Thank you to Gary Saretzky from the Monmouth County Archives for his in-depth presentation on preserving personal photographs. Gary has over 40 years experience as a photographer and performs photograph conservation and restoration for the archives.
There are many different types of photographs that we collect over the years that all have different preservation requirements from special alkaline paper to light sensitivity to cooler and drier storage parameters. Each type of photograph is unique and will require a variety of actions to ensure its preservation. A universal tip is to make sure your photographs are in some sort of container to prevent excessive light damage as well as to prevent smoke or water damage in the case of a fire or flood.
To help prevent slow degradation, ensure that your photos are stored in an area that is consistently below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and around 50% relative humidity. When it comes to digital-born photographs, it is recommended to save the photographs as TIFF files and back them up to the Cloud or an external hard drive. For scanned photographs, make sure to increase the DPI (dots per inch) for smaller photographs; the standard DPI for an 8×10 photograph is 600.
For more information on photograph preservation, please visit the Northeast Document Conservation Center at https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/overview.