Whether it's pictures of long-lost ancestors or memories of important moments in black and white or color, we often forget how to take good care of our important photos.
Preserving important photos for future generations doesn't mean placing them in an album and stuffing them in a closet.
America Now headed to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to find out how curators keep historical photographs looking picture perfect.
To keep your family's moments in time lasting a lifetime, start by taking the time to research the proper technique for preserving them.
Throughout history, the tricks and tools of photography have changed dramatically from the type of paper photos are printed on, to the dyes used to make the pictures, and now, to the type of digital files used to electronically store them.
A museum curator or photography expert can give you the specifics about your snapshots, and suggest the best method for making them last.
David Haberstich is a curator of photography at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. For storing photos, he suggests you purchase acid-free boxes and paper.
Organize your photos with dividers that identify information about your picture without actually writing on them. If you write on your photos, over time, the ink will penetrate through the paper.
The next thing you need to do is keep your photos away from plastic.
"I'd say no, never laminate," Haberstich says.
Never use inexpensive plastic sleeves or magnetic self-adhesive albums to store photos.
Any heat or humidity will cause the plastic to stick to the photo and could potentially ruin your photos.
The optimal storage temperature for photos is 68 degrees. It is not a good idea to store your photos in a damp basement or the attic where temperatures can get really hot or cold. Your freezer is actually not a bad place to store photos.
Speciality kits available at photography shops are perfect for preserving negatives and fragile photos.
Giving photos an icy incubation stops the chemical process. A color-coded button lets you know if there's too much humidity hanging out inside.
If you want to show off your snap shots, it's best to make a duplicate to frame and store the original.
If you inherited a framed photo, Haberstich recommends, "You need to get them apart and inspect them and make sure everything looks good."
That includes making sure the backing and matting is acid-free and the frame is metal, not wood, which can deteriorate the paper.
If your memories were made in the past decade and are digitally stored, Haberstich says you should "print them all out."
That's because CDs break, computers crash, technology changes and online photo hosting websites go out of business.
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