Don't throw away your old, damaged photos, repair them with a good photo restoration service.
There are no if's, and's, or but's about it: Old photos are extremely fragile, and over time, will deteriorate. These images often become yellow, can crack, can tear, etc. So what do you do when this happens? Well, whatever you do, don't throw them away!! We recommend contacting an old photo restoration service as soon as possible. The sooner you are able to begin preserving your old photo (s), the better the chances are for a full photo restoration.
So, Why do Old Photos Deteriorate?
Let's start at the beginning, and understand that old photographs were made up of 3 basic layers:
1) The Supportive Backing = typically cardboard or heavy paper, this material is often subject to mold and severe deterioration over time.
2) The Binder = a substance that "binds" the image to the backing, usually made of collodion. Over time, and depending on the air quality and humidity levels, the binder will often become either soft and sticky, or dry and cracked. This is an obvious sign of how an old photo will deteriorate.
3) The Image Material: The image material is basically suspended in the binder, and often consists of silver, color dyes, and pigmented particles. It is these image materials (dyes, pigments, etc.) that will cause these old photos to fade much quicker in direct sunlight.
Important Things to Consider When Storing Your Old Photos:
1) Use archival quality supplies. For the purposes of both storing and mounting your photos, you want to use archival quality supplies. Archival quality papers, folders, enclosures, and mats are made of materials which will not deteriorate the photograph.
2) Photographs should be stored in a place that is dark and cool, and which will not be at risk for very low or very high humidity. These rules out most basements and attics. The storage area should also be clean and free of household pests. The binder on photographs, especially abdomen, is an attractive food for insects.
3) Photographs can be stored in chemically inert paper folders or plastic enclosures. Acid-free paper is available buffered, meaning it comes with an alkaline reserve that can neutralize any acid that is formed. Some photographs are sensitive to alkaline environments; in such cases, use a neutral paper (acid-free and unbuffered).
4) Plastic enclosures should be made of chemically inert plastics such as polyester. The polyester should not have a hazy film on its surface. While plastic enclosures have many benefits, such as protection from external humidity and dust, they can occasionally trap humidity and attract dust inside next to the photograph. It’s best to use these enclosures in areas that are constantly at low humidity.
Crazy, but True: Facts to Remember When Mounting Your Photos
]1) Sunlight will speed up the deterioration of your photographs. Solution: Whenever possible, keep your photograph out of direct sunlight, preferably in a cool environment that is neither too dry nor too humid.
2) Use materials that are acid-free. How will that help? Well, this will actually help prevent the photograph’s supportive backing from turning yellow. Yuck! If you don't want your photos to deteriorate over time, make sure that all supplies made of paper should be acid-free.
3) It is best to only use glass or acrylic. What does that mean? The “glazing” material itself can be any thick, clear material that protects your photo from UV radiation. It is important to remember that the glass or acrylic should never come into direct contact with the photograph itself. Why, you ask? Well, if there is too much humidity (i.e. you live by the beach or have an old photo hanging in your bathroom), the photograph could become stuck to these smooth glass surfaces. To prevent this, try using a photo mat as a spacer, which will put enough space between the backing board and the glazing photo material to prevent sticking.
Uh-Oh! What if Your Old Photos are Already Damaged?
1) Be sure to make a copy. Before trying to repair to your old damaged photos, please make sure to make a copy. If your photograph is stuck to a glass (or acrylic) surface, don't try to remove it, rather try to scan the photo through the glass. This will guarantee that you have a backup in case the photo is damaged further. A photo that is stuck to glass surface will most likely rip if you try and take it off, and then where will you be!?
2) Do not try to repair an old damaged photo yourself. The internet is full of "How to" guides on repairing old photos, but trying to fix it yourself could actually end up doing more harm than good. Old photo restoration is truly an art, and every photograph has unique characteristics and details that need to be preserved and taken into consideration.
So, Now What?
Contact a professional photo restoration company as soon as possible. The faster you do this, the better your chances will be for a successful photo restoration. Ready, Set, Go!!