Caring for Your Printed Portraits
by Cassie Clarkson Moyer
Thank you for purchasing heirloom quality/ archival professional portraits. It is an investment you will not regret. With proper care, storage, and protection your printed images will be cherished for generations to come. The following advice is based on expert resources I have consulted as well as working alongside the finest artisans and craftsmen in the photographic community for my printed products. It is recommended that you heed this advice whenever possible, not only for the products I have created for you, but also for any cherished photographs you may have at home.
The biggest/most common enemies for your printed portraits are: hands, tape, sunlight, heat/cold, humidity, and improper storage.
Handle your photos, albums, and wall art carefully and safely.
Human hands contain oils and salts that can damage photographs. A fingerprint that is invisible today will eventually become an ugly brown stain on your beautiful print in the future. The best solution is to handle your printed portraits as little as possible, avoid touching the surface (focus as much on the back and outer edges as possible), and when you do handle your printed portraits wear white cotton gloves. These gloves are reusable and only cost $1-$2 a pair. This is a very inexpensive and practical solution to protect your printed portraits, especially albums which are handled much more frequently.
Another alternative (not as effective, but the white glove method is not for everyone) is to wash your hands with soap, dry them thoroughly, and do not apply any lotions prior to handling your album or other printed portrait.
Selecting Proper Display and Storage Locations
Avoiding direct sunlight and controlling the climate that your printed portraits are kept in is vitally important. Sunlight will fade and discolor wall displays over time, so try to avoid wall spaces that are in direct sun. Temperature control is surprisingly important as elevated temperatures speed up the chemical processes that cause damage to your portraits, in fact the rate of decay doubles with an increase of just 18ºF. A humid environment can lead to mold and mildew, and fluctuations in humidity can lead to cracking. Therefore basements, attics, garages, bathrooms (hallways outside of bathrooms), and any location near a heating/cooling vent should be avoided.
If you have printed portraits that you no longer with to display and want to store them long term I recommend getting a photographic archival storage box. This will protect your prints from sunlight, the elements, pests, and accidental damage. Many people have heard the term “acid-free” in regards to selecting albums, frames, storage boxes, etc. A true archival box is both acid free and lignin free. Something that is acid free today can become acidic over time if lignins (created during the paper-making process) are not removed. Look for storage boxes that have passed the Photographic Activity Test (PAT). Some suppliers that offer these storage boxes are:
Wood and cardboard boxes are commonly used but unfortunately this is a poor choice for long term storage. The chemicals and adhesives used to create these materials create pollutants that can damage your prints.
Framing Your Prints
Whenever possible, I highly recommend having your prints custom framed, let the experts protect your memories. Custom framing is a larger investment than doing it yourself but it is certainly worth it. If you are insisting on DIY, use only acid-free/lignin free mats and frames. Use UV protective glass whenever possible and have your prints matted so that they do not come into direct contact with the glass. If you can, avoid any adhesives but if you must use something get acid-free tape.
In our digital age many find that the most practical solution for them is to store their images digitally. I think this is a great idea and it is a method I use myself alongside all of my printed images. Just be smart about it! Technology does fail so be triple sure your images are backed up and saved in multiple locations. Technology is also ever-evolving so be sure to transfer images on outdated media onto something more updated (be prepared to do this several times during your life). It is also a good idea to keep digital copies saved to a cloud, online digital archive service, or a backup hard drive with a trusted family member in case of flood, fire, or any disaster that may damage your home.
Thank you for choosing Cassie Clarkson Photography, I take the honor of being entrusted with your memories very seriously! I hope you have found some value in this article.
Cassie Clarkson Photography