Guide to Storing Photographs



Various household items need special consideration when going into self storage units. Photographs are one of the more precious and distinct items that you may want to store. People say photographs are often the first thing to regret losing in a fire, which is why so many choose to open storage units to preserve historical items like pictures and documents. Picture paper is quite special and requires unique conditions in order to preserve the quality of crisp visuals that make them so valuable in the first place. These are some packing and storage tips for old and new photographs.

Choosing the Best Self Storage Unit

Storage units provide ample space for storing boxed goods like pictures. However, the paper that photographs are printed on is sensitive to light and temperature. Extremely hot spaces aren’t ideal for photos, which tend to fade or warp after a long period of time in storage. Optimal conditions for photograph storage will include:

  • Cool to moderate temperatures
  • Low humidity
  • Dark lit spaces
  • Sealed containment to block moisture

Climate controlled units typically found at interior storage facilities provide the best conditions for photographs. These spaces are tightly sealed and air-conditioned, so you don’t have to worry about moisture getting in or extreme levels of heat. In addition, once storage units are closed, there isn’t light source to fade pictures over time.

How to Store Photographs

The way you choose to pack and store pictures will also play a large factor in their preservation or deterioration over time. Photographs shouldn’t be stored in albums with magnetic or sticky pages. Plastic or cloth sleeves are best to keep your visuals bright and sharp.

Storage boxes sold at facilities provide the sturdiest option for storing pictures. They can be tightly sealed and contain a large amount of albums. When packing these boxes, albums should be carefully placed inside and sealed tight to block out any moisture or light.

If you have film negatives, these should be stored separately from photographs as they create acidic gases. Over time, these gases can destroy photograph paper. Negatives should also be stored in non-frosted plastic sleeve albums.

For older photographs that are printed on daguerreotype, you should store in original frames or cases. You can still purchase these specialty cases online. Older photographs also need careful packing. You can line the box with white packing paper to provide adequate cushion and block out any light or moisture.

Create Backups for Picture Storage

You should make sure to have electronic copies of all your photographs before they go into storage. In extreme weather conditions or in case of natural disasters, you may not be able to prevent damage to precious pictures. In addition, insurance is often provided by storage facilities in case of damage caused by natural disasters or other extreme conditions.

Storage Tips for Pest Control

Some paper fibers, gel binders and albumen products used for photograph storage are also quite attractive to bugs and other pests. When packing boxes, you have to seal them tightly and pack with white packing paper. All of the contents should be cleaned and pest-free when entering storage.

Preserving photographs in storage isn’t a difficult task when pictures are carefully packed with the right packing materials. You can further safeguard your valuable photos by electing for climate-controlled storage and choosing archival storage boxes found at storage facilities. It’s always a good idea to back up any important pictures electronically so that they can be accessed at any time.