Photo Storage | Photography Preservation Program “At home”
This article aims to give indications on how to do a photo storage program of our private collections.
Author: Yolanda Silva
Each photo contains written within itself a fragment of history.
It tells us pieces of stories of our life or our family and friends, and in wider scale, it reports historical moments and social events.
In order to ensure the permanence of their testimony, preservation measures must be applied, either within archives and museum collections, or even to our personal albums. The photo storage is the first step towards conservation.
In our personal “domestic” preservation program, we can determine several phases:
1. Survey of the photographs and/or collections.
Individual identification (and collective, where appropriate) of the prints,
Identifying “problems”: inspection of the prints one by one, taking notes on information from those which are more degraded (we can determine at this point which photographs need priority treatment);
2. Inventory and description.
a) Relevant information to be collected can be divided into 4 parts:
i. General identifying information: identification (inventory number), property and location, categories in which it is inserted, type, assigned title.
ii. Technical information: materials of the components (support, emulsion, side decoration), dimensions and colours.
iii. Conservation status and interventions (with date and location specifications, the intervention process and authorship).
iv. Observations and other details (includes exhibitions, bibliography in which it featured history details, marks or inscriptions, etc.).
b) Procedures to be followed when filling up the inventory forms.
c) Printed or digital record (or both – more advisable).
3. Evaluation of the type of storage recommended
(evaluated according to differences and intrinsic needs) and the area intended for storage/deposit.
Packaging materials (envelopes, boxes, albums; conservation related products and cleaning products, if necessary);
Essential monitoring instruments (taking in account if they are financially sustainable);
Space: shelves, cabinets, etc.;
4. Duplication program
(which may include aspects related to the exposure that we intend to give to the print or its respective duplicate);
5. Emergency response plan (optional)
Includes procedures such as what to do in case of water infiltration, insects/rodent infestation, mildew, fire, etc.; and it lists the conservation and restoration materials and their suppliers and contacts for conservation professionals.