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Save Your Photos Day
September 30th is National Save Your Photos Day
The last Saturday in September is a great day to back up those digital photos and organize all those boxes of prints.
This day reminds us that these precious memories are perishable. Whether through natural disasters like floods, fires, tornados or hurricanes or the human ones like spilled liquids and computer viruses, photos in any form are fragile. Backing them up and preserving them are necessary for the long haul.
Some of the older photographs that have made it this far may be missing vital information. Many of our grandparents didn’t take the time to write the names of the people in the pictures, never realizing that generations later would be as fascinated by the people in the pictures as they were by taking them.
There are several ways to create order from the chaos. Take charge of the modern photos now. Label as you go by including names, dates and information about the event on the picture. Back up the digital photos on a regular basis. Share your favorites and display those that bring a smile.
Scan, preserve and share the photos with family to be shared for future generations as well.
I would like to give a few tips on the best ways to help your special memories last a lifetime.
First off, PRINT! A print will absolutely outlive digital files, I know this for a fact as over time I have lost digital images due to computer crashes, not properly backing up, and even technology becoming better has resulted in those original files looking like such poor quality now they are not worth printing. I'm not saying don't keep digitals, but make sure you back them up in at least 2 different places, and have prints of them as well.
How to Make Sure Your Prints Will Last:
Make sure you are properly storing your prints. They should be kept in a cool, dark place, away from moisture. They also should be in an acid free container, whether that's a plastic photo box, or wrapped in acid free paper.
Why? Heat will damage your prints. Bright sunlight will make them fade, and moisture can create mold and make them stick together. You may also be asking what's so important about being acid free? I have a background in custom framing and have personally opened old framed prints that have not been kept in an acid free environment (I will get more into that in a minute) and the prints become discolored, faded, and the paper becomes brittle and likely to crumble. You may not think it will happen to you, but I have seen this stuff first hand both from pulling out old prints with my grandparents from boxes, as well as from being a custom framer.
You mentioned acid free framing, tell me more about that.
Choose an acid free backing. The cardboard that comes with most frames is acidic, and will eat away at the back of your prints.
When you decide you want to frame a print, there are thousands of choices out there, from already made to custom options. Not all frames and mats are created equal. Let's start with the obvious, the backing. In most cases (usually when you go to the store to buy a frame) the backing is cardboard. Why does this matter? Because cardboard is extremely acidic, and eats away at the back of your prints. An easy solution for this is to include a buffer between the backing and your print. This can be a piece of acid free paper (scrapbooking paper) added in between, or you can have a mounted print on styrene, and with the added thickness, you should be able to throw that cardboard away and not need to use it at all. Another option is to get an acid free backing like acid free foam board (ask a local framer where you can get some).
If you have a metal or plastic frame, there is no acid to worry about, but any kind of organic material, like a wood or composite, will be acidic, so make sure your print is not touching the edges.
Next let's talk about the frame. Frames can be wood, plastic, composite, or metal. If you have a metal or plastic frame, there is no acid to worry about, but any kind of organic material, like a wood or composite, will be acidic, so make sure your print is not touching the edges. The best way to do this is by matting your print, which will give you space from the frame, so the mat will take the damage instead of your print.
I am big on matting because the mat takes damage instead of your print as mentioned above, and also because a mat will keep the surface of prints from touching the glass. You don't want prints to be pressed against the glass since they can become stuck, which will cause damage. Another good reason for matting is because it allows the print to 'breathe' with temperature and humidity changes, but make sure you are only taping the print on the top to the mat, since over-taping can result in warping.
Not all mats are acid-free, make sure to look for 'acid free' on the label.
One thing to note, not all mats are acid-free, and the mats that come inside of frames do not tell you if they are acid-free or not. If you want to make sure you are getting an acid-free option, take a look at the mats sold by themselves (I have seen them for sale at local craft stores), which are clearly labeled as "Acid Free".
Light will cause fading over time, it doesn't matter if it's sunlight or room light, both have UV rays.
Lastly, let's talk about the glass. Glass comes in different levels of UV protection, as well as having non-glare options. Museum glass, for example, is a non-glare option with 99% UV protection. It's called museum glass because it is literally the same thing protecting priceless artwork in museums. Glass in a standard frame is typically around 45% UV protection. Why does UV protection matter? Light will cause fading over time, it doesn't matter if it's sunlight or room light, both have UV rays. Do note that hanging your prints or artwork in direct sunlight or very bright room light will fade them faster, no matter which kind of glass you choose.
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