Causes of Photo Deterioration
They say memories fade away but a picture is forever. Not entirely true! If not properly stored and archived, photos deteriorate faster than you expect. It is, therefore, important to understand the factors which cause photo deterioration in order to prevent the loss of your beloved memories.
The three primary factors which contribute to photo deterioration are,
- Environmental: Exposure to natural conditions can cause considerable damage to your photos. High temperatures and humidity make the photos lose color, stick, or foster the growth of mold. The binders weaken with regular exposure enabling wear and tear. Pollution also results in considerable discoloration of the photograph. Light causes the greatest damage to your photos, some of which are usually irreversible. Exposure to light causes yellowing and discoloration of photographs, while also making them brittle.
- Chemical: The chemicals used in photographic material deteriorate over time. When these chemicals react with external elements or other chemical catalysts, they can cause softening, breakage, and discoloration. The dyes used in color photographs are prone to faster deterioration. Negatives too have to be carefully stored else they will become brittle and ultimately disintegrate. If the negative is ruined, the chances of saving the photo on it are close to nil.
- Physical: Your palms carry oils, lotions, dirt, sweat, and other pollutants which can destroy the emulsion on photographs. These can cause bleaching and staining when you are handling them. Common physical damages are through abrasions, tears, scratches, and spills. If your photos are stored in places frequented by rodents and insects, there is a chance of finding chew marks and excretion on them.
It is important to ensure you store photos and photographic material in a temperature-, light-, and pollution-controlled environment. Handle them with utmost care and use proper storage techniques so they are in good condition. Photo deterioration will take place irrespective of these factors, but you can postpone the aging process and preserve your memories for a longer time if you take appropriate care.