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How to Pack Family Photos

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Film is a dying medium. Most photos are now taken digitally and saved on computers and phones. But old fashioned photographs remain from previous generations as some of the most sentimentally valuable things a family can own. Family photos are delicate reminders of past memories. If you are moving them, you should know how to safely pack them.

The vulnerability of photographs

Photos are very easily damaged. Packing them requires extra care because there are many ways that they can get destroyed. Here are some common things to avoid when packing and moving photos:
  • Bending-Caused by minimal pressure to part of the photo.
  • Washing out- Caused by prolonged exposure to light. 
  • Smudges-Caused by your hands or other oils.
  • Chemical damage-Caused by any chemical reaction with the photo, by oil the in your skin or any acidic material.
  • Water damage-Moisture or direct water contact will destroy photographs.

Tips for all photo handling

  • Photos should always be kept in moderate temperatures. Consider purchasing climate controlled storage units if storage is necessary.
  • Water can damage photos quickly and easily. Keep the boxes dry or add a layer of waterproof cling wrap to them.
  • Keep them out of direct sunlight.
  • Avoid excessive handling of photos and try to only touch the edges.
  • Avoid direct contact with acidic substances including inks, soaps, markers, bubble wrap, adhesives, dyes or anything that may cause a chemical reaction.

How to pack photos if they're in a frame

Frames give photos a little more durability. Glass covers add an additional layer of protection for the photo but also are fragile themselves. When packing framed photos, follow theses directions:
  • Using light tape, make a big "X" that goes diagonally across the glass of the frame. This will keep the glass from shattering and getting everywhere if it breaks during the move.
  • Place either a thin sheet of cardboard or packing paper on the face of the photo.
  • Wrap the whole frame completely with bubble wrap so that the paper or cardboard acts as a barrier between the glass and the bubble wrap. Bubble wrap can leave smudges on glass and can react with photos if it directly touches them.
  • Tape the bubble wrap in place and then put the wrapped frame in a box that is slightly larger than the frame. You may need a mirror box or another custom build box to get the right fit.
  • Use packing paper to fill in the extra space in the box.
  • Seal the box using more tape and label it "fragile."
  • Transport the box vertically so the photo is leaning on its edge. You can do this by stacking many photos together and keeping them firmly in place between heavier objects. A photo, especially in a frame, is much more resistant to bending or damage if its weight is on its edge rather than lying flat.

How to pack loose photos

Loose photos are a little more difficult to protect. You could either put them all in an album made of safe materials, or stack them putting cardboard or ink-less acid-free paper between each photo.
  • Photo albums should not be dyed a dark color or have acidic materials to be safe for long term photo storage.
  • Keep all photos separated from each other so they do not touch.
  • Use non-acidic paper to separate photos.
  • Consider buying archival boxes to properly store large amounts of photos.
  • Remember to store photos in a dry, dark, cool place with little temperature fluctuation.
  • Photos not in albums should be transported vertically.
  • Don't use plastic bags or other materials not meant for storing photos. They may damage the image.
  • Never put any adhesive directly on a photo. Paper in between photos should be secured by the weight of the stack.
  • Don't use rubber bands to hold photo stacks together. This can easily damage them after a short amount of time.

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on October 21, 2014 - Moving Expert
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