Photo Storage 101: 4 Steps for Safe Storage

If you’re like many Americans, you use your phone to take most of your pictures now and you save them to a hard drive or an online storage drive. But you probably also have physical pictures, maybe even hundreds of them, from your grandparents, parents, and even your earlier years. They’re priceless and the last thing you want is for something to happen to those treasured memories. A climate controlled self-storage unit is a fantastic way to store anything delicate, especially when it’s so convenient to where you live in Prattville, AL. 

You may be wondering- what about scanning? Turning them into digital files is a great way to share and create backups. We encourage that. However, scanning large numbers of photos is time consuming and can be expensive if you don’t already have the right tools. Plus, it’s always a good idea to preserve your original physical photos whenever possible. To keep safe your most cherished images of weddings, birthdays, graduations, family reunions, and more, follow these 4 steps:


  1. Handle Carefully

Older photographs can be very fragile and susceptible to damage, so it’s best to wear cotton gloves when touching them to prevent the oil from your fingers from affecting them. Never eat or drink anything while dealing with the pictures, as anything spilled could cause irreversible damage. When you aren’t actively looking through, scanning, or organizing your photos, make sure to put them away and don’t leave them unattended. Extended exposure to bright light, heat, or humidity can cause fading and warping. 

  1. Organize your collection (if it’s not already)

There are several ways to organize your memories and we will talk about what to store them in next. For now, make some categories and then as you sort through separate your images, albums, and negatives into these until all the photos are in one of the categories. Doing this will help you in the next step as well as lay the groundwork for organizing them in a way that makes it easy to find what you are looking for later. Categories can be by date (chronological order), occasion, size, style, or whatever else makes the most sense and works for you. Labelling will also help the organizing process, but don’t write directly on the photos or the backs of them if at all possible. 

Also, did you know that many photo albums have materials that can be damaging to your photos? For your most important pictures, only choose acid-free, “archival quality” products. A good way to test any current photo albums you have is to smell them to see if they have a strong chemical smell. So which is best- a photo album, box, or something else?

  1. Choose a storage option: Album or Box?

It depends on which pictures you want to look at regularly and which you are ok with storing for longer periods of time. If there are family pictures or some from a particular trip that you like to look at on a whim, a photo album (good quality as mentioned above) will be best. If you want to hold on to the pictures but put them away for safekeeping, archival boxes will be the better option.  

  1. Choose where to store them

Now that you’ve organized your photos, chosen the albums and/or boxes to keep them in, it’s time to decide where to store your treasure trove of photos. Whether in a box or an album, select a cool and dry place to store them. The attic and basement are typically not recommended due to the risk of flooding and presence of mold and mildew. Obviously, you can put the albums anywhere you typically like to display your pictures or take a trip down memory lane. 

We recommend a climate-controlled self-storage unit at our Prattville, AL location for long-term storage of your photographs. Your belongings can’t get damaged by humidity, temperature, insects, and water damage. Contact us today to set up a tour!

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