Bullet points for:

How to help your beautiful photographs last.

(This really applies to any photograph or artwork.)
I have wanted to write a guide but I always get bogged down in the details. There are whole books on the subject and if you are interested please read them,
also visit the Library of Congress online. As with most things, there are degrees and practical limits, but here are the simple dirty facts that apply to most artwork. If you are truly interested in archiving one good option is to have one print on display and a duplicate in dark storage like an album or special box. In the real world, we want to display our photographs and art, that is what they are for so here are some recommendations.

  • The enemies of all prints are light - especially ultraviolet, heat & humidity.
    Every print will fade, the question is how fast? Ever notice how dim museums seem until your eyes get used to it? I never use the word never, but NEVER display a photograph in direct sunlight if you wish to preserve it. Around here, most rooms have windows so if you display photographs in those rooms closing the drapes during the day is recommended and using UV absorbing glass and protective lacquer as below. When I had the studio downtown and had large picture windows, photographs on display in the waiting area would begin fading in months. Using the steps below would greatly extend their life. I will also mention here fluorescent lights are almost as bad as sunlight with it comes to fading. I use tungsten or LED lights to illuminate my photographs.

  • Frame your matted photograph behind glass or acrylic!
    If you have the money, as I write this, Tru-vue brand Museum glass offers the best UV protection and reduction in glare. This stuff is practically invisible, and it is VERY expensive. I rarely can afford Museum glass except when I am preparing my work for a gallery, this is where the real-world compromises begin. Plain glass/acrylic is better than no glass but there are many options between plain and museum glass so use what you can afford. While we are on the subject of glass, if possible, never frame the photograph touching the glass, that is why I said matted above. Back the frame with acid-free cardboard and seal the back with a sheet of paper. This limits the exposure to light, gases and humidity. Here in the South humidity ruins lots of things. You can often order your photographs with a protective lacquer coating that contains a UV inhibitor and will seal your photograph against ozone and other harmful (to artwork) gasses. I personally do this for almost all photographs I display unless I know they are very temporary.

  • Be careful handling your photographs.
    Oils in our hands can damage artwork, I often wear cotton gloves when handling photographs. If you are not going to display the photographs then a quality album is suggested. For longer storage, you can place in a box or envelope with a sheet of plain copy paper separating each photo.


Feel free to ask questions, I really tried to keep it simple. I don’t mean to stress you out. Enjoy your artwork!! You can keep work in a hermetically sealed in a freezer and it will last as long as the freezer does or you can just tack it on the wall with thumbtacks, at least you can enjoy it, just perhaps not as long as if properly framed.