Photo Storage Boxes, Archival Bags and Other Solutions – And What To Look For

While digital cameras have revolutionized the art of photography, there are many who still believe the old ways of taking photos are best. It’s true that digital images can lack a certain warmth and ambience that traditional art photography offers.

There is also the issue of preserving historic photos from decades past. Whether they were taken last week or a century ago, traditional photographic images require special care when it comes to long-term archival storage. This is something of which few people are aware, however.

You’ve no doubt seen yellowed, faded, stained photos – and not necessarily old ones. This is what can happen when the proper archival bags and photo storage boxes are not used – assuming they are used at all.

A Common Mistake

Many people simply place their photos in an envelope or an ordinary box and expect that it will be enough. This is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that the typical bargain photo storage box is manufactured with a process that uses acidic chemicals and other substances that can harm your photos. Although this is generally harmless to the user, small amounts of acid that are released over time can cause substantial damage to the surface of photographic images as it reacts with the chemicals in those images. An average photo storage box may also contain a substance known as lignin. This is a naturally-occurring biochemical substance that is found in plant cells, including the wood that is transformed into pulp and ultimately cardboard. Unfortunately, lignin is affected by light as well as heat. When this happens, a form of alcohol known as phenol is produced in trace amounts. This, in turn is what causes the yellowing associated with old photographs that have not been stored in proper photo storage boxes.

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What To Look For

Obviously, cardboard and wood are not the best materials for a photo storage box. The best solution is to use a material that is free of lignin and is acid free.

The right plastic storage bags are an excellent supplement to lignin and acid-free photo storage boxes as well, offering yet another layer of protection for your fine photographic images. Crystal Clear BagsA�, a product manufactured by Clear Bags, Inc. are one of the best types of photo storage bags we are aware of. In order to provide the best protection for your photos, Crystal Clear BagsA� are manufactured in the USA to exacting standards and contain no acidic compounds that can harm your valuable images. These bags are manufactured out of a special form of polypropylene, known as BOPP (“biaxially oriented polypropylene”). This type of plastic is (as the company’s name suggests), crystal clear, enabling you to view the image while sorting for placement in a photo storage box.

Costs a Bit More – and Worth It

It’s true that you’ll pay a bit extra for acid-free photo storage boxes as well as Crystal Clear BagsA�. For the serious art photographer however, this additional cost is well worth it when it comes to the preservation of fine photographic images.