Dear Scrapbooking Gang,
I hope everyone was able to have a wonderful holiday. Holiday memories need to be preserved - along with all those other photos you have taken over the years. I have had a few questions lately on my “Ask Robin” blog about preserving your photographs and if there are any scrapbooking supplies that can be used to help those photos last longer.
Photo preservation is a huge topic out there, especially because many of us have seen our ancestors’ photos yellow or deteriorate over time. So what can we do as scrapbookers to keep that from happening? Along with being a scrapbooker, I am also a photographer by trade and have some experience in this area. I have put together a list of the top ways that will keep those photos preserved for years to come!
1. Use acid free everything on your scrapbooking pages. Yes, acid free is a big deal. Many of those photos you see that have yellowed, cracked, or faded have done so because of the acid in the paper used and the acid in the albums they have been kept in.
2. Use sheet protectors to separate photos. Even if you never scrapbook your photos, you should always keep them separated and protected. Also, why print a photo if you are not going to look at it or reminisce? If you haven’t scrapbooked the photo yet (and don’t plan on doing so within the next few years), putting it in a photo album with acid free sleeves is the way to go. Stay away from any of the sticky albums that use adhesive to hold the picture down or are “magnetic”. These albums tend to be highly acidic and dangerous to photos.
3. Print photos on ”permanent paper” or paper that is acid-free, lignin free, and pH neutral. Just check the labels before buying paper - even some photograph paper isn’t suited for long-term photo preservation. Of course, if you have a store or company print them, you shouldn’t have to worry. But you may want to ask about the paper they print on and the ink they use to make sure it is acid free.
4. Use acid-free ink with your inkjet for printing photos. As a general rule, most inkjet printers use acid-free ink, but some do not. Make sure you check with your manufacturer to see if their ink is acid free. Many companies also make statements about their ink and how fade resistant it is. If you do use an inkjet printer and want the images to stay vibrant - keep all images out of direct light and keep all images away from water or liquids.
5. Acid-free photo boxes can be safe as well. Just keep in mind that photos can stick together if moisture gets into them. The best way to preserve them in this method is to separate them with acid-free envelopes or sleeves.
6. When labeling photos, always use acid-free ink and/or labels. Most regular ballpoint pens can eventually bleed through your photos or onto other items. If you will not be scrapbooking your photos, an acid-free, smudge proof pen/marker would be the easiest option. And if you are like me (overly organized and neat), you can print onto acid-free labels and adhere them to the photo.
7. Coating your prints with veneers or sprays can be a solution - especially for those photos you have on display. For example, I have a family photo that has been framed without a mat and glass for protection. I had it sprayed with a UV protection spray (UV resistant fixative) at my local photo lab (not all labs will do this), but you can buy the spray at photo supply stores or online. I have had the photo on the wall for 4 years now and there doesn’t appear to be any fading and it can easily be wiped down for dust particles. I have also found some water-based varnishes that do a similar task and are also supposed to protect against the yellowing effect. I found one at inkjetart.com . Although these topcoat sprays and such are a solution, many of the product labels say that they are not a permanent protection, but they can help your photos last longer and protect against some environmental factors.
8. Always keep a copy of your photos on other types of media. After I have printed my photos, I always burn them to a CD or DVD. Although there are some critics out there that will argue that CD/DVD’s won’t last forever, I believe that if needed in the distant future, I can convert my CD into whatever the new media is at that time. I then store these photo CD/DVD’s in protective cases and boxes (make sure to label them!). As a scrapbooker, I also like to include CD’s with some of my scrapbooking layouts - especially if I took 100’s of photos for one occasion and don’t want to print all of them.
9. Give copies to other people! If you have a flood, hurricane, fire, etc. there really is no way to know if your photos will survive, unless you have shared them with others. Go photo-happy and send your photos to relatives and friends. I know that my mom has sent most of the kids in the family treasured photographic prints and CD/DVD’s with photos and recordings. If she were ever to lose her treasured memories in a fire, she would probably be able to recover most of them from us. Don’t have a lot of family and friends (I sure hope that is not you!)? Another option is to use an online photo storage website. There are many free or very inexpensive sites out there - check out myphotoalbum.com, kodakgallery.com, and shutterfly.com. The great advantage to these sites is that you can share your photos too.
10. Store your scrapbooking albums, photo boxes, digital media, and photos in environmentally safe places. Remember that light, moisture, and temperature can harm your photos. The garage or cold storage room may not be the best place for your photos. A dark closet that keeps the same temperature most of the time would be a better choice.
Latest and Greatest - Product of the Week
Since we have been talking about photo preservation, I though it fitting to highlight some of the new products out there that can help keep your scrapbooking alive from generation to generation.
Preserve It - Digital Photo and Paper Protectant Spray ($7.99)
More than doubles the life of your digital photos and prints. Moisture-resistant, UV protection against fading, acid free and archival safe. Use this unique spray to add a layer of protection to any item printed by your computer, fax, copy machine or other digital product. Also great for traditional photos, address labels, greeting cards, scrapbook materials and artwork. Your presentations and important documents are less likely to become damaged with a coating.
Archival Mist or Make it Acid Free Spray ($5.99)
This acid-free spray comes in many sizes. Spray on your treasured keepsakes and momentos that are not printed on acid free, safe paper…and you’ll prolong their life for years to come. (I use this on newspaper clippings and kid art projects that I want to save in my scrapbooks.)
Keep those photos super cute AND protected so that everyone can enjoy you and yours for all future years. Have a happy New Year!
P.S. Don’t forget – if you have questions about products or scrapbooking ideas, email me or check us out at www.scrapbookfinds.com.