How do I preserve my photographs?

The most effective and economical preservation measures are preventive: proper storage, storage environment, and handling.

Take proper care when handling photographic materials by:

  • Having clean hands and wearing non-scratching, microfiber or nitrile gloves; having a clean work area
  • Keeping food and drink away
  • Not marking photographs, even on the back side
  • Not using paper clips or other fasteners to mark or organize prints
  • Not using rubber bands, self-adhesive tape, and/or glue on photographic materials

Good storage is arguably the most important preservation measure for photographic prints and negatives:

  • A relatively dry (30-40% relative humidity), cool (room temperature or below), clean, and stable environment (avoid attics, basements, and other locations with high risk of leaks and environmental extremes)
  • Minimal exposure to all kinds of light; no exposure to direct or intense light; use duplicate slides in light projectors
  • Distance from radiators and vents
  • Minimal exposure to industrial (particularly sulfur-containing) atmospheric pollutants
  • Protective enclosures within a box

Last Updated: Mar 02, 2021
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Additional Ways to Contact Us

Send written correspondence to:

Preservation Directorate
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, D.C.  20540-4530

Please Note

We cannot provide: conservation (including review, examination, treatment), digitization/reformatting, access to/use of Library of Congress equipment, project funding, appraisals, recommendations for products or vendors, materials testing or analysis, preservation courses or classes, and/or responses to vendors seeking to sell or promote commercial products.