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Memory Remains Or How To Preserve Old Photographs

What do old photos mean to you? First of all, I think that it is the memory and stories that are transmitted from parents to children through all times.  

Just as these stories can be forgotten, photos can be deteriorated. What do people do to remember something important to them? They write it down. As they say, the pen is mightier than the sword. And it is true, our memory is not the most reliable source. It has already been proven long ago that our brains changes memories and stories by adding new details or completely erasing some of them as time passes by. So people have made a habit of documenting and recording everything. But what do you do to save the photos?


You take care of them. You restore them. Now there are many photo restoration services that can breathe new life into your old photo.

Some interesting information about it you can also find here: Preserving Old Photo Albums Video

Knowing your genealogical tree is an honor, so we must raise children who respect not only their grandparents, but also their ancestors. 

Importance Of The Question “Where Can I Get Old Photos Restored?”

The old photos of our aunts, uncles, great and grandparents help us keep in touch with our past. That’s why this question must be important for us.  

Looking at old photos, we can be surprised as we can find similarity to our ancestors. 


You probably have been told that you look like your mother or one of your relatives at least one time in your life, haven't you? But you may not even suspect that you may have the same face as your distant relative from the same far past. After that all the stories about him or her that you may have heard before immediately become more real. It means, no matter how many times you have heard one story in different ways and from different people, nothing but picture can make it much better. 

So today we will be dealing with a very important topic, specifically - how to preserve old photographs.

Why do the photos get spoiled? 

The most obvious answer is mishandling. We store them in the attics, cellars, garages or in the old store room. It's a pity to throw them away, but you don't want them to occupy much place in the house either. So why does mishandling happen?  


Most often, this is not even because people neglect old photos or  just don't care, but because they just don't know what to do with the old photographs. 

Still, we invented the photograph not so long ago, and it became spread even later. After that, we invented smartphones, digital cameras and computers, and the need of paper photos was gone , so people have faced with the problem of storing photos just recently. And it's not that you don't have enough memory on your phone or Google Drive, but literally storage.  

But is it always about the place?


 Even if you have a pretty big house, there is no way your old photos, and certainly photos of your ancestors are going to be a priority. Agree, most old pictures are quite creepy, and you hardly want to hang them on the wall. Why? Find out here: Why people never smiled in old photos

And their look often leaves much to be desired: torn corners, cracks, mint paper, missing parts of the photo, separation of the emulsion from the paper base and so on. There's usually no time to deal with this. Or there is no wish. Or monetary funds.

Make It Clean

Our task is to review the basic rules and to answer the question: How to cleaning old photographs safely? As well as how and where to store them at home. It may just take one day of your precious time and attention to both clean up and sort your photos. Believe, they're worth it.


The first thing you need to buy is white cotton gloves. No kidding! You're going to have to sort and lay out your photos, and it's safer to do it in gloves. The extra fingerprints (even if they're clean) still harm old paper. Besides, you'll provide yourself with dust protection.

The second rule: do not combine the work with old photos with a quick snack or coffee break. Even if you think you're graceful enough to keep a cup of hot coffee or tea in one hand and hold photo in another, you know, it's safe to say there is almost one hundred percent that something will go wrong. You'll always be able to make another cup of your favorite drink, but there is no chance to take a picture that is one century old. 


So how to preserve old photographs? Find a right place. 

That is why the third rule is to prepare a new place for the photos. It's better to take care of it in advance so that the stack of old photos doesn't lie on your coffee table for the next week, month or year. It's best for you to decide what you intend to do with them: just buy some album and put it there and then put it on a shelf to other albums (which is already much better than a carton box in the basement), or take the issue seriously and turn to special services to reconstruct old photos.

After the first phase is over, it means you get your photos out of the boxes and sorted them in the way you want, you can go to the second.

How To Clean A Photograph At Home?

Before you start cleaning a photo, scan it. 


The old photos are fragile, so it's best to be on the safe side, and make a digital copy of the photograph. Whatever happens to it during the cleaning, you'll have a copy that you can restore later. By the way, here are some photo restoration samples

For example, look at following one. It’s amazing how photo looks after processing. 

Back to cleaning. Never use the usual cleaning materials to clean up your photos. You must purchase a special product to clean up old photos and special napkins. You may not find it in common shops, but hey, it's the 21st century and we have the Internet where we can find everything. Don't spare money on it, after all, you're not going to have to do this so often.  Do the procedures carefully once, put the photo in a photo album, and you don't have to worry about it for a long time.


In addition to the napkin and cleaning equipment, you must also buy gloves that will make this process safe not only for your photos, but for you too. 

If for some reason you cannot purchase special products, there is another way.

You'll need a clean towel, cleaning pads, a soft brush or an aerosol, and gloves as well. 

How to clean old photographs safely with these instruments? Follow the instructions.

1. Put gloves on.

 2. Put your photo on the towel. Make sure it is on a flat even surface.

3. Use a soft brush or aerosol to remove the dust.

4. Use cleaning pads to remove stains.

5. Dry your photograph using a hairdryer. Keep it at a distance of 25 centimeters, pushing it forward and backward until the photograph dries.  


If you can't remove a stain by using these tools, then you should turn to the professionals. The cost of these services may be known on photo restoration prices

We have figured cleaning out, but there might be other problems. For example, what if one photo sticks to another?

How to Separate Pictures That Are Stuck Together And Do Not Damage Them?

There are not so many options: You can use water to make pictures soft and after it carefully separate them from each other. Also you can conduct the same procedure but with using special liquid. There are a few unusual methods you can try as well. Some people say you need to put pictures in the fridge, and it helps to disconnect them. Others say you should blow warm air on them, so you just need use your hairdryer, and it's a nice way to pull your photos apart.

All of this could have been done if you had some  unimportant pictures of recent times, but if we are talking about old precious photos, you should not take that risk. The water could damage paper and also blur the ink if there was a label in the back of the photograph.


In this case, you have no choice but to contact the special service. For example, American Institute for Conservation knows exactly how to separate pictures that are stuck together. You'll be able to find the right specialist. 

They have special tools and chemicals to do it, so it's not a problem to solve it without deteriorating the photo.

There is another way that does not include water, hot air or fridge. You just need a thread for this one.

How to do this? Find in Quick Tips: How to Separate Stuck photos

 But, be careful, you can damage the old paper, so this is not a reliable method. 

A Place For Your Photos

Now when you know how to clean a photograph and how to separate them, you can go to step three. It's about storing photos.


You should keep the photos in a dry place where the sunlight doesn't go. You also need to make sure that insects or mice  are not able to reach and harm the photos in that place. 

When you store photos in photo albums, do not use glue or any other substance with the same characteristics. It is best to purchase an album with sleeves or special pockets for photos. They must be transparent so that you don't have to drag them out of your pocket every time. 


It is hard to find ideal conditions for storing old photos at home, so if they're really precious for you, keep them in a bank. There is no place with more ideal conditions than there. 

If you do not have the ability to store them in a special place, then what to do with the old photographs?

Well, as it has been said before, keep them together with other family albums. But before that, you should make electronic copies of these photos. You can do this yourself or go to special services to digitize and restore photos. Let's take a look at some examples.


In this photograph, we can see a great work of editor. There is nothing left from the places where the photograph was bent so the cracks appeared. You can also see that the missing part of the picture has been restored. Looking at the "After", you will never guess that there is missing detail. The colors and clarity of the photos have been greatly improved. As you can see, there is no changes in the traits of the face or silhouette if you are afraid that editing would affect this.

Make Your Old Photo Looks New

The next question you should be interested in is: where can I get old photos restored? Well, there are two types of services: conservation photography and photo restoration.

What's the difference between them? Which of these two ways is better? Which do you need? You can learn about all this in detail in Conservation photography VS Photo Restoration

We're just going to tell you the main difference: Conservation photography works directly with the originals of the photograph and photo restoration with his electronic copies, and there is a large number of such services while there is only few places where the originals can be fixed. They are mostly engaged in the restoration of paintings and portraits of historically important personalities. They know dozens of different ways of how to clean a photograph and how to make it as beautiful as it was before. 

For example, the following picture. 


Three stages of the picture are presented here: how it looks before the restoration, how it looks during the process of restoration and the final result.

The painting is bright again and the faded background is restored. Such restoration is done by  special tools and chemicals. In order to do this hard work, you need a lot of talent and endurance, patience.

The same can be said about people who restore photos with special programs. 

Answering the Question: How to Preserve Old Photographs

Considering all of the foregoing, we cannot fail to mention a few more details. To not damage the precious old pictures, don't sign them with a regular ball-point pen. All of the modern pen ink has acid that can cause irreparable damage to your photo. If you still need to sign a photograph, you have to do it with a special pen that doesn't contain acid. You can also use a pencil, although it's not practical, because it's too light and easy to erase. Do not stick any labels as well, since all adhesive tools are also harmful to old paper. 

You mustn't use rubber bands and staples to keep pictures together. They can scratch the surface of the photo and leave traces.


Surely, there are people who don't want to spend their time and energy for caring about all of this, and to the question "What to do with old photographs?" they answer, "Throw out". 

It's really going to be easier, but is it right? Absolutely not. Just think about your grandchildren seeing photos on their computer and instead of sorting all the photos and putting them in folder, just deleting them and that's all. 

Not a very pleasant thought, huh? 

And it's just about a few extra clicks, it's unlikely they're going to ask the question "How to separate pictures that are stuck together", because now all the photos are digital. They are stored not in photo albums or in photo books, but in social networks like Instagram and computer memory. 


They are certainly not threatened by water, fire or extra humidity or even sunlight. Once downloaded a photo to the network, an electronic device, or a Google Drive, you don't have to worry about it any more. You can easily create as many copies as you want and do whatever you want with them. And this is completely free! Our ancestors could only dream about such luxury. They didn't dream about it, though. It is unlikely that any of our distant ancestors could have guessed what technologies will be waiting for them in the future. By the way, talking about the past, check the following article out: The most shocking historical photos

Our next generations will not have to worry about how to clean old photographs safely. The only thing they're going to have to worry about is how to clean up the memory without deleting files. 

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