How to Keep Your Printed Photos Safe From Damage

As digital photography becomes more and more prevalent, it’s easy to forget the simple joy of holding a physical photograph in your hand. There’s just something special about being able to look at a picture and remember a moment in time, without having to squint at a screen or scroll through endless feeds.

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But with great joy comes great responsibility – or, in this case, the need to take good care of your printed photos. Whether you’ve got a stack of old family pictures that you inherited, or you’re a photographer looking to preserve your work, here are some tips for keeping your printed photos safe and sound.


Store Your Photos Properly

This section will teach you everything you need to know to ensure that your photos are safe from damage! The first step in protecting your photos is to make sure they’re stored correctly. This means:

1. Use Special Albums or Boxes

The most popular cause of photo damage is stacking photos on top of each other inside the box, where they are lying on top of each other and can easily damage other photos in the box.

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Even worse if this photo is just lying somewhere else, like on the shelf. The best thing you can do is invest and buy a good-quality photo album or box to store them vertically.

Storing them vertically is very important, since this way, they don’t scratch and damage photos nearby.

2. Keep Pictures Out of Direct Sunlight

Ultra violet (UV) rays can fade and discolor your photos over time, so it’s best to keep them in a cool, dry place that’s not exposed to direct sunlight.

3. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Both high and low temperatures can damage your photos, so it’s best to keep them in a room that’s kept at a moderate temperature.

4. Keep them away from moisture

Humidity can cause your photos to stick together, while water can cause them to wrinkle or even dissolve. So it’s best to store your photos in a dry place, away from sources of moisture like bathrooms and basements.

Photos dislike both cold and hot temperatures, but hot temperatures are especially dangerous. It can cause your photographs’ paint to melt, causing surface cracking, and so on.

5. Use acid-free materials

Many older albums and photo boxes are made with acidic materials that can yellow and deteriorate your photos over time. To protect your photos, look for acid-free albums and storage materials.


Handle Printed Photos Carefully

It’s easy to forget just how delicate printed photos can be – after all, they’re just pieces of paper. But it’s important to handle them gently to avoid damaging them. Here are a few tips:

1. Don’t Touch the Surface of The Photo

The oils on your skin can leave marks and smudges on the surface of the photo, so it’s best to handle them by the edges or the back.

2. Don’t Stack Them

It was mentioned above, but it is very important. If you’ve got a pile of photos, don’t just stack them on top of each other. The weight of the photos on top can cause the ones on the bottom to become creased or bent. Instead, try using photo folders or photo boxes to keep them organized.

3. Don’t Use Paper Clips or Rubber Bands

These can leave marks or indentations on your photos, so it’s best to avoid them altogether. Instead, try using photo corners or acid-free paper to keep your photos organized.


Scan Your Photos (Image Digitalization)

Digital copies are your friend. Even if you take all the precautions in the world, accidents can still happen. Photos can get lost, damaged, or destroyed – and when that happens, it can be heartbreaking. That’s where digital copies come in.

  • Unlimited ability to copy photos
  • Share them anywhere, anytime
  • These photos can’t get physically damaged, lost or destroyed
  • Easy access anywhere, anytime

A Few Steps to Create Digital Scans At Home

You can create digital scan at home, even if you don’t have a photo scanner! The only thing you need is your smartphone with more or less decent camera!

0. Use any free Photo Scanner App

Simply search the App Store for “Photo Scanning App” to find a plethora of options. They all work exactly the same and should be completely free, with the exception of ads.

Old Damaged Photo Scanned With an App

Most of these apps will walk you through the entire process, so all you have to do is follow the instructions and you’re done with great quality photo scan!

If for some reason you can’t use any of these app, no worries, we also have a manual way for you!

1.  Place your photo on a flat surface

Place the photo to be scanned on top of the flat surface. Make sure your room has adequate lighting so that the photo is not too dark to see, nor is it too bright so that the photo flashes or has reflections.

  • The camera shouldn’t be too far from the photo. You don’t need much empty space around the photo.

  • Don’t move the camera so close that it will crop details out of the image or make your camera lose focus.

  • Don’t take photos from an angle. Make sure your camera isn’t tilted or rotated.

2. Set up your smartphone camera

Turn off your camera’s flash. Because it either creates a bright “stain of light” or makes your photos more reflective than usual, the flash is not ideal for digitizing your images.

Here is an example of heavily flashed photo.

Bad Quality Scan -Avoid Reflection While Scanning Photo

As you can see, the flash has washed out the majority of the photo, leaving only a pure white stain in place of any original details. Avoid it at all costs.

3. Make sure your camera is in focus

If you do not check whether your camera is in focus before taking the photo, the final image will be blurry. Blur is one of the worst types of damage you can do to your photo because it is nearly impossible to remove the blur, only to reduce the severity of the problem.

Here is example of what blurry photo that considered blurry.

Blurry Photo Scan - Out of Focus

It is frequently very simple to avoid. Simply tap your phone’s screen a few times on the area of the photo you want the camera to focus on.

4. Snap a photo

That’s all there is to it!

Old Picture Scanned With the Phone Camera

The photo will not be as good as if it had been scanned by a professional scanner or even a photo scanning app, but it will suffice!

Digital copies are your friend

By scanning your photos and creating digital copies, you can create a backup that can be stored on your computer or in the cloud. That way, even if your physical photos are lost or damaged, you’ll still have a copy that you can access anytime.


What to do With Photos That Already Are Badly Damaged?

If photos are already damaged, and this type of damage can’t be easily reverted – don’t worry, there is still few things you can do in order to save and restore damaged photos.

Try To Restore Them At Home

It strongly depends on the level of damage your photos have, but, in some cases you can restore your photos at home, using free digital tools and our step by step tutorial!

how to restore old photos at home ultimate tutorial

Here is very short version of steps you on restoring your photos for free, at home in 2024:

  1. Digitize your photos
  2. Transfer them to your computer
  3. Open Photoshop or Photopea (free analog of photoshop)
  4. Open your image in this software
  5. Crop your image using Crop Tool or Perspective Crop tool
  6. Create new layer on top of the original image
  7. Use Clone Stamp or Spot Healing Brush tool to restore damaged pixels with “healthy” parts of picture
  8. Pay special attention to facial details
  9. Use Curves Adjustment layer to improve colors and tones of your photos
  10. Remove any “suspicious” bright or dark areas of the photo with the help of Curves and Exposure Adjustment layers
  11. Save your PSD file
  12. Save and export image either as JPG or PNG
  13. Done

Again, we would strongly recommend you to read the full article if you need everything to be step-by-step!  

Can’t Fix Your Photos on Your Own?

Photo Restoration is difficult to do without any prior experience. In case if you can’t or simply don’t want to pick a new skill, it will be great idea to contact professional photo restoration service.


Get Your Photo Restored for You by Professionals

Printed photos may not be as popular as they once were, but they still hold a special place in our hearts. By taking good care of your photos and knowing how to restore them when they become damaged, you can preserve your memories and keep them alive for generations to come.

In case if you can’t restore these photos from damage on your own, and looking for a professional service – we are here to help! Get a free quote with detailed and honest answer from us about what can or can’t be done to your photos!


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