Simple Do's & Don'ts Of Displaying (And Preserving) Old Travel Photos

Simple Do's & Don'ts Of Displaying (And Preserving) Old Travel Photos

It's already a force of habit to take as many pictures as we can during travels. We want to bring souvenirs of the best memories of our trip so that we may be able to transport ourselves to those places whenever and wherever we want. 

How to display old travel photos

The question is, how do you preserve these mementos of your adventures? Especially those that have already been through time? And how do you display these keepsakes without damaging their fragile nature?

Here are the simple do's and don'ts to keep in mind to properly display your old travel photos and preserve them for many years to come.

Do: make copies of your old travel photos

Thanks to technology, there's a better way now to make your printed travel photographs last longer. And that is to make digital copies of them and store them online.

The most convenient part is that it's easy to make digital copies of the printed photos from your previous adventures. For one, you can use your phone's camera and install a scanner app like Notebloc.

You can also use a flatbed scanner to make digital copies of your photos. Your scanner should have 600 - 1200 dpi if you're aiming for the most accurate version. It may produce images with larger file sizes, but the fine details of the results will be worth it.

Just a friendly reminder, though. When you make digital copies of your old photos, don't use filters to beautify them. They would only end up blurring your digital picture.

Once you have your old travel photos digitized, you have two options to store them: 

  • Use cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Create an album on your social media profiles. 

Both have convenient sharing options you can use to share your old photographs with your family and friends.

You can take the extra mile and seek a professional to restore your washed-out, taken-on-a-film-camera types of photos. You can also opt for a photo book for your newly-digitized photos to give them a new home. 

Don't: display or hang your travel photos in direct sunlight

Travel photos are perfect for bringing a dull hallway or living room into life. However, you'll need to be very careful about where you hang your old travel photos.

Display photos in sunlight

Place the photos in a place where they won't be exposed to direct sunlight, fluorescent light, or ultraviolet light. Sunlight can cause the emulsions in your photos to create a silvering effect, where the details in the photographs develop a metallic effect.

Furthermore, you must ensure that your chosen spot is not infested with insects or rodents. 

If there's no other space to hang your old travel photos than under direct sunlight, then make sure it's in a frame with a special filter glass.

Do: store your old travel photos in a temperature-controlled area

While sorting through your collection of travel photos, there will be photographs that won't make it on display or in your digital archive. We automatically store them in a box and keep them somewhere in our house.

Old photographs are sensitive, though. So when choosing where to store away your box of old photos, remember these guidelines:

  • Store them somewhere dark, cool, and dry.
  • Storing your photos in attics or basements is not advisable. The temperature in these areas can cause emulsion damage, or more seriously, mildew formation.
  • The recommended temperature for a storage area is 68 degrees Fahrenheit (or lower), with 30 - 40% humidity.

Don't: sort through your old photos without precautionary measures

When sorting through your collection of old travel photos, wear a pair of cotton gloves. The gloves will prevent the natural oils from your hands from ruining your photos.

If there are no gloves available, you can still use your bare hands but only touch the edges of the picture with extreme caution.

Also, make sure you have no food or drinks at your desk where you're sorting your pictures. You never know when you or someone else might accidentally knock them over and spill on your photos.

Choose the right enclosure

Do: choose the right enclosure

The most suitable type of album for your old travel photos is what we call an archival type. These albums are perfect if you plan to store your old photographs in an enclosure permanently.

To check whether an album is an archival one, make sure the label says it's:

  • Acid-free
  • Lignin-free
  • PVC-free
  • Photo safe

If you're wondering whether to go with a plastic or paper album, that depends on your preference. Providing the album meets the requirements above, you can rest assured that your old photos will stay safe.

However, a paper album is ideal if you're storing your photos in an area with high humidity. They don't stick to your photos, unlike the plastic ones.

Don't: use tape or any common office supplies on your photos

For instance, tapes may cause the photo to deteriorate and cause them to stick to the surface. If you try to remove them, the photograph might tear in the process, or some parts might be left behind on the surface.

The same reason also applies to using other supplies like paper clips and glue to attach them to a surface.

It's also not recommended to use rubber bands to keep your old travel photos together. They may cause the photographs to bend and deform over time.

You should also avoid using ballpoint pens when jotting down something on your old travel photos, like the place and date. The ink may cause a mess and turn your photos into a blurry pool of ink. 

You can use a no. 2 pencil if you need to write something at the back of the photos.

Make your adventure memories last a lifetime.

By following these simple do's and don'ts of displaying and preserving old travel photos, you can keep the keepsakes of your adventures for as long as time can permit. 

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!

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