Protecting Your Printed Photographs - Jen Semmler Photography

Newborn, Child, and Family Portrait Artist for Rochester, NY 

(585) 622-4585 ᐧ Webster, NY 14580




Protecting Your Printed Photographs


     Anyone who has experienced loss knows how precious and important it is to hold on to memories. Whether you have experienced loss of the things you love through fire, flood, or storm or have lost someone you hold dear, we all experience loss at some point in our lives. Photography is one way that we are able to hold on to those memories, however, are you doing enough to protect your photographs? Here are some helpful tips and reminders about how to care for your printed photographs.


1. Avoid the Sun

For many, this is fairly common knowledge. Ultraviolet light causes damage and fading. Anything placed in direct sunlight will have a significantly shorter life span. Photographs, ideally, do best in a cool, dark place, but that isn't exactly a way to be able to enjoy them. Instead, look to hang prints on walls that are on the same side as a window rather than across from them, or in an area in which windows don't cast strong light. 


Cheaply produced prints made from commercial inks and papers degrade from sun damage more easily. Store bought frames with regular glass also offer little protection from the sun. If a print matters to you, it is worth the cost to have UV coated glass/acrylic and professional, acid free paper on which your image is printed.


2. Avoid Touching Your Prints

Problem: The oils on your skin remain on your prints after you touch them. Placing your prints in a frame is a safer environment for viewing them than passed around by hand.

SolutionBesides professionally framing your prints to ensure the best environment for their display, you can choose to handle loose prints with cotton gloves to create a barrier between your skin and the paper and ink.


3. Avoid Other Materials Making Contact

It isn't something most people think about, but anything (absolutely ANYTHING) that comes into contact with your print could potentially damage it unless it is specifically made to not cause damage.


Problem: The mats that are included in store bought frames are not archival and acid-free unless they say so. That means that the acids contained in the matting material will, over time, seep into your print causing damage.

Solution: Buy professionally framed prints

                 Buy Conservation Acid Free mats & backings


Problem: You buy an acid free mat, but not the backing. The cardboard provided in the frame you bought is not acid free and will cause damage to the print over time. 

SolutionBuy professionally framed prints                 

                  For small prints, use acid free scrapbook paper as a separator to avoid touching unprotected backing materials.

ProblemThe glass broke in the frame of a photograph you love. When you go to remove it, you find that the print has become attached to the glass and tears apart.


SolutionSadly, not much can be done to save that print once damaged in this way. Take as much of the print as possible to a professional photographer or retoucher who may be able to digitally recreate the photograph and reprint it for you.However, to avoid this issue, make sure that your print isn't touching the glass or acrylic. Matting a print accomplishes this, but if you don't want a mat, be sure to have a framer put spacers between your print and the glass.

Credit: Photos Made Perfect


If you are looking to have professional care shown to your memories, please contact me at jensemmlerphotography@gmail.com or call 757-634-5001.


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