Caring for your Unframed Photographs

A little ‘add on’ from my post, ‘what to think about when comparing wedding photographers’.


You have received your photographs back from your wedding photographer or you have been given photographs that your friends took on your wedding day – what now??


Of course you would like to protect and care for the professional photographs but I would encourage you to also consider the future well being of all your wedding photographs (even the ones Auntie Bessie lovingly captured).  Often it isn’t until many years later, when viewing damaged, wedding photographs that people regret they didn’t take better care of them.


Here are the golden rules of care for all your treasured wedding photographs……………


Avoid touching the photograph on the image side. Instead hold and pick photographs from the side edges.


Direct sunlight, high humidity, UV light, cleaning products will damage your photographs.


If you have chosen to frame your photographs yourself:


Select a glass that will give the highest protection against UV light. 


Select matting that is acid free (make sure it is not just acid buffed i.e. there is still acid in the inner core). I always use pure ‘rag cotton matting’.  Do not put a photograph straight onto the glass as in years to come you will find that the photograph will have stuck to the glass.


Avoid hanging your frame on a wall that direct sunlight hits. 


Try to hang on an internal wall if possible instead of an external wall.  An internal wall has fewer changes in temperature.


Avoid areas of raising damp or high humidity when hanging your frame.


If you have chosen to place your photographs in an album yourself:


Unfortunately for couples that apart from ‘dry mounting’ albums, (albums that you stick or mount the photographs to the page without matting) most professional albums can only be purchased through a professional photographer.  The reason for this, is album companies don’t want to sell ‘one off albums’ as it takes them a while to teach the buyer to assemble the albums, ready images for the albums and how to place the album order.  Album companies know that once a photographer is up to speed with their process that they will continually order from them, while a wedding couple will most likely only order once.


There are some great dry mount albums out there that are 100% acid free (check out ‘corban & blair’ albums). Be careful as some tapes used for securing photographs to albums will actually harm your photographs so check before using.  Read the album manufacture’s notes before purchasing the album and purchasing the tape.  When attaching your photographs to an album, use a small amount of tape (i.e. do not secure the whole photograph to the page).  This will allow the photograph to contract and expand with temperature changes.


If however you were wanting a more professional album (like a matted, digital or library bound album) then I would strongly suggest you select a photographer that offers these types of albums (please read my notes on what to think about when comparing wedding photographers, as this post has more information about this).


One last thought on albums, if you have your digital negatives then your options just got wider with the new world of ‘coffee table’ albums.  Many of these coffee table album manufactures offer web based software that you can design your own album online and the company will print your album for you (but this a whole other blog topic for another day).


Hoping you enjoy your photographs forever.


Sarhn McArthur

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