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Old Family Photos

The Best Way To Store Photos and Keep Them Safe

Learn the best way to store photos and preserve them for future generations. Don’t loose your family history to neglect of your photos!

Welcome to Andi Willis of Good Life Organizing as guest blogger today!  I know you will enjoy her insight into preserving and storing our family’s historic photographs.

From Grandma’s meticulously maintained photo albums to tin types of long gone relatives to snapshots of your parents, photographs capture the visual history of your family. To preserve these precious memories, it is important to safeguard your pictures in a few easy steps.

It’s All About LOCATION When It Comes to the Best Way to Store Photos

One of the most important factors when it comes to preserving your photographs is where you store them. It is very important not to keep any photographs in attics, basements, garages or storage units. The extreme changes in temperature and humidity found in these areas will wreak havoc on your pictures.

Keep all printed pictures in a climate controlled area of your home such as a closet or a spare room. It’s also vital to keep your photos away from prolonged exposure to light, especially direct sunlight, which can cause the pictures to fade.

Keeping your loose photos in regular file folders, manilla envelopes, shoeboxes or plastic bins is also not ideal.

Organize and store you photos in acid-free folders and boxes which are free of chemicals that can damage your photos. Vendors such as Kolo and Archival Methods have a wide variety of storage solutions for printed photos, slides and negatives.

However, do not store your photos with other old papers such as news clippings and documents as these kinds of papers may also release harmful chemicals that will harm your pictures.

A scattering of old black and white photos

Treat Your Family Photos With Care

How you handle your pictures is also important. Be sure that your work area is clean and dry. Wash your hands before dealing with photos and wear 100% cotton gloves to keep oils from your hands from getting on the pictures.

Do not use paperclips, rubber bands or other fasteners on your photos. Be sure to keep food and drink well away from your pictures.

Back Up Your Family Pictures

No one wants to think about a natural disaster like a tornado or a man-made disaster such as an overflowing water heater destroying their precious family photos, but it happens. The best way you can guarantee that your family’s pictures last for a long time is to digitize them through scanning.

Black and white photos in an old black paper photo album

You can hire someone to scan your photos or you can undertake the project yourself. If you decide to scan your pictures yourself, it pays to invest in a good photo scanner, not just the scanner on your 4-in-1 printer. A quality flat-bed scanner like the Epson V600 is a good starter scanner that will also you to digitize printed photos, slides and negatives. The Flip-Pal [no longer available] is a great small, portable scanner that works well for scanning loose photos as well as those still in albums. The Photomyne app for your smartphone is a great option. [Read more about Photomyne in this article.] If your photos or albums are fragile, you can digitize them by taking a high quality digital photo.

Use the 3-2-1 Backup Method

Once you digitize your photos it is critical that you backup your digital files. The 3-2-1 backup method is a great baseline and means having 3 backup copies of all important digital files in at least 2 formats (external hard drive and in the cloud [Example: Dropbox] or cloud and archival CDs) with at least one copy offsite (not located at your home).

If organizing and preserving your family’s photographs seems too overwhelming or time consuming for you, contact a Personal Photo Organizer. Find one near you through the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.

More Old Family Photo Articles are Are You My Cousin?

***Please note that this post contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if you decide to purchase a product/service. This does not cost you extra. Be assured I only recommend products/services that I use and think you would like too. Read my disclosure policy and privacy policy.

Andi Willis

About Andi Willis

Andi Willis is a Professional Organizer, Certified Personal Photo Organizer, author and video host. Passionate about helping people organize their homes and preserve their precious photos, Andi can be found at GoodLifePhotoSolutions.


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  • Michelle Taggart

    All good reminders. I have wondered what to do with photos that are in the old photo albums. I hate to remove them from the albums and yet I know that they do not provide ideal conditions for preservation.

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