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Looking After Old Photos

Tuesday, 13 October 2020  |  Admin


In modern times we are spoiled with the number of photos we can take and keep; The average phone has the ability to take photography-quality photos and store hundreds, if not thousands, of images. Physical photo albums are becoming less and less common as the number of digital albums increases exponentially, making it is more important than ever to look after your old photographs.

Particularly after a loved one passes away we cherish photos of them, but throwing your favourite photo in your purse or wallet, or passing it around the dinner table for your whole family to grab at might not be the best idea if you want to keep these in their best possible condition. At Memorial Card Shop we offer photo restoration services, but, if you want to prevent yourself requiring restoration in the first place we’ve put together our top tips to help keep your photographs in their best condition.



There are many factors that can affect the appearance of your old photos, and whilst it’s unlikely that most of us have access to perfect conditions for storage, there are still many things to do to reduce damage. 

  1. Reduce exposure to light. Ideally your photos will be kept in an album away from any bright light, whether that’s sunlight or man-made, but many of us want to display our treasured photographs. If you want to display a picture in a frame then try to place it in an area that has little to no direct sunlight to reduce the risk of the colours fading over time.
  2. Keep away from heat sources. You don’t want to hang your photos directly above a radiator, or place a framed photo underneath a desk lamp. Photos becoming heated will affect their colouring over time, causing them to become faded or distorted. 
  3. Keep them dry. A general rule of thumb is to not store photos in places you wouldn’t be comfortable yourself, for example areas that are likely to have a moist atmosphere, such as basements, garages or attics. Photos becoming damp will again cause damage to their colour and can even cause mould.
  4. Keep them out of reach. We’ll talk more about the handling of photos below, but it is best to keep your treasured family photo albums out of reach of young children and any pets in order to reduce the risk of fingerprints on your photos - or worse, photos getting seriously damaged and torn.



Whilst it would give you the best results, it seems a bit too much to ask for somebody to put gloves on every time they want to look through old photos (although if you are in possession particularly old and delicate pictures, we would still recommend this). Here are a few basic steps to help you handle your old photographs without causing wear and tear.

  1. Wash your hands. It’s so easy to get fingerprints and smudges on pictures, and yet they are so difficult to remove. So, reduce the risk - wash your hands before looking through photos, make sure to fully dry them and hold your photos gently by the edges.  
  2. Keep food and drink away. Sadly, a lot of photos that require restoration are there due to bad staining and visible liquid damage. Any form of food or drink spilled onto photos, even if it’s only a small amount, will cause staining and can result in water damage. It’s best to avoid having any liquid or food present when handling old pictures. 
  3. No writing, pins, tape or staples. Not using these and similar items on your photos may seem like a more obvious tip, but it’s still worth noting that they will all have a negative effect on your images. People often don’t take into account that writing with ballpoint pens, even on the back of photos, can cause long term damage. We recommend that if you want to label your photos then the safest way to do so is to write on a small sticker, then attach it to the back of the photograph.  


Using older photos in memorial cards and funeral services is an excellent way of remembering the deceased. Whilst we do offer a number of pictures to choose from at Memorial Card Shop, such as scenic and religious images, it is a lovely and personal touch to include a photo of your loved one. On many of our memorial card templates you are even able to add multiple photos, so you can include a small collection of older photographs as well as a more recent image for the main photo.

If you aren’t sure which photo to choose for your memorial card then we have a blog to offer some guidance – Choosing a Photo for a Memorial Card. And, if your photo is sadly already damaged and you wish to use it for memorial then please have a browse of our photo editing services, or get in touch to find out more about what we offer.


Tags: Old photos, photo restoration, memorial