As printed photos age, they can fade, get brittle or acquire color casts. They demand, but seldom get, good tender loving care. You need to know how to keep the originals, and also consider digitizing them for future generations.
1) Store in a Dry and Cool Place
2) Protect from Direct Light
Do you have rare, old family photos hanging in your living room? Photo prints fade fast if exposed to light. If you have original pictures on display, take them down. Scan and reprint them for framing and display, and store the originals safely. The culprit here: ultra-violet rays, that can affect the photographic chemicals and bleach them.
3) Don’t Write Directly on Photos
It’s important to to ensure that details about old family photos, such as dates, places, people’s names etc. aren’t forgotten. But don’t annotate these on or behind the photos with a pen or ball pen. If you must write behind the prints, use a pencil. A better option is to scan the photos and add digital annotations (This is very easy: We explain how further down).
Look through your collection of old family photos. Chances are that you will come across a few with dates and details scribbled in ink. Your best bet is to scan them, then use a photo editing program such as Photoshop or Gimp to restore them. If you don’t have the necessary software or skills, look online for photo restorers. Once you have clean, restored digital files of the photos, you can have fresh prints made.
4) Store in Acid Free Albums or Photo Boxes
At one time (1970s?), magnetic albums were very popular. Then, in the 1980s and ’90s, one-hour photo print shops would return your prints in those flimsy, free plastic albums. Both those are BAD for your photos. Always use acid-free, lignin-free containers.
5) Digitize Your Prized Photographs
How to Digitize Photos
- A desktop or flatbed scanner,
- An “outsourced” scanning service,
- A smartphone and scanner app
Scanning with mobile apps is faster, and you don’t need to take photos out of albums. It’s a good way to scan on the go, using a device you already have with you. Scan quality depends on your smartphone or tablet’s camera. Current iPhone and iPad models have 12 megapixel cameras, which can produce excellent scans.
If you use an iPhone or iPad, get Pic Scanner Gold or Pic Scanner app. Here is some of the acclaim these apps have garnered:
With both these apps, you can scan multiple photos (or a whole album page) at a time. They also automatically crop and save all the photos, which saves a lot of time. You can add captions, i.e. digitally annotate date, place and other information on photos. Pic Scanner Gold also lets you append and export this information.
Pic Scanner Gold is the advanced version, for higher resolution scans, more editing tools and other useful features. This app is recommended for users with iPhone 6S, 7, 8 and X, and iPad Air 2, Pro, Pro 2 and iPad Mini 4.
Pic Scanner is recommended if you have basic scanning and editing needs, and have an older iPhone or iPad.
Click on the icons above to download your preferred app. Both come with a 90-days money back warranty.