What You Don’t Know Can Harm Your Photos


A photographic image is something that looks like it will last forever. However, unfortunately, that is not the case. While one can potentially use a photo scanning device to save old images, many people like to preserve the feel and look of a physical photograph.

A photographic image’s surface is made up of silver or platinum dyes or pigments. Although processes tend to vary, all photos can become harmed over time due to environmental factors. Thankfully, any photo digitizing service will tell you a few things you can do to preserve your photographs and ensure that they complete their lifespan.

So, for now, step away from that photo scanning device and learn about the 6 things you don’t know that harm your photos, as well as the steps you can take to prevent this from happening.


  • 1.High Temperature and Relative Humidity


It may not look like it, but a photograph comprises several layers used in the photographic processes to allow the image to emerge. One of these layers is the emulsion layer, which is made up of organic materials like gelatin.

The emulsion layer is the light-sensitive component of the photograph that is responsible for capturing the image during the photographic process. Moreover, the organic materials within the emulsion layer make it susceptible to accumulating fungi and mold, especially when stored in a hot and moisture-laden environment.

To avoid your photographs becoming damaged with mold, take care not to store them in environments over 70°F and 50% relative humidity. Photographs should be stored in cool, dry places to lengthen their lifespan as much as possible.


  • 2.Ultraviolet Light


If you hang a color photograph on a portion of the wall in your house where the sun hits regularly, you will eventually see the colors of your photograph fade away. The dyes of a photograph contain light-absorbing color bodies known as chromophores, the chemical bonds of which create the colors we see. Exposure to UV light tends to break these chemical bonds and causes the colors to fade.

To prevent this from happening, hang your photos in an area that does not receive exposure to sunlight. If not, you might want to consider using a photo scanning device to save your precious memories before the sunlight has its way when them.


  • 3.Air Pollutants


You may be under the impression that your home contains no air pollutants that could potentially harm your photos. However, think again. An average home has many air pollutants, including cleaning products, fresh paint, cooking fumes, and cigarette smoke.

Over time, exposure to such air pollutants damages photographs, especially if they do not have an appropriate covering. These pollutants affect photos over time so that you won’t see the damage right away. However, in time it will become pretty obvious.


  • 4.Metallic Objects


Metallic objects tend to be pretty hard on photographs as objects like keys and paper clips can quite easily scratch the surface of a photograph, thereby permanently damaging it. The fix for this is quite simple. All you have to do is avoid storing your photos in a place where there are metal objects.

Know more about VHS to Digital Conversion with Smooth Photo Scanning.


  • 5.Adhesives and Rubber


Many people probably already had their suspicions about those easy-to-use sticky-back photo albums. Also known as ‘magnetic photo albums,’ these used adhesives like rubber cement to hold the photographs in place. 

However, such adhesives contain many chemicals, including PVC, which are extremely harmful to your photos. Anything with rubber will also have the same effect. To preserve your photos for many years to come, avoid using any adhesives to store them. To find better ways of storing pictures, visit a photo digitizing service to learn more about safe photo storage.


  • 5.Wood and Paper Products


While anything from a tree is natural, wood and paper products also tend to harm photographs. Such products contain acids, bleaches, and other chemicals that will damage the emulsion of your photograph if they come into contact with it. This damage will occur over time and won’t be noticeable right away.

To preserve your photographs, use acid-free paper as archival material. If you are confused about what materials to use, ask a photo digitizing service near you and learn more about the best ways to store old photographs.


While most photos are digitized today, any photo digitizing service will warn you about the above listed 6 things that can harm photos. If you have old family photographs and have been considering using a photo scanning device to preserve them, you’ll be happy to know that you can use the steps outlined above to ensure that your photos serve their full lifespan.

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