
    Store Old Photos Step 6.jpg
    • Choose multiple photos to display so you can cycle through them so they dont age as quickly.

[Edit]Digitizing Your Photos

  1. Clean the glass on a scanner with a lens cleaner and lint-free cloth. Open the scanner to reveal the glass scanning surface. Spray the lens cleaner onto the cloth and wipe the glass in a circular motion to remove any dust thats left on the surface. Make sure there arent any streaks on the glass, or else theyll be visible on your photos when you scan them. Close the scanner so dust doesnt land on the glass.[7]
    Store Old Photos Step 7.jpg
    • If you dont have a scanner at home, you may be able to find one at your local library or a print shop.
  2. Set the scanner so it uploads as a TIFF at 600 DPI. Access the scanner properties on your computer and check the output file format. Look through the list of file types and choose TIFF so the scan runs at the highest quality. Then look for the DPI (dots per inch) setting and change it to 600 so the photo doesnt pixelate when you scan it.[8]
    Store Old Photos Step 8.jpg
    • If you cant use TIFF as a file format, you can also try using JPG for similar results.
    • If you dont plan on enlarging the photos, you can also try a 300 DPI setting.
  3. Lay your photos face down on the scanner. You can usually scan 34 pictures at the same time to make the process move faster. Put the pictures against the scanners glass so the sides with the images face down. Ensure that the photos lay flat and dont hang off of the glass. Close the cover so the photos dont move around.[9]
    Store Old Photos Step 9.jpg
    • Some scanning software auto-detects photographs while others may make you crop your photos later on.
  4. Name and scan the images onto your computer. Press the Preview button on your scanner or computer to do a pre-scan so you can see if the photos look okay. If you like how the photos look after the preview, type in a short file name into the box on your screen before clicking Scan. The scanner may take a few seconds or minutes to digitize your photographs.[10]
    Store Old Photos Step 10.jpg
    • For example, you could name a file family_vacation98 so you can go back and find the images later.

[Edit]Backing up Digital Photos

  1. Upload your photos to a cloud storage site so you can access them anywhere. Cloud storage sites give you a set amount of space that you access as long as youre connected to the Internet. Look for a cloud service that meets your needs and choose a plan that matches how much storage you need. Upload the scanned photos to the cloud so they can save.[11]
    Store Old Photos Step 11.jpg
    • Keep copies of your scanned photos on your computer in case theres a problem with your cloud services.
    • Many cloud services will give you a free amount of storage, but you can pay to buy more if you want it.
  2. Get a storage app on your phone if you have pictures there. Storage apps automatically upload pictures you take on your phone to the Internet so you dont lose them if you misplace your device. Look for a storage app that fits your needs and create an account. Allow the app to access the photos on your device so it can upload them to cloud so you can access them anywhere.[12]
    Store Old Photos Step 12.jpg
    • Many large cloud storage services, such as Amazon Prime Photos, Apple iCloud, and Google Photos, have apps so you can access photos you uploaded from your computer as well.
  3. Copy your files onto external hard drives or CDs so you have physical backups. Get an external drive thats large enough to hold all of your photos and plug it into your computer. Locate the scanned photos on your computer and place them in a folder so you can copy them easily. Make a copy of that folder to upload to a hard drive or CD so you dont lose the scans if your computer crashes.[13]
    Store Old Photos Step 13.jpg
    • You can buy external hard drives from electronics stores.
    • Many photo departments have services where you can transfer files to a CD if you arent able to burn them at home.

[Edit]Tips

  • Always wash your hands before you handle your photos so you dont leave any oils on your pictures.
  • There are many online services you can use to digitize your photos if you arent able to at home.

[Edit]Things Youll Need

[Edit]Preserving Physical Prints

  • Acid-free sleeves or pages
  • Photo albums
  • Acid-free storage boxes
  • Archival frames

[Edit]Digitizing Your Photos

  • Computer
  • Scanner
  • Lens cleaner
  • Lint-free cloth
  • External hard drives or CDs

[Edit]References

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/time-to-tackle-those-boxes-full-of-old-photos/2018/11/19/1dd6e014-e6a0-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html
  2. https://www.aarp.org/relationships/genealogy/info-11-2011/preserve-old-photos.html
  3. https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/5.-photographs/5.5-storage-enclosures-for-photographic-materials
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/smarter-living/how-to-preserve-your-family-memories-letters-and-trinkets.html
  5. https://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-help-and-how-to/preserve-old-family-photos/
  6. https://www.aarp.org/relationships/genealogy/info-11-2011/preserve-old-photos.html
  7. https://youtu.be/iUfENY7LW3s?t=111
  8. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/info-2019/how-to-digitize-photos.html
  9. https://youtu.be/iUfENY7LW3s?t=125
  10. https://youtu.be/iUfENY7LW3s?t=133
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/smarter-living/backing-up-your-photos.html
  12. https://www.techradar.com/best/best-cloud-storage-2019-for-photos-and-pictures
  13. https://www.aarp.org/relationships/genealogy/info-11-2011/preserve-old-photos.html