How to Protect and Preserve Your Digital Prints

When you spend a significant amount of time and money on a beautiful digital photograph for your home or office, you want to be able to enjoy it for a while. Unfortunately, a variety of factors can affect your digital prints and distort the way they look over time. But take heart, because there’s hope for making your portraits last longer.

The Image Permanence Institute, a leading nonprofit committed to preserving images, did a scientific research study called the DP3 Project that resulted in recommendations on how to preserve photos. Thanks to the research, we were able to put together some helpful tips for storing and handling your images.

Decay and Its Effects

Depending on the type of print you have, there are different factors that can cause the decay of your digital prints. Heat, moisture, and air pollutants are the usual suspects. If you’re not sure if your photo is suffering from decay, here are some signs to look for:

  • Fading
  • Yellowing
  • Ink bleeding
  • Cracking of the paper layers

You can help lessen the effects of decay by controlling the temperature, humidity and air quality of the room where your photos are stored.

Storing Your Photos at the Right Temperature

Temperature and humidity affect the rate of aging for digital prints. Properly storing your photos at the right temperature and humidity can help preserve your photos. IPI recommends the following temperature and humidity ranges for different types of digital prints:

  • Dye Sublimation: Maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit and 30-50 percent humidity
  • Digital Electrophotography: Maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit and 30-50 percent humidity
  • Inkjet (dye and pigment): Maximum temperature of four degrees Celsius/39 degrees Fahrenheit and 30-50 percent humidity
  • Chromogenic color photos: Maximum temperature of four degrees Celsius/39 degrees Fahrenheit and 30-50 percent humidity
  • Black-and-white photos: Maximum temperature of 12 degrees Celsius/53 degrees Fahrenheit and 30-50 percent humidity

Protecting Your Photos from Air Pollution

Pollution from several sources can affect the quality of your photos. It can come from the storage area, the housing and framing products in your home, nearby materials, and from the photo itself. Various gases in the air can cause the damage as well. Ozone and nitrogen dioxide may cause yellowing of the phots and bleeding for inkjet prints.

Handling Best Practices

The main issues that occur when handling photos are colorant scratching, scuffing and smearing, and surface cracking. In order to prevent these effects, use the following precautions when handling your photos:

  • Wear Gloves. Always use gloves when you touch your digital photos. Nitrile gloves are recommended, as they fit better and won’t snag your photos.
  • Use support devices
  • Don’t stack or roll your photos

Take these steps and save yourself the headache of replacing or throwing away damaged digital photos. By taking the necessary care, you can extend the life of your digital prints and be able to enjoy them for years to come. For more information on how to protect your digital photos from decay and deterioration, visit the full IPI Guide to Preservation of Digitally-Printed Photographs.

About the author

author

Mark Rogers is an amateur photographer and the founder of Frame Destination, Inc. In 2004 Mark realized the framing industry was not keeping up with the evolution of photography via new digital technology and started Frame Destination in his garage. Now his company has thousands of do-it-yourself framing customers across the US that it helps with its 11,000 square feet production facility in Dallas, TX.

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