Storing film pictures

Typically photos have been kept in albums, drawers, and shoeboxes. Definitely not the best way to go. Read on for some practical storage suggestions.

Storing photographic prints
"Where are those pictures of when the house was built?" "I wish we could find that picture of Sandy at her first dance recital." Have you ever heard, or said, something like that? Of course you have. We all have. Follow these tips and you'll have all your precious pictures right at your fingertips.

  • You'll be able to locate pictures you want a lot faster if they are organized in a way that makes sense to you. Make it a habit to write the date, description, and people's names on the back of each picture. Use an archival pen or marker that won't seep through the print or come off on the picture behind it.
  • One great picture tells more than six bad ones. It's OK to set aside less than perfect pictures. Tossing those that are blurry or have heads cut off, eyes closed, or your finger in the corner will save you storage, time, and space.
  • Decide how you want to keep your photos—in albums, scrapbooks, boxes, or a combination. Arrange them in some way that seems logical to you. Maybe chronologically or by subject or theme—flowers you saw in your travels last summer, family gatherings, pets, or house projects.
  • Use albums, boxes, and adhesives that are safe for your photos. Look for the terms "photo safe," "archival," or "acid-free." Although these terms are somewhat vague and no standards exist, you'll feel better about doing as much as you can to protect your pictures.
  • Store your pictures in a place that is as cool, dry, and dark as practical. Recommended conditions are 75°F or lower and at 30% to 50% humidity. Not in the basement and attic!

Storing negatives
Negatives, especially those you might want to reprint from someday, deserve the same care and attention as your prints. They too are subject to damage from light, heat, and humidity as well as dust and fingerprints. Organizing negatives takes a bit of time, but you'll be thrilled when in just a few minutes you can put your finger (not literally, please!) on that negative of the twins being held by Grandpa and Grandma for the first time.

  • For short-term storage, keep your negatives in the plastic sleeves that they came in (not all negatives are returned in sleeves), and store them in boxes labeled "photo safe, "archival," or "acid-free." Although these terms are somewhat vague and no standards exist, you'll feel a lot more secure than using old shoeboxes.
  • Start by deciding how to organize your negatives. Chronologically is probably best. Then if you can remember the year of the family reunion or your son's graduation, you can quickly locate the negative. Or if you have the picture in your hand and the date is on the back of the print, you'll be able to go right to that negative.
  • The best way to store negatives is to put them in archival pages specially made for negatives and keep the pages in a binder. Each page has room to write in titles of what the negatives are and the dates. You'll find these archival pages for negatives at most photographic supply stores.
  • Advantix film negatives never leave their cassettes. It's easy to arrange and store them in a Kodak Advantix organizer.