Preserving Memories: Care and Storage for Photographs

Beginning with storage think cool, dry and clean…

Next, what are your photos stored in? Magnetic and self-adhesive photo albums can actually do harm to your photographs. Consider transferring photos to acid-free photo albums. There are also archival storage boxes available. (For a more technically detailed description of storage specifications, we’ve included this link to an article from the Library of Congress.)

If you have the negatives of the photos, it’s a good idea to store them in a separate location from the photos. (Follow the same guidelines, cool, dry and clean, etc.)

Finally, make digital copies. Once you have a digital copy of each of your photos, those can be stored on a CD, DVD, external hard drive or your computer. Again, we recommend making a backup copy of these digital files and storing them in a second location.

An additional benefit of having digital copies is that you can print and then display the copy so that the original photo can be kept, and protected, in storage.

One final note on scanning your photos—scanning photographs to convert to digital involves exposing them to light and heat, so you want to do that as little as possible, ideally only once.