13    Nov 20121 comment

Preservation: Storm-damaged photos

Following Hurricane Sandy, many families have lost their most precious possessions, including photos.

University of Delaware professor Debra Hess Norris is chair of the Department of Art Conservation and offers some tips to save damaged photos.

An expert on photograph preservation, Norris - and her colleagues and students - are hoping to provide the public with advice and resources. They have event set up an email address for questions. Send questions to art-conservation@udel.edu, with the subject line “Save My Photograph,” and the team will provide recommendations.

“It’s about giving people who have had to deal with so much some hope and guidance for saving photographs that are precious to them,” Norris says. “In many cases, water-damaged photographs can be saved.”

Some general tips:

  • Don’t dispose of your photographs even if they have dirt on them or have become distorted from being in water.
  • Allow the photographs to air dry. Place them on screens or paper towels to allow air to circulate. Do not use a hair dryer or other direct source of heat, as that can cause more damage.
  • If photographs are in plastic sleeves, remove from the sleeves to dry.
  • If photographs are stuck together, allow them to air dry. Conservators can later do their best to separate them while minimizing damage.
  • Document everything — snap a photograph of damaged photos with your cell phone or other camera.

Have you experienced damage to photographs? How did you save them? Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (1) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I peeled them apart (maybe I shouldn't have) some were damaged quite a bit, others not so much. The old negatives from my mom's stash, I peeled apart and put out to dry, they seem to be ok. I'm still sick over the damage, but at least I have damaged photos, some people have lost everything. I'm still working on cleaning up photo albums, I put them on paper towels and opened the pages to dry, still afraid to peel back the plastic pages.

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