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Beyond “Photo-Safe”…What Does it All Mean?

Why do these terms matter?

Photo-safe. Archival. Acid-free. These are just some of the terms that are used when describing products in the photo industry…but what do they really mean? And why do we need to bother with them?

As anyone with a magnetic-page photo album from the 1980's

knows, the way we store our photographs matters. The cheap cardboard pages, the adhesive, and the plastic covering all give off acids that over time, deteriorate the photos’ color, leave stains on the backs, and make it hard to remove photos without damaging them.

Older albums with vintage photos, photos stored in envelopes from the photo lab, and those just in a shoe-box are at risk, too. And it’s not just prints – slides, negatives, and film reels can be damaged just from the containers they are stored in.

This blog was written for the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. Archival Methods is an APPO industry partner, and a sponsor of their annual Save Your Photos Month.

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