|Grandfather as a boy with siblings, Kentucky|
One of the greatest inventions of man, in my opinion, is the camera. While we could always draw a person, or sculpt them, the accuracy of the camera has never been rivalled. Whether it is a still shot or a moving picture, you are looking at the person. Living. Breathing. Real. There's no beating that. It is no wonder some believe your soul is captured in a photograph. So how do we protect and preserve that soul?
Step 1: Organise!
First thing you need to do is separate your photos. Everyone has a different way on this depending on how they want to find them. I tend to clump by era, family, then individual. So if I'm looking for a childhood photo of my grandfather, I am looking in the Gibson family boxes, 1930-40, then his specific file. Events and group shots are in a group photo box for that time period. My dad is straight individual. In a group shot, it's whoever is oldest. So some photos of Grandpa are in one box, some in another if he's pictured with his parents/grandparents..... I find that weird. But hey, as long as he can find what he's looking for, right? You want to do this with digital photos too. Separate them out in folders by event, person, date, whatever.
Once you have the photos separated, you need to LABEL them. How is anyone supposed to know who's pictured if you don't tell them? If you label a photo directly, use a soft pencil to keep from damaging them. I don't like to label photos directly, I put them in a photo sleeve and label the sleeve. I'm always worried about damaging old photos. On the other hand, Grandma wrote on all her photos in ballpoint pen, so......
Step 2: Display
What's the point in photographs if you never look at them? Who (besides my crazy mother) doesn't like to see the smiling faces of family proudly displayed in the living room? Here are some rules to displaying a photograph:
- Display a copy rather than the original whenever possible.
- Use ultra-violet filtering glass or acrylic for framed photos.
- Use an acid-free mat or spacer to keep photos from touching glass.
- Minimize light damage by turning off lights when you leave the room; use low watt bulbs.
- Keep out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
- Rotate the photographs on display by storing some and then changing them periodically.
- Wash your hands! Photographs can be damaged by your own natural oils. Make sure your hands are clean and dry. Wear gloves if you can.
- Store photos in acid-free sleeves or envelopes (or polypropylene pages).
- Store photos flat to keep them from damage and curling.
- Never put adhesives onto photographs! If you are putting in an album (acid-free pages, please), use photo corners or sleeves.
- Handle all photos and negatives by the edges to avoid touching the surface.
- Store in a cool, dry place where the temperature and humidity won't fluctuate wildly (basements and attics won't cut it!)