Thursday, October 01, 2009

How to save damaged photos

This newspaper article about how to salvage water-damaged photographs was published because of the recent flooding in Atlanta. This information is good to have, no matter what incident caused water damage to photos and documents. Hopefully, you'll never need this information, but here it is just in case!

  • Photos: Do not let photos dry in stacks as they will stick together and breed mold.
  • Wearing gloves, bathe old photos in tap water, carefully avoiding running water directly onto the photos as that can damage the emulsion.
  • Kodak Photo-Flo can be added to help clean the pictures.
  • Gently separate them while wet and use a soft art brush to remove large debris.
  • Remove from the bath and flatten the photo with a piece of glass or the back of a Teflon pan.
  • Be sure the photo is facing image-side down onto the flat surface, and then use a squeegee-type sponge across the back, from the center to the edge, to remove additional moisture.
  • Hang the photos to dry from a string with vinyl coated paper clips or clothes pins.
  • After the photos dry, consider scanning them immediately to save the image on disc. Save them at 300 dpi, (dots per inch) so that it captures the highest resolution.
  • Assess the original image to consider whether it should be taken to a restoration expert.
If you cannot bathe photos immediately, freeze them until a later time. More tips can be found at the Web site,

Fine art on paper: The most important thing to do is allow the paper to dry before dealing with repair and conservation.

If an important document, such as birth certificate, diploma, military papers or marriage license is framed and behind glass, immediately remove from the frame so that it does not begin to mold, one of the tougher stains to remove.

Separate the papers while drying. Do not brush or rub the piece to remove stains or mud as that can grind the particles further into the paper, he advises.

Many forms of damage, including water stains, mud, smoke and tearing from folds can be repaired or stabilized.

Excerpted from: Tips for saving damaged photos, documents - Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper

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