The Journal Gazette
Saturday, February 22, 2020 1:00 am

Preserving old family photos

When it comes to passing down family memories, there's nothing like the visual impact of a photograph.

Photo frames, custom ornaments and similar memorabilia make some of the most popular gifts. Family photos can remind us where we came from, preserve valuable information and bring up warm, fun and often comforting thoughts of times and people gone by. Sometimes, they just make us smile.

“Capturing a moment in time isn't just about securing a memory – it can help you appreciate your life more every day,” advises Gretchen Rubin in Good Housekeeping. “Photos tilt your memories toward the good experiences you've had, simply because you're more likely to take photos of joyful times.”

These days, Americans enjoy capturing photographic images more than ever; in fact, they took some 1.2 trillion digital photos in 2017 alone. While most of those are safely stored in digital files, we often aren't as efficient when it comes to preserving the analog photos and negatives taken before the advent of digital cameras and smartphones. For many, that can mean those irreplaceable memories are at risk of fading into obscurity as they're stored away in some damp basement or dusty attic.

Fortunately, preserving your old analog photos without professional assistance need not be difficult, especially with some of the user-friendly tools now on the market. Consider these tips for making sure your personal history is saved for future generations.

Handle them with care. You may be used to carelessly flipping through your older photos, but the truth is the dirt and oil on your hands can easily accumulate and cause damage to old images. Experts recommend wearing non-scratching, microfiber or nitrile gloves as you sort and process them. Don't write on them at all (even the backs), and avoid grouping or attaching them with paper clips, rubber bands, tape, glue or other fasteners.

Store them protectively. Store loose analog photos and negatives separately from each other in acid-free boxes or in archival-quality photo albums (avoid albums with color pages and/or those labelled “magnetic” or “no stick”). Keep the boxes or albums in rooms that are stable, dry (with only 30% to 40% relative humidity) and clean. Minimal exposure to light, radiators, vents and atmospheric pollutants is ideal, and color photos and film negatives are best stored at temps of 40 degrees or below.

Convert analog to digital. Of course, the safest way of keeping your photos safe is to make them digital, so they can be safely stored in the cloud. For example, the Kodak Scanza can almost instantly process shots taken on analog film (in sizes of 35mm, 126, 110, Super 8 and 8mm) and convert them to a digital JPG format without need of a flatbed scanner, processing lab or even a computer.

– Brandpoint 

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