There is no doubt that old photographs are extremely delicate and that they will deteriorate over time. Old photos can turn yellow, tear, crack, get patches, etc., and there is nothing you can do to stop it. However, you can always contact a photo restoration service to fix the issues with your old photographs. The sooner you contact a photo restoration service, better will be the chances for the photo to be restored fully.
Why Do Photos Deteriorate?
To understand why photographs deteriorate, we should learn some basic things about photographs. The old photographs are made up of three layers.
The Supportive Backing – This layer is typically heavy paper or cardboard. These materials are subject to severe deterioration and mold over time.
The Binder – This substance binds the image to the supportive backing. Usually the binder is made of Collodion, a mixture of nitrocellulose with alcohol and ether. The binder can get sticky and soft over time, depending on atmospheric humidity and the quality of air.
The Image Material – Usually, the image material is suspended in the binder and will have color dyes, silver, and some pigmented particles. These image materials cause photos to fade quicker when exposed to direct sunlight.
The storing of photographs also plays a key role in how fast the picture deteriorates. Using archival quality papers, mats, and folders to store and mount photographs is one of the best ways to store photographs. These materials will not affect the image material or the binder of the photograph. Also, make sure that you store your photographs in a place that is dark, cool and without much humidity. The area should be clean and free of pests.
What If The Images Are Already Damaged?
Make sure that you have a copy of the old and damaged photos, before trying repairing or restoring them. For example, if you see that your old photograph is stuck to glass, do not remove it, but you can scan it through the glass. This will ensure that you have a backup copy in case the photo is damaged further while restoring.
You can find many “How To” articles on the internet explaining steps to repair photos, but it is not advisable to ‘mend’ your photos on your own, as you may end up destroying the image. Photo restoration is an art and is best done by an expert, as each and every photo has unique details and characteristics that need to be preserved while restoring.